Around last Summer, I realized that I was lactose intolerant. Every time I ate dairy, with the exception of cheese (thank God), I would completely break out and feel slightly nauseous (although sometimes it was worth it). This meant no more ice cream, yogurt, chocolate, or cereal… or so I thought. Since then, I have been aggressively trying different vegan/dairy free alternatives to the foods I most miss. Throughout this process, I have tested several brands and products, and decided to round up the good, bad and amazing in this post.
I can’t live without my ice cream. Currently, the four types of substitutes on the market are soy milk ice cream, which I wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole, coconut milk ice cream, which can be good but also can be a bit gritty in texture, water based, which is a total hit or miss, and almond milk ice cream which is flat out amazing.
When Halo-top released dairy free flavors, I was excited to try them, but had to wait an extremely long time for multiple flavors to roll out. Halo-Top can make some good ice cream, but even with dairy struggles with their chocolate. Naturally, the chocolate flavor is a pass, as it is bland and gritty from the coconut milk. Both the chocolate and the cinnamon roll took a long time to harden and I found the taste of the cinnamon roll to be rather off-putting. The caramel macchiato also struggled in the texture department but had a good taste and is therefore my favorite of the flavors. The chocolate covered banana has pathetic swirls of fudge but tastes extremely artificial. The oatmeal cookie flavor, while incredible in the dairy version, isn’t my favorite when prepared with coconut milk. It isn’t awful, but it doesn’t make me want to eat ice cream. Finally, the caramel flavor is actually pretty good and not super gritty, although the caramel used by the company taste a bit fake to me.
SO Delicious is where you can find excellent dairy free ice cream products. Their traditional coconut milk ice cream sandwiches are good, if you don’t mind the texture of the coconut milk ice cream, which in this case, is much smoother than halo top. Their pints are also good and the texture and taste of the coconut milk are not at all noticeable. The sugar free chocolate coconut milk ice cream is very rich and dark tasting; not as good as normal chocolate ice cream, but close enough if you really want it and it’s all the store has. Finally, SO Delicious makes amazing mocha almond fudge ice cream bars. The ice cream inside is smooth and tastes so good you can’t even tell that they are dairy free!
Saving the best for last, Haagan Das has the best dairy free ice cream that’s probably the worst for you as no dairy alternatives are used, and instead, it’s simply water and syrup of some sort. While I would run far far away from any other dairy free ice cream that doesn’t have some sort of dairy free alternative, (hello rough texture and weird aftertaste), this ice cream is somehow amazing. Miraculously, the texture of this dairy free is exactly the same as their normal ice cream. However, it’s calorie content for a half cup is equivalent to an entire pint of the halo top. The chocolate salted fudge truffle non dairy flavor consists of a deep chocolate ice cream and comes with thick chocolate chunks that are fudge, salty and so good. It’s the kind of ice cream that you actually want to eat but don’t have to eat a lot of because it is so rich.
Yogurt is one of those foods that is easily amazing without dairy. Coconut milk yogurt by SO Delicious tastes identical to normal yogurt. Especially in the vanilla flavor, you can’t taste any coconut and it has the best taste and creamy texture.
Here’s where things get interesting. I dreaded trying almond milk. I’d used it before in smoothies and was horrified by its watery texture and bland taste. Finally, on the recommendation of a friend, I tried Silk’s Vanilla almond milk. It was a little sweeter than regular milk, but the texture was spot on! Later, I tried the Almond Breeze Vanilla almond milk which has a less sweet taste and tastes almost identical to regular milk (I think… I don’t exactly remember what cow milk taste’s like) Both are great with cereal and both perform perfectly as regular milk substitutions when baking.
Chocolate for Eating
Believe it or not, most chocolate bars are vegan, especially if they are dark chocolate with a cocoa content of 70% or higher. I love Lidnt special dark 70% bars.
Chocolate for Baking:
I have the worst allergy to nestle chocolate chips and most other baking chocolates. Nothing will make my face explode worse. However, the one safe brand for me that uses nothing but the best ingredients is Guittard. They taste better, are higher quality, and are better for you. These chips have a 46% cocoa content, are non GMO, gluten free, peanut free and all natural. While they are technically not safe for those with an actual milk allergy, not a slight intolerance, their ingredient list is kept simple, featuring only sugar, cocoa beans, cocoa butter, sunflower lecithin and vanilla. Their while chocolate chips are also fantastic and make for the most addicting desserts!