The choice of dairy-free alternatives used to be extremely limited. But now you no longer have to rely on the long-life soya milk solely – instead there are fantastic fresh versions of soya milk, as well as oat, rice and nut milks. There are also non-cow milks, such as goat and sheep, which some dairy-intolerant people can tolerate. Bring milks, cheese, yogurts and creams back into your diet – and enjoy the variety of tastes available to you. What’s more, it’s easy to make your own nutritious nut milks – and they’re all utterly delicious.
Deliciously smooth, coconut cream can be thickened by heating it with cornflour and whisking thoroughly. This can be used to make mouth-watering desserts such as mousses and fools, as well as in baking generally. This is a little hard to get hold of, but well worth the effort.
related ingredients: coconut milk
Coconut milk deserves a separate mention to the rest of the nuts milks as it is such a valuable alternative to cow’s milk. Used widely in Asian recipes, especially curries and soups, such as Thai Pumpkin Soup, it is also fantastic for baking and making desserts.
related recipes: thai prawn curry
related ingredients: oat milk
If you’re dairy-intolerant, it’s worth testing both this and sheep’s milk, as many people can tolerate still them. You’ll find these more widely available now and, as well as being a good alternative to cow’s milk, they are also high in calcium.
related recipes: plum crumble
It’s often easy to find almond milk in health food stores, and a wider range of nut milks are now becoming available as well. Packed with high amounts of nutrients from the various nuts, these are excellent alternatives to cow’s milk. You can also make your own extremely easily. Cover approximately 225g/8oz/11/2 cups of whichever nut you chose with 750ml/11/4 pints/3 cups water and leave to soak overnight. In the morning blend the nuts with a little of the water and gradually pour in the remaining water, blending all the while, until it becomes a fine milk. Add honey to taste if you like.
related ingredients: oat milk, coconut milk
Oats contain gluten, so if you’re gluten-intolerant it’s important to avoid this milk. If you can tolerate gluten, though, this is a delicious milk which is high in antioxidants including avenanthramides and vitamin E, B-vitamins, fibre and silica. With a low GI, oats release sugar slowly, making them an excellent option with cereal at breakfast time, as you will feel fuller for longer.
related recipes: tarte tatin
Whilst many oil margarines contain cow’s milk products, including whey, it is possible to buy organic olive oil margarine which doesn’t – but do make sure you check the ingredients thoroughly. This has a more subtle taste than the soya margarines and is also highly versatile for cooking.
related recipes: chocolate and hazelnut brownies, raspberry tarts, green goddess omelette, the ultimate gluten-free & dairy-free chocolate cake, raspberry and rosewater cupcakes, chocolate birthday cake, cherry pie
Packed with B-vitamins and minerals such magnesium and iron, rice also has a low GI and is full of fibre. This makes it an excellent choice for using with cereals and breakfast recipes such as smoothies as it will help keep the hunger pangs away, making you less likely to reach for biscuits or cakes mid-morning.
related ingredients: oat milk, nut milks, coconut milk
If you can tolerate lactose, this is a good alternative to cheese made from cow’s milk. Characterised by a rich, sweet taste and smooth texture, there are a wide variety of sheep’s cheeses available. You’ll find hard versions which are good for grating, as well as soft versions which can be spread easily.
related recipes: brioche with caramelized peaches
With a rich, slightly sweet taste, sheep’s milk offers an good alternative to cow’s milk, if you’re not intolerant to lactose. Full of minerals such as calcium and zinc as well as B vitamins, you can buy it either fresh or frozen – and keep in the freezer for up to four months. If you can tolerate this milk, you’ll find there’s a good variety of products made from this – not just the milk, but yogurt and cheese, too.
related recipes: coconut panacotta
related ingredients: goat’s milk, sheep’s cheese
Sheep’s yogurt is utterly delicious and makes a wonderful breakfast dish or dessert especially when combined with fruit, nuts and honey. If you can tolerate lactose, you can use it just like normal yogurt, to add creaminess and volume to recipes.
related ingredients: sheep’s milk, sheep’s cheese
There is now also a fantastic selection of soya cheeses available – which make it possible to add a cheesey taste and texture to many recipes. Try it simply melted on toast, or add it to sauces such as Pesto Pasta, soups, fillings and risottos such as Broad Bean and Pancetta Risotto, or in your baking, or just sprinkle shavings over the top, for example on a pizza, such as Parma Ham and Rocket Pizza.
related recipes: pesto pasta, harry’s nut-free pesto pasta, cherry pie
related ingredients: soya milk, tofu, soya margarines, soya bean oil, soya flour
Now you can make creamy sauces, desserts, icings and toppings and much, much more…
You can sometimes find this in large supermarkets, but if you can’t, it’s easy to get hold of this from on-line retailers. Inexpensive and long-lasting, it’s worth stocking up on this as you can use it for a wide variety of recipes.
related recipes: the ultimate gluten-free & dairy-free chocolate cake, strawberry semifreddo, cherry and almond ice cream
related ingredients: soya milk, soya yoghurt, soya cheese, soya margarines
These are widely available now – and are often made with non-hydrogenated fats, making them a superb alternative to normal margarine. You can fry with this, roast, bake and make sauces and fillings and you can also use this in your baking, whether it’s savoury or sweet. It’s best to use soya margarine carefully as sometimes its taste can overpower other (bland) ingredients.
related recipes: brioche with caramelized peaches, chocolate birthday cake, cherry pie
related ingredients: olive oil margarine
Walk down the milk aisle of most large supermarkets now and you’re bound to find fresh soya milk. Available in different flavours, including sugar-free versions which are excellent, these have revolutionised the dairy-free milks! What’s more, they’re high in B-vitamins as well as vitamin E, and contain isoflavones. Soya is often genetically modified, so it is good to buy organic versions if you can find them. Of course, the long-life versions are also available – and these are extremely useful for your storecupboard.
related recipes: blueberry and banana muffins, corn bread, gnocchi with mushroom and pancetta sauce
related ingredients: rice milk, oat milk, nut milks, coconut milk, soya margarines
There is now a superb selection of soya yogurts widely available. Try the fruit-flavoured ones as a snack, or experiment with the natural-flavoured one in a large variety of recipes. You’ll find that this brings a creaminess to recipes, as well as added volume which is often very useful. It’s usually worth blending the yogurt with a hand-held electric blender to a smooth consistency before you use it, especially if adding to soups, sauces or fillings.
related recipes: bircher muesli, prawn, asparagus, pea and mint risotto
related ingredients: soya milk, soya cheese, tofu, soya margarines, soya bean oil, soya flour
Extremely useful for adding volume, especially to fillings and pates, silken tofu is a fantastically useful addition to the storecupboard. You can also buy firmer tofu, and a smoked variety, too. These are both great for dishes such as stir-fries when you want to add protein to a meal.
related ingredients: soya milk, soya margarines