I thought it might be useful to share the products we use in replace of dairy. I have changed the way we cook, so we really do not use dairy products very much any more, but they come in handy sometimes and we like to have a little option for milk on our oats and GF cereal.
coconut milk, coconut yogurt, coconut ice cream and Soy milk ice cream. Although I do not drink this milk by the glass (it is sweet and thick like whole milk) it is delicious in (gluten-free) cereal, oatmeal coffee, and smoothies. I started out with almond milk (arguably a healthier choice) only to discover that I have an allergic reaction to almonds. So almond milk was not an option any more. Someday I would like to try and make my own raw cashew milk, but for now, raw cashews are a popular snack!
I also use rice milk and hemp milk for baking, pancake making etc. Rice milk is more affordable, however it does not contain very many calories or fat. I continue to take a prenatal vitamin, sometimes an extra calcium pill while trying to get the extras from eating a lot of fruit, veggies, whole grains and meat.
Also, please note that I have not replaced Lila's milk source with Coconut milk. Lila is still breastfeeding every couple of hours (sometimes more) so that is her main source of milk! I feel much less anxious about her getting the appropriate amount of fat and nutrients because she gets a lot of that from me!
Pure butter is actually considered much easier to digest than milk but I decided to go all the way with the elimination and replace our butter source too. Pure butter will probably be the first thing I re-introduce. Because I don't bake very often anymore, and we don't eat toast or sandwiches often, I don't use very much of this product. However, we love making (gluten-free) pancakes and the odd cake or cookie recipe so Earth Balance is what I use. They make a butter stick which is fabulous for baking and we use the soy free spread (to try and limit our soy intake a bit). The ingredients include soybean (in the stick) palm fruit oil, canola oil, olive oil and others.
Oh cheese... how I craved thee! Cheese is known to be addictive (found lots of sites when I googled it!) and it was a difficult one to cut out of cooking... homemade pizza, casseroles, snacks etc. It helps me to have a really large breakfast every day (I cook 2/3 cup dried oats, load it up with fruit most mornings, and I've started adding raw pumpkin seeds as well). Filling up first thing helps curb the snack craving throughout the day. However, sometimes a little sprinkle of Daiya cheese goes a long way! Daiya cheese was created in Vancouver, and it has received lots of attention for it's product! As far as non-dairy cheeses, it is the best that I have tried. It does melt, although my suggestion is to use less than you would normal cheese. I reach for their mozzarella cheese every time I feel like making homemade pizza and garlic fingers! The first two ingredients are filtered water and tapioca and/or arrowroot flours.
So that's my list of dairy alternatives! I do not use sour cream or cream cheese anymore although sometimes I reminisce about Great Canadian Bagels with cream cheese...
Yes, the alternatives are more expensive. Honestly, because I rarely use them (except for the Coconut milk) I may end up saving money. Blocks of regular cheese are hardly cheap! We have been dairy free since mid February 2012. It made a difference in Lila's skin and continues to do so. I had some dairy by mistake recently and her skin flared up, she was itching like crazy the next day. Her skin healed quickly after that though, and I am often shocked and amazed by how well it works for us. Charlotte and Tim still drink whole cow's milk and eat the odd bit of cheese. Also, eating dairy free did not completely heal Lila's skin... it was only a partial part of the journey.