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Dairy FAQ's: Allergies, Calcium, Myths, Recipe Ideas!

Posted Mar 23 2010 5:55pm
Today I want to Discuss Dairy, including my thoughts Why You Should Avoid It, discuss Dairy Intolerance/Allergies and what To Do, discuss Calcium, and Provide some of my Favorite Recipes, which are all vegan, therefore inherently dairy-free!

1.  First, Consider Omitting or Avoiding Dairy!
You ask, but why? "I love my cheese and Greek Yogurt," you say!

Please See This Guest Post that Gena of Choosing Raw did on my Blog About Ditching Dairy .  In a nutshell, dairy is hard to digest, it's mucous-producing, it contains bovine hormones, it's gas-producing, it can gum-up your digestion, and really animal-based dairy products are not needed in our diets, or in my case, desired.

2. You're Probably Addicted to Dairy.  Google the word Casomorphin.  Or, See This Post of Mine .  
When we digest milk protein, a protein fragment called casomorphin results.  Casomorphins have a morphine-like effect on the brain, which actually addicts someone to milk and dairy products.  I wanted to break the dairy addiction for myself and for my family.  I am dairy-free and Skylar and Scott eat very minimal amounts of cheese or yogurt.  Once a month Skylar may have a bite of cheese or an ounce of yogurt, same with Scott.  In a perfect world they'd be dairy-free, but we're a 98% dairy free household if I had to put a number to it.  Life is about making choices and overwhelmingly we choose to avoid dairy, but if a little trace dairy creeps in, it's not the end of the world for us.

Scott Loved Ice Cream and was Addcited to Ice Cream!  Pesky casomorphins!

Now He Lives for Banana Softserve: 
High Raw Vegan Banana Bourbon Vanilla Softserve
It's Really Thick and Delish!
And he adores Peanut Butter Banana Softserve !

3. This is for the Tons of Questions I receive about dairy intolerance/food allergies....

You Think You May Be Dairy Intolerant- either Lactose Intolerant or Milk Protein (Casein) Sensitive-And What to Do Now
You could be intolerant/reacting to either the lactose (sugar) in milk or 
Intolerant/reacting to the milk protein (casein).  

Either way, what I recommend for the many, many, many of you who write to me complaining of tummy troubles, and wondering what you should do or eliminate or if you're intolerant to a particular food, the first thing I say is Eliminate Dairy, Followed by Gluten.  Those are the very common allergenic offenders.

After a 2 week trial of eliminating those foods, and don't add in soy as a "replacement" for the dairy and while you're at it, try to reduce your overall soy intake, too; you should see marked improvement in your tummy troubles or your brain fog, moodiness, or other "vague" symptoms. 

**For More info on my story and How I Got to the Bottom of My Food Allergies and Intolerances, Read This Post .

It's a game of trial and error, old-school detective work, and although there are tests that western MD's can run, they frequently produce false negatives, so you need to do much of the detective work on your own.  Make a suspect list of foods you think could be causing the problems, keep a food diary of what you ate, because days/weeks later it can be very useful, and cut out dairy & gluten for 2 weeks and be very strict and see how you feel in 2 weeks.  If you're not feeling any better, it's not necessarily because dairy is "safe" for you; it could still mean there's a reaction there, but that you haven't found the Other Foods that You're Reacting to, as well.

It's time-consuming and can be frustrating, but the results are worth it.  
*No amount of dairy, or whatever your allergen turns out to be, will taste as good as you feel from the relief of your symptoms.  
 Remember that when you feel like you'll never get to the bottom of figuring out your food allergies!

4. But What About Calcium?  
First, this is going to sound paradoxical and borders on sacrilege for some of you, but drinking Milk actually reduces the amount of calcium your body absorbs.  
Because milk is high in phosphorous which actually leeches calcium from the bones.
Fellow San Diegan, Dr. Linda Palmer addresses and debunks the Calcium Argument in This Article
"Phosphorous is important for bone development as well, but cow's milk has too much of this, causing decreased calcium availability. " 
"Dairy's high calcium content causes relative deficiencies in magnesium and other bone-building minerals, and its high phosphorus and animal protein reduces calcium availability. Physical activity has the greatest benefit - the body efficiently uses what is available to build strong bones when it senses the need. Human milk and vegetable sources are superior to dairy for calcium and other nutrients in many ways.  
5. How Much Calcium Do You Need and How To Get It? ( Source)  
How about calcium?
Adequate intakes of calcium vary according to one's age:

1200 mg for age 50 or above
1000 mg for ages 19-49
800 mg for ages 4-8
500 mg for ages 1-3

A number of vegan foods contain high levels of calcium per serving:
calcium-set tofu (120-200mg per 0.5 cup)
fortified soymilk
(200-300 mg per cup
dried figs
(50 mg per fig)
fortified orange juice
(250 mg per cup)
collard greens
(180 mg per 0.5 cup)
sesame seeds
(180 mg per 2 Tbsp)
baked beans
(130 mg per cup)
(90 mg per 0.5 cup)
(50 mg per 2 Tbsp)
(50 mg per 0.5 cup)

6. Avoid  Tums or other "calcium supplements".  They do More Harm than Good!
One way to incorporate Calcium in Your Diet that is simply eat more dark, green leafy veggies like kale, collards, or chard; broccoli, boy choy, or whatever suits your palate.   Plant-based calcium is more readily assimilated by the body.

If however, you still want to supplement your calcium, again don't use Calcium Chews, Tums, etc because they are not readily assimilated by the body.  
Rather, Add a Calcium Supplement like This One: Natural Calm that I discussed in This Post
Look for Natural Calm: Magnesium Plus Calcium 
And as an aside, those of you who suffer from insomina and restlessness, and/or sluggish digestion, you could very likely be magnesium-depleted as I discussed in This Post so look into this product if that fits for you.

*If You Want to Buy This Product, they sell it at Whole Foods, but it's twice the price so you can shop at
Use my code: AVE630 and save $5 Off your First Order!

7. Remember that You Need Vitamin D to Help With Calcium Absorption
Vitamin D & Calcium Absorption
Eating foods rich in calcium is not the only consideration regarding the maintenance of calcium levels. Vitamin D is necessary for calcium absorption. The most important source of this vitamin is the action of sunlight on skin.  It is important to get regular exposure to natural light, in order to manufacture adequate supplies of vitamin D.  This is why I am not big on sunscreen, either. 

8. Preventing Calcium Loss
Eating a high salt diet, eating large amounts of protein from animal and fish sources, not getting enough potassium (obtained from fruits and vegetables), and consuming caffeinated drinks are all things that cause calcium to be excreted from the body, and therefore the depletion of calcium stores.

9. Plant-Based Sources of Calcium
Food Amount Calcium (mg)
Blackstrap molasses 2 Tbsp 400
Collard greens, cooked 1 cup 357
Tofu, processed with
   calcium sulfate *
4 ounces     200-330
Calcium-fortified orange juice 8 ounces 300
Soy or ricemilk, commercial,
    calcium-fortified, plain
8 ounces 200-300
Commercial soy yogurt, plain 6 ounces   80-250
Turnip greens, cooked 1 cup 249
Tofu, processed with nigari * 4 ounces   80-230
Tempeh 1 cup 215
Kale, cooked 1 cup 179
Soybeans, cooked 1 cup 175
Okra, cooked 1 cup 172
Bok choy, cooked 1 cup 158
Mustard greens, cooked 1 cup 152
Tahini 2 Tbsp 128
Broccoli, cooked 1 cup   94
Almonds 1/4 cup   89
Almond butter 2 Tbsp   86
Soy milk, commercial, plain 8 ounces   80
*Read the label on your tofu container to see if it is processed with calcium sulfate or nigari.
Note: Oxalic acid, which is found in spinach, rhubarb, chard, and beet greens binds with the calcium in those foods and reduces its absorption. These foods should not be considered good sources of calcium. Calcium in other green vegetables, like kale, collard greens, Chinese mustard greens, and Chinese cabbage flower leaves is well absorbed 1 , 19 . Fiber appears to have little effect on calcium absorption except for the fiber in wheat bran that does have a small effect 20 .
Sources: Composition of Foods. USDA Nutrient Data Base for Standard Reference, Release 18, 2005 and Manufacturer's information.

10. "I've heard that Goat's Milk or Goat's Milk Cheese is Better for you?"
I'd say different, I wouldn't say better.  See Dr. Sears' site for more discussion on the different protein, fat, mineral compositions: 
Different protein. Goat milk protein forms a softer curd (the term given to the protein clumps that are formed by the action of your stomach acid on the protein), which makes the protein more easily and rapidly digestible. Theoretically, this more rapid transit through the stomach could be an advantage to infants and children who regurgitate cow's milk easily. Goat's milk may also have advantages when it comes to allergies. Goat's milk contains only trace amounts of an allergenic casein protein, alpha-S1, found in cow's milk. Goat's milk casein is more similar to human milk, yet cow's milk and goat's milk contain similar levels of the other allergenic protein, beta lactoglobulin.
I am passionate about human milk for human babies; I am a certified lactation educator and believe so strongly about the benefits of human milk.  Goat's milk is much closer in composition to human milk than cow's milk is; but it's still milk from another animal species which is not something I am interested in ingesting for my own dietary path and needs.

11.  Here Are Lots of Dairy Free Recipes.  All are vegan, all are gluten & soy free, too! 

"What am I going to drink if I can't drink cow's milk?"
Well, you can buy nut & seeds milks such as almond, cashew, hemp, soy, or oat milks...or just make your own because it's really easy and you can control the ingredients this way, too!  

Two Recipes for Nut Milks-
1. Using Prepared Almond Butter or Peanut Butter or Cashew Butter or Coconut Butter
Recipe From this Post of Mine:
Quick Almond Milk or Peanut Butter Milk or Coconut Butter Milk Recipe
This recipe is a quick solution when you need almond milk for a recipe, but realize you're out or don't want to open a whole new container of it.

1-2 tablespoons (raw) almond/peanut/cashew/coconut butter 
1 cup water

In blender, combine almond butter with water. Blend until smooth. 
Optional: Add vanilla extract, stevia, agave, etc if you want it flavored
Refrigerate. Use within 1 day.
Yields 1 cup.

2. Using Raw Nuts to Make Nut Milk
There are also numerous recipes on the web for making your own nut milks but the general way is to:
Soak 1 cup of almonds or cashews for a few hours or overnight; drain and rinse well.  
Add the cup of soaked nuts to 2 to 4 cups of water depending on taste preference.
Blend in a Vita or Food Processor
Strain through a cheesecloth or nut milk bag, and if you don't have those a new pair of pantyhose works as a cheapie straining device.
Add vanilla extract, stevia, agave, etc if you want it flavored.
Voila, nut milk is served!

Dinner or Savory Recipe Ideas...

Want to make dairy-free pasta sauce?
Raw Vegan Marinara Sauce and Zucchini Pasta
Mix it up and voila, dinner is served. 

Or maybe Peanut Sauce and With Veggies and Zucchini Pasta is More Your Speed!
 The Zucchini Pasta tastes just like "real" pasta to us!

"I can't give up dairy because I love yogurt!"
I've gotcha covered!   Make homemade counterop vegan Coconut Milk Kefir.   

 Simply let the Coconut Milk Kefir ferment longer and thicken more for a more yogurt-like consistency.   

And there's always soy yogurt which I don't choose to eat, but it exists.   
Or try you hand at Nut-Gurt.  Soak Cashews like I do for my Raw Vegan Cheesecake ...
 ...And rather than adding the lemon juice to The Recipe , add a capsule of probiotic powder and let the fermentation proceess begin!  In 12 hours, you'll have Nut-Gurt!

"I can't give up dairy because I love cheese!"
Craving Cheese, you say?  I've gotcha covered!
Nutritional Yeast = NoochIt's a cheezy-tasting vegan alternative to cheese. 

I did and Entire Post About Nooch , including 11 Cheezy Recipes !

Raw Cheddar Dipping Sauce for Veggies or as a Salad Dressing

One Pot Gluten Free Vegan Mac-N-Cheese with Nooch.   This will keep you warm in your tummy without having to use any Kraft Easy Mac!

Or Try Nut Pates for a filling, dairy-free, yet protein-packed meal:
Add 2 Tbsp of Nooch to my Sweet & Tangy Chicken-Less Salad
The Nooch will add a slightly cheeze-infused flavor to the Sweet-n-Tangy Chicken-Less Salad and will complement & balance the slight sweetness of the O.J. & Agave in This Recipe

Or, Another Idea
Add 2 Tbsp Nooch to My Sweet-n-Nutty Un-Chicky Salad Recipe
Serve the Sweet-n-Nutty Un-Chicky Salad with Nooch over a Bed of Greens.  Dulse Flakes for added savory flavor work wonderfully with nooch.

Need Another Cheeze Dip or Spread Recipe?
See This Post  
Averie's Raw Vegan Cheezy Spread
1 c raw cashews (soaked for a few hours)
3-4 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast (nooch).  More if you like things really cheezy flavored like I do!
2-3 Tbsp Lemon Juice
Salt & Pepper to Taste
Optional other spices added to taste: garlic, onions, cumin, etc.
Yields: Approx 1 cup of Vegan Cheezy Spread 

Maybe Use the Raw Vegan Cheezy Spread for Vegan Quesadillas
See my Vegan Sweet Ginger-Cumin-Lime Dipping Sauce drooling pooling off?
I love the simplicity of the Vegan Quesadillas and they're so satisfying!  And you can customize them, by adding Vegan Sweet Ginger-Cumin-Lime Dipping Sauce   or Raw Vegan Cheezy Spread to them!

Need Something To Wash all that Savory Food Down With?
Here's an Easy Smoothie Recipe for anyone who's looking for non-dairy sources of calcium. 
This smoothie is high in plant-based calcium, thanks to the kale and the sesame seeds in the tahini.

Green Calcium-Charged Smoothie
3 leaves kale
1 apple, cored
1 date
2 cups water
1 tbsp tahini
Optional: 1 scoop protein powder
Yields about 3 ½ cups, or 2 large servings
More Kale & Smoothie Info Here

Time For Dairy-Free Desserts!!!!!  My Favorite Thing To Make!!!!!

Feeling like you'd like to Make Cookies but don't know how to make them Vegan (dairy free of course) and also Gluten & Soy Free?

Cookie Ideas...
Raw Vegan Chocolate Chocolate-Chip Cookies

Or make some High Raw Vegan Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Or Maybe some Vegan Maple-Nut Chocolate Oaties

Or, For All My Vegan Chocolate Dessert Recipes, Click Here***

Raw Vegan Peanut Butter Cups Reese's, you better watch yourselves.
Raw Vegan Dark Chocolate Fudge Balls

High Raw Vegan Chocolate "Turtles"
 Or Vegan Creme de Menthe Bars (No-Bake )
Or Raw Vegan Chocolate Mousse -4 Ingredients and 5 Minutes!
Thanks to everyone who's made the Raw Vegan Chocolate Mousse and written to tell me you love it!

And For All Vegan Dessert Ball Recipes, Click Here**

High Raw Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls
Raw Vegan Peanut Butter (or Sunflower Seed Butter) Vanilla Balls

And don't forget the  Vegan Guiltless & Fast Vanilla Hot Cocoa to wash all those cookies and desserts down with!
Everything I Make is Vegan so there's never any dairy!  And hopefully these recipes help dispel any myths that it's impossible to make delicious food without using dairy.  Such nonsense!

The information I presented is comprised of my own thoughts, beliefs, personal research, and my perspectives, but if my beliefs don't resonate with you, by all means, do what makes you feel the healthiest and I don't ever judge anyone for their food choices, dairy, meat-eating, or otherwise.  We all have different bodies and are on a different dietary path!  For some of us that means dairy is a part of it, and for others, it isn't.  Finding what works for you is the most important thing and I simply wanted to share my ideas, research, thoughts, and successful dairy-free recipes with you!

Tip of the Day:  My dear friend Alisa Fleming known as One Frugal Foodie , has a rockstar website on all things dairy-free called .  It's chock full of amazing dairy-free resources, information, and recipes.  She also has written an amazing book, Go Dairy Free .

I reviewed it in This Post but in short, this is one of the best, most amazing vegan cookbooks, ever.  Yes, there are some recipes that are not vegan, but I'd guess that 85% of the recipes are vegan, The information is astonishing in everything from where to find hidden dairy in foods, to dairy-free restaurant tips and tricks to calcium myths and info to how to make dairy free desserts...'s one of the best books in my Cook Book Arsenal !   See This Post for Other Cook Book Reviews.
Now if only I had as much time as I have books, I'd be all set!

1. Do You Consume Dairy?  Why or Why Not?

2. Do You Have Any Food Allergies or Intolerances?  Do You Suspect Dairy is hard for your body to handle?  What makes you think that?  Do You Notice Any Unusual Symptoms after consuming dairy?  Such as sluggish or explosive digestion, a stomach ache, moodiness, bitchiness, headache, brain fog, skin breakouts, rash, hives, anxiety?
For More info on my story, symptoms, and How I Got to the Bottom of My Food Allergies and Intolerances, Read This Post
Most of those symptoms I just listed were the story of my life until I addressed my food allergies and intolerances, head-on.  It's not normal to live in the bathroom, feel like crap, have headaches, or just non-specific blah feelings.  Truly, look at the foods you're ingesting and something you're eating could be making you feel this way and it could very well be dairy.

3. Has This Post Been Helpful?  Has it been an eye-opener or thought-provoking?  Has it inspired you to reduce your dairy consumption?

4. Were the recipe suggestions helpful?  What other recipes would you like to see to help you reduce or omit your dairy intake?

Stay Tuned For Mailbox Finds and Fun Stuff...

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