So what are the alternatives for the big five dairy products i.e. milk, cheese, yoghurt, butter and ice-cream? When my parents had to find dairy alternatives for my little sister in the 1980’s, choices were limited and we used to go to the market in Church lane in Galway early every Saturday morning to make sure to be able to buy the goat’s milk before it would sell out. The milk was sold in plastic bags, we used to buy two or three and freeze them so she would have some all week long. Now you can buy goat’s milk in any supermarket, and they even have it in my local service station! Along with a wide variety of dairy free milks there are plenty of dairy free spreads to replace butter, alternative yoghurts and even options for cheese and ice-cream lovers!
My 1 year old is on SMA Wysoy, a soya based formula and I use Alpro soya junior 1+ for his cereal and sippy cup drinks. For formula there are many options available – goats milk formula, lactose free formula and various protein hydrolysed formulas also. Any child that young should be getting advice from a professional regarding the best dairy free formula for them.
My 4 year old was on soya milk until recently, and is now tolerating goat’s milk well. Alpro soya seem to have the widest variety, they have unsweetened which is good for cooking and baking, a light version, a junior 1+ version marketed as a follow on type milk for toddlers moving off bottles, and the original one in the blue packaging as well as many others. Many of them come in both a fresh milk version which can be found in the fridge and has a use by of a few weeks, and a longlife version on the ‘free from’ shelf which will last for months. The fresh versions are on average 50c cheaper than the long life ones. Other options for milk alternatives include lactose free milk, rice milk, almond milk and oat milk. For goat’s milk, my son drinks Glenisk organic goat’s milk. This is widely available and he loves it.
I have read about soya cheese and have searched all my local supermarkets and the health shop and have failed to find it. I have asked one local supermarket about it but they haven’t stocked it yet anyway. Pure do a soft cheese spread and cheese slices but so far they have yet to appear on supermarket shelves near me. Goat’s cheese is a good option but my son doesn’t like it.
There are lots of options for yoghurt and more becoming available all the time. Glenisk do lovely organic goat’s milk yoghurts. They come in lots of flavours – vanilla, peach, raspberry, strawberry, banana and natural. Alpro soya do a big range of soya yoghurts also – forest fruits, raspberry, blackberry, peach, exotic, plain, vanilla and no bits peach & pear and strawberry & banana. Tesco are doing their own brand soya yoghurts now too and my boys give them a big thumbs up.
The new Pure dairy free spread range tastes good and is easy to find in all my local supermarkets. There are three options olive, soya and sunflower. Olive is my favourite.
Ice cream is a big one in our house. I have nearly felt like crying on more than one occasion when we’ve been somewhere and somebody buys ice cream for the children or starts giving out ice-cream as a dessert and I watch my child’s face fall as he knows he can’t have any. Or I see photos of kids on days out having a big ice-cream cone, or we read in a library book about holidays that ice-cream at the seaside is one of the fun things about holidays. There are a few dairy free options which is wonderful and as long as I’m super organised I can save my child from being upset at these moments. Occasionally reasoning with him that he can have some when we get home has been enough to save the day too. And of course fruit ice pops are sometimes ok but not always as easy to find dairy free ones as you might think.
Swedish Glace do a lovely range of non-dairy desserts, looking at their website just now I see a huge variety, but unfortunately the only ones I have found locally are vanilla and strawberry. These are wonderful though. I have found dairy free cone wafers and been able to make cones for my little boy much to his delight. I can no longer find these ice-creams in Gorey, but they still have them in Pettitts supermarket in Arklow. Lidl do a range of Noblissima sorbets which are dairy free, and I defy you to find a 3 or 4 year old that will know the difference between it and ice-cream. These were a life saver when we were on holidays in France this year, as my little boy was able to have ice-cream every day on holidays just like his library book had said.