Milk is a good source of calcium, protein, and other nutrients. Still, if you’re lactose intolerant, allergic to dairy protein, or vegan, then milk isn’t on your dinner menu. Learning how to cook without dairy ingredients can be tricky.
Luckily, there are many delicious dairy substitutes and tasty recipes to choose from where no dairy is required.
Plant sources of calcium include:
- fortified plant milks
- calcium-set tofu
With this roster of delicious dinner ideas, you and your family won’t miss the milk or the calcium.
1. Chicken with cauliflower and olives
This Mediterranean-inspired chicken dish is hearty, healthy, and dairy-free. It features boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cauliflower, and Kalamata olives. A marinade made from olive oil, lemon juice, and thyme adds an earthy, rich flavor. Get the recipe!
2. Vegetarian brown rice bowls
Who needs dairy when you have this combination of roasted broccoli, sweet potatoes, and onions nested in a bowl of brown rice and roasted red pepper hummus? It takes vegetarian cooking to a new level. Get the recipe!
3.Pineapple fried rice
You may never order takeout fried rice again after making this recipe. It’s a make-your-mouth-happy blend of stir-fried rice, bell peppers, pineapple, carrots, and chicken apple sausage. If you’re a vegetarian, omit the sausage or sub it for edamame or firm tofu. Brown rice instead of white offers a punch of gut-friendly fiber. Get the recipe!
4. Very veggie vegan pizza
If you’re dairy-free, you don’t have to give up pizza. This vegan pizza is topped with mushrooms, chickpeas, roasted red peppers, spinach, and artichoke hearts. Thanks to its unique flavor profile, you’ll never miss the mozzarella! Get the recipe!
5. Creamy vegan butternut squash linguine with fried sage
The combination of olive oil, vegetable broth, onions, garlic, and heart-healthy butternut squash makes an elegant sauce for whole-grain linguine in this recipe. Fried sage adds an unexpected, crunchy pop of flavor. Get the recipe!
6. Coconut lime panko crusted cod
For this recipe, flaked coconut and lime zest add tropical zest to mild-flavored cod that is coated in panko bread crumbs. The coconut toasts nicely during baking. Get the recipe!
7. Shrimp and avocado salad
If the only taco salad you’ve eaten contained ground beef and shredded cheese, you owe it to yourself to try this recipe. It perfectly pairs marinated jumbo shrimp with creamy avocado. The duo rests on a bed of lettuce and red cabbage along with tomatoes and crushed blue tortilla chips. Get the recipe!
8. Beef stroganoff
Traditional stroganoff is made with sour cream and milk. This dairy-free recipe uses almond milk instead. It also features sirloin steak instead of ground round, onions, and white button mushrooms. Get the recipe!
9. Pork bun cha with mango salad and vermicelli
Bun cha is a Vietnamese dish made of pork and noodles. This version includes mini meatballs made of ground pork, brown sugar, and seasonings. It also features a salad made of fresh mango, baby bok choy, shallots, and mung bean sprouts. The entire dish is drizzled with a sweet and sour nuoc cham dressing. Get the recipe!
10. Lamb ragu tagliatelle with citrus, saffron, and mint
This dish is a ragu of ground lamb, saffron, other herbs and spices, white wine, and tomato paste. After the ragu thickens, it’s served over tagliatelle pasta and sprinkled with a mixture of citrus peels, fresh mint, and fresh parsley. Serve over chickpea or lentil pasta instead of the called-for egg noodles for a bump in fiber. Get the recipe!
11. Crockpot carne asada
Few things are more gratifying than walking through your front door after a long day knowing dinner is already ready and waiting in your crockpot. Let your slow cooker work for you with this recipe. It’s made from chuck roast that is slow-cooked for hours in an asada marinade made from citrus juices, olive oil, coconut sugar, and spices. Get the recipe!
12. Summer harvest frittata
Making a frittata is a great way to take advantage of a bountiful vegetable garden harvest. This frittata recipe combines fresh eggs with summer squash, zucchini, tomatoes, and onions. Red pepper flakes and fresh basil add flavor. Get the recipe!
13. Creamy vegan garlic pasta with roasted tomatoes
This decadent dish gets its creaminess from almond milk instead of cow’s milk. It also includes roasted tomatoes (roasting tomatoes takes them from ordinary to extraordinary!), whole-wheat penne pasta, shallots, and garlic sautéed in olive oil. Get the recipe!
What to avoid if your diet is dairy-free
The dairy food group includes all liquids and foods made from milk, such as:
- whole, low-fat, and skim milk (flavored and unflavored)
- hard and soft cheeses
- processed cheeses
- desserts made from milk, including ice cream, frozen yogurt, and pudding
Easy dairy substitutes
You can easily make your favorite recipes dairy-free by substituting:
- crumbled tofu for cottage cheese or ricotta cheese
- dairy-free margarine such as Earth Balance or coconut oil for butter
- soy or coconut cheese for cheese made from cow’s milk
- soy or coconut ice cream for ice cream made from cow’s milk