Food For Thought: Alternative Dairy or No Dairy?


By Sandy McCall


So have you been thinking that limiting the amount of dairy you consume might be a good idea? Some folks have allergies to dairy but others, like me, just know they would like to eat less—read on …


I have found a couple of fun solutions that I would like to share with you but first, what is the definition of dairy? “Dairy products are generally defined as foods produced from cow’s or domestic buffalo’s milk. They are usually high-energy-yielding food products …”


But what about goat, sheep and camel’s milk? Yes I did say camel’s milk. Since not generally available in the US, we won’t explore camel’s milk here, as most of us won’t be adding it to our diets any time soon.


Dairy products produced from sheep and goat’s milk are similar to those produced from cow’s milk but some feel that they generally produce less allergic reactions. I love feta cheese made from goat or sheep’s milk; I am in the beginning stages of investigating other uses. If you have further info, please share with me what you find!


What about vegetarian alternatives such as yogurt and ice cream made from coconut or almond milks? Because I love both ice cream and yogurt, I have been exploring how to make or buy them. My favorite non-dairy recipe is for Chocolate Ice Cream made from coconut milk. In fact coconut milk, as many are discovering, is a great substitute for some dairy products.


Although I use an ice cream machine, I can see the benefits of not owning one more machine! If you want to make creamy ice cream without a machine, it seems that you have to add more sugar and add other ingredients that limit the ice crystal production.


So, I choose to use a machine instead of more sugar. I purchased a Cuisinart brand machine that is great and it cost less than $75. The other plus is that I can make a pint or quart of dairy-free ice cream in about 30 minutes and 25 minutes of that time is the machine doing the work. The price for a pint is less than $3. and well worth the cost and effort if you are an ice cream lover as I am!! See my yummy recipe below.


NOTE ABOUT SWEETNERS: I have made this ice cream recipe with raw cane sugar (best texture), palm sugar, xylitol, and agave nectar with success but stevia creates an ice cream that freezes very solid and hence is hard to scoop and eat! Maple syrup and honey are sweeteners to try but my experience says they may change the flavor significantly. Palm sugar changes the flavor slightly. We’ll explore sweeteners in another issue! If you have ideas or recipes that use sweeteners other than sugar I would love to hear from you.


This site explores dairy-free options.


I have a friend who says, “I would rather give up eating something that I think is not good for me than to eat a veggie hot dog!” I tend to agree when it comes to veggie dogs and burgers (soy in particular), yet there are some exceptions for me! So I guess it is really a personal thing! Share your thoughts with me!


Ok, check this out. Is butter made from cow’s milk considered a dairy product as compared to other dairy products? You might be surprised at what you read here—the answer is yes and no!!! Read on … remember, not everything we read on the web is true, but I sure would like to think this is true as I do love a small amount of butter. How about you?


Another addition to my goal of eating less dairy is finding a dairy-free yogurt that is appealing to me. Almond yogurt worked quite well and it was thick and creamy—the flavor wasn’t my favorite. Coconut yogurt is a different story. So far, it is the only vegetarian yogurt I have made that is very pleasing to my taste buds and very different than what you buy in the grocery store. I am working on making it thicker hence creamier and there are several possible solutions. Because the flavor is pleasing to me, I don’t add any sweetener and that is an extra benefit. Like the ice cream, it can be produced without a machine but I am convinced that there may be an advantage to buying a yogurt maker. For now, I don’t want to buy another machine so I do a crock-pot version that works pretty well. This seems to be more of a winter project for me and I sometimes make it on my woodstove instead of my crock-pot. I am still working on this recipe so watch for that in a future issue!


As a follow-up to September’s Food for Thought called Gluten, Is there more to the story? I have a good recipe for white pizza using coconut milk for the garlic white sauce and a yeast-free crust with ancient grain wheat pizza flour from Anson Mills. I did use Parmesan cheese as well as sun-dried tomatoes and fresh spinach. Email me and I’ll share my recipe with you.


(For more info on using ancient grain wheat, see the September 2013 column of Food for Thought: Is There More to the Gluten Story?)



coconutDark Chocolate Ice Cream (Dairy Free)
1 can organic coconut milk
(13.66 oz)
1/2 C raw organic cane sugar
(see notes below)
6 T good organic cocoa powder
dash of salt
1/2 t organic vanilla
Put everything in the blender and blend until smooth and pour it in the ice cream maker. In less than 30 minutes it will be ready.



Sandy McCall’s day job is working as the Broker/Owner of Southern Life Realty. When she’s not cooking or loving-up her cat and dogs, she enjoys writing for WNC Woman and volunteering for Madison Habitat for Humanities and Manna Food Bank. – 828-273-9755 –


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Sandy McCall
Written by Sandy McCall