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Food Guide

Save cows, help your health. The nondairy market is exploding; there are new products on the shelf practically every week. Some items taste remarkably like dairy, but also explore new tastes; remember that taste buds adjust, too. All the products are cholesterol-free. Enjoy!

(Unless noted, products identifed by brand are found in the US, and possibly elsewhere. Soon we will expand this list to specify brand-name items in other countries.)

Milk

Soy milk
Almond milk
Rice milk
Coconut milk
Hemp milk
Oat milk

Choose from regular, reduced fat, unsweetened, vanilla, and organic. Experiment with diferent brands, too. Most nondairy milks are fortified with calcium and vitamin D, and have levels of those nutrients that are comparable to those found or added to cow’s milk. Almost all nondairy milks have fiber, too, which is absent in dairy products. Of course, they’re all naturally lactose-free.

Soy milk is found everywhere. Almond milk and rice milk are almost as common. The other milks are found in Whole Foods-type stores, health food stores, and an increasing number of mainstream grocery stores.

All of these milks work well in baking. Some, like soy and coconut, are thicker, while others, such as rice, are thinner. Each variety of nondairy milk has its own unique taste. Many recipes call for a specific type of nondairy milk, but you can usually substitute. Though if the recipe calls for vanilla-flavored, you probably don’t want to use plain.

Ice Cream

Coconut milk ice cream – this is fantastic; you must try it! It’s naturally rich and creamy. So Delicious is the most popular brand, but many people like Coconut Bliss also.

There are also some very good varieties of soy milk and rice milk ice cream.

These products are available in more than cartons of ice cream; you can also buy nondairy ice cream bars and ice cream sandwiches. Many people like coffee, peanut butter, neopolitan, and other flavors of “Tofutti Cuties” ice cream sandwiches, and the So Delicious coconut milk-based chocolate-almond bars are outstanding!

If you get a chance, try soft-serve ice cream made from nuts such as cashews and almonds; it’s incredible. You can also make ice cream fairly easily, with an ice cream-maker, and there are some excellent books with recipes for homemade dairy-free ice cream.

Cream Cheese

Tofutti “Better Than Cream Cheese” is delicious and spreads like dairy cream cheese. Many long-time dairy eaters like this immediately, and/or can’t tell the difference between it and cow-derived cream cheese.

Follow Your Heart has a similar product.

You can make amazing vegan cheesecakes with either of these choices.

Parmesan Cheese

Popular nondairy brands of Parmesan include “Parma!” and “Parma Zaan.” Sprinkle these on your spaghetti marinara and you’ll never know the difference—but the cows will. If you can’t find these products in your local grocery, ask for them or look in online or real-life health food or vegan grocery stores. Note: Parma! now comes in a zesty chapotle-cayenne flavor!

Cheese

New Daiya nondairy cheese is making quite a splash. It’s tasty and melts very nicely.

Follow Your Heart is a good general-purpose nondairy cheese and may be easier to find than Diaya.

Teese is also very good, and is available in many varieties, including a soft spreadable version.

Sheese makes several hard nondairy cheeses. For example, you can enjoy Sheese on crackers or apple slices. Sheese also make a very decent feta.

Cheezly is available in the U.S. but is more popular in the U.K. It has a satisfying, rich flavor and also melts well. Cheezly-based pizza tastes great.

Many people like Tofutti sandwich slices.

There are several other brands of nondairy cheeses. Look for them in your grocery store. Ask for them if they’re not there. Many of the dairy-free cheeses are also soy-free. Beware that some nondairy cheeses actually contain casein, which is a dairy product; it’s the main protein in milk, and some large-scale studies implicate it in cancer and other diseases.

Health tip: An alternative way to add rich flavor to sandwiches and wraps is to add one or more slices of avocado. Avocados are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Portabello mushrooms, which are also high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber, lend a similar effect.

Cheesy Sauces

The way to go here is to use nutritional yeast and other products to make homemade nondairy cheese sauces. Try some of the nutritional yeast-based cheese sauce recipes at www.vegweb.com or in The Ultimate UnCheese Cookbook. You’ll be surprised and delighted. The sauces are rich and creamy. Perfect over broccoli, baked potatoes, rice, and other foods. Alfredo sauce? No problem, and without the heart-clogging saturated fat and cholesterol. Many a die-hard meat-eater has asked for third helpings of well-made macaroni and cheese that uses nutritional yeast instead of cow’s milk. It may take you a couple or three times to get the knack, but then it’s smooth sailing forever. Nutritional yeast is fairly cheap and easy to find, lasts a long time if properly stored, and is an excellent source of vitamin B12 and other B vitamins.

Butter

Most margarines and butter substitutes have whey, which is a dairy product. (Dairy products, which are heavily subsidized, creep up everywhere.) Fortunately, there are many excellent choices for truly nondairy margarine or “buttery spreads”:

Earth Balance (the most popular)
Soy Garden
Willow Run
Spectrum
Smart Balance Light
Blue Bonnet Light

There are lots of choices in the UK:

Pure’s Dairy Free Soya Spread
Pure’s Dairy Free Sunflower Spread
Granose’s Vegetable margarine
Suma’s Sunflower Spread
Suma’s Organic Reduced Fat Sunflower Spread
Suma’s Soya Spread
Biona Organic Vegetable Margarine
Biona Organic Olive Extra Margarine
Vitaquell Extra Dairy Free margarine or Bio Organic margarine.

Most supermarkets stock their own brand of nondairy margarine.

If you like a block of  “butter-style” margarine for baking, try Rakusen’s Tomor, available from Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and many health food shops.

A popular nondairy margarine in Australia is Nuttelex.

Whipped Cream

“Non-dairy” whipped toppings usually contain casein (often in the form of sodium caseinate), which comes from cow’s milk.

You can, however, buy vegan whipped cream: Soyatoo offers both soy-based and non-soy-based options.

You can also make homemade vegan whipped cream with just a few ingredients; there are many recipes on the web.

Chocolate

Chocolate is nondairy until milk is added to it. Look for dark chocolate. Note that the dairy actually disables the antioxidant benefits of dark chocolate. You may want to read the label; some companies sneak milkfat into products labeled “dark chocolate.”

Hamburger Alternatives

Quite a bit of hamburger meat comes from “spent” dairy cows. In fact, the flesh of many dairy cows is typically in every bite of hamburger. When you eat a hamburger or any type of meat sauce with ground beef today, it’s possible that you’re eating bits of a dairy cow and several of her friends–and maybe even parts of their children.

Veggie ground beef in tacos, pasta sauce, or sloppy Joes may fool the most die-hard meat-eater. Try brands such as Boca Ground Crumbles and Morningstar Farms Meal Starters Recipe Crumbles.

Frozen veggie burgers are fine in a pinch, but the real flavor and variety is in homemade veggie burgers. They’re fairly easy to make, the variety is astounding, and there are recipes all over the net.

More to follow…

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