Natural Balance Foods

Dairy free food favorites

Vegan Sources of Calcium

With dairy found in so many day-to-day products it can be difficult for those seeking dairy-free foods to be able to enjoy the wealth of choice that normal dieters have. Safe to say all hope isn’t lost just yet! With so many plant-based alternatives to foods such as butter, milk and sweet treats, you can enjoy a healthier version of the real thing without losing out on any of the delicious taste. Our expert nutritionist Lucy-Ann Prideaux takes a look at some of the best dairy-free alternatives out there. 

Where are the best sources of calcium?

Despite its reputation, milk isn’t everything when it comes to calcium and there are still lots other places you can find it.  Here are some foods that exceed milk (gram for gram) with their calcium content.

  • Raw almonds
  • Parsley
  • Dried figs
  • Sesame seed butter/tahini
  • Chickpeas
  • Seaweed and sea vegetables
  • French beans
  • Flaxseeds/linseeds
  • White beans
  • Brazil nuts
  • Mung beans
  • Kidney beans
  • Navy beans
  • Leafy greens – turnip greens, collard greens

Milks

In the last few years there has been a marked increase in the number of people adopting dairy-free alternatives to milk. Whether through dairy allergies, ethical decisions or an effort to choose a healthier equivalent, dairy free milks are surging in popularity with more and more stores stocking a wider range of choices.

Keep your eyes peeled for almond, rice, coconut and oat milk which all have their own unique flavor and can be used as delicious milk substitutes in things such as oatmeal, muesli or smoothies. If you want to keep on track of all the ingredients in your milk you could always make your own dairy free version. Just soak seeds or nuts overnight, blend with water and then strain.

Cheeses

Enjoying dairy free cheese may seem like an uphill struggle but it’s not impossible if you use some fantastic ingredients and are prepared to get creative in the kitchen. For a smooth and creamy cheese try blending avocado and hummus together, adding a teaspoon of Dijon mustard as you go.

Cashew cheese is also delicious and with this recipe you can play around with the ingredients to meet your taste-buds by adding extras such as chive, garlic and chili into the blending process. Give it a go at home!

To make a cup-sized amount you will need:

  • 1 cup of raw, unsalted cashew nuts, soaked overnight in water
  • 1 tbsp of fresh lemon juice
  • ½ tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp of flaxseed, hempseed, rapeseed or extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp of nutritional yeast

Once your cashew nuts have been soaked overnight and properly rinsed/drained, blend them along with other ingredients until a smooth pate-like consistency is achieved. Place the “cheese” into a bowl, cover with a layer of cling film and chill in the fridge. The cheese can store for five days in a container but is best consumed as fresh as possible!

Butters

Those seeking a dairy free butter really are spoilt for choice! Nut and seed based butters make excellent alternatives, with almond, hazelnut, and pumpkin seed butter all versatile options that can be used as a normal spread or even added to smoothies, homemade energy bars and  many other sweet treats. Remember, don’t forget your greens! Lovers of avocado will likely have already discovered its rich spreadable power, just like the European sailors of the 1700’s who are said to have enjoyed it on their cookies!

All things sweet

Everyone loves a sweet treat from time to time and believe it or not, those following a wholefood diet are no different! Here are just a few ideas to get you started:

  • Nakd bars – Dairy free and made with both love and raw ingredients. Too tempting.
  • Try our Gorgeous Gluten and Dairy Free Cookie
  • Banana ice-cream – dice up a banana into chunks and freeze. Take out, blend in a food processor or blend then serve in a bowl!