Originally Posted by birdynomnom
We are dairy free. It was a challenge in the beginning to change old habits, but 10 months later it's pretty easy. It took a good 3 months, I'd say,to get used to it. Also, I craved dairy badly for the first month. After that it was much easier. Initially I cut out the obvious sources: milk, butter, yogurt, cheese, ice cream. But that was not enough for LO. We follow the full dairy allergy list on hidden milk protein names. It was better after two weeks, but I would say at 4 I really noticed a difference. Also, about that time I cut back on the soy.
Most common hidden forms of dairy are Casein and Whey, which are also cows milk protein. Some "non-dairy" things will actually contain these hidden sources, so you still have to label read.
Here are a few things I found most helpful in the beginning.
Milk: Almond milk or coconut milk. I prefer almond milk. I think it's the closest to cows milk. I buy Almond Breeze or make my own (super easy). If i buy it, I get original unsweetened or vanilla utnsweentened. I've heard there is chocolate out there, but our stores don't have it.
When a recipe calls for milk I use almond milk generally. DH said the only time he has noticed a difference was when I used my homemade almond milk, which I had made more concentrated that time, and he said it made the pancakes taste better actually. Although he won't eat cereal with Almond milk, but my 2yo doesn't give me any troubles.
Buttermilk for baking: add 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or lemon juice to a 1 cup measuring cup and then fill the rest with almond milk. You can't taste the lemon or vinegar and it makes the milk act like buttermilk.
Butter: Earth Balance. You can find it in the tub or in sticks. I bake with it all the time. The melting point is lower I'm guessing because of the coconut oil in it, but it hasn't affected anything so far. I bake a lot too!
Cheese: Daiya brand has some decent cheese alternatives. there are soy based cheeses out there. But before i found out about the soy sensitivity I did try the soy mozzarella, which i found at Trader Joe's, and it was pretty good. Melted well. There is also a cream cheese substitute that is soy based, but the one I can get here has casein. Not sure if there are others. I've heard there are some cheeses made from nuts, but haven't found any yet.
Yoghurt: SoDelicious is a brand you will probably become very familiar with. I only just discovered they make yogurt (our small town doesn't carry it) i also just discovere there is almond milk yogurt. (Went to a grocery store in DC while on vacation and the dairy free options were amazing!)
Ice Cream: SoDelicious makes ice cream from coconut milk. It's delicious. The ice cream sandwiches are super yummy! They are a bit pricey.
I have an ice cream maker and make my own ice cream too. Its easy, quick and cheaper.
godairyfree.org has good resources as well as the complete list of all milk protein names to look for on labels.
Eating out is tough, especially breakfast. Traveling is tricky. But, most restaurants are more than happy to help. They usually have an allergy menu or an ingredient list. If not I just ask if they would look on the package. Your smart phone, if you have one, will be super helpful. Most chains have allergy information online.
dairyfreediva has dairy free gluten free recipes and tips
lexieskitchen is also dairy free
It's pretty easy to just 'google' things. I think the blogs will help you out a lot. Other people have had a chance to trouble shoot and share their findings saving time, money and frustration.
Oh one more thing. The Paleo diet has become increasingly popular and is dairy free as are Vegan recipes. I use a lot of Vegan recipes and just add in meat when we feel like it.
I'm still learning and I could write more. There are probably more brands of dairy free alternatives out there that I can't really tell you about since we such limited availability here.
Hopefully this helps some.