Saturday, 17 January 2009

Milk and Dairy Free Alternatives in cooking

Milk and Dairy Free Alternatives in cooking !

There are many reasons
why people choose not to consume milk and dairy due to allergies or other health issues and some people will not use them as a life style choice as they may be vegan.

It can seem very daunting at first to think that you can not use butter, milk , cheese or cream again when you cook but read on as you will be amazed !!!

You may think that you will not be able to cook and bake food the same ever again if you can not use these foods, this is not true, as there are many healthy dairy alternatives out there that you can cook with and that make great tasting food.

It is just a matter of getting used to buying different food products.

Milk alternatives in cooking.

Soya milk is a great alternative to cows milk and you can use it just the same way you would as normal milk, it tastes wonderful and so very healthy for you, the health benefits of using soya milk is amazing, you will find it in all major supermarkets.

Soya milk can be very creamy too, so use it on your cereals for breakfast or in your coffee and tea as well as cooking.

There are a lot of different brands of soya milk out there in the shops these days that all have different tastes, textures and added vitamins and ingredients, so do shop around and try many brands to find the one you like.

Also there are many other different kinds of milk alternatives sold in the shops like rice milk, almond nut milk, quinoa milk, oat milk, hemp seed milk and more.

So what milk alternative do I use?

There are two soya milks that I use in my house which I purchase in the supermarkets in the UK and both of them have different tastes and textures.

Picture of Sainburys soya milk (left) and Asda soya milk (right)

Asda Soya Milk

The first one I use is Asda Soya Milk that is sweetened with apple juice. I buy this soya milk fresh from the fridge, not as a uht milk that is on the shelf.

Pictures of Asda soya milk.

This is the best soya milk I have ever tasted, it is thick in texture very white in colour and tastes very creamy. It is a great milk used in desserts, baking, hot chocolates or creamy coffee's, sweets, for cereal and much more.

Pictures of Asda soya milk.

This milk does not have any unwanted additives in the ingredients and it is fortified with some vitamins and minerals which is great for those on a vegan diet due to the added Vitamin B12.

Asda also sell a UHT milk of the same brand but the one fresh from fridge is the creamiest and the best I have ever tasted.

Sainsburys Basics UHT Soya Milk

The second brand of soya milk I use is Sainburys Basics UHT Soya Milk. This is not fresh from the fridge so it great to have stored in the cupboard.

Picture of Sainsburys soya milk.

Sainsburys soya milk is not as creamy as the Asda soya milk it is more watery in texture and has no added vitamins or unwanted ingredients added.

This milk is great to cook certain recipes with like baking or some savoury dishes and to pour onto cereal but not for making desserts and sweets.

Pictures of Sainsburys soya milk.

I also whip up my own "homemade hemp seed milk recipe" on occasions.

If your unable to buy soya milk then make your own hemp milk.

You can buy this but it is far easier and less expensive to make your own.

Place a few spoonfuls of hemp seeds into a blender add water and whisk very well, strain the seeds away and there you have it your very own fresh homemade hemp milk.

Hemp seeds contain omega oils so this is a great healthy option.

Everybody is different and everybody has different tastes so simply shop around to find which you like best.

Butter and Margarine alternatives in cooking.

There are also butter alternatives too.

Butter is high in "saturated fat and cholesterol", so using an alternative can be much healthier especially for those who want to reduce cholesterol or loose weight or want to prevent having a heart attack.

Some people prefer to use butter over margarine as some margarine is also hydrogenated - (a process which uses hydrogen to turn vegetable based oils in to trans fat or hydrogenated fat that is even more unhealthy than saturated fat and can cause all kinds of health problems.) Hydrogenated fats block the absorption of healthy fats in your body.

Not all margarine use an unhealthy process but most margarine do contain dairy such as cows milk. You will find most margarine contain some form of dairy even the ones that claim to use olive oil so make sure you look on the ingredients to see for yourself.

Picture of a healthy margarine that I use in Jeenas Kitchen.

So what margarine or butter do I use?

There is only one margarine I have found to be suitable for my kitchen which is called Pure dairy free Margarine. This is a "dairy free vegan margarine" that is non hydrogenated and uses pressed healthy seed oils, it also has added omega 3 and 6.

Picture of Pure dairy free margarine.

Whenever you see 'sunflower margarine' as an ingredient on my blog it will be this brand of margarine that has been used. I use this dairy free margarine for baking sweet and savoury and also for spread on breads, crispbreads and crackers etc, it tastes wonderful and so creamy.

I use Pure dairy free Sunflower margarine for most cooking and spreading.

Picture of Pure sunflower margarine.

I also use Pure Soya margarine for spreading - it has quite a buttery taste.

Picture of Pure soya dairy free margaine.

This dairy free margarine is fortified with added vitamins and minerals including Vitamin B12.

Rapeseed Oil

I use rapeseed oil a lot in my cooking. You can buy virgin cold pressed rapeseed oil which contains omega 3 omega 6 and omega 9. It has a lovely nutty taste and is rich and golden yellow in colour. I use the virgin pressed oil mainly for dressings and drizzling on top of food.

Picture of virgin rapeseed oil.

Rapeseed can be used in baking sweets as well as savoury food.

Picture of the last press rapeseed oil.

Olive Oil

Olive oil contains omegas and is paticularry high in omega 6 ( you need to try and balance your omega 6 intake with omega 3) and has a wonderful taste. Extra virgin olive oil is a cold pressed oil and is from the the first press and I use this oil for drizzling and dressing or for cooking in small amounts.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is a plant oil that is high in saturated fat so some people are weary of using it. Although it is high in saturates, coconut oil contains no cholesterol as it is from a plant not an animal.

It tastes so very nice, great for cooking and it also has a high smoke point too making it great for stir fry cooking.

Coconut oil is a great alternative to butter as it solidifies. You can cook fabulous biscuits and cookies with coconut oil, give it a try as you will love it !

Pictures of coconut oil (aka coconut butter.)

Other alternative healthy cooking Oils

From time to time I use other oils such rice bran oil or nut oils such as walnut oil which I use in sweet and savoury cooking and sesame oil which I use in savoury cooking.

Picture of rice bran oil.

There is a wide range of nut and plant based oils out there that are suitable for all kinds of cooking and baking.

The more expensive nut oils are cold pressed and are generally used for non cooking i.e drizzling on to a salad, unless a recipe calls for a small amount of the oil in the cooking process.

High Temperature Cooking Oils

We all need polyunsaturated fats in our diet - it is vital as we need these fats to keep us healthy. Yet when polyunsaturated fats are cooked at high temperatures they produce oxidising free radicals which can cause cancer in the human body.

The best fats to uses for high temerature cooking are saturated fats or mono unsaturated fats like healthy "olive oil".

Coconut oil can also withstand very high heats with out turning toxic.

Coconut oil is also a "medium chain saturated fat" and it is the long chain saturated fats that are linked to health problems which are only found in animal fats.

You will find a wide range of healthy dairy alternatives for cooking, this is just a little insight into what I use in Jeenas Kitchen.

Thanks for reading, do feel free to leave your comments!

What healthy cooking oils do you cook with ? Have you tried Soya milk ? What healthy dairy free alternatives have used in your kitchen ?


Erica said...

Interesting post! Thank you for putting this! I just bought my first container of almond milk! I'm a little nervous ;) I want to try that sunflower seed margarine. I will look for it at WFs!

Rajani said...

oh this is such an incredible post! very informative... thanks@! traditionally in my family coconut oil was the oil for cooking - I belong to the southern indian state of kerala - but like you said its sautrated fat content scared us off and now we're using sunflower oil for basic cooking. but yes i recently discovered that coconut oil is a good butter substitute.

Anonymous said...

Hello Jeena,
Thank you for the valuable post.
I have been trying hard to get really nice Soy milk without additives or some kind of added oils.
Recently I found one in Vegan Grocery in Sydney.
It taste so wonderful and now I am up to baking with soy milk again. I can really taste the difference of whole some foods...mmmm yum yum (Nellie :)

Paula said...

Jeena, This was an awesome post. Have you ever considered writing for magazines? At the very least, I encourage you to submit this to your local newspaper. I've seen some of these products, but not all of them. It's helpful to read not only which products you use, but also what you use them for. Great post!

Alisa said...

Great post! It is interesting to see the different brands you have compared to what we have in the U.S. I have heard good things about Pure.

Rosie said...

Hi Jeena, this is a very informative post and thanks for enlightening me and I sure this will be invaluable to others. I agree with Paula it should go into print.

Rosie x

A kitchen scientist & a white rat hubby!!! said...

hi Jeena, hope you had a great Christmas n New year..this is a real good post that hyou have come up with...esp, pictures of the ingredients that is used is always handy...hey! saw your videos ! great going....keep in touch..


Anonymous said...

Hi do you know if there is a substitute for eggs in backing / cooking? eg in cakes. I noticed your recipe for Hash browns and wondered if I could use an alternative to eggs.


Jeena said...

Thank you everybody for your wonderful feedback. :-)

Saty, I am actually updating very soon with a vegan hash brown recipe so keep logging on - it is very tasty!

Thanks. :-)

Bridgett said...

That was a fantastic post, Jeena! I also use soy milk basically due to milk intolerance and really only use it in my coffee. I would like to try out the rapeseed oil, but I am unsure if it is available here, so I need to start looking.

Deepa Hari said...

Interesting and informative post Jeena.

Anonymous said...

Great! really looking forward to your vegan hash brown recipe!!

Thank you Jeena!


Aggie said...

Jeena, this is great info. I love learning about alternatives, and I'm so happy you included pictures of some of these products so I know what to look for!

Sharon said...

Wonderful job with the images and information! Thank you :)