1 Year Dairy Free

This August it's a year since I was diagnosed with a dairy allergy. For someone who's diet was basically cheese and chocolate I was pretty upset. Over the year I've found some dairy free alternatives that I adore, to be honest most of them I'd enjoy even if I could eat dairy that's how delicious they are. Plus I'll also be sharing how hard I've actually found it being a self-confessed cheese addict.

Would you believe me when I say that everything in the above image is completely dairy free? Well it is; the cakes, fudge and deliciously chocolatey nibbules are all dairy free. They've been my saving grace this past year, it's the savoury dairy that's more of a struggle.

Firstly, because I have a dairy allergy rather than a lactose intolerance, I can't have lacto free cheese and be happy. I can't have any. I mean I could try vegan cheeses, but they are hella expensive and to be honest I don't really want to. I know some people who've said that they're actually rather nice, but I really loved cheese and as weird as it sounds I want my last memory of cheese to be a delicious hunk of French brie.

In terms of changes that occurred when I stopped eating dairy, not too much happened. Of course, all my symptoms cleared up which was such a huge relief, but I didn't lose weight as I thought I might and it made absolutely zero difference to my skin. I read several online articles where others had lost weight through being dairy free and has clearer skin but that didn't happen for me at all, so a dairy free diet may not be that effective if you're looking to clear your skin up.

What surprised me the most is how much hidden dairy there is in foods. I have to check everything, whether it's a label before eating or asking when I'm eating out. Some types of bread I can't eat, salt and vinegar crisps mostly have milk in, certain sweeties and some mayonnaises I can't eat. I didn't really think about having to cut too much out, other than the obvious milk, butter, chocolate, cheese, yoghurt etc. It actually makes eating out a bit of a pain, simply because so many ingredients will have some random bit of milk in meaning I can't eat the dish. Having said that, a lot of places are very accommodating to dairy allergies but many aren't really geared up to anyone having an allergy other than nuts. As a comparison, my dad who is coeliac and must eat gluten free, finds that eating gluten free out is much easier than eating dairy free out.

I didn't really use milk or butter too much befoe going dairy free, but a dash of Alpro coconut milk on my cereal is my preference and something like VitaLite is ideal for using in cakes as a butter/marg. alternative. I've also found that Alpro 'yoghurt' is amazing as making a creamy sauce. I've stirred it into sauce to have with pasta and it's delicious, plus it's amazing in curry to the point where my family all prefer it. I use the plain one in something like a tikka masala but the coconut one is heavenly in a korma.

Because I haven't ventured into vegan cheese, that's all I can really say about savoury swaps, but when looking for a dairy free sweet treat I'm ya girl. It's probably embarrassing how many different brands and supermarket versions I've tired but all in the name of science right?! Asda do a really delicious range of dairy free cakey/biscuity squares, the chocolate caramel shortbread slice is so tasty you'd hardly know that's dairy free. Morrison's chocolate brownies are literally to die for; finding a decent brownie is vital for anyone and these are amazingly fudgy. Mrs Crimbles is a brand known for being gluten free, but a lot of their treats are also dairy free, including the almond slice photographed. Those are just some 'stand out' treats that I love, but there are so many others from different brands and more expensive supermarkets that are equally delicious, it's just a matter of finding that you like. In terms of chocolate bars and buttons Moo Free, Tesco and Asda are my personal favourites.

For other sweet treats, I love the Fabulous FreeFrom Factory. For starters their tag line is 'no udder ingredients' and to be honest from then on I was sold! I love the crunchie pieces, they taste just like a smashed up crunchie bar but it doesn't make me ill, and chocolate raisins if I'm fancying a little chocolate fix. But they also have delicious treats that aren't chocolatey. My personal favourites are the fudge and raspberry ice - the fudge is so creamy you can hardly believe there isn't a pint of double cream mixed in and as a lover of coconut ice, the raspberry ice is the perfect combination of coconut and raspberry. Sooo tasty!

I'm going to be posting a lot more dairy free recipes soon, but you can check out the ones I've already shared here.

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