Lactose-Free Dairy, Uncategorized

Bactose Probiotics- Do These Lactase Producing Capsules Actually Work?

Bactose is a company that produces capsules that claim to produce lactase enzymes for people who are lactose intolerant. These capsules are exclusively sold on Amazon, as far as I could see from searching the web.

Found on the Bactose Amazon store front.

What are their claims?

“Throw Away Your Lactase Pills! A probiotic that actively produces excess lactase enzymes directly in the gut helping your body naturally digest lactose.”

“Use only 7 days, Bactose works the entire month.”

“L. Acidophilus super strain- Our unique strain does an amazing job at digesting lactose.”

“Eat the Foods you love! No longer worry about foods that contain dairy.”

“Healthier gut. It’s not just for dairy- it’s super for gut health.”

“BACTOSE DOESN’T CONTAIN LACTASE, IT PRODUCES IT! Bactose is a L. Acidophilus Super Strain that works like little factories producing excess Lactase enzymes directly in the gut and adheres better to the intestinal lining where it does its work, effectively creating a one of a kind Lactose Intolerance Supplement.”

Found on the Bactose Amazon store page.

Understandably, I was equally excited and skeptical when I first heard about this product. They make some bold claims when it comes to helping people with lactose intolerance.

There are lots of people out there with varying degrees of lactose intolerance, yet it doesn’t mention anything about that. There isn’t an option for a stronger or a weaker dose based off of how much dairy you can handle. This seemed strange to me, since people have to figure out how many lactase pills to eat at a certain meal for an allotted amount of dairy. It’s hard for me to believe that one “miracle” probiotic can help every lactose-intolerant person out there.

Since Bactose is a dietary supplement, it has not been approved by the FDA, and so Bactose doesn’t claim to fix or cure lactose intolerance.

Bactose claims that dairy is no longer a concern, but it made me wonder- how well does it work? Can I have half of a pizza and then a scoop of ice cream without negative effects? Or do I have to make sure to not eat too much dairy at one time?

After deliberating for a few weeks, I decided to take the plunge and try it out for a month.

My Experience with Bactose

I ordered the probiotics on Amazon and they came within the next week. I started taking them, one capsule with breakfast and one with dinner, for 7 days.

I then tentatively started trying dairy products out to see how much it actually helped- or if it was all the placebo effect.

Ice cream was first, and I didn’t have any of my usual side effects. However, if I had large amounts of cheese or milk, I felt very uncomfortable. Not as bad as I would have without any lactase at all, but I definitely noticed the gas. (As did my hubby- sorry, honey!)

I continued to test the limits with my newfound freedom and learned how much dairy I could comfortably eat in a day. It was a relief to not have to check everything for dairy or carry lactase pills with me at all times.

The Bactose Amazon store front claims that the effects can last up to a month, but some people might find that the effects end sooner than that. Unfortunately, I was one of the people that found the effects wearing off within three weeks of taking the pills.

How Much Does Bactose Cost?

A pack of 14 Bactose capsules costs $34.99 on Amazon. That’s $2.50 a capsule- Ouch! It’s pretty expensive to it’s counterpart, lactase pills.

That being said, lactase pills have to be taken with every meal, snack, or dessert that contains dairy. Bactose only has to be taken every three to four weeks. So if a person is eating dairy in every meal, Bactose would be more cost effective for them. I tend to eat lactose-free dairy or occasionally use lactase tablets, so buying bactose isn’t as useful for me.

Is Bactose Worth it?

Personally, I don’t know that I would buy Bactose again. It’s pretty expensive and it doesn’t last the claimed four weeks, at least for me. While it was a relief to not have to worry about what was in my food, it was frustrating that I could only eat so much dairy. The way that Bactose advertised the capsules made me think I could eat dairy like my husband does, but no dice.

Maybe for other people that don’t have as severe lactose intolerance, this probiotic would work really well for them. If you decide to try out Bactose, let me know about your experience!

Dinner, Uncategorized

The Best Crockpot Pork and Beans Recipe

Beans were a cheap and easy meal for my mom to make when I was growing up. I loved (and still love) salted pinto beans in a crockpot with cornbread.

However, when I got married, I quickly realized my husband didn’t feel the same way. For the longest time I couldn’t figure out what recipe to use that my husband would actually like.

As beans are super cheap, filling, and nutritious, I like to use them often. My poor hubby had to eat a lot of beans that he didn’t really like… Until I figured this recipe out. He sat down for dinner and was surprised that he actually loved them!!

Other recipes for ham and beans have left me wanting more. They often use a ham bone, which is fine if you like that flavor. It never really appealed to me.

Then one day, it hit me! I had some pork I needed to use, but I was tired of pork chops and potatoes. So I tossed the pork chops with our favorite pork rub into the crockpot, added some pinto beans and water… And got this delicious recipe!

This isn’t your typical pork and beans- it has a nice kick of spice and only a little sweetness to it. I don’t enjoy canned pork and beans mainly for the sweetness overload. If you try this recipe out, please let me know if you enjoyed it in the comments below!

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 Cups rinsed pinto beans
  • 1 1/2 Quarts of chicken or veggie broth or water
  • 1 Quart of water
  • 3 Pork chops/ pork cut of your choice (Or more- This recipe ends up being more beans than shredded pork.)
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoon of chili powder
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoon of paprika
  • 3/4 Cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons salt
  • 2 Tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 Teaspoon thyme

Directions:

  1. Place all of the ingredients in the crockpot (Except for the 1 quart of water) and set it to high.
  2. Let it cook for 12-36 hours. I tend to let it cook for at least 24 hours because I like the more mushy texture.
  3. Add in the 1 quart of water as needed- it can be the texture of chili or soup. Just make sure it doesn’t dry out and burn!
  4. Shred the pork chops and mix them into the beans.
  5. Serve with cornbread. (Optional, but highly recommended!)

Notes:

  • If you want a shorter cook time, I recommend soaking the beans in water overnight. Then cook them on high for at least 12 hours. I like to make sure the beans are cooked and mushy for better flavor and less gastrointestinal distress.
  • I have used pork roast or pork chops in the times I have tested this recipe and they have both been delicious! I think you could use any cut of meat that you like with beans. I just happen to like pork with pinto beans.
Baking, Uncategorized

Gluten and Dairy-Free Almond Brownies

As a college student, I had a roommate with celiac disease. We would make gluten and dairy-free meals together, and it generally tasted pretty delicious! However, I can honestly say that gluten and dairy-free desserts are generally made of chalk and disappointment. At least, the ones I tried with my friend.

But fear not, my friend! This gluten and dairy-free brownie recipe is not comprised of dusty chocolate or sadness. These brownies hold their shape super well, and they can be either delightful and fudgy or light and cakey!

I created this recipe for a potluck we went to. I know how disappointing it is to go places and not be able to eat any dessert, so I wanted to have a way for everyone to enjoy a treat.

I applied the knowledge I have of brownie making to a basic almond flour recipe I found on the internet and improved it! For all the secrets to making these brownies delicious, look in the notes below.

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 Cups almond flour
  • 1 Cup white sugar
  • 1 Cup brown sugar
  • 6 Tablespoons of Instant Clearjel powder (Or cornstarch)
  • 1 Cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon salt
  • 1 Teaspoon of baking soda (for more cakey brownies) or 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda (for more fudgy brownies)
  • 4 Eggs plus 1 egg yolk
  • 2 Teaspoons vanilla
  • 4 Tablespoons ghee (for just lactose-free), melted vegan butter, or olive oil
  • 1 Cup of semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a 9×13 baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk the dry ingredients together.
  3. Add in the wet ingredients and stir until everything is combined.
  4. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  5. Spread the brownie batter in the pan and bake for 25-30 minutes. If you want more fudgy brownies, take them out closer to 25 minutes when they are slightly jiggly in the middle. If you want more cakey brownies, I would take them out closer to 30 minutes or until the middle isn’t jiggly anymore.
  6. Let them cool completely. This is a key step! The texture won’t be perfect until they are cool.

Notes:

  • Instant ClearJel Powder can be found in many different stores and everywhere online. It is often used in pies and jellies, but it gives a wonderful texture to baked goods and keeps them moist. This is the secret to the texture of these brownies! It is essentially cornstarch, so you can use cornstarch in a pinch, but I do suggest using the Instant ClearJel powder.
  • Baking soda can be completely omitted from this recipe for the fudgiest brownies, however, the texture of the almond flour comes through more and is slightly grainy. I highly suggest adding 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda to the brownies.
  • I have not experimented with gluten-free flour in the recipe. If you do, please let me know how it turns out!
Dinner, Uncategorized

Great Northern Bean and Kielbasa Soup

Where I live, spring is full of chilly days that are asking for a bowl of soup and a cozy blanket. This is a soup that I turn to regularly for dinner when I don’t have time (Or don’t want to cook!). It has a few simple ingredients that make a hearty, and dairy-free, soup.

I highly reccomend using homemade chicken broth to up the deliciousness, but boullion works in a pinch. If you need some more ideas for improving your soup recipes, you can find more ideas here.

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Medium onion
  • 4 Cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 Package of kielbasa sausage
  • 2 Cans of great northern beans
  • 1 Can of tomatoes (diced, whole, etc, whatever you like)
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons of Italian seasoning
  • 1 to 2 Teaspoons of salt
  • 1 1/2 Cups of water or bone broth broth (I just used one of the bean cans to measure)
  • Cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of chicken bouillon (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat a skillet to medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
  2. Dice the onion and mince the garlic.
  3. When the pan is hot enough, add the onion and garlic. Stir occasionally until they are fragrant.
  4. Slice the kielbasa sausage into rounds or half-rounds.
  5. Add the kielbasa to the pan and continue to stir it until the onions are transparent and the sausage has gotten crispy and golden brown on the edges.
  6. Turn the heat down to medium, then add the cans of beans and tomatoes, Italian seasoning, salt, and broth. Add pepper to taste.
  7. Stir it occassionally and bring to a boil. Let it boil for five to ten minutes.
  8. Serve with buttered bread or crackers.

I love using beans in soup- it adds protein, vitamins, and texture. They are so cheap too! I like to cook dry beans in my crock pot or Instantpot and then freeze any leftovers. It makes the next time I cook soup even easier! I used cans of beans in this receipe because it’s what I had on hand. Either option works great!

However, if beans aren’t your thing, you could add some noodles instead to increase the satiety factor. I would boil the noodles in the soup itself so the noodles soak up all that flavor, then add another cup of water or broth if needed.

If you try out this recipe, let me know how it turned out for you! I would love to hear any comments you have about the recipe.

Dinner, Uncategorized

How to Take Your Soups to the Next Level

Soups are a staple for me during the autumn and winter seasons. I particularly love hearty and chunky soups.

When I want a bowl of soup on a snowy day, canned soup just doesn’t cut it. If you feel the same way, you might appreciate this list of tips to take your homemade soup to the next level. Soup can seem deceptively easy to make- which they can be- but hard to master. (I am no master myself!)

Without further ado, here are a few tips to make your next bowl of soup delicious.

1. Make and use homemade broth. I know, I know- this is a time consuming step. But I swear it makes the biggest difference. I always have a Snapware full of bones, chicken skin, and leftover pieces of veggies in my freezer to turn into broth. It’s super easy to make! Just toss your bones, veggies pieces, basically whatever you want to use, into your crock pot, instant pot, or pot on the stove. Cover it with water and add whatever seasonings you want. I like salt, bay leaves, and thyme. For the crock pot: I like to leave it running on low for at least 12 hours. Add a cup or two of water as needed so it always covers the bones/veggies. For the instant pot: I run it on manual for 3-6 hours depending on how long I have. For the pot on the stove: let it boil for a few hours and add water as needed.

When there is a nice layer of oil floating on top of the broth, you know it’s done. Strain it and pour into whatever container you plan to use. Of course you can use it right away to make soup, but I made large batches at a time, so I usually put it into glass jars and freeze it. (Make sure to leave plenty of room at the top of the jar, or else they will crack… I have lost too many glass jars that way.)

2. Use homemade noodles or dumplings for the coziest soup ever! There are so many recipes out there for homemade noodles or dumplings. They usually consist mainly of flour and eggs and can be whipped up in 5 minutes. Don’t worry, my egg noodle recipe is coming soon!

3. Never underestimate the power of onions and garlic. These are ingredients that are used very frequently- and for good reason! If you don’t have fresh onions, tossing a teaspoon or two of dried onions will work just fine. It adds that extra level of flavor that makes soups so satisfying.

4. Use more beans. There are so many kinds of beans out there. Beans are such a great source of protein and vitamins. I grew up eating a lot of beans, so they have a special place in my heart, err, stomach.

They are super cheap, especially if you buy dry beans. If you are worried about the possible *ahem* digestive effects of beans, I recommend soaking them overnight and then cooking them for at least 12 hours on high in a crock pot or a couple hours on manual in an instant pot. The more you cook beans, the fewer issues you will have. And of course, canned beans are an easy way to make a 15-minute soup.

If the texture of beans isn’t your favorite, you can add them to your soup and then blend them up to make a thick and creamy soup!

5. Use coconut milk (or your favorite Dairy-free milk) to add creaminess to any soup. The nice thing with soup is that the meat and veggies in the soup are the highlight. My husband isn’t a huge fan of dairy alternatives, but he usually can’t tell when I use them in soup.

I hope you feel inspired to make a warm pot of soup now! If you have any tips to add, let me know in the comments!

Uncategorized

5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Your Lactose Intolerance

I’m sure we have all met at least one person that says “Yeah, I’m lactose-intolerant but I eat whatever I want anyway.”

Ummm….are y’all ok?

For me, the symptoms of lactose intolerance are not easy to ignore. I definitely feel it if I eat something I shouldn’t!

For those of you that eat whatever you want anyway… Here’s a quick list of why you should consider NOT doing that.

1. There are lactase chewables, tablets, powders, and liquid drops all at your disposal. These enzymes make life so much easier and less painful. Why wouldn’t you take advantage of them? (Not using them doesn’t make you any cooler- just gassier.)

2. Spend less time in the bathroom. If you know… You know. Nobody wants to watch a full season of a Netflix show in the bathroom.

3. Keep your gut healthy! Your gut health affects everything else in your body because it’s where your nutrition and energy come from. Having a healthy gut can help your energy and mood! My poor husband knows very well that a bloated wife is not a happy wife.

4. Expand your palate. There are so many ingredients out there that are dairy or lactose-free and just as tasty! I have learned so much more about food and what I like as I have experimented with vegan alternatives.

5. Stop dreading the effects of food. Food should be delicious (of course!!), but it shouldn’t make you feel like dirt after eating it. The association of pain and discomfort with food shouldn’t be an everyday occurrence.

I don’t know that I convinced you to use these tools in your life, but when you are ready to embrace the lactose-free life, you know where I am! I work hard at these recipes to not only feel good in my life but to help everyone out there in the world looking for solutions.

Baking

Dairy-Free Monster Cookies

Cookies come in so many shapes and sizes- so why not monster size?

Jokes aside, these are some seriously delicious cookies. Chocolate chips, allergy-friendly M&Ms (Known as No-No’s!), peanut butter, and oatmeal make up these amazing treats.

There are many versions of the monster cookie, but this one just happens to be gluten-free and dairy-free! The incredible thing is that you can’t even tell- and this is coming from someone that made sawdust cookies with my roommate who has celiac disease. (Unfortunately, the cookies we made left much to be desired.) Thankfully, these are moist, chewy, and chocolatey!

Recipe

Instructions:

  • 1 cup shortening, lactose-free margarine, or vegan butter
  • 2 1/2 cup of peanut butter
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 9 cups oatmeal (use gluten-free oats if you need that!)
  • 1 cup dairy-free chocolate chips
  • 1 cup No-No’s from No Whey!

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Cream shortening/margarine/vegan butter and peanut butter together.
  3. Add sugars and mix well.
  4. Mix in the eggs and vanilla. At this step, make sure your mixture is nice, creamy, and fluffy! This is an important step to any good cookie.
  5. Mix in dry ingredients. Since there is no flour in these, mix the dough until well-mixed. (If you mix flour-based cookies they can get tough if you overmix the dough.) In fact, the better mixed the dough is, the better the cookies!
  6. Scoop the cookies onto the cookie sheets- I used my 1 1/2 tablespoon scoop for nice big ‘monster’ sized cookies!

Side Notes:

  • If you have a peanut allergy or just don’t like peanuts, I bet you could use sunflower butter in its place. If you just aren’t a fan of peanut butter… still give this recipe a try! My husband doesn’t like normal peanut butter cookies, but he thoroughly enjoyed these.
  • I love the brand No Whey! but this post is not sponsored. I highly recommend their products, and it brought me so much joy to bake with vegan/ allergy-friendly candy-coated chocolate! You can find their website here.
  • I used 1/2 cup of lactose-free margarine and 1/2 cup of shortening (because it’s what I had) and the cookies turned out delicious as ever! This is a forgiving recipe.
Baking, Breakfast

Dairy-free Poppyseed Muffins

Muffins have such a wide range, from almost-cupcakes to healthy breakfast options. In the past, I have struggled with finding ways to make muffins dairy-free. They generally have sour cream or Greek yogurt, butter, milk, or a combo of all three.

Obviously, this makes it a little hard for me to easily find a muffin recipe on pinterest. I don’t always want to make vegan muffins- sometimes I just want a dairy-free muffin!

Thus, I took a muffin recipe that my husband already liked and I tweaked it to fit my needs. I was a little worried that the coconut milk would flavor the muffins too much, but you can’t tell that I used coconut milk at all!

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup oil of your choice (I used olive oil)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • Turbinado sugar (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Add the flour, sugar, baking powder and soda, and salt to a large bowl.
  3. In another bowl, mix the coconut milk, oil, eggs, poppyseeds, and extracts.
  4. Combine the dry ingredients with the wet ones.
  5. Stir until just mixed.
  6. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin pans two-thirds to most of the way full.
  7. Sprinkle turbinado sugar on top. (Optional)
  8. Bake for 13-16 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  9. Cool in pan for 10 minutes then move to a wire rack.

Side Notes:

  • If you are a person that doesn’t like coconut, never fear! You can’t taste the coconut in these muffins.
  • For the coconut milk, you can either: 1) Leave a can of coconut milk in the fridge overnight and scrape the cream off the top, then add a little liquid from the can to make a thick yogurt texture. 2) Shake up a can of coconut milk. I have tried it both ways, and the muffins turned out delicious no matter what!
  • I have added sliced almonds to these muffins, and they turned out great! I would use a 1/4 cup of sliced almonds.
  • You can replace the almond extract with lemon extract and add a teaspoon or two of lemon zest to make these lemon poppyseed muffins. Yum!
  • This recipe makes 12-16 muffins.
  • I have not tried using a flax egg in this recipe to make it vegan. If you do, please let me know how it goes!
Sustainable Home

5 Ways to Make 2022 More Sustainable

As we come to a close of 2021 and look to 2022 and all that it will hold, it is easy to become overwhelmed and worried.

Did I create too much waste this year? Can we afford that eco-friendly item? Can I quit my job, move into the woods with my husband and dog, have a library, and bake all day? (Ok, that one might be more specific to me.)

Sustainability is important in every aspect of our lives, even- or especially- our mental wellbeing. You can’t make wise decisions regarding the environment or our homes if you are not well mentally.

I don’t know about you, but I could use a little help in the mental health department. It’s hard living day to day when you don’t have anything to look forward to. (Cabin in the woods, I’m looking at you.)

Luckily, my mom is quite wise and told me this when we last visited: Goals help you feel accomplished and motivated. It gives you something to look forward to.

Instead of dreading work and envying other people and what they have… Why not find things to work on where you are now?

We can start at the most basic level- maybe you want to keep a plant alive because you have a brown thumb. Read an article on it and put it in a place where you see it regularly. (You might be surprised how easy it is to keep a Pothos alive.) Or you can start saving for that trip to England that you have always wanted to go on.

These goals, no matter how big or small, give us perspective. They help us see our improvement and help us focus on the positive in life.

If you are struggling to find goals or aren’t sure where to start, I compiled a list for you! Some are big and some are small. Just start where you feel comfortable! As you continue to make and complete goals, your comfort zone will grow- maybe you will even step outside of it a few times!

1. Go for a 10-minute walk every day. It can be around the block, in the mountains, or to your local grocery store. It will help improve your mood and you get a little exercise and sunshine! (Pro Tip: If you can bring a furry friend along, it will only make it more fun!)

2. Try a new recipe every month. This will not only introduce you to new flavors and cuisines, but it will help you learn to cook or bake better. I am always trying to learn new things in the kitchen! Joshua Weissman or Ann Reardon are both great content creators on Youtube that teach food science and how to make recipes.

3. Spend less time on electronics. I know I struggle with this one. Since I make this blog, I am always looking for new ideas and inspiration from social media. However, I am coming to realize that I don’t need to compare my progress or blog to anyone else. It is uniquely me! I am not putting a time limit on this one because we all have different jobs and lives and we can assess our electronic usage ourselves.

4. Try a new hobby every 3 months. It doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming. You could thrift a bird-watching book and learn more about your local birds. You could learn how to weave a blanket on a loom. The sky is your limit! Trying a new hobby every 3 months means you will learn FOUR new tasks this year! Learning and working on our skills is always a worthy pursuit.

5. Find something you are grateful for and write it down. Every day. I promise it will help you feel less envious of the YouTuber living their dream life in the Washington forest. (Is this me projecting again? Yeah… Yes, it is. Oops. I need this list more than I thought.)

While this list can’t promise that your 2022 experience will be perfect, it will definitely help you feel better about yourself and what you have. I will be referring to this list regularly to remind myself of all the good in the world.

Best of wishes for the new year, and remember that the best goals are the ones you take one step at a time.

Lactose-Free Dairy, Uncategorized

9 Products to Make the Holidays More Lactose-intolerant Friendly

Food intolerances and allergies are no fun, especially when it comes to the holidays. All that dairy, gluten, and sugar come together to make such tasty treats- buuut my stomach doesn’t see them as gifts.

Dark Chocolate Lime Ganache Truffles

Over the years, I have found lactose-free and dairy-free options to still make my favorite treats. It just takes a little extra time at the store and finding what works in the recipes. (Although the whole reason I am making this blog is so you don’t have to stress over how to change the recipes.)

Since Christmas is this week (What?! Where did the time go??), I thought you might need a little help finding these products so you can make every treat you can think of.

Without further ado, here is my list of products that I like to keep on hand during the holidays.

1. Lactose-free Evaporated Milk- You can find it here. It’s great to have on hand in case you want to make a last-minute pumpkin pie.

2. Lactose-free Sweetened Condensed Milk- You can find it here. I like to use it to make a quick caramel.

3. Coconut Condensed Milk- You can find it here. I like having options in my cupboard when I get the urge to be creative- vegan recipes, here I come!

4. Green Valley Products- You can find them here. I highly reccomend these products, as they are organic and high-quality. They produce yogurt, butter, cream cheese, and more!

5. Homemade Lactose-free Butter- You can find my recipe here. Butter is always great to have on hand, and you can easily store it in the freezer until you start baking!

6. Cool Whip- You can find it here. Did you know that on-brand Cool Whip is lactose-free? Crazy, right?! If you look closely at the nutrition facts, it says that it contains 0 grams of lactose. Please note that you HAVE to buy the brand Cool Whip, as I have not found any off-brand versions that are lactose-free. (There are plenty of dairy-free versions in the same area of the store though!)

7. Dairy-free Hot Cocoa Mix- You can find my recipe here. Who doesn’t like to have a warm cup of cocoa after some holiday fun? And it always makes a wonderful gift!

8. Dairy-Free Chocolate Chips- You can find some Guittard chips here. I tend to like Guittard in my cupboard, but you can also find dairy-free and vegan options at regular places like Smith’s Marketplace and your local grocery store. (I have even found bulk dairy-free chocolate chips at WINCO!)

9. Cocoa Butter (To temper chocolate)- You can find it here. The reason I suggest having cocoa butter on hand to temper chocolate is that I can’t use almond bark or candy melts. They both contain milk. Trying to dip treats in non-tempered chocolate results in chocolate-y, sticky fingers every time. No thanks! Tempering your chocolate is a little extra work, but worth it.

I hope you guys regularly refer to this list and make plenty of holiday treats! I have been busy making oreo balls and dark chocolate lime ganache truffles. Let me know in the comments what you get up to!

Peppermint Oreo Balls (Made with Green Valley Creamery Cream Cheese)

Side Notes:

The reason why almond bark and candy melts set up at room temperature is that they have oils as the fat instead of the typical cocoa butter. Cocoa butter forms “crystals” that allow us to temper chocolate by heating and cooling it to certain temperatures. If you’d like to know how I temper chocolate (the easy way!), I can write another post soon. I also highly recommend checking out Ann Reardon’s video on chocolate.

You might notice that none of the links on this post go to Amazon. While you can find just about anything on Amazon, I don’t love referring to it. If I can find it locally or buy it directly from the company itself, I will. I like to support small(er) and local businesses if possible.