Lactose-Free Dairy

Easy DIY Lactose-Free Milk

This is less of a recipe and more of a life hack to save money- and your stomach! Milk is used in so many ways that it’s hard to cut out of my diet. My husband prefers me to use milk over milk alternatives when baking, and truthfully, so do I.

Of course, I enjoy a good bowl of cereal with some chocolate almond milk, but it’s hard to convince my husband that almond milk is tasty.

So I turn to lactose-free milk instead of dairy alternatives but it gets expensive. That’s why I decided to make it myself. It’s super easy and cheaper!

Now I don’t have to worry about buying two kinds of milk every week for my husband and me. Such a relief!

If you are like me, you need a nice glass of milk with just-out-of-the-oven cookies. Now you can have that creamy milk without worrying about paying more than you actually need to!

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 Gallon of milk
  • 2-4 tablets/ drops/ caplets of lactase

Directions:

  1. Take 2-4 tablets/ caplets/ drops of lactase and put them into your milk. Shake the milk well and let it sit for at least 24 hours. If needed, let the milk remain in the fridge for up to 4 days before using.

Side Notes:

  • This recipe does need you to know how sensitive you are to lactose. If I put two tablets of lactase into a gallon of milk, I can use it within 24 hours. But other people might need to wait 3 or 4 days before using it.
  • If you use lactase tablets, I recommend crushing them up before putting them into the milk. If you use caplets, I would open the caplet and put the powder directly into the milk. I haven’t used lactase drops before, but I know that you can buy them on Amazon. Let me know if you use them and what your experience is like!
  • On occasion we see some funky clumps of milk, but it has never bothered us. I am guessing it has to do with something the tablets or caplets have in them. If this would bother you, I would recommend buying the lactase droplets instead. (Although I don’t know if it eliminates the lumps because I haven’t used them before.)

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Dairy-Free Hot Fudge Sauce

Hot fudge is that lovely chocolatey, silky, rich sauce to top ice cream- but sometimes I just don’t want to deal with the dairy in it. On good days, taking a lactase pill works just fine. Other days, my stomach vetoes dairy.

If you came here for a healthy dairy-free hot fudge recipe… sorry to tell you, but this is the wrong blog! I love having delicious desserts. Dairy-free doesn’t have to mean healthy.

When I found out I was lactose-intolerant, I was devastated! Before then, I had never had dairy-free food, and frankly, I was scared. The trick is finding the right recipes that work with the flavors of the dairy-free ingredients. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is one of those recipes! Chocolate and coconut work so well together, so why not make a hot fudge sauce with coconut cream?

I took to Pinterest to gather details on what other people have done before me. I found a lovely recipe by SimplyWhisked.com and tweaked it to fit my tastebuds. The hot fudge sauce I created is a darker version made with coconut cream instead of coconut milk. I hope you find this recipe as decadent as I did!

This is easy to mix into a recipe of Nice cream (ice cream made with frozen bananas)- I chose to make a peanut butter Nice cream and mixed the fudge in. I LOVE Tillamook’s peanut butter chocolate ice cream, so I wanted to attempt to replicate it. The recipe is in the works, so it will be on here soon!

Recipe:

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup canned coconut cream
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tbs of cocoa powder
  • 1 cup of your choice of dairy-free chocolate chips (I used a blend of semi-sweet and dark)
  • 1 tsp of vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp of salt

Directions

  1. In preparation, you can either let your can of coconut cream stand upright in the fridge or let it sit upright in your cupboard. If you leave it in the fridge, it is easier to scoop out the top layer of cream. Of course, the whole can is coconut cream, but the creamiest part floats to the top. Scoop the top off until you have the 2/3 cup of coconut cream needed.
  2. Place the coconut cream, brown sugar, cocoa powder, chocolate chips, vanilla, and salt into a small saucepan- I would sift the cocoa powder into the mixture to avoid any lumps- and heat it on medium heat, stirring often to break up the clumps of chocolate (or cocoa powder- I see ya’ll who don’t have time to sift the cocoa powder.)
  3. Heat it until the mixture is smooth and all the chocolate is melted.
  4. Take it off the heat and let it cool, like a patient person. (I totally snuck a taste test with hopes that my tongue wouldn’t be burned off. Luckily, it wasn’t. If you can’t tell, adrenaline junkie is my middle name.)
  5. You can use it now on some dairy-free ice cream, or you can stick it in the fridge until you want to use it. After a night in the fridge, it turns into a thick, creamy fudge! So you can enjoy it by the spoonful hot OR cold. You can store it in the fridge for four or five days, but you be the judge of it by the smell.

Side Notes:

  • I used a blend of 45% to 60% dark chocolate, so my hot fudge turned out pretty dark- just how I like it! If you prefer milk chocolate, find a dairy-free chocolate brand and experiment with amounts of white, milk, and dark chocolate. Enjoy Life has a couple good options. My favorite kind of chocolate to use is Guittard for the quality and varying percentages of chocolate. From my experience, they have dairy-free chocolate from 45% and on, but read the label before you buy it! From my knowledge, it isn’t dairy allergy friendly, so maybe Enjoy Life or another allergy conscious brand would be a better choice for those with dairy-allergies.
  • This coconut fudge is VERY chocolatey! I wanted it to taste like chocolate with only a hint of coconut on the back of your palate. If you prefer a stronger coconut flavor, I would remove the 2 Tbs of cocoa powder in the recipe.

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Homemade Dairy-free Granola

Granola is a versatile breakfast item. You can add it to a smoothie bowl, a bowl of yogurt, or have it with milk. I really enjoy Green Valley’s lactose-free vanilla yogurt or some chocolate almond milk to go with a bowl of granola to add some protein.

I like to have granola on hand because it makes breakfast quick and easy. My husband likes quick breakfasts that he doesn’t have to cook, so this works perfect! I also like knowing exactly what we are eating for breakfast. A tad healthier than [Your Favorite Brand-Name Cereal], right?

My mother-in-law was kind enough to share the original recipe with me when my husband started asking for me to make it. I have tweaked it over time to fit what we like- and that’s the beauty of this recipe! It is easy to customize to fit your taste and diet.

When I made this granola I decided to go with larger pieces of coconut, a couple teaspoons of cinnamon, and sliced almonds to customize it. However you choose to customize it, I hope you enjoy it!

Recipe:

Ingredients

  • 7 cups of quick or rolled oats (I like a mix)
  • 1-2 cups of shredded coconut
  • 1-2 cups of ground flax seed, wheat flour, chia seeds, quinoa, and anything else you want to add! I generally add 1 cup of flax seed and make up the other cup with the other seeds and grains I happen to have in my pantry.
  • 1-2 cups of your preferred nuts (optional)- I like pecans, walnuts, and almonds.
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup honey- I suggest using local honey because local beekeepers are more likely to treat their bees well and the honey tastes better too!
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup oil of your choice
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 tsp vanilla
  • Raisins or other dried fruit (optional)

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Mix the oats, shredded coconut, seeds and optional nuts into a large bowl.

3. Add honey, brown sugar, oil, water, and vanilla into a saucepan.

4. Set the stove to medium heat and let the mixture simmer until the sugar and honey are dissolved, stirring occasionally.

5. Pour the hot mixture into the large bowl with the oat mixture. Stir it until everything is coated evenly.

6. Scoop the mixture onto two large jelly-roll size baking pans and spread it out thinly. Don’t press it into the pan or it will turn into weird granola bars.

7. Place your two pans into the oven and bake for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes take the pans out and give them a good stir. Move the top pan to the bottom rack and vice versa to make sure they are cooking equally.

8. Repeat the last step another three to five times or until the granola takes on a golden color and everything starts separating and being less clumpy. It won’t get very crispy until it has cooled, so don’t bake it for too long or it might burn!

9. After the granola has cooled, add dried fruit. I personally don’t like the flavor of baked dried fruit as it tends to get harder and slightly burnt, so I omit it until this step.

Side Notes

  • I generally use vegetable oil because I usually have it on hand, but coconut oil, ghee, or avocado oil all should work as well. I don’t know the exchange between vegetable oil and the others, but I am sure it is a quick Google search away.
  • I haven’t tried maple syrup or coconut sugar in this recipe yet, but I am sure it would be delicious! It would be easy to make a maple almond granola with real maple syrup. Mmmm!
  • It can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 1 hour for the granola to bake. It depends on what you added, the moisture in the air, and if you are wearing your lucky socks. But seriously, granola is hard to mess up. The only way I have messed it up before was by burning it because I was trying to get it extra crispy. Oops!
  • Have you tentatively taken your granola out of the oven for fear it will burn only to find that it isn’t quite crispy enough? Never fear! You can put it back in a 350 degree oven for another 5-10 minutes to crisp it up. It’s okay to do this even if the granola has cooled.
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5 Tips for a More Sustainable Kitchen

Sustainability is a broad topic that can cover every part of our lives. To me, the kitchen is a place that can easily be a source of more waste than any other part of the house. Food waste, disposable containers, and plastic bags slowly add to the environmental problem.

While I don’t have a perfectly sustainable kitchen, I am slowly swapping out products where I can. Like most people, we can only spend so much of our budget on a sustainable lifestyle. The most important thing about sustainability is that we are never perfect- only continuously striving toward a better life, a better home, and a better world.

Here are some of the tips I have amassed after working to have a sustainable kitchen for the past couple of years.

  • Buy products in cans or glass jars when you can. You can then recycle the cans and reuse the glass jars! My husband and I like to buy Classico pizza and pasta sauce because the full size jars fit the regular size Ball lids. We happen to have plenty of lids at our house because I can what we can get from the Farmer’s market. I love to reuse jars for keeping bone broth or sauces or even planting something in them!
  • Use dish towels and dish rags over paper towels. Most spills can easily be soaked up with a dish towel and then wiped down with the dish rag. If you have a spill that you consider grosser than most, have a basket of rags in the kitchen so you don’t ruin your cute dish towels. We were able to find reusable paper towels (pictured) at an Asian store and they have been fun to use in place of disposable ones.
  • Thrift! There are so many great things you can find at the thrift store. I have found a new pizza stone, a big cookie scooper, and plenty of great containers (like in the picture) at our local thrift store. It’s a great feeling buying something for cheap and knowing it is still good quality. (Of course there are not-so-great things at thrift stores, but the search is part of the experience!) Supporting your local thrift store also helps the community- my favorite thrift store is a non-profit that donates everything to organizations that support the family and protect people against abuse. I would recommend a quick google search to find what’s local!
  • Go to your farmer’s market. Not only is it a great experience, but you can support your community and buy delicious, high-quality products. During the summer months, we try to buy all of our produce at the farmer’s market. I also like buying honey, flowers, and products at the farmer’s market. Since we don’t have a garden or space to make one, the farmer’s market is the next best thing for us.
  • Use reusable containers when possible. We love our snapware and jars. They don’t leak and are perfect to stack together. Our reusable bags are great for quick snacks and sandwiches. We also use paper bags and Lunchskins for packing lunches. They are recyclable and easy to use for lunches on the go when a container won’t work.

And there you go! Five of my tips for a more sustainable kitchen. If you have anything to add, please let me know! I hope these tips help you on your journey to a more sustainable life.

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Grandma Flake’s Brownies

Family recipes hold such a nostalgic feeling, don’t they? Grandma Flake is my Great-Grandma. I never had the chance to meet her, but I grew up with her brownies! I think that it’s lovely that we can feel the presence of our loved ones when we make recipes that we associate with them. I frequently imagine what my great-grandma must have been like- she obviously loved her family to make such tasty treats for them! Whenever I make these brownies, I have great memories of making them with my family. While these brownies might not make you nostalgic, I hope you enjoy their flavor and texture.

Not only are these brownies delicious, but they can be dairy-free and are simple to make! Simple, budget-friendly ingredients (and a whole lotta love) are all that are in these bites of heaven.

Whenever someone says they have the best brownie recipe, there is generally a divide between cakey and fudgy brownies. Some people swear by adding melted dark chocolate, and others say you shouldn’t use butter. Others require frosting on top, and to others, that is complete lunacy.

Not gonna lie, these brownies aren’t fudgy or cakey. They are a wonderful blend of a crackly top and a soft inside with a chewy texture… so I guess they have their own category?

I am usually a person who insists on throwing a couple of chocolate chips into the brownie batter, but they don’t work in these brownies and the delicate texture. I know you might be tempted to throw a couple in on a whim- but try to resist! (I do however, suggest eating a handful of chocolate chips while waiting for the brownies to bake- priorities people. Priorities.)

Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup shortening or vegan butter
  • 1 egg
  • 2 T milk of your choice (Note that nut milks are thinner and you won’t need as much)
  • ¾ cup flour
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tbs Cocoa powder

Directions:

  1. Mix all of the dry ingredients together and then add in the egg, milk and shortening.

2. The mixture will look dry to begin. Don’t add extra milk and keep mixing! I promise it will come together. It should be a sticky, thick batter.

3. After mixing it just enough that you don’t see any chunks of flour or shortening, press into a greased 9×13 pan. Bake at 325 degrees for about 30 minutes. Keep an eye on the brownies after the 25 minute mark since all ovens bake differently. The brownies will puff up in the oven and then sink when they are almost done.

4. The crust will be crunchy while underneath will be gooey and soft. This is the part of the recipe that I differ from my mom. I like to eat the brownies about 30-45 minutes after they come out of the oven when they are still slightly warm and gooey while my mom prefers them to be completely cooled. Either way, they have a wonderful chewy texture and crispy edges. (In case you like brownies right out of the oven, I suggest you resist with this recipe. The flavors don’t settle until they are mostly cooled- they just don’t taste as good hot.)

Look at these gorgeous bites of chocolatey goodness! Is your mouth watering yet? (It’s a little embarrassing how much I am drooling while writing this post…)

Keep in an air-tight container (Like this Snapware!) for up to a week.

Side notes:

  • If you decide to use non-dairy milk in these brownies, be careful to watch the consistency. Milk is more viscous than non-dairy milks, so dairy-free alternatives affect the texture of baked goods. The brownie batter should be thick and sticky and spread into a thin layer. I would suggest starting with only one tablespoon of non-dairy milk and going from there to make sure you don’t thin the brownie batter out too much.
  • If you choose to use a vegan butter, you will need to add an extra tablespoon or two of it to get the correct water to fat ratio.
  • If you decide to use a flax egg or a vegan egg replacement, you might want to make a test batch as I haven’t tried that before. If you happen to, let me know how it goes in the comments!
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Teriyaki Sauce

Japanese food wasn’t familiar to me until I married my husband. His mom lived in Japan for a year and a half and his uncle is from Japan. My in-laws don’t have Japanese food often, but when they do, it is a delicious treat! This recipe is from his uncle, and we prefer it to any store- bought teriyaki sauce.

Asian cuisine is a great way to avoid putting dairy into your diet. There are far more people in Asia who are lactose-intolerant than there are in the United States, so it makes sense that they don’t use as much milk as we do. We have Asian meals two or three times a week. It’s a delicious way to pack in veggies and rice and avoid a grumpy stomach.

Teriyaki sauce is a very simple way to dress up a bowl of rice or some steamed vegetables. My husband and I especially enjoy gyoza with teriyaki sauce. After making a batch of the sauce, we like to keep our teriyaki sauce in a little Snapware container on the top shelf of our fridge so we always have teriyaki sauce to dress up a meal.

Side Notes:

  • The quality of the teriyaki sauce depends on the quality of the soy sauce you buy.
  • This sauce is very strong and a little goes a long way- you probably only need half of a teaspoon for a bowl of rice.
  • I have tried making it with brown sugar and white sugar. Either way, it still turns out delicious!
  • This doesn’t taste like restaurant-style or store-bought teriyaki sauce. It is simple and delicious! Part of the reason I like it so much is because it is a simple recipe of only four ingredients.

Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp minced garlic or garlic powder
  • 1 tsp grated ginger or ginger powder
  1. Place all of the ingredients into a sauce pan and boil for three to five minutes or until the sugar is dissolved. You can boil the sauce for a few more minutes if you would like a thicker sauce. Be careful to not boil it too much- it could boil down into a weird teriyaki candy or boil over onto your stove. Definitely not the easiest thing to clean off your stove. Not that I know from experience…
  2. Let the sauce cool (or not) and enjoy! This is a super simple way to incorporate some authentic Japanese flavor into meals!
  3. Place the leftovers into an air-tight container and keep in the fridge. It will stay fresh for three to six months.

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How to Make Homemade Lactose-Free Butter

When I figured out that all of my stomach distress was from lactose, I was pretty devastated. Dairy, especially butter, is one of the main flavors in many recipes. And I looove butter- buttered toast, brown butter blondies. and the list goes on.
 Taking lactase pills is always an option, and I do use them often, but it makes eating far more expensive than I would like it to be. It’s frustrating having to worry about what is in each and every meal I eat. I kept my meals dairy-free for a while, but it is hard to get the right texture and flavor when baking with dairy substitutes. 
 I have looked into buying lactose-free butter, but I don’t have any local options, and shipping it to my house is far too expensive.
 My husband encouraged me to find a way to be able to use actual butter instead of substitutes. I happened to stumble upon a video of how to make butter, and the gears started to turn. I had been adding two pills of lactase to a gallon of milk for a couple of weeks at this point. It was cheaper to have a whole gallon of DIY lactose-free milk and share it with my husband than to have a half-gallon of store-bought lactose-free milk for myself and a gallon of regular milk for my husband. (Do all husbands like milk that much?)

So I started to experiment. I added one or two lactase pills to a half-gallon of cream and let it sit for at least 24 hours in the fridge.  

Then I churned it into butter and I didn’t have any… ahem… issues. It was wonderful to have real, creamy, delicious butter without the unwanted side effects. 

The hard part about this recipe is knowing how much lactase to add. I am generally okay if I put one lactase pill into the half-gallon of cream, but other people who struggle more with lactose may need to add a couple more pills or a couple extra days in the fridge.

Side Notes:
The buttermilk will thicken as it sits in the fridge, but I wouldn’t use it if it has clumps in it. I generally use the buttermilk the week that I make the butter to be safe. I really like making buttermilk biscuits to use it up.  
Making lactose-free butter at home is wonderful and I recommend it- however- please, please take time to understand your body and how lactose-intolerant you are. Even though I would love to be able to tell you the exact amount of lactase to use in this recipe, it is truly up to you and your body. Please be safe!
I have been able to leave the cream in the fridge for up to a week before churning it into butter without any issues. I don’t know that I would let it sit for longer than that.
Smell something kind of sour while churning the cream? Don’t worry, that’s normal. My husband doesn’t like to be in the kitchen when I am making butter because of the smell.
The butter can last up to a month in the fridge and longer in the freezer. I wouldn’t leave the butter out on the counter. Making it at home makes it go bad sooner if you leave it out at room temperature. 


Recipe 

Ingredients:
Half-gallon of heavy whipping cream
1-4 lactase pills 
Tools needed:
Hand-Mixer, Stand-Mixer, or Whisk and Large Bowl
Sieve
Spatula
Jars
Measuring cups
Silicone molds (Optional) 


Directions:
Place one to four lactase pills into the half-gallon of cream and shake it. Let it sit in the fridge for at least 24 hours and up to a week.

Whenever you are ready to churn the cream, put it in your mixer and let it churn for 20-45 minutes. It’s easy for me to let it do its own thing in my bosch, but you will want to keep an eye on it if you are using a kitchen aid or a hand mixer. Wipe down the sides of the bowl occassionaly to incorporate all of the cream together. 

It will look like regular whipped cream after a couple of minutes. It will start to thicken and condense as you continue to whip it.

It will gradually take on a lovely light yellow color when it gets closer to being butter. But don’t stop there! Keep going until it completely separates into clumps of smooth yellow butter and watery buttermilk. The buttermilk you get from the store is different from the buttermilk you get from this process. It starts out watery and slowly thickens up in the fridge.

Once it is separated, set out your jar, seive, and funnel. 

Slowly pour the buttermilk through the sieve, trying to keep too much butter from clogging up the sieve.

Once you have the majority of the buttermilk separated out, start taking clumps of the butter and putting them into a smaller separate bowl. Press the butter against the side of the bowl to press the remaining buttermilk out. As you press out the buttermilk, add it to the jar of buttermilk. Then rinse the butter with cold milk. The less buttermilk in the butter, the longer the butter will stay fresh. I generally split my batch of butter into 1/3 of salted butter and 2/3 of unsalted butter. 

I just so happened to have these silicon pumpkin molds that perfectly hold 1/4 cups of butter! I like to measure the unsalted butter into 1/4 cup amounts because it’s easy to take it out of the freezer for recipes when I need it. I have also simply pressed the butter into a 1/4 measuring cup and scooped it out on to a baking tray. I generally let the butter on the tray sit in the freezer for fifteen minutes or until they are firm enough to play into a bag or container without mushing together. I had to wait a bit longer on the butter in the silicone molds so they would come out of the mold nicely.

And voila! You have your own lactose-free butter. Enjoy!

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Lactose-Free vs. Dairy-Free

Some people don’t think there is a difference between dairy-free and lactose-free, but there is! Lactose-free products are still the dairy we know and love, just without the pesky lactose. Dairy-free alternatives (almond milk, coconut yogurt, nut cheese) are obviously dairy and lactose-free.

Dairy adds flavor, texture, and color to many recipes that just isn’t the same without it. That’s why certain recipes don’t work without the dairy-free counterparts. If I have the option, I use lactose-free products in baking because I prefer it.

Don’t despair if you have a milk allergy! There are still many wonderful ways to use dairy-free alternatives. I like to find recipes that are specifically dairy-free that work with the alternatives rather than using them to replace dairy.

On this blog, you will find a variety of recipes that are either lactose-free or dairy-free. I hope you enjoy learning about the ways to make tasty food and have a happy stomach!