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don't miss dairy

Emily Stokes
I'm a lady who loves cheese, sour cream, & ice cream, but I recently became lactose intolerant. My key focus in recreating dairy recipes is taste, but I try to be as health conscious as possible. Some of my recipes are low lactose rather than dairy free. I'm also a writer, teacher, nanny, dog mom, housewife, native Yinzer, current Californian, and social organizer extraordinaire.

Pesto Chicken with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Pine Nuts

One of the saddest parts about being lactose intolerant is the inability to eat cheese. I really miss it. This is especially difficult when favorite foods contain cheese, like pizza…Easy Mac…chicken parmesan….just to name a few. Fortunately, there are options! My undeniable cravings for pizza and other cheesy recipes have led me to discover many delicious modifications that, though they will never be the same, are still good replacements that leave me quite content. 

Soy cheese is a great discovery, although the soy flavor is too overpowering to enjoy by itself. When it’s combined with other flavors, however, it makes a great cheese replacement. I’ve made some amazing pizza recipes that use a mixture of soy mozzarella cheese and goat cheese crumbles to replace real mozzarella. It’s more than delicious and also a much healthier option, since much of the fat from the cheese is eliminated. Goat cheese contains less lactose than soft dairy cheese, and when used sparingly can be digested without any problems.

Also, lactose intolerant people can handle small amounts of parmigiano-reggiano and other hard, aged cheese because most of the lactose is broken down in the aging process. Actually, the harder and older the cheese, the lower the lactose. An even better option is aged goat cheese! So while a piece of cheese pizza leaves me in agony for hours, a piece of months old parmigiano-reggiano or aged goat gouda is just fine, and helps to satisfy that cheese craving. That being said, it is okay for lactose intolerant people to use parmigiano-reggiano in their recipes, as long as they don’t overdo it. Pesto sauce is acceptable, as long as it is not mixed with butter and cream, which some recipes call for and many restaurants use.

This pesto chicken recipe only contains a small amount of aged parmigiano-reggiano cheese–store bought pesto sauces usually contain it. You can make your own pesto sauce without cheese very easily if you have a food processor.


4 thin sliced chicken breasts
Pre-made Pesto Sauce
1/2 cup julienne cut sun dried tomatoes
2 teaspoons olive oil
3 tablespoons pine nuts


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. In a small bowl, drench the sun dried tomatoes in the olive oil and leave them to soak for a minute.

Sun dried tomatoes in olive oil.

3. Line a large glass baking dish with foil, and place the sliced chicken breasts so that they do not overlap.

Uncooked chicken breasts.

Basting chicken breasts with pesto sauce.

4. Use a basting brush to brush each side of each chicken breast with a generous teaspoon of pesto sauce.

5. Top each chicken breast with the olive oil soaked sun dried tomatoes.

Uncooked chicken topped with pesto and sundried tomatoes.

6. Cover the dish with foil, and bake for 25 minutes.

7. While the chicken is baking, toast pine nuts in a small pan over medium heat for five minutes or until light golden brown. They will toast quickly, so be careful not to burn them, and you also may want to make more, because you will eat them as you are waiting for your chicken to cook.

8. When baking time is up, remove foil and top the individual chicken breasts with the toasted pine nuts. Serve with a green vegetable or a serving of pasta. Simple, healthy, and delicious!

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