For those of us who can’t have dairy, whether that be due to an allergy or dietary choice, it can be very difficult to know what we can eat, especially if we are new to the lifestyle, or if we are staying with friends/family who are also not used to having to cater for this. As such, I am going to compile a shortlist of staple foods that I always like to have in my cupboards, that I know I can safely eat.
Peanut Butter - Obviously this is a no go for those of you who have peanut allergies, but for the rest of us, peanut butter can be a life-saver. It’s great on toast, or in a sandwich, in a milkshake, or even in houmous if you’re making it! It’s high in protein and contains a surprising amount of minerals including magnesium and zinc.
2) Baking Potatoes - Baking potatoes are obviously incredibly versatile. Another plus is that they are gluten free too, for those that also cannot consume gluten. Put some beans with this, and dairy-free butter or cheese if you like, or tuna salad, or vegetables… the list of ways to customise this meal is endless. Equally, you can whip up mashed potato with ease too.
3) Falafel - Falafel is a great snack, or addition to any main meal, be it lunch or dinner. It is usually made of chickpeas, alongside other vegetables and herbs, e.g spinach and sweet potato. Falafel is filling, a tasty, and particularly helpful for those who don’t eat meat as well as dairy. You can make a nice salad with falafel, or even create a wrap with falafel inside it. You can choose to have it hot or cold too.
4) Curry Sauce - You have to be careful with this one, to check the labels to ensure your sauce is dairy-free, but if you find one, you can quickly create a delicious meal. Typically baltis, bhunas and hotter curries such as madras do not contain milk, but I really do recommend checking the label. If you prefer kormas but have become distraught at every korma label reading ‘cream’ and ‘milk,’ then fear not; ‘Uncle Ben’s Medium Curry’ is only a little stronger than a korma, with the same distinctive coconut flavour, but is entirely free from dairy! With these sauces, you can add chickpeas, spinach, peppers, onions, and anything else you might like to create a delicious curry that will be ready in only ten minutes.
5) Balsamic Vinegar - This ingredient can add a nice sharp flavour to many dishes, and is a safe, dairy-free salad dressing any time you might need it. It works particularly well with a mediterranean salad.
6) Nakd Bars - ‘Nakd’ produce dairy free, gluten free snacks, that also, handily, contain one of your five a day. They have a wide range of flavoured bars, usually made from only ingredients such as almonds, dates, cashews and raisins, for example. My personal favourite is their ‘Lemon Drizzle’ bar, that honestly tastes like a sweet pudding, but is actually just made from fruit and nuts. They are surprisingly filling, and are a great snack, or breakfast on the go.
7) Cocoa Powder - Cocoa powder is great, because you can make anything chocolatey with it! You can have a coffee mocha, or hot cocoa, or even make a chocolate cake with it. It blends with with some sugar (or sweetener) and any dairy free milk you choose.
8) Fruit - It goes without saying that fruit is a perfect sweet treat for those who can’t have dairy. If you aren’t overly keen on fruit, try ‘Urban Fruit’ - they do a range of gently baked fruits such as strawberries and raspberries, that contain all the benefits of fresh strawberries, but taste like a sweet! Chopped dates are another great snack, high in fibre, they have a naturally sweet caramel-type flavour.
9) Beans - Not just baked beans (though they’re great) - but black beans, borlotti beans, kidney beans… all beans! They are high in protein and can work as part of many different meals; chilli, a stir fry, in a wrap, or as part of a salad, to name just a few examples. They enhance any meal, and are extremely healthy,
10) Houmous - Houmous is a versatile spread that can stop any sandwich from being dry, without leaving you panicking about dairy. It can go in wraps, or to accompany a salad, or it can just be used as a dip for vegetables or bread.