The Switch: 13 Dairy-free Alternatives
4.15.14

Life without mozzarella, parmigiano, feta, Greek yogurt and ice cream may seem bleak at first glance, but we are here to show you 13 ways to replace your favorite dairy indulgences. With a little bit of creativity, imagination and a high-speed blender on hand, you will have a dairy-free alternative in no time. Call it food alchemy or using a bit of culinary magic, but either way, you will quickly turn cashews into cheese, coconuts into yogurt, and seeds into milk. You may even have fun while doing it.

For all of the gastronomically challenged cooks out there, fear not. Dairy-free alternatives are all the rage, and new products are popping up like wildfire. With 30 – 50 million Americans intolerant to lactose, there is no shortage of dairy-free products in your local stores. From pre-made cashew milk to chia-seed yogurt, coconut ice cream to brown rice protein powder, there is very little that you cannot find. So take our advice, try some of these alternatives, and find out for yourself if they taste like the real thing. And if you are like us, you may even decide that they taste better!

  • 13 Dairy-free Alternatives

  • Milk

    Hemp, oat, almond, rice, coconut, flax and cashew, you name it, they make a milk out of it. So Delicious, Rice Dream, Good Karma, Blue Diamond, Califia and store brands can all be found pre-made in your local store. Or you can get messy, and make them at home!

    TCM DIY: Homemade Hemp Milk

  • Ice Cream

    Ohhh, are you in for a big treat here. If you thought you loved ice cream made with real milk, you have no idea how much you are going to love ice cream made without milk. Coconut ice cream, especially the brand Luna and Larry, is definitely a Chalkboard favorite, but you can also choose from almond, hemp, rice and cashew as well.

    TCM DIY: Pink Chocolate Swirl Ice Cream

  • Whipped Cream

    There is nothing like a big dollop of whipped cream to complete your favorite dessert, so we were over the moon to find out that canned coconut milk makes the perfect dairy-free alternative. It is extremely simple to make (completely dummy proof), and still retains that sought-after rich and creamy texture.

    TCM DIY: One-Ingredient Vegan Whipped Cream

  • Yogurt

    Coconut has got this covered. It perfectly mimics the texture of yogurt, but also adds a slightly sweet flavor, so you don’t have to add extra sugar. It comes in both regular yogurt and Greek yogurt – check out So Delicious. Not wild about coconuts? Try almond yogurt instead.

    TCM DIY: Raw Coconut Almond Yogurt

  • Kefir

    If you are a fan of this fermented, gut-friendly beverage, then you will be happy to know it comes dairy-free. Coconut milk kefir is an available alternative. It is a bit more difficult to find, so consider trying your hand at home fermentation.

    TCM DIY: Coconut Milk Kefir

  • Sour Cream

    Without sour cream, what is a tostada salad, a black bean burrito, or a plate of grilled vegetable fajitas? Not as good, that is for sure! That is why we are loving the dairy-free option that is just like the real thing. You’ll have to make it yourself (we are not crazy about the pre-made soy versions), but all it takes is some cashews and apple cider vinegar.

    TCM DIY: Raw Staples for a Raw Vegan Kitchen

  • Cream Cheese

    While the applications for cream cheese are far and few between, if you have a toasted, sprouted bagel in front of you, nothing else will do the job quite like cream cheese does. Dairy-free cream cheese does exist pre-made, thank God, and it is made by Daiya. But if you would rather whip up some at home, it is quite simple as well.

    TCM DIY: Raw Nut Milk & Cashew Cream Cheese

  • Parmesan Cheese

    Parmigiano-Reggiano, what beautiful words to say! The ultimate cheese for all Italian dishes, turning your plate of pasta into something utterly sinful, we cannot be without Parmesan. That is why we have turned to Parma!, a raw vegan Parmesan made from walnuts, sunflower and hemp seeds, nutritional yeast and sea salt. Pretty much too good to be true. 

    TCM DIY: Raw Walnut Parmesan

  • Shredded Cheese

    Pizza, quesadillas, salads and pasta could all use some shredded cheese here and there, which is why we were happy to find Daiya. Their shredded cheese comes in cheddar, mozzarella and pepperjack, all of which have an uncanny similarity to real cheese. Now if you want to make it yourself, try this crazy creative recipe that uses sweet potatoes, of all things!

    TCM DIY: Shredded Sweet Potato Cheese

  • Hard Cheese

    One social ritual we are unwilling to part with is the perfect pairing of cheese and crackers, along with a local Californian merlot or chardonnay. This is what led us to our obsession with Dr. Cow, an artisan nut-cheese brand. Each of their hard cheeses are fully aged, and resemble real cheese to a tee. With flavors such as cashew dulse and cashew blue-green algae, they continue to surprise us… they even have a cashew kale cheese too!

    TCM DIY: The Raw Chef’s Nut Cheese E-Book

  • Crème Fraîche

    The perfect adornment for soup, a lox platter or scrambled eggs, you don’t realize how amazing crème fraîche is until you have had it. While there does not seem to be a good pre-made, dairy-free version available at local stores, the homemade version is simple enough to make. 

    TCM DIY: Vegan Crème Fraîche

  • Ranch Dressing

    Ranch is not the typical go-to dressing when looking to stay on the health track, but its dairy-free alternative is a whole different animal. Made by the company Raw Foodz, their raw and vegan Ranch Revival dressing actually IS healthy. Made with superfoods – hemp seeds, apple cider vinegar, nutritional yeast and fresh herbs – this ranch is a must have. We guarantee you will not miss the dairy version.

    TCM DIY: Raw Ranch Dressing

  • Coffee Creamer

    Now that you are on a kick – kicking dairy out of the diet –  it is time to go to your morning coffee. Switch the typical dairy creamer for the So Delicious coconut milk line. With flavors like French vanilla, hazelnut, and their new Cococcinos, you will be pleasantly surprised by your new coffee-cup additions. Plus, they do not contain the typical trans fats that the dairy versions do.

    TCM DIY: Homemade Oat Milk

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