This summer I found out I was allergic to casein, a protein found in all dairy products (anything from a cow), essentially this means I’m allergic to dairy. Only 3% of the population is allergic to it and I had no idea until my new doctor gave me a very comprehensive blood-test . It’s actually not a huge surprise as dairy had made me feel a weird for a while, but the most telling part is that a side effect is also contact dermatitis because casein is sometimes an ingredient in things like detergent or lotion. Remember when I had a fabric softener rash?

So, for the most part I’ve cut dairy out of my diet and feel a lot better. Unfortunately, casein is also in butter (butter comes from a cow), which is super hard in restaurants, so I’ve been a little more lax with that, I mean no more of my chocolate chip cookies EVER? I don’t think so, but I try to keep it to a minimum… One nice thing is that the casein in goat’s milk has a different chemical structure (I learned all about it from this lady), so I’m not as sensitive to that.

In general dairy isn’t a good thing to load up on for anyone, we are not baby cows, so we don’t need cow milk to survive and it’s pretty fatty and cholesteroley too.  Fortunately, food producers are starting to come out with loads of dairy substitutes, so clearly consumers are intersted too (otherwise why would they bother making these products).

Here are some of the non-dairy products I’ve discovered, some you can’t even taste the difference, some you can, so if you’re allergic to dairy or just want to feel a little healthier. Enjoy my reviews!

Silk Soymilk: There a LOT of soymilks on the market and studies are coming out all the time about whether soy is good or bad, however I’ve concluded out of all the milk substitutes out there (soy, rice, hemp, cashew nut etc) it tastes the best to me. My favorite brand is Silk, and the soybeans they use are non GMO. In a nutshell (or soyshell), non GMO soybeans are pesticide free and are not genetically modified by Monsanto to be resistant to everything. In other words they are REAL and from nature. If you want to know more about soybeans watch Food Inc. My favorite variety of Silk is Vanilla Light, the vanilla flavor is good in coffee, and light is basically the equivalent of skim milk. If you check out nutrition facts on lots of soymilks they are actually fatty and don’t contain many vitamins, while Silk is fortified with all the vitamins you’d get from regular milk. In general, when buying “fake” milk, make sure it’s fortified and check out the nutritional content. Also, soy protein is lower in cholesterol and fat than protein in dairy.

Earth Balance: This margarine is the one all gluten/casein/anything allergics love, and I’ve decided I love it too. Again, it is soy based, non GMO, and not as fatty as butter. There are lots of butter substitutes out there and most contain lots of dyes and chemicals to simulate that butter taste. Earth Balance is natural, organic and tasty too. You can also bake with it, but I have yet to experiment with using it in cookies, more on that in another post!

Silk Yogurt: Back to Silk. The thing I miss the most is yogurt, I ate it every day and soy yogurt really isn’t as good. I dabbled with coconut milk yogurt, but it has a lot of fat and after trying several brands of soy I decided Silk tastes the most like real yogurt, especially when you add some granola. Their flavors are good too, whereas some other brands flavors just taste kinda weird, fruit and soy don’t totally mix.

Laura’s Wholesome Junkfood: I discovered these little guys thanks to Melissa G. Laura, a doctor, makes sweet treats in the form of “bitelettes.” The majority are vegan and most are gluten-free. My favorite are the Oatmeal Chocolate Chip, but she also has some named “Charlotte’s Chocolate Chip,” SUCH a good name. They all taste great and are a perfect sweet treat! I’ve only seen them at Whole Foods so far, hopefully bigger stores will start stocking them!

Tofutti: I haven’t had much luck finding a good cheese substitute. Most fake cheeses actually contain casein since it’s a good protein and stabilizer, no good! The ladies at Skinny Bitch were pissed when they found that out. However, Tofutti cream cheese is awesome. You can’t even taste the difference. As a sneaky test I put it on my Dad’s bagel and he had no idea (I did tell him after). Now I can have bagels and cream cheese again, wahoo! They also make ice cream, sour cream and some fake mozerella cheese that I have yet to try!

Fake Parm: I came across this brand of vegan parmesan at Whole Foods and gave it a whirl. It’s a great substitute, and again, Dad had no idea! There’s no sneaky casein in it and their website has some good recipes. I mean you can’t have pasta without a little parm and this product solves my problem!

Laloo’s: Goat Milk ice cream? Really? That’s what I said when I first saw Laloos, a goat milk based ice cream, but after trying it (they were giving out samples at Whole Foods), I was converted. As I mentioned above goat milk is somewhat okay to eat and Laloo’s doesn’t make my stomach upset. It’s a little weird at first, but once you get used to the taste it’s great. The texture is a bit creamier, more like gelato. My favorite flavors are rumplemint (mint choco-chip) and caprachino, capra is goat in latin, clever guys.

I am sure this list could be a whole lot longer. I am still on the search for a good fake cheese for sandwiches. I’ve tried a few but they taste like barf. If you have anything else to add and/or want to suggest some vegan cheese please do so in the comments!