In a traditional Western diet, dairy is everywhere, and if you have an allergy or are lactose intolerant, it can feel almost impossible to avoid these foods. Fortunately for those with a sensitive stomach, there are a ton of delicious dairy-free alternative foods to munch on when you're looking to curb a cheesy craving.
There's still no suitable therapy available against cow's milk allergy except avoidance, so dairy alternatives may be necessary. It's important for anyone going dairy-free to be aware of the nutrients that they were getting from dairy and to consume them in other foods. The nutrients most at risk if dairy products are excluded are calcium, potassium, and magnesium.
As long as you do your research and make sure all essential vitamins and nutrients are accounted for, going dairy-free has a ton of health benefits, including a healthy gut, and even clear skin.
From faux cheese packets to nut substitutions, here are a few snack foods to indulge in that are better for your body and won't hurt your stomach.
1. Cashew Milk Ice Cream
You can trust me on this one, friends: If ice cream is your weakness, there are a ton of dairy-free alternatives that taste just as good (some even better) than the real thing.
Enter SO Delicious Dairy Free ice cream, which has pretty much converted even the most die-hard ice cream connoisseurs (myself included). They have collections of cashew, coconut, almond, and soy pints, but the Snickerdoodle Cashew Milk Ice Cream is hands-down my favorite of their products to date.
2. Almond Milk Yogurt
A few months ago, I gave up Greek yogurt, which was especially scary for me, as yogurt was one of my main sources of protein in my new vegetarian diet.
But the fact is, dairy yogurt is not kind to my stomach, so to ease the pain, I had to pass.
It took a few containers of trial and error to find my new staple, but Kite Hill Food's plain almond yogurt packs six grams of protein and only five grams of sugar. Normally I'm not about plain yogurts, but this one is far from bitter-tasting.
Jackie Newgent, registered dietitian nutritionist, classically-trained chef, and author of several cookbooks including The With or Without Meat Cookbook, tells Elite Daily,
Almond milk has proven to be a satisfying option for people who are looking to avoid lactose, eat fewer animal products, get less saturated fat and cholesterol, and, in the case of unsweetened almond milk, watch their calories or sugar. Plain, unsweetened almond milk is a low-carb option with zero grams of sugar, and no saturated fat.
In addition to this pint's nutritional benefits, you'll never know the difference between tastes once you top it off with a handful of berries and a swirl of nut butter.
3. Vegan Cheese
You don't have to tell me twice -- I know damn well cheese is life, but if your stomach can't properly digest it, a plant-based substitute might be worth trying.
Daiya offers dairy-free cheese products like individual slices, pizza, mac and cheese, even cream cheese that are just as rich in flavor.
Bonus: Because they are made dairy-free, these food items have a longer shelf life!
4. Nut Butter
There's nothing like a piece of toast coated with butter and jelly.
The bad news? Butter is made with heavy whipping cream, and that's a whole lot of dairy for a quick spread.
Substitute for nut butters instead! Traditional butter doesn't boast a ton of health benefits, but peanut, almond, and cashew butters offer a significant amount of protein and healthy fats to hold you over until lunch.
5. Nutritional Yeast
Nutritional yeast is a favorite ingredient among plant-based foodies to achieve that cheesy taste without ever having to involve dairy in a meal.
I personally love to sprinkle a tablespoon or so on my eggs, but you could also add it to popcorn for a nutritious boost.
6. Coconut Whipped Cream
If you thought giving up ice cream would be hard, let's talk toppings.
Sure, whipped cream is a staple for sundaes, but it's also an epic snack (don't pretend like you never squirted some straight from the can into your mouth when no one was looking).
Brands like SO Delicious and Nature's Charm sell coconut alternatives, or you can easily make your own dairy-free whipped cream.