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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.


What I’m Giving Out This Halloween

Justin's Peanut Butter Cups on

I went to my local Costco yesterday and found an awesome new treat.

Justin’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups. They are organic, gluten free, dairy free, and vegan. They are individually wrapped so you eat one at a time, not two, and they are only 80 calories a piece!

I have fallen in love with these delicious chocolates.

They just taste so much better than Reese’s Cups! The chocolate is excellent quality fair trade. The peanut butter tastes more like peanut butter and less like sugar.

This smooth, rich peanut butter cup melts in your mouth.

Justin's Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups on

I’m always looking for dairy-free chocolate bar options. I once read the ingredients on every chocolate selection in a Walgreen’s Candy aisle (no joke), trying to find something without dairy! The closest thing I found was a bag of dark chocolate peppermint patties, and they still had some kind of dairy ingredient in them.

Let’s face it, the candy bar world is just not lactose intolerant friendly. I was so happy that my Costco had a dairy-free chocolate option…but they still only carry my favorite chocolate covered macadamia nuts in milk chocolate.

Let me digress on the lack of lactose intolerance awareness within grocery stores. Gluten free is very big right now. Grocery stores everywhere are developing their own gluten-free products and selling them in special gluten-free sections of the store. I have yet to see a dairy-free section in a store.

When you are used to being lactose intolerant, you learn where to look to find your favorite dairy-free and lactose-friendly brands. But for those who are just discovering their intolerance to dairy? It can be tough to find things in a regular grocery store.

Non-dairy milk products like soy milk and almond milk are easy enough to find, but what about dairy-free cheese, dairy-free soups, or dairy-free frozen entrees? There are more and more options coming available, but they are spread out all over the store. You have to hunt and read ingredient lists to find anything. 

Dairy free is not a common label actually. Even these peanut butter cups are not labeled dairy free. They are vegan, which means the same thing, but I just want to take this moment to yell at the top of my lungs…NOT ALL PEOPLE WHO CAN’T EAT DAIRY ARE VEGAN!

I feel better now. 

I’d love to keep on blogging about some of my favorite dairy-free products. If you have any questions on something you are looking for, or if you would like to know of an excellent dairy-free candy, snack, meal, or dessert product, please leave me a comment! I’ve gained a lot of experience over three years of trying to satisfy food cravings.

Another thing to remember this Halloween, if you or your child has a dietary restriction, please give out a nut-free, gluten-free, or dairy-free (insert other dietary restriction here) candy this Halloween! 

If your child collects a ton of Halloween candy that he or she cannot eat due to dietary restrictions, consider donating it to someone who will appreciate it a lot, such as our troops overseas. Here is some information on how to donate through Operation Gratitude. BTW troops love good quality dark chocolate!

Also, see if your local children’s hospital, food pantry, or women’s shelter is accepting candy donations this year.

Happy Halloween!!

Justin's Peanut Butter Cups for Halloween

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Pumpkin Spice Café Au Lait

Dairy free pumpkin spice latte from

Everyone is drinking pumpkin spice lattes now! I see pictures of them on instagram, facebook, Google+, and Pinterest…absolutely everywhere.

It’s been hard not to stop at every Starbucks I drive past (there’s one about every block), and march in and buy one.

I do love Pumpkin Spice Lattes from Starbucks, especially with half the syrup and soy milk. They are perfect that way. Even if you can drink dairy milk, I encourage you to order a tall pumpkin spice latte with soy and half the syrup next time you go to Starbucks. It’s not overly sweet that way and the soy gives it a malty taste. Delicious.

The problem with Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Lattes is that the pumpkin spice syrup contains dairy. If I order half the syrup with soy and no whip, the small amount of dairy in the pump of syrup doesn’t bother me much. But if you want to avoid dairy completely then this is not the drink for you.

Isn’t that sad, especially when the whole world is broadcasting their Pumpkin Spice Lattes all over social media?

To satisfy my Pumpkin Spice Latte craving (and to save $5) I made my own pumpkin spice café au lait at home.
Keurig Coffee Brewer
One of my favorite toys is my handy dandy Keurig coffee brewer. I’ve bought dairy free pumpkin spice kcups in the past, but I haven’t seen them this year yet. So I just decided to brew a perfect steaming cup of medium roast coffee and then add my own pumpkin spice soy milk concoction.

I used Silk Very Vanilla Soymilk because it’s so thick, sweet, and creamy, though you can use any vanilla soy milk brand. I know some people don’t like to use Silk Soymilk because it contains carrageenan. I use it because I think it has the best taste.

Any coffee you brew will do (see what I did there?), but since Starbucks uses espresso, why not get a 1lb bag of Starbucks Espresso beans, grind some, and brew the fresh grounds in your regular coffee maker? Even better if you have an espresso machine. It will give you the more authentic taste of a Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte.

Want to know something even more exciting? Whole Foods sells a wonderful product called Rice Whip by the company Soyatoo. It’s vegan and soy free.

Soyatoo Rice Whipped Cream
The ingredients are organic rice milk, organic rice syrup, rice starch, rice flour, coconut oil, thickeners, and sea salt. Together these ingredients make an awesome whipped cream. It’s even in a propellant canister so you get that beautiful coffee shop whipped cream look and texture. It’s delicious and I highly recommend trying it. The only problem is how fast it goes when you are using it on all of your desserts and beverages.

Pumpkin Spice Café Au Lait
Serves 1
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  1. 1/2 cup vanilla soy milk
  2. 3 tablespoons pumpkin puree
  3. 2 tablespoons agave nectar
  4. 1 teaspoon vanilla
  5. 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  6. 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  7. 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  8. 1/2 cup freshly brewed coffee
  9. rice milk whipped cream (optional)
  10. ground nutmeg for topping
  1. In a 2 quart saucepan over medium low heat, combine soy milk, pumpkin puree, agave nectar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.
  2. Whisk vigorously until blended. Let heat for five minutes. While milk is heating brew your coffee.
  3. When milk is good and hot but not yet simmering, transfer to a blender. Blend on high for 30 seconds to make it smooth and frothy.
  4. To serve, pour half of a cup full of brewed coffee in a mug, then add the pumpkin spice milk mixture. Top with rice whipped cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg. Thick, creamy, and delicious fall in a cup.
don't miss dairy

Dairy free pumpkin spice latte from

Dairy free pumpkin spice latte from

Dairy free pumpkin spice latte from

Dairy free pumpkin spice latte from

Dairy free pumpkin spice latte from

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The Benefits of Sea Salt

I’ve always been a big advocate of using sea salt when cooking meals, rather than your average table salt. Recently I read some articles online that tried to tell readers sea salt was no better than table salt. If you happened to read those articles as well–please don’t believe them. The only positive thing I can say I got out of them was that they got me to think more about sea salt vs table salt, which is important. It’s not smart to just chase after the new fad ingredient or food without doing some research and thinking about it first. Why is it better? Why should I use it? Will it really benefit me in anyway? What’s the best way to incorporate it into my life so I will benefit from it?

I generally try to use fresh ingredients or products with no added sodium. I add other spices into recipes so I can skip salt altogether. Spicy things like red pepper flakes and cayenne pepper can add so much flavor I don’t find a need for salt. The same thing goes for potent flavors like garlic, onion, and basil. But sometimes I add a dash of sea salt to bring out those flavors, and it comforts me to know sea salt is better to use than regular table salt.

Yes, by weight, sea salt and table salt contain the same amount of sodium. Sea salt does not have less sodium than table salt. This was the point of those articles. Moderation of salt intake is one of the most important considerations in maintaining a healthy diet. However, because sea salt is not refined and usually coarse, you end up using less salt in measurements. Sea salt has a saltier, more potent flavor as well, so for less salt you get more flavor, therefore not missing the extra salt. One grind of the sea salt shaker provides more flavor than a few shakes of the table salt shaker-so true!

One of the greatest things that makes sea salt better than table salt is it’s mineral content. Here’s a paragraph from my favorite low-sodium diet cookbook “Muscle Chow,” by Gregg Avedon:

“Sea salt is obtained by the simple process of concentrating sea water under the sun. Up to 5 percent of sea salt is composed of naturally occurring potassium, calcium, and magnesium, the minerals that are responsible for the salt’s mild flavor and good taste. Because sea salt is naturally occurring, your body can readily assimilate its minerals–they’re just like the nutrients from food. Table salt, the salt most people use, is mined from inland salt deposits, heated to extremely high temperatures, and refined with chemicals. Potassium iodide or sodium iodide is added to create iodized salt. Dextrose (sugar), sodium bicarbonate, and sodium silicoaluminate, are often added to  keep the salt white and easy to pour.”

Still wondering what’s the best salt to buy at the super market? Get the coarse sea salt! And here is a tip I often provide in my recipes: it is always healthier to add your own amount salt. If you don’t want the no salt added canned vegetables, tomato sauce, and cooking stock because of taste, you should buy them anyway and add your own salt. You can decrease the sodium content of your meals by buying no salt added canned foods and add sea salt instead, judging the flavor by your own taste. By doing this and switching to sea salt you can drastically decrease the amount of sodium in your diet, which can help maintain water retention in your body and decrease your risk of high blood pressure and heart disease.


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