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Healthy Alternatives – Dairy Replacements

Part of my work is guiding clients with new ways to nourish their bodies. Often I see clients who need to go on an elimination diet, and I even offer a 12 Day Natural Detox online. Sometimes healthcare providers prescribe these elimination diets or clients decide to try an elimination diet on their own to figure out if foods are one culprit as to why they are feeling bad and/or gaining weight. Dairy is another common inflammatory food (next to gluten and sugar) that is typically removed in an elimination diet. If you are considering an elimination diet or have already determined that dairy is an inflammatory food for your body, here are some common dairy replacements for cooking.


Ghee is clarified butter — the butter oil, without the lactose and other milk solids. It is traditionally prepared by gently heating butter until it becomes a clear golden liquid. The lactose and other milk solids coagulate and are meticulously removed. This process also evaporates most of the natural water content, making ghee light, pure, and resistant to spoilage.


It is generally recognized that some fat is essential for health. A totally fat-free diet can actually accelerate the aging of the skin, nerves, and brain cells. Without an adequate quantity of the right kind of fat in the diet, cell regeneration can be adversely impacted. Fats are needed for efficient absorption of crucial lipid-soluble vitamins such as A, E, D, and K. The stomach lining, which protects the stomach from the acids it secretes to help break down foods, needs fat to maintain a healthy coating.

Similarly, cholesterol in the body serves functions that are crucial to health, such as building cell membranes, and hormone and bile balance. It is when cholesterol is damaged by harmful free radicals that it leads to clogged arteries and heart problems. Ghee imparts the benefits of the best essential fatty acids without the problems of oxidized cholesterol, trans-fatty acids, or hydrogenated fats. It is also resistant to free radical damage and is both salt and lactose-free.


Ghee has an excellent aroma and is so flavorful that you can use half or two-thirds as much as other cooking oils. It has a very high burning point and doesn’t burn or smoke during cooking. It combines excellently with a wide variety of spices. You can use ghee to sauté foods, in baking, to deep-fry, or even as a spread.




While not entirely dairy-free, Greek yogurt is a specific type of yogurt that is strained more extensively than traditional yogurt, thus removing more of the lactose and whey in the process. Greek yogurt is a great source of probiotics, which can also act as an additional ‘helper’ in the digestive process. Thus, plain Greek yogurt can be a reasonable alternative to those with a lactose-sensitivity while still providing the benefits of Calcium, probiotics and protein content.

  1. Plain Greek yogurt can be used as a replacement for…

  2. Sour Cream– wraps or salads, in creamy dips like tzatziki or French onion dip, or as a topping for a variety of dishes

  3. Heavy cream or milk– in smoothies, pasta sauces, soups (To prevent curdling, remove from heat source before adding into sauces, etc.)

  4. Mayonnaise– use in sandwiches/wraps/salads

  5. Oil– use in place of oil in baking for a healthier fat alternative that still maintains the moisture in baked goods

  6. Cream Cheese– in baking, dips or even on toast

  7. By itself– add some fruit & granola for a delicious, protein-rich snack


If you are looking for a completely dairy-free alternative, canned coconut milk is also a great option!

Light or full fat, both can be used as milk/cream replacements in sauces, dips, baking, etc. Coconut yogurt, like Greek yogurt, is also a great source of probiotics, and you can purchase it at select grocery stores.

Brandy Hickman, NBHWC

Brandy Hickman, Inspired Nutrition and Health Coach, leads sessions with authenticity and speaks from the heart. She shares her passions for mindfulness and spiritual connection in all aspects of life, from our food to our thoughts to our relationships.

Brandy helps women discover if their plates are too full OR just filled with things that don’t nurture, bring joy, and inspire them. She challenges women to have a different mindset and think differently about doing less and having more.


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