Let me start by saying that after personal research, I have chosen to avoid soy whenever other viable options exist. I will not go into detail here, there is plenty of available information online about the advantages and disadvantages of soy. So while there are soy options available, I only mention the ones here that I use.
Also, coconut is technically classified as a tree nut by the FDA. There is some debate over whether this should be the case. Regardless, before exposing your tree nut-allergic child to coconut, you should consult your allergist. My son can eat coconut so it gives us more options when it comes to dairy alternatives.
CHEESE -- I have found cheese to probably be the most challenging item to substitute. Most cheeses are soy-based. We use a brand called Rice Vegan and it is dairy and soy free and is only available in slices. It melts well and we use it for pizza and sandwiches. The Daiya brand of shredded cheese (and also block cheese now) is popular among vegans so it is worth a try if you need a cheese alternative. There have also been some recent additions to the market, including Teese.
CREAM CHEESE -- Tofutti makes a tofu (soy) based cream cheese that is pretty good. We use it sparingly, but is a great bagel topping and can be used in recipes.
SPREADABLE CHEESE -- Wayfare Foods makes a line of spreadable cheeses called We Can't say it's Cheese. I found these to be ok but my son didn't like them. They are worth a try though!
SOUR CREAM -- Tofutti also makes a tofu (soy) based sour cream. I have only bought it once and can't even recall if I ever used it, but it can also be used in recipes. Also, We Can't say it's Sour Cream is an alternative but I have been unable to locate it in stores.
MILK--Most milk alternatives are enriched (check labels) and will mirror the nutritional content of dairy milk, excluding the fat content. Whole dairy milk is recommended for children 1-2 years old and contains 8g of fat per serving. My son drinks a mix of about 1/2 Vanilla Hemp Milk and 1/2 Unsweetened Coconut Milk. Or, 1/2 Vanilla Hemp Milk and 1/2 Plain Rice Milk. I generally use Coconut Milk for cooking.
- Hemp Milk -- 6g per serving
- Rice Milk -- 2.5g per serving
- Coconut Milk -- 5g per serving (Silk brand is cross-contaminated with almonds!) (So Delicious Brand makes a chocolate coconut milk which tastes wonderful!)
- Flax Milk -- 2g per serving. We've recently discovered this (I've only seen it at Wal-Mart) and I was very excited! However, my son seemed to have a subtle reaction to it, so we have avoided it since.
- Goat Milk -- 7g per serving. Apparently, most people that are allergic to dairy are also allergic to Goat Milk. I would suggest you consult your allergist and perform some testing before trying goat milk.
BUTTERMILK -- Use 1 tablespoon white vinegar and 1 cup Rice Milk. Let sit for 5 minutes.
HEAVY CREAM -- Try using silken tofu, blended with enough milk substitute to reach desired consistency.
YOGURT--We use So Delicious Coconut Milk Yogurt. It contains 6g of fat per 6oz serving which is comparable to whole milk yogurt.
BUTTER/MARGARINE--I use several options depending on what I'm cooking.
- Smart Balance Light -- We use this for everyday use when we need a spreadable butter. Not all Smart Balance products are dairy free, so be sure to check labels.
- Earth Balance Buttery Spread -- We use this occasionally as a spread and I cook with it frequently when I stir-fry vegetables. It has a higher fat and calorie content than Smart Balance. It comes in both a tub and sticks.
- Fleischmann's Unsalted Margarine --This contains Transfats so we use it sparingly but there are some things like frosting for which Earth Balance does not always work well.
ICE CREAM -- There are several brands of frozen treats. You can find soy, rice, and coconut-based ice cream, generally in the natural section of the grocery store. You can also find frozen ice cream bars. We often make our own ice cream or sorbet, check out the Recipes section.
CHOCOLATE CHIPS -- Enjoy Life makes an excellent dairy-free chocolate chip.
OTHER ITEMS TO WATCH FOR:
- BREAD CRUMBS -- Most bread crumbs contain some type of dairy, or are cross-contaminated. There are brands that exist that are dairy free (I buy ours at Whole Foods), or you can make your own!
- BOUILLON -- I make a lot of soup and use bouillon frequently. There are very few brands that do not contain any whey ingredients or are not cross-contaminated.
For a list of hidden dairy ingredients, click here.