After finding out you can’t eat dairy or lactose anymore, it might feel like a life sentence. However, there are a lot of surprising things that are dairy-free, and each surprise you find can give you a little bit of a normal life back.
Now, I don’t recommend eating some of these things on a regular basis, especially the junk foods, but I’ve found memorizing some things that shouldn’t be dairy-free but are have helped me navigate dairy-laden parties or work functions without completely starving.
This is far from a complete list but if you have other additions, send them my way and I will add them to this post.
Dairy-Free Staples and Baking Supplies
I can’t tell you how many times people try to tell me at a restaurant that something that contains eggs contains dairy. It is so frustrating it has to make the top of this list.
Mayo is an egg-based product. In its most basic form, it doesn’t contain much more than egg, vinegar or lemon juice, oil, and mustard. Unless the mayo has something like parmesan in it, it should be totally safe for you to eat.
Please see the first two items. Aioli is a fancy word for mayo plus some other ingredients. The vast majority of aiolis are mayos with something like lemon, avocado, sriracha, etc. but always check at a restaurant to make sure they don’t add something like pesto, which might contain parmesan.
I have run into it where they add something like sour cream to tartar sauce, but generally it’s just mayo plus pickle relish. Once again, check to make sure, but you’re usually fine with this.
I feel like a broken record by this point, but coleslaw is usually cabbage plus mayo or cabbage plus some kind of vinegar, but I have encountered coleslaw that contains some kind of milk, so check, but most of the time you should be a-OK.
Some English muffins
Many MANY English muffins have dairy, but check the labels, because there are great dairy-free ones available too. Check out Genesis 1:29 for great sprouted ones.
No crumpets in the stores near me have dairy, but always check to make sure. Bonus – I think they’re a lot tastier than English muffins and they tend to be lower-cal.
While my boyfriend loves all things vanilla, I am a tried and true chocoholic. I am that stereotypical woman who hits that time of the month, develops an insatiable longing for chocolate, and eats it like it’s the antidote to a poison seeping into my veins. What I’m trying to say is I love chocolate, especially with peanut butter. But, I have to be careful when buying chocolate, because so much of it contains milk. This is where dark chocolate, a far superior chocolate, comes in. I love the rich, bold taste of dark chocolate more than its milky cousin, and the bonus is that the probability it is dairy-free is much higher. Look for bars that are 60% or above, and you’re likely to find most varieties are dairy-free. My personal favorite bars are Tabal, Chocolove, and peanut butter cups from Justin’s and Theo. Generally, the more you spend on a bar, the more you’ll get out of eating it, and the longer it will last you, so don’t skimp on the high-quality stuff.
Instant Jell-O pudding
A lot of these are dairy-free, and don’t believe them when they say you can’t use soy milk with it. Just use less soy milk with it. If it calls for 2 cups, start with about 1 cup soy milk and gradually add up to ½ cup more if needed.
Crescent roll tubes
Even the Pillsbury ones are dairy-free but they contain trans fats, so go for Immaculate Baking instead.
This is one of the most decadent but amazing dressings in the world, and I couldn’t be happier that it’s dairy-free. You will get addicted to this. Pro tip: Really awesome if you toss some of this with broccoli slaw. Can’t say enough good things about this fatty delicious ambrosia.
Do not let the word “butter” fool you. It’s usually just apples.
Many a dip mix
One of the best and easiest dairy-free foods I’ve been able to sneak into parties and receive resounding praise is my dairy-free french onion chip dip. Simply Organic makes the best dip mix I’ve ever tasted, and it’s so easy to just sub in vegan sour cream and nobody is the wiser. Tons of their other dip mixes are dairy-free, and you can just add vegan sour cream/cream cheese based on what’s called for in order to make them safe for you to eat!
Junk food/Snack Food
Oreos are vegan, and probably my favorite guilty pleasure.
McDonald’s apple pies
These are vegan. Listen, I know McDonald’s is terrible, but sometimes midnight cravings call, and I’m not going to keep this information from you.
The chocolate ones are vegan, and the honey ones are dairy-free but obviously not vegan.
Best store-bought I’ve ever found is from the brand Popcorn, Indiana.
They taste like they are a little cheesy, but Veggie booty from Pirate brands is totally vegan. You will finish these in one sitting if you’re not careful.
Nature Valley crunchy granola bar
These have been great gas station go-tos for me when I’m on a road trip and need a little boost. The peanut butter ones are delicious. Anyone living dairy-free knows there are a dearth of granola bars that are actually free of dairy.
Many Girl Scout cookies
Now, this depends on the bakery the Girl Scouts in your area use, but the ABC Bakery is the one you’re looking for. They make several vegan varieties, including Thin Mints, Peanut Butter Patties, Lemonades, and Thanks-a-Lots.