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Navitas Organics Blog

Ask the Chef - Alternatives to Dairy

Posted by Julie Morris, Navitas Organics Executive Chef on Jan 26, 2014 11:30:09 PM

What are some good plant-based alternatives to dairy products?

In the very same moment a person decides to phase out dairy, usually comes a second, much more foreboding thought “whatever am I going to do without my [favorite dairy product in the world]?†It's hard to deny, many products made with dairy often make the list of our most loved foods. So, if you're wanting to take advantage of some of the health benefits associated with cutting down dairy in your diet (such as lower cholesterol, decreased allergies, and better mineral retention, to name a few) the great news is that you can give many recipes all the feel and flavor of dairy simply by using some new alternatives.

Milk and cream is the easiest item to substitute, and we've come a long way from relying solely on soymilk as the only option. Though many grocery store now stock a vast selection of plant-based milks, check out our feature during the smoothment on trying various types of plant-based milks at home.

The dairy-free yogurt scene is rapidly growing as well. Soy yogurt has been around for a long time, but coconut yogurt and almond yogurt are becoming extremely popular nowadays, and are now sold in the yogurt section right alongside dairy in many stores. You can use these alternatives the exact same way you'd use cow or goat yogurt in any recipe - they are seamless swaps.

Hard core ice cream fan? Not a problem. One bite of coconut ice cream and you'll likely swear off any dairy competitor forever… yes, it's THAT good. You can also get really creative with making your own ice cream as well, which allows even more flexibility in incorporating healthy ingredients, such as our recipe for Maple Maca Ice Cream - hello YUM.

I know what you're thinking. What about cheese? In addition to some pretty awesome new dairy-free brands on the supermarket shelf, you can also make incredible soft cheeses using what is perhaps the greatest tool of all in the dairy-free world: cashews. Raw cashews are an incredible nut: in addition to protein, minerals, and healthy fats, they have a significant starch content for a nut. For this reason, cashews offer a delectably mild, slightly sweet, creamy flavor that can be soaked, blended, and even fermented into spreads, cream cheese, salad dressings like ranch, and even artisan cheese rounds. Many chefs consider cashews a bit like the cows of the plant world! Try them yourself, with this recipe for creamy Cashew Chipotle Cheese.

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