3 Health Benefits of Dairy Free Foods

This month marks 2 years since my family and I made the choice to live a vegan lifestyle. What started as 3 week experiment has grown into a lifelong choice. My family and I have particularly enjoyed the health benefits of our dairy free food choices.

There are numerous reasons to live a dairy free lifestyle but to fully appreciate the benefits you need to live them for yourself. 

3 health benefits of dairy free foods. Learn how to improve your health by making one simple change in your diet. AlexisMathews.com

10 Health Benefits of Dairy Free Foods

Healthy Digestion

Lactose intolerance causes digestive problems in millions of people. These issues include stomach pain, stomach cramps, flatulence, bowel issues and nausea.  It has been estimated that 70% of the world’s population has some degree of lactose intolerance. After weaning, babies no longer need the ability to digest milk so we gradually lose lactase, the enzyme needed to breakdown and digest lactose. The lactose in dairy products can also trigger irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and chronic constipation.

Stronger Bones

Yes, believe it or not there is a large body of evidence that shows you develop stronger bones when living a dairy free lifestyle. According to a landmark Harvard study* of approximately 78,000 female nurses, “…women consuming greater amounts of calcium from dairy foods had significantly increased risks of hip fractures, while no increase in fracture risk was observed for the same levels of calcium from nondairy sources.” Other studies have shown that populations with the highest dairy consumption also have the highest incidence of osteoporosis.

Clearer Skin

The exact cause isn’t known but it could be linked to the inflammation that dairy causes in the human body. However, for those that struggle with acne most realize a drastic improvement in their skin after removing dairy products from their diet. The hormones found in dairy products may also be a cause of human acne. Even though the exact correlation isn’t clear, dermatologists are recommending living a dairy free lifestyle to keep skin clear and healthy.

Dairy Free, Now What?

So now you are heavily considering removing dairy products from your diet but what about yogurt, ice cream treats, and coffee creamer? Fortunately, there are a whole host of amazing dairy free products on the market for you to enjoy. 

One that our family enjoys is So Delicious, which offers everything from dairy free cultured yogurt, sweet ice cream treats, and beverages like milk and coffee creamer.

PP So Delicious

HMLM Affiliate Disclosure

My children all love the dairy free cultured yogurt and I love that it contains probiotics which promote a healthy gut and digestion. So Delicious is also our go-to for special birthday treats and other special occasions. Their ice cream bars are amazing!

This week So Delicious has a special offer in ValPak for $1 off one 16oz. or larger So Delicious dairy free creamer. So go grab the ValPak from this week’s mail and find that coupon. Head on down to your local grocer and enjoy a dairy free coffee creamer this week with your morning cup of coffee.

If you did not receive a ValPak in your mail this week or live outside of the distribution area for the So Delicious coupon, you are in luck! Download and print this coupon!

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“This post is sponsored by Savings.com.”

*12-year Harvard study of 77,761 female nurses, as published in the American Journal of Public Health (1997, volume 87)

The Case Against Drinking Milk

The Case Against Drinking Milk. Long-term ill health effects from dairy.

It has long been accepted that milk, particularly from cows or even goats is a necessary part of our everyday diet. Milk has long been promoted, dare I say overly promoted, as a crucial source of calcium. An enormous portion of our population still believes that calcium is needed to build strong bones and that milk is the only source to obtain these necessary levels of calcium. There is just one problem with this propaganda that has been thrown down our throats, cow’s milk is nutritionally perfect for baby cows (calfs) and likewise goat’s milk is intended for baby goats (kids).

Why would humans want to consume something designed and nutritionally perfected for another animal?

I won’t argue that we need calcium. My background in biology has proven to me time and time again that our bones do in fact need the mineral calcium for bone health, strength, and growth. However, we should not be obtaining this calcium from dairy products.

You may remember a recent post in which I discussed the health effects from eating and drinking animal sources, including why we should not be drinking milk. 

In addition to not being designed for our digestive systems, according to this article and numerous related articles like it there are numerous other hazardous effects from consuming dairy. These ill effects include cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, lactose intolerance, and harmful effects on infants and children. Why would you willingly consume something that causes all of these health related issues? 

Milk is not making you healthier, it is making you sick and costing you your health.

In order to obtain the calcium your body needs try these non-dairy alternatives:

  • Non-dairy milk; sources such as almond milk, hemp milk, oat milk, rice milk, and coconut milk are wonderful and delicious options for your morning breakfast cereal or to use in recipes calling for milk. If the source does not naturally contain calcium, commercial sources will often be supplemented with calcium.
  • Vegetables; yes fresh veggies are an excellent source of calcium. As you can see from this info graphic there are plenty of excellent sources of calcium in a plant-based dairy-free lifestyle.

vegan calcium sources infographicSource: USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 24, 2011 and manufacturers’ information.

  •  Figs; 8 ounces of figs contain 79-100mg of calcium which is excellent for fruit sources.

With so many amazing plant-based non-dairy sauces readily available for your daily calcium intake and considering the horrendous health effects dairy has on your body, why are you still drinking milk, eating cheese and yogurt? I’d like to encourage you to ditch the dairy and choose plant-based sources for your daily calcium.

10 Reasons to Avoid and Animal Based Diet

10 Reasons to Avoid an Animal Based Diet. AlexisMathews.com

It is no secret, my family and I are vegans. Although for a shorter time than some, we’ve seen the health benefits and in good conscience never go back to eating animal protein. Casein, the main health culprit in dairy and animal proteins do nasty stuff to our bodies.

I have over simplified the following 10 points with the hope that you will be spurred on to do your own reading and your own research. Please don’t take my word for any of this, take this article for what it is worth and do you own fact finding. Vegan research and health benefits are not hard to find. Popular books suck as The China Study and Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition are packed with more scientific research and information than the average person can possibly wrap their heads around in a single reading.

10 Reasons to Avoid Animal Protein

  1. Reduce incidence of auto-immune disease
    • When the animal protein casein is broken down in your digestive tract they form chunks or fragments that can be mis-read by your body and cause an immune system response. This immune response causes inflammation and a whole host of auto-immune diseases such as arthritis, asthma, psoriasis, eczema, and migraines.
  2. Lower blood sugar levels in diabetics
    • The China Study discusses this point extensively and my husband has first hand experience with the immediate results a plant based diet can have on insulin levels. My husband has reduced his average daily insulin a dramatic amount and is even able to skip insulin at meals if he chooses his food wisely. Not only that, but unlike most diabetics he has experienced a drop in his blood sugar numbers over night rather than the typical dramatic increase overnight experienced by most diabetics.
  3. Reduce cancer risk
    • T. Colin Campbell in The China Study concluded through his research that casein, the protein in milk promotes cancer growth at all stages. 
  4. Increase bowel regularity and function
    • A plant based diet is the most efficient way to clean out your digestive system and keep it functioning at it’s best. If you are not regular with your bowel movements that is a sign that your body is not functioning properly and you are storing toxins. A plant based diet will remedy that situation and get your body functioning properly.
  5. More energy
    • As mentioned in the point above, when you body is functioning at it’s best and is free of energy sapping toxins you will feel more energized. Our bodies are not designed to consume meat simply by the length of our intestines. When you feed your body the correct plant based diet you will feel like a new person.
  6. Sleep better
    • When you switch to a plant based diet no longer will your body be full of animal protein toxins. Toxins coupled with a sluggish digestive system will cause sleep issues. I got my first good night sleep after I started living a plant based lifestyle.
  7. Lower risk of heart disease
    • Animal protein contributes to heart disease, this fact has been known for years. Research this fact for yourself, the evidence is everywhere.
  8. Simple economics
    • If you are struggling to make ends meet, the simple economics of buying food will tell you to steer clear of meat and dairy. Meat, milk, and cheese are expensive there is no denying that. So when you cut these high priced items from your monthly food budget you will suddenly have more money to purchase organic fruits and veggies dense in vitamins and minerals.
  9. Clearer complexion
    • The fats in meat coupled with the immune response from casein wreck havoc on your skin cells, the largest organ in your body. Reduce inflammation and fat content in your body immediately when you remove animal protein and dairy.
  10. Increased average life span
    • This point could go without saying but I think it is important enough to include on this list. As pointed out above reducing immune response and inflammation, lowering bolos sugar levels, reducing cancer and heart disease will all lead to a longer average life span. Which for you means you have a greater likely hood of living a long and healthy life when you remove animal protein from your diet.

If you are ready to reduce or eliminate animal protein from your daily diet I have a whole host of delicious family friendly vegan recipes including, Incredible Indian Pancakes, Ginger & Tumeric Carrot Soup, and Colorful Raw Quinoa Salad

Have questions about a vegan lifestyle free of animal proteins? Please don’t hesitate to contact me, I’d love to chat with you.

Vegan Cheese Alternatives

vegan cheese

When you live a vegan lifestyle there a few things that you just have to do without. Well, at least until you come up with or find a recipe to replace the commercially available non-vegan alternative. When my family and I first started eating vegan, cutting out all animal products from our diet, cheese was something we just eliminated. I avoided every recipe I found that called for cheese, found other snack options for my incessantly hungry toddlers, and essentially resolved to the fact that we just wouldn’t enjoy cream sauces or cheese dip platters. The benefit of our health was worth the sacrifice and honestly if I hadn’t of found the vegan cheese alternatives listed below we would still be “cheese less” and just as healthy. Now however, our range of recipes and taste options is just a big larger because of these amazing cheese replacement options.

Here are the three vegan cheese alternatives I use in my home most frequently:

  1. Cashew Cream: Unlike other lists of this kind I am putting my most favorite, delicious, and versatile option first. Honestly, the day I made my first batch of cashew cream time stood still. I was in awe of how delicious something so simple could taste. I use cashew cream anywhere I need a creamy texture or a cheese like spread. You can blend the soaked cashews into just a simple cream and add it to sauces or curries for a cream sauce. Add a hefty spoonful on top of noodles for an alfredo sauce. Or better yet, add some lemon juice, apple cider vinegar and salt for a vegan sour cream. Spread this sour cream on top of baked potato slices and top with cilantro, viola you have a delicious appetizer. Cashew cream is so incredibly simple to make, you will kick yourself for not thinking of it earlier. Simple soak your cashews in filtered water over night (or in HOT water for 1 hour if short on time). Place in a high speed blender or food processor and cover slightly with water. Blend until creamy and smooth. Nothing more and nothing less. You will end up with a cream that is so smooth and delicious! You can thank me later or throw donations my way.
  2. Vegan cheese: If you’ve been a vegan for more than a couple of days surely you have already seen the vegan cheese options in your local grocery or health food store. This option does not act completely like non-vegan cheese but when you need a crumbly cheese alternative these are pretty tasty options. I use vegan cheese in sweet potato enchiladas and any other dish where I want cheese but have to bake the dish. Thankfully, most of the larger bands of vegan cheese are not full of nasty chemicals which you might initially expect. When eaten on occasion, this is a great option not laden with nasty fillers and additives.
  3. Nutritional Yeast: Truth be told before switching to a vegan lifestyle I had never heard of nutritional yeast. Honestly, doesn’t the name sound a bit odd and offensive. Why would anyone want to possibly eat something that sounds so repulsive? Oh but wait until you’ve tried it. You will regret waiting so long to enjoy its amazing flavor. What exactly is nutritional yeast? Well friends, it is simple an inactive yeast. What it lacks in simplicity though it makes up for in taste. It has a nutty cheesy taste and is amazing on popcorn, garlic bread, added to soups, stir-fry veggies,  or on top of pasta. You might find nutritional yeast in your health food store labeled as nutritional yeast flakes or powder or even as savory yeast if you live outside of the United States. Nutritional yeast is also a great source of B12 which is an important vitamin for vegans.

So, whether you are a long-time vegan or are contemplating making the change in your lifestyle cheese taste is not something you have to do without. What are some of your favorite dishes that include vegan cheese options?