When you struggle with food allergies, or intolerances, you have to get creative. My daughter has severe food allergies to milk (all dairy), eggs and peanuts. You can learn more about our food allergy journey here.
Here are some of our favorite dairy-free products. Of course, always read labels carefully and check with the manufacturer or your doctor if you have questions.
First up is Rice Dream. We use this as a milk substitute. Its texture and temperature is very much like cow’s milk when refrigerated. It’s shelf stable, so you can buy in bulk and keep it in your pantry until ready to use. The original flavor is mild enough to work for us, and the vanilla flavor is much sweeter.
When Avery was first diagnosed with food allergies, we were also avoiding soy. That’s why we started with rice milk. Rice milk isn’t as nutritionally dense as soy milk (and should NEVER be used in place of breast milk or formula as a major source of nutrition), but the enriched version has a good amount of vitamins. I really appreciate the mini “milk-box” size. They are awesome for road trips or meals-on-the-go (but are wicked expensive).
For shredded cheese, I highly recommend Daiya dairy-free shreds. It comes in mozzarella and cheddar varieties and has an amazing melt and even gooey factor for being entirely dairy and soy free (including casein free!). I first talked about it in my dairy-egg-soy free lasagna recipe post last month. Hint: Daiya needs to be eaten within a week, unless you freeze it. I’ve started freezing it in many smaller snack size food storage bags, then pulling them out one at a time. It’s working great!
For cheese slices, we use Rice Vegan slices by Galaxy Nutrition. This particular version is dairy AND casein free (milk protein) as well as soy free. I personally don’t care for the taste, but I also know how awesome real cheese is. My 2 year old eats it up and loves it. I’ve eaten it on sandwiches with deli meat and it’s been good. The texture is pretty close to real cheese slices. You have to be REALLY careful when buying sliced cheese substitutes, because MANY if not MOST of them have casein, a milk protein, so that the cheese will stretch. Here you can see the ingredients:
I recently picked up this cream cheese substitute: Tofutti Better than Cream Cheese. We’ve only tried the plain version, although it looks like there are other flavors on their web site. The flavor is pretty neutral, but the texture is very smooth and creamy like cream cheese. I have used this to make pickle roll ups (kids loved) and mixed a big dollop into some chili and it melted/mixed well and was delicious! I will definitely keep this in the house.
Now for some dessert! These Turtle Mountain coconut milk mini ice cream sandwiches are AWESOME! These have no dairy or nuts, but do have soy. My 2 year old LOVES these! They are the perfect size for her to hold and are yummy!
The ZenSoy Soypudding is pretty good. I keep some of these on hand for special treats, too. When Alex gets regular chocolate pudding, Avery gets one of these. Because there is no milk at all, it’s very rich dark chocolate. Frankly, it’s too rich for Avery. She usually only has a few bites, and I finish the rest. I think it tastes good.
Finally, vitamins. I never realized it until I needed to, but many prescription and over the counter medications and vitamins have food allergens in them! It’s not uncommon for a liquid medicine to have a “lactose” base. Or for calcium supplements to have real dairy in them. So I was happy to try the Yummi Bears vitamins because they have no food allergens, are gluten & casein free – I had a free sample from the company. I like how right on the label it says there is specifically no egg, milk, soy, wheat, fish or shellfish, nuts or peanuts in the ingredients. Not all vitamins are as well labeled.
These vitamins are great for peace of mind and taste great. The texture is like gummy bears – pretty soft and not too hard like other kids vitamins can be. As great as these are, I want to mention that there is a similar Target brand of gummy vitamins and calcium supplements also have the no-food-allergen warnings and seem to work just as well. The Yummi bears brand is more expensive, but some people are comfortable buying generics and some are not… so use your discretion if you choose to pick these up and look at all your options.
Disclaimer: I paid for all of these products EXCEPT the yummi bears. Those were sent to me to review, I was not otherwise compensated. All of the opinions listed are mine.
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