The Wholefood Approach

Healthy Alternatives

Today we explore healthy alternatives to common dairy based products! 

These days many people are looking for dairy-free products, either due to intolerances or simply because they want to cut down or cut out on dairy in general. As I mentioned in Week One – products such as meat/dairy and eggs contain some nutrients but compared to wholefoods, they don’t contain as many. In addition to this, these products contain cholesterol and saturated fats which increases your chances of getting chronic diseases. In regards to dairy, there are studies that show the hormones found in these products can be harmful to our health. The great news is there are many products on the market today that offer a healthier wholefood alternative to milk, yoghurt, cheese and ice cream. In addition, these products can be made at home which allows you to ensure the quality of the ingredients that goes into making the recipe. 

Plant-based milks

Not only are there are huge range of plant-based milk in the supermarket these days, but they can easily be made at home! Plant-based milk options include soy, oat, almond, cashew, macadamia, hemp, rice, coconut milk and more. A good idea is to try each of them and work out which ones you like the best. Of course making your own at home is healthier and cheaper, plus it’s really simple – it’s as easy as blending the wholefood with water, then straining. See below:

– 1/2 cup of the wholefood – this works for any nut and oats. For nuts, it’s preferable to soak overnight.
– 2 cups water

Add to blender and turn on. For nuts, it’s best to leave on until you can see the nuts have been blended up and the water is a milk colour. For oat milk, its best to only blend for less than 30 secs.

Additional ingredients can also be added for flavoured milk. See below:
Cacao Powder– for chocolate milk
Cinnamon – for a little spice
Maple/Vanilla Essence/Dates – for a bit of sweetness

Once blended, strain using a nut milk bag which can be bought from health food stores or markets depending on where you live. These tend to be a little expensive so my tip is to instead buy some muslin cloth. Don’t worry if you have never heard of this – I hadn’t either! If you go into your local craft/fabric store they will know what you are talking about. This is much more cost effective and can usually be bought for a couple of dollars for a big piece, which you can cut up and use over and over.

What about store-bought plant milks? 
The quality of the plant-based milks in the supermarket differ by brand. Some of these products do have additives like oil and sugar, while others have less additives so next time you are in the supermarket have a quick look at the ingredients list. Select one that is made from a wholefood – like almonds, oats, cashews etc and doesn’t have a long list of ingredients. 

My tip – Coffee or tea is great with soy or oat milk – as they are both creamy and don’t have an overpowering flavour. Some other milks may curdle or separate when mixed with hot coffee/tea, the trick is to not add cold milk, instead warm it up a little.

Yoghurt

You can easily get dairy-free yoghurt in the supermarket these days, depending on where you live. Many yoghurts are coconut based, but there are also almond-based and soy-based yoghurts. Each of these also come in a range of flavours, however it is advised to always choose the natural or plain varieties to ensure the product is not high in sugar or artificial flavouring. You can easily add flavouring at home. For example if you like berry flavoured yoghurt you can add crushed fresh berries once you are about to eat it, or defrost some frozen berries and mix it through the yoghurt. Another option is to add vanilla essence if you like vanilla flavour. 

Cheese
Like the products above, dairy-free cheese can also be purchased at the supermarket. However, an important point to make with this product is that many are not made from a wholefood. Most are oil based, meaning they tend to be high in calories and are a highly processed product, therefore consumption should be limited. The better option for dairy-free cheese is to make it at home, it is simple and does not require too many ingredients. See the recipe below to check out the different cheese you can make yourself. A common ingredient you will see when making cheese is nutritional yeast. This yeast is not active (like the ones they use in bread and beer). It has a cheesy, nutty flavour and looks like yellow flakes, see below. It is also great to add to many dishes to give it that cheesy flavour as it is high in certain nutrients, such as B-vitamins. It can be bought in supermarkets or health food stores.


Ice Cream

There are also many dairy-free ice cream on the market today, from tubs of ice cream made from coconut/soy milk or cashews/almonds. Again, like the cheese above, whilst these products contain a wholefood, they have many added processed ingredients therefore consumption should be limited. The healthy alternative to ice cream is N’ice Cream. This is a fruit based ice cream which can easily be made using a range of different fruits and whatever you would like to add in.


Chocolate ice cream
? Use frozen bananas and add cacao
Strawberry ice cream? Use frozen bananas and frozen strawberries
Vanilla ice cream? Use frozen bananas and some vanilla essence
Peanut Butter ice cream? Use frozen bananas and PB
Salted Caramel ice cream? Use frozen bananas, dates, salt and maple.

There are so many options!

So do these alternatives have calcium?
From a young age we have learnt that we need calcium for strong bones and we were told that the product with the most calcium is dairy. Therefore if we cut out/down on dairy products, will we be getting the calcium our bodies need? This is a fair question and calcium is an important mineral for our bodies. Whilst calcium does support bone strength, it does so much more than this. In addition there are other minerals that help support bone strength. The great news is wholefoods contain these minerals including calcium. Some examples include fortified plant-based milks, tofu, orange juice, leafy greens, chia seeds, kidney beans and so many more. This shows why its important to eat a variety of wholefoods every day, because they each play a role in providing the nutrients our bodies need so we feel good!

Some recipes to try!  

Cheese
From gooey cheese on a pizza, to creamy cheese in a lasagna bechamel sauce, and even a delicious soft cheese for a cheese platter – there are lots of cheese recipes to choose from.

Try this Garlic and Herb infused Cashew Cheese:
*this recipe calls for ‘agar, agar powder’, which is used as a thickener. This can be very expensive in a health food store, however you can purchase it much cheaper at an Asian Grocer. 

Cheese by The Buddhist Chef


Pancakes

You can’t get an easier recipe than these delicious 3 ingredient pancakes! All you need is oats, dairy-free milk and bananas – plus any toppings you like.

Simply blend 1 cup oats, 1 cup of dairy-free milk and 1.5 mashed bananas, once blended fry on a nonstick pan and serve with a range of toppings. Some ideas include banana and peanut butter or berries and maple syrup or cinnamon, cooked apples and some maple. 

 

Nice Cream

Remember the Nice Cream recipe previously provided.
If you haven’t given it a go yet, try it out. 

Peanut Brittle N’ice cream! by Lazy Cat Kitchen

Alternatives to Eggs

For a long time eggs was considered to be healthy and good for us. Eggs are high in protein so many people eat eggs for their protein intake, and also because eggs are relatively easy to cook with. However these days there is enough scientific evidence to show that eggs are not the health food people once thought, and when comparing it to wholefoods, there is NO comparison when it comes to the nutritional value.

When you think of eggs, you might think of dishes such as scrambled eggs, quiches, omelettes or something you use in baking to bind the ingredients together. The great thing is there are much healthier alternatives to all of these and more. Plus they are just as easy to cook!

Tofu is a fantastic substitute for eggs and it’s not the boring food you think it is. 

How most people see tofu_

For example you can make a delicious scrambled tofu for breakfast using firm tofu. Not only does tofu have loads of nutrients, but it also has as much protein as eggs, and zero the cholesterol. Check out the recipe below to see exactly how to make this simple, delicious dish. 

Quiches are also easy to make using silken tofu, this is a soft tofu variety and has a creamy texture. This type of tofu is also great in Potato Tortillas (Spanish potato pies). There are lots of recipes for different types of quiches that are loaded with vegetables, so you not only get all the nutrients from the vegetables, but also the tofu. Some examples include Potato and Leek, Spinach and Artichoke, or Mushroom and Sun-dried Tomato. 

Omelettes are very easy to make and like quiches can be packed with vegetables, but most importantly it is possible to make delicious omelettes without any eggs. Chickpea flour (also known as Besan Flour) make fantastic omelettes. They are simple to make and come with a huge range of nutrients, including being high in protein. Have a look at the recipe below to see how to make these delicious egg-less omelettes. 

Another use of eggs in cooking is in baking to bind ingredients together. This is simple to achieve using wholefood ingredients such as flax seeds (known as a flax egg when mixed with water), fruit sauce such as apple sauce, dairy-free yoghurt or even mashed banana. See the recipe below to make a delicious, nutritious banana bread without eggs!   

Tip – if you want to achieve the eggy flavour in savoury dishes such as scrambled tofu and omelettes, you can add Black Salt (which is in fact pink in colour), this can usually be bought at Indian Grocers and is also known as Kala Namak.

Recipes

Excellent egg-less recipes!

Recipe #1 – Quick and Easy!
Scrambled Tofu – check out the recipe on the video. A few things to add to enhance the flavour are Black Salt (if you have it) and a tablespoon of tamari/soy for a salty flavour.

Recipe #2 – A Little Time and Skill!

Chickpea Omelette – loaded with veggies!
Check out the recipe for the Chickpea Omelette pictured above on the Thrive For Life page here.

Recipe #3 – Put your Chefs Hat on! 
Banana bread recipe by @emilypamino –

Ingredients that you will need:
– 5 mashed bananas (the more ripe the bananas, the sweeter the recipe will be)
– 2 cups wholemeal flour
– 1/4 cup non-dairy milk
– 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
– 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
– 1/2 cup dates
– 1/2 cup frozen raspberries
– 2 tablespoons of non-dairy butter 
– Optional – dark choc chips

1. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees C
2. Mix together flour, baking soda, vinegar, non-dairy milk and melted non-dairy butter.
3. In a saucepan add the dates and a splash of water, cook through until dates are soft and have become a thick liquid, then add this to the mix.
4. Lastly add mashed banana and stir through.
5. Put half in a bread dish (8×4) and sprinkle through frozen raspberries and dark choc chips if using, add the remaining batter and top with some more raspberries and choc chips.
6. Put in the oven for around 45mins-1 hour or until toothpick comes out clean.