Our daughter, age 6, was recently diagnosed with some dairy sensitivities. Her pediatrician said she doesn’t have to avoid all dairy all the time… she could have a slice of pizza at a birthday party if she wants, but she’ll probably experience some digestive trouble or it could cause her eczema to flare up.
We’d prefer to keep her as dairy-free as possible since it causes inflammation. I’ve read that we shouldn’t just go straight to soy-everything because of pesticides and estrogen? So, we’d really like to know what are the best dairy-substitutes that are healthy and kid-friendly.
Dairy can be a highly inflammatory food, particularly for those in the U.S. where animals are generally given antibiotics and growth hormones and where they’re fed a diet of grains. Choosing a reliable organic source would be a good choice for those times when your daughter does eat dairy to ensure she’s consuming a cleaner and healthier source.
Depending on the type of sensitivity, either lactose and/or casein (the milk protein), she might be able to eat ghee if she is lactose sensitive, but not if she is casein sensitive.
According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, “Milk is one of eight allergens with specific labeling requirements under the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004. That law requires manufacturers of packaged food products sold in the U.S. and containing milk as an ingredient to include the presence of milk or milk products, in clear language, on the ingredient label.”
Ensuring she has a good source of calcium is vital for healthy teeth and bones. Calcium also helps the body maintain healthy blood vessels, regulate blood pressure, and prevent insulin resistance (which could lead to Type 2 diabetes). Some great sources are wild salmon, white beans, sardines, bok choy, kale, almonds, sesame seeds, seaweed, collard green, broccoli, figs, and oranges.
To avoid dairy all together, there are some great alternatives, but you’ll want to read labels consistently. Most nut milks bought in the store must be shelf-stable, which translates to added ingredients for a longer shelf life and added flavor (often via sugar). Also it can be costly to produce nut milk so some manufacturers cut back on the nuts and add more water instead.
The good news is: it’s simple to make nut milk at home. If you have a good blender, making almond milk is very easy. Soak almonds overnight (to soften), rinse, and place in the blender with fresh filtered water and blend on high. Strain the milk, and you can even use the pulp for muffins or cookies. If you prefer a little flavor, add dates or pure vanilla. You can do the same with hemp seeds, macadamia nuts, cashews, and more. Your milk will always be fresh and you’ll know exactly what’s in it.
For a tasty cheese alternative cashew cheese is nutritious and very versatile. For recipes that require a cream cheese for example, or for “cheesecakes” soaking cashews and blending them into a recipe is a delicious and creamy alternative. You can even make cashew cheese at home and add in your favorite ingredients such as peppers, garlic, herbs etc.
For pizza toppings, try a little organic raw cheese and then pump up the cheesy flavor by sprinkling nutritional yeast on the top. Nutritional yeast is a great source of B vitamins and the cheesy flavor goes well on pizza.
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