Top 4 Raw Food Dairy Alternatives

In my time as a raw food enthusiast, something I’ve heard many times from others is “Oh, I could never give up dairy!” In some cases people are more than willing to forego cooked food for a while, but the idea of giving up cheese, yoghurt or that splash of milk in their tea or coffee is enough to turn people right off the idea of raw food.

I get it – making major dietary changes is a big deal and for some, the challenge of removing dairy from the equation is a deal-breaker. But I think it’s worth going without dairy at least for a while to reassess where you are after a bit of a break, and to decide if you can in fact live without it in your life.

I’m a firm believer in other sources of calcium, especially for infants. But while there are plenty of proven alternatives to replace the nutrition you won’t be getting from dairy, is it all about nutrients?

Not really. For most people, the love of dairy comes down to flavour and texture. So I’m about to give you my top 4 raw food dairy alternatives you can use to get that pleasant creaminess or that zingy tastiness in your raw food diet.

1. Avocado
Avocado is a decadent blessing from the gods! What other edible plant has such a creamy, buttery texture? For the easiest and most delicious chocolate mousse you’ll ever taste, simply mash the flesh of one or two avos, then add raw cacao and your sweetener of choice to taste. You can either smoosh it all together with a fork or give it a quick blend. No cream required! And no, you really can’t taste the avocado.

The avocado’s creaminess also makes it a fine replacement for butter on breads and crackers, an excellent addition to smoothies and of course, where would guacamole be without it? Plus it’s a welcome addition to pretty much all salads – leave out the fetta or haloumi and replace with chunks of chopped avo.

2. Coconut
Coconut is an absolute star in the raw food diet. The instant you go searching for raw food recipes, you can bank on coconut making an appearance…almost every time!

I won’t go on about all the dozens of ways that you can replace dairy with coconut in your diet – instead I’ll just throw this one tip out there. If you are a raw-curious coffee drinker and you just can’t get by without your daily coffee (or three!), try replacing your milk with either coconut milk or coconut oil. Yep! It might sound controversial but I am seeing converts all over the place. Some cafes now even have coconut lattes on the menu!

Give it a chance to take hold. I recommend having at least three goes before deciding whether you like it. I have a friend who recently started using coconut oil in her coffee instead of milk and at first she was a bit put off by the oily sensation on her lips, but she quickly got used to it and found she didn’t need to sweeten with sugar! After a little while she tried dairy again – she found she didn’t like it anymore! She’s now a total convert.

3. Nutritional yeast
“Nooch” as it’s affectionately known is a really interesting ingredient. You can use it like a seasoning or spice, and it lends a unique umami flavour that really does taste quite cheesy. Add it to a simple raw cheese recipe for extra zing, or use it as an extra ingredient in raw breads and crackers. It’s also great to replace parmesan in pesto or blended through sauces and dressings.

Plus it has the added benefit of being an amazing source of vitamin B12!

4. Nuts
Where would a raw foodie be without nuts?! Nut milk is so easy, accessible, tasty and versatile that it’s hard to justify using dairy milk at all! And if you make your own, it’s really quite cheap. These instructions for making almond milk can just as easily be used for making milk from almost any nut: cashews, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, macadamias, you name it. You can then use your milk to replace dairy in sauces, smoothies, raw desserts and literally thousands of raw recipes.

Aside from milk, nuts themselves are frequently used to replace eggs and cream in raw recipes. Once soaked and blended, they are so creamy and filling that they make excellent quiche or tart bases, both savoury and sweet. Blended soaked cashews can also magically become amazing cake icing when mixed with some lemon juice, vanilla and a little sweetener, or use them in a tangy cashew sour cream.

Try to plan ahead and soak your nuts overnight so that they blend to a smooth consistency. If you do have to take a shortcut, start with boiled water and soak your nuts for at least 2 hours.

These are a few quick and easy ways to replace dairy in your diet, but there are literally hundreds of ideas and recipes out there. What foods or recipes do you find most helpful in your quest to move away from dairy?