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How To Go Dairy Free

Filed Under: Nutrition at 10:35 am | By: Dr. Jeremy Wolf, ND & Lead Wellness Advisor

Dairy is contained in any product that is produced from milk (such as cheese or butter), but the prospect of going “dairy free” is becoming more popular because of allergies, lactose intolerance, or even concerns for the way animals are treated.While you may think it is easy to spot dairy free foods, it may actually be hiding in foods that you are unaware of. For instance, did you know that dairy products might be hiding in your packaged deli meats,tuna fish or natural flavoring? The FDA Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 require food labels to state whether or not they contain a top allergen like milk. However, there are many products that are not covered by this law.  So if you’re trying to avoid dairy, the most important thing to do is to read the entire ingredient label.


What To Look For On Food Labels:

The following ingredients on a label indicate the presence of milk protein.


Common Names of Dairy  

Hidden Names for Dairy:


Milk (includingbuttermilk, cultured milk, dried milk, dried milk solids, evaporated milk, low fat milk, milk derivative, milk powder, milk protein, skim milk, whole milk, 1% milk, 2% milk, etc.) Curds
Cheese Ghee
Creamer Lactose
Butter (including artificial butter flavor, butter fat, butter extract, butter solids, natural butter flavor, etc.) Lactulose
Yogurt Hydrolysates
Cream Cheese Lactoalbumin
Cottage Cheese Lactoglobulin
Sour Cream Galactose
Custards Nougate
Puddings Lactyc yeast
Ice Cream Lactate Solids
Half & Half



Meet the Milk Alternatives:

  1. Coconut Milk
    1. After the coconut is husked and halved, the pulp is pressed to release the tasty cream. It is then blended with water and fortified with vitamins and minerals. Coconuts offer a delicious flavor profile and it’s packed with medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs) which can be burned as energy and may help to promote weight loss.
  2. Almond Milk
    1. After shelling, almonds are grounded and then blended with water and other ingredients such as, vitamins, and minerals. For individuals looking for a milk alternative lower in calories, free of cholesterol and saturated fats, almond milk is a great replacement to regular dairy milk. Almond milk also offers a good source of vitamins A, D & E but does not supply much protein.
  3. Soy Milk
    1. Soy milk, made from soy beans, is unlike almond milk in that it is a good source of protein(about 6-8 grams per cup). Similar to almond milk it’s also low in saturated fats, cholesterol free & contains vitamins A & D. When fortified, soy milk also contains minerals such as calcium and potassium. While there are some health benefits to soy some may choose to stay away due to varying health concerns and allergens.
  4. Rice Milk
    1. Rice milk is made from blending together milled rice and water,it can then be fortified with calcium and Vitamin D. If you are an athlete or diabetic you may consider staying away from rice milk as it high in carbohydrates and low in protein.  However, if you are an individual with sensitivities to many foods, rice is considered the most hypoallergenic of all the milk substitutes.
  5. Hemp Milk
    1. Hemp milk is made by blending hemp seeds with water. The seeds or “nuts” used to make hemp milk do not contain any THC which is the psychoactive component of marijuana. Hemp milk is full of Omega 3 & Omega 6 Fatty Acids and even contains iron. Hemp milk is also a great source of other vitamins and nutrients. Its flavor is said to be more creamy and nutty than soy or rice milk.
  6. Cashew Milk
    1. Cashew milk is one of the newest milk alternatives on the market. Cashew nuts are actually the seeds that adhere to the bottom of the cashew apple, the fruit of the cashew tree. Cashews have a lower fat content than most other nuts and offer monounsaturated fats, similar to what you find in olive oil.  Cashews are cholesterol free, packed full of vitamins and minerals and have high antioxidant content.


You will also want to look for products that are non-GMO & USDA Organic. Try and avoid Carrageenan as well since this is widely used by the food industry for gelling and thickening and may be harmful to the gastrointestinal tract. The best way to avoid these harmful fillers is to make your own hemp, soy, cashew, coconut, rice, or almond milk. See below for an easy almond milk recipe you can make at home!



Homemade Almond Milk Recipe:


1 Cup Raw Almonds

4 Cups pure filtered water

Vanilla Extract or Bean (Optional)



  1. Soak almonds for at least 12 hours in water with ½ tsp sea salt.
  2. Rinse almonds well. Combine rinsed almonds and filtered water into blender.
  3. Blend several minutes until smooth and creamy. (Warning: mixture will expand some, so make sure your blender is not full before starting it)
  4. Strain mixture into a large bowl through a sprout bag, cheese cloth or kitchen towel.
  5. Put mixture back into blender with vanilla or preferred flavoring and mix.
  6. Pour mixture into a glass jar or pitcher and store in fridge for up to one week.

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