Dairy Alternatives 101: A guide to understanding substitutes

2 Mins read

A dairy-free diet is something many people are switching over to, in recent years. However, finding replacements for all the dairy products in your kitchen and replacing them with the most suitable alternatives can seem like a daunting task. Whether it is lactose intolerance, going vegan or for fitness, here’s a guide to understanding dairy alternatives and picking the one best for you. 

When it comes to regular cow milk, one cup of whole milk contains around 149 calories, 8 grams of protein, and 8 grams of fat. It also contains calcium and potassium. Many suppliers might add vitamin D to their milk as well for better calcium absorption.

Milk Alternatives

There are several plant-based kinds of milk just as nutritious as cow milk available in stores and some that can be homemade.

  • Coconut Oil: coconut oil is used for preparing for multiple South Indian dishes and is a 1:1 replacement for butter. However, it is also known to increase levels of bad cholesterol, increasing cardiovascular risk. If you have high cholesterol, talk to a doctor before switching to coconut oil.
  • Olive oil: The distinct flavour of olive oil works well for many Indian dishes as well.
  • Avocado: the creamy and smooth texture works perfectly for baking recipes as a butter replacement.
  • Banana: can be used as a replacement for butter in sweet dishes.

Cheese Alternatives

  • Almond Milk: A popular milk alternative, one cup of almond milk contains 30 to 50 Calories, 1 gram of protein and 2.5 grams of fat. It is also rich in vitamin D. Almond milk can be store-bought or homemade as well. Its nutty taste suits best for smoothies, muffins and soups. 
  • Soy Milk: For people with nut allergies, Soy milk becomes a great milk alternative. One cup of soy milk contains approximately 80 calories, 6 grams of protein, 2 to 4 grams of fat. For people that might not get used to the peculiar taste, flavoured soy milk can help.
  • Coconut Milk: One cup of milk coconut milk contains approximately 450 calories, 4 grams of protein and 50 grams of fat. You can buy from stores or even make by yourselves at home. Coconut milk works excellent with coffees as creamers and in curries as well.
  • Oat Milk: Incredibly low in fat, Oat milk also has a naturally sweet taste. Hence an excellent option for using in desserts and beverages. One cup of oat milk approximately contains 120 calories, 3 grams of protein and 5 grams of fat.
  • Macadamia milk: One cup approximately contains 50–55 calories, 4.5–5 grams of fat, 1–5 grams of protein. Although it’s a type of vegan milk that is new in the market, macadamia milk is low in carbohydrates hence an excellent choice for someone cutting down carbs in their diet.

Butter Alternatives

Plant-based kinds of margarine are commonly available in the market. However, some commonly available and easy to find alternative are:

Finding a replacement for cheese can be a bit difficult with vegan alternatives with the same consistency and texture as regular cheese. 

  • Tofu /Paneer: These plant-based cheeses can be used as a replacement for soft cheeses and in the form of spreads and dips.

Multiple store-bought options are available as well made with vegan milk.

Ice Cream Alternatives

Some dairy-free alternatives to indulge in your ice cream cravings are:

  • Frozen banana puree
  • Coconut milk ice cream
  • Almond milk ice cream
  • Avocado
  • Mixed berry puree

Companies like Eclipse in America have invented vegan ice cream that tastes exactly like it’s milk counterpart. There are a few options available in India as well, expect them to only get better in the next few years.

Choosing the right alternatives can actually provide more benefits than what you made the switch for. However, it is important to keep in mind that you must always check the nutritional info on the pack or look them up on the internet, before making the switch.

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