Saturday, February 1, 2014

Cheese for the Lactose Intolerant

Cheese is my absolute favorite food. If I could only eat one food for the rest of my life it would be cheese. So as you can guess, the hardest part about becoming lactose intolerant was not being able to eat cheese. At the beginning I was able to eat moderate amounts of cheese but over the years my intolerance has gotten worse. I therefore made it my mission to find substitutions for all my favorite dairy products. 

There are many dairy-free alternatives to cheese but real cheese, in my mind, cannot be truly replaced. I’ve done a lot of research and here is some of the information I have found.

Type of Cheese

Amount of Lactose (per 100g)

American Cheese
Blue Cheese
Cottage Cheese
Cream Cheese
Feta Cheese
Goat Cheese - Soft
Goat Cheese –Semi Soft
Goat Cheese – Hard

Comparing Popular Cheeses:

There are hundreds of cheeses found around the world. Most of the common ones come from cow’s milk but many can be made from goat’s milk, sheep’s milk, buffalo milk, and even camel or reindeer’s milk. Different cheeses can have big differences is the amount of lactose they contain. Unfortunately, food labels do not have the true amount of lactose on them. One good way to estimate the amount though is to look at the total amount of sugar. There cannot be more lactose than the listed amount of sugar since lactose is a sugar. Goat cheese does have one of the smallest amounts of lactose which makes it a good option for those who are intolerant but it does not guarantee they will not have problems. Further, low-fat items will have much higher lactose content than full-fat items and can cause more digestive problems for those with an intolerance. Foods will affect individuals differently and experimenting is the best way to determine what you can and cannot handle.  

Lactose-Free Options:

There are several options for cheeses that are naturally lactose-free. While a cheese ages, lactose gets broken down. This means that the older a cheese is the less lactose it will contain. Many brands promise their items to be lactose free and these are good options for those that are not trying to avoid dairy, just the lactose.

Cabot Cheese – Almost all of their cheeses are advertised to be lactose free. They have several different varieties of cheddar and even include some flavored varieties such as chipotle, tomato basil, and smoky bacon. Some of their other lactose free flavors include: Alpine blend, Colby Jack, Monterey Jack, Muenster, Pepper Jack, and Swiss. This brand can be found at any major food store and is very easy to find. However, there will probably be more flavor options at specialty food stores like Fresh Market. I have tried the seriously sharp cheddar and have had no problems with it and found it to be delicious.

Lactaid – These products add lactase to their milks and cheeses to break down the lactose into glucose and galactose. This makes it much easier for the body to digest. They are mostly known for their milk but they also have a lactose free cottage cheese. Their products will be slightly sweeter than regular dairy products due to the sugars already being broken down. They also offer a lactase supplement that you can take before consuming dairy to aid your body with digesting the lactose.

Go Veggie! – This brand has some dairy-free options and some lactose-free options. The lactose-free cheeses are in green packaging (made with milk, coconut, and soy) and blue packaging (made with milk and rice). You can get the cheeses as slices, blocks, or shreds. Depending on which one of those you get they have various flavors including: American, Swiss, cheddar, mozzarella, provolone, pepper jack, and more. This cheese only contains some milk and is not a true dairy cheese so it has a very different taste, smell, and texture. This is a very good option when cooking.

Dairy-Free Options:

One of the simplest ways to find cheese for being lactose intolerant is to look for vegan cheeses. These products do not contain any dairy which makes this a good option for those who have a lactose intolerance and/or a dairy allergy. Due to veganism becoming more popular, these products are becoming more readily available and more reasonably priced.

Daiya – This product is not only dairy free but is also soy free and gluten free. This is a very popular brand that has many different cheese options. They have three types of cream cheese spreads including: plain, strawberry, and chive and onion. Their cheeses come in slices, wedges, and shreds with flavors such as cheddar, mozzarella, provolone, and pepper jack. This brand is one of my favorite dairy-free options and I regularly stock up on their cream cheese and cheddar shreds. These still do not taste identical to real cheese but I feel it comes fairly close, especially when you cook it in a casserole.

“We Can’t Say It’s Cheese – This is a WayFare brand that sells three types of cheese spreads. The flavors are cheddar, hickory-smoked cheddar, and mexi-cheddar. They can be found at select specialty stores and online.

GoVeggie! – Like I discussed earlier, this company produces lactose-free and dairy-free items. The options for the dairy-free are very similar to the lactose-free but do not contain any form of dairy, including casein. Also, they have a cream cheese option that I have found to be very comparable to Daiya’s version. It is not something I would eat on a bagel but tastes very good in casseroles and crock-pot meals.

Toffuti – One thing that stands out about this company is that it has a dairy-free ricotta cheese. They also have cheese slices and cream cheese. Many people love the taste of this brand and it can easily be found at your local health food store.

Teese – This cheese is offered by company started by a couple of friends called Chicago Vegan Foods. They offer cheddar and mozzarella cheese blocks and nacho cheese and cheddar cheese sauces. I have not seen this anywhere in stores but you can order it online. It is meant to be melted and is good for grilled cheese and pizzas.

Dr. Cow – This company offers artesian tree nut cheeses that are organic, gluten-free, soy-free, and dairy-free. They offer some more unusual varieties such as aged cashew and hemp seeds cheese, aged macadamia nut cheese, and aged cashew and crystal manna algae cheese. These can only be ordered online.

Vegcuisine – The Gourmet Chef is a company that sells vegcuisine cheeses. There are two options: blue cheese and feta. They are both made with soy and can be purchased online.

I have tried many of the different lactose-free and dairy-free options. I am always on the lookout for more and hope this list helps others trying to maintain a lactose-free diet.

No comments:

Post a Comment