Moo-ving out the dairy

An early holiday snowfall of cookbooks is accumulating on my desk. I’ll start digging through to see which ones are worth packing away and which should just melt away.

Ever since The Hub found out that he’s allergic to dairy, the biggest challenge for me has been baking. So I was excited to see “Living Dairy-Free for Dummies” by Suzanne Havala Hobbs, a Chapel Hill, N.C. registered dietitian and professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health. She also writes the On The Table column for The News & Observer. I also know that she enjoys good food.

Part of the book discusses reasons to eliminate dairy from the average person’s diet. I can’t comment on that, since I’m not a nutrition expert and my interest is in cooking for someone who must limit dairy because of an allergy. I turned straight to the recipes and substitutions. I found a lot of ideas and things I never thought about, including using almond milk in mashed potatoes and soy creamer as an ingredient. The Tofu Sour Cream is a substitute for those onion dips and other naughty party goodies.

My experience baking with nondairy milks is that they do not all behave equally, although many cookbooks imply that soy, almond and rice milks are interchangeable. Hobbs says to use the replacement you prefer from a taste standpoint, but I would have liked to see a comparison of how the milks behave in cooking. Personally, I prefer almond milk in muffins, pancakes and the like.  The book doesn’t mention coconut milk, which has become popular only recently. I’ve seen coconut milk creamer and the like in supermarkets.

Really, nothing truly takes the place of butter and cream for flavor. But this book can help bring flavor to dishes even without them, for those who must limit their intake of dairy.

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