Baking, Lactose-Free Dairy, Uncategorized

Lactose-Intolerant Friendly Chocolate Chip Ranking

If you are like me, chocolate is a versatile (and delicious) pantry staple. I always have chocolate chips in my cupboard in case I have an urge to make some chocolate chip cookies or I want to try my hand at tempering some chocolate to make truffles for a party.

Being lactose-intolerant can make it difficult to find chocolate chips that are smooth, decadent, AND friendly to my stomach. I went to a couple different local grocery stores near me and grabbed the options they had for chocolate chips that didn’t have dairy in the ingredients.

I tried out 9 different chocolate chips. Four of them are from Guittard at varying percentages of cocoa and two of them are from Simple Truth Organic. I was curious to see how the recipes varied between the types of chocolate. You might be surprised to know what I thought!

I evaluated them right out of the bag and then later in an oatmeal cookie. I chose to bake them in an oatmeal cookie for the mild flavor so the chocolate chips would stand out.

My verdict:

  1. Guittard – 55%: hard chip texture, nice light cocoa flavor, lightly sweetened, very nice vanilla flavor. BAKED: Smooth after being baked, good amount of presence without being overbearing. A good amount of bitter and sweet.
  2. Guittard 46%: Buttery texture in the mouth, sweet without causing a toothache. BAKED: Sweeter than the other chips, but a stronger chocolate flavor. Still not too sweet, which I appreciate in a cookie.
  3. Guittard 48%: Also buttery smooth, pleasantly sweet, prominent vanilla flavor. BAKED: Has a richer flavor than expected for its percentage. Since the chips are bigger, it is a good amount of chocolate in a bite. I thought these would be my favorite, but after comparing them all… maybe I like the 55% or 46% better?
  4. Guittard 63%: Harder chip texture, doesn’t melt as easily on the tongue, robust cocoa flavor and very lightly sweetened. BAKED: Doesn’t have as powerful of a presence as others. I like the level of cocoa.
  5. Kroger’s Private Selection 62% cacao: Harder texture of chip, deep cocoa flavor and sweeter than the Guittard 63%. BAKED: Lighter flavor than the Ghirardelli, but I prefer it in a cookie. It is just as of a rich flavor, but not as bitter.
  6. Ghirardelli 60% cacao (contains milkfat): Very smooth chip, more buttery on the tongue, not very sweet. BAKED: Almost an oily texture? Nice dark flavor, but not so dark that it overpowers the cookie. After baked, they are even more velvety and smooth than before. Not my favorite chip- a little too bitter for me. Not sure why they taste more bitter than the 62% and 63%- maybe the vanilla they used?
  7. Simple Truth Organic- semi sweet: Typical level of sweetness for a regular chocolate chip, no bitter flavor, soft with a nice chew. BAKED: Not super sweet, has a weird tang to it? Almost fruity? Not my favorite.
  8. Simple Truth Organic- allergy friendly: They are sweeter than Enjoy Life, true semi-sweet, has a bizarre bitter flavor. BAKED: Barely any flavor when inside a cookie- no recognizable chocolate flavor- I can feel the texture of the chips, but it it overpowered by the mild cookie flavor
  9. Enjoy Life- semi sweet mini chips: Instantly starts melting on the tongue, it has a bitter flavor- potentially from the vanilla? Not very sweet for a semi-sweet chip. BAKED: Very light flavor- can barely taste it in the cookie. It has a very fruity aftertaste. There is a slightly funky flavor that I can’t identify.

So, what did you think? Clearly, I am a fan of Guittard chocolate. The flavor and quality of the chips are unparalleled. I also love that they contain Fair Trade Cocoa and are made in a peanut free facility. I was disappointed by the allergy friendly chips, since I want a chocolate chip to stand out in a cookie. Maybe they would be better in trail mix, if you can get past the strange bitter flavor.

Let me know what brand of chocolate chips are your favorite! I am always excited to find new brands that are lactose-free and dairy-allergy friendly. I hope the list helped narrow down your search for a tasty chocolate chip!

Notes:

The only chocolate chips that are technically dairy-free are the allergy-friendly chips. Otherwise, the chocolate chips most likely were produced in factory with dairy or might have milk fat in them. Ghirardelli always has milk fat in all of their chocolate products. Milk fat doesn’t contain much lactose, so the chocolate chips haven’t bothered me yet. I would make sure to read the backs of the bars and bags from Ghirardelli because they don’t list milk on the list of allergens although it does have milk fat. To all those with milk allergies, please read labels!

Lactose-Free Dairy, Uncategorized

5 Tips for being Lactose-Intolerant

Welcome! You found out you are part of the lactose-intolerant group of uncomfortable stomachs and avoiding dairy. Now what?

When I first found out I was lactose-free, I went completely dairy-free because I didn’t know there were options for lactose-free products and lactase capsules. Now that I have adventured in lactose-free land for a couple years, I have a couple tips and tricks to keep you enjoying food AND having a happy stomach.

First, gauge how lactose-intolerant you are. Everyone has a different body, which means you can handle different levels than other people. I have to be super careful to not have dairy without a lactase pill… or I pay for it in the end.

Second, dairy-free options might be the best option for you. I know that I feel better when I eat less dairy, even if it is lactose-free. There are so many awesome companies that make tasty dairy-free products. Of course, it won’t be what you are used to, but now is a good time as any to broaden your horizons!

Third, Read labels, read labels, read labels. I cannot stress this enough! There are so many products that are lactose-free that don’t advertise it! Do I know why? Nope! But I am in the process of making a mega list of products that are sneakily lactose-free so keep your eyes peeled!

Fourth, ghee is a great substitute for butter when cooking. You get the same great flavor without the lactose. Ghee seems to be more accessible than lactose-free butter in stores, so it’s a great option. (Butter is super easy to make, and I have the recipe to make your own lactose-free butter here.)

Fifth, don’t be afraid to ask people what they put in food. In my opinion, it is better to be safe rather than sorry! Luckily, my family and friends all know, so when I ask if they added dairy, they know I am not being picky. More often than not, people are willing to accommodate you. If lactase works for you, that is another great option for big gatherings. Just remember- your stomach is important, and you need to take care of yourself!

I hope these 5 tips help you on your adventures in navigating food sensitivities. Let me know in the comments if you learned something new or have something to add!

Sustainable Home, Uncategorized

5 Tips for a More Sustainable Home

Sustainability is a broad topic that involves so many things! There are so many ways to live a sustainable life, and doing so generally grows your skills- i.e. making jam by buying local produce, growing a garden, or becoming a beekeeper.

Of course, being sustainable isn’t always easy- or cheap. But here are a few simple swaps you can implement without emptying your wallet!

  1. Switch from plastic toothbrushes to bamboo. There are so many brands on the internet for varying price ranges. You can usually find bamboo toothbrushes for the same price as plastic toothbrushes. We found 8 bamboo toothbrushes on Amazon for around $8. Sounds pretty good, right?!
Kitchen hand soap from The Spirit Goat in a hard wood soap holder.

2. Use bar soap instead of liquid soap. Of course, this is a personal preference, but I think bar soap lasts longer and treats my hands better than most liquid hand soap. I highly recommend finding a small company that makes soap locally or online. We love our Spirit Goat soap here in Cache Valley!

Flowers from The Willow Farm here in Cache Valley.

3. Find joy in what you have. It’s easy to get caught up in social media and what everyone else is doing. Just because a famous person on Instagram has a certain shirt, or home, or job, doesn’t mean you need those things too to live a fulfilling life. This is something I have been working on lately. Having gratitude for what we have and the opportunities in our lives makes life much better! (And cheaper!!)

4. Cook from home more. I know, I know, being a food blogger makes me a little biased, but seriously- it can save a lot of money! If meal planning stresses you out, there are so many awesome lists on other blogs that include everything you need for a recipe. Then you can plan simple freezer meals or 30-minute meals to make on busy days when it seems like it would be easier to eat out.

5. Shop local!! This has been a big trend on social media lately, especially with COVID over the past year. But it isn’t only a trend- it is a way to support other people and buy quality products! I like supporting ethical, local businesses because I can get to know the owners and their practices. It makes me feel so great knowing I am helping people create by buying their products.

These are just a few tips I have from trying to be more sustainable in my home. This list is by no means perfect or all-encompassing, but I hope it helps!

Uncategorized

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.