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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.

Snacks & Dips

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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Chili Lime Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Chili Lime Pumpkin Seeds from

Besides parties and free candy, the best thing about Halloween is pumpkin carving!

We love pumpkins in our little family. Pumpkin everything! Even our picky Chihuahua, Mia, who won’t eat dog treats, loves pumpkin. Allow me to tell you a story.

Every year we attend the annual Pumpkin Festival in Half Moon Bay, California. We just enjoyed our fourth Pumpkin Festival this weekend. Wow, how time flies!

We had an amazing time with our friends, indulging in pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin chili, and even pumpkin ale. We bought two awesome pumpkins at Bob’s Pumpkin Farm right along the coast (pictures below). We even got some homemade pumpkin rolls to take home. Here’s where the Chihuahua comes in.

Mia loves pumpkin. Whenever we carve our Halloween pumpkin she gets some of the slimy goopy orange innards. Mmm pumpkin innards—what a special treat.  We certainly have a weird dog. Though, apparently, pumpkin pastries are also desirable.

After waking up at 5am and driving down curvy mountainous roads on the trips to the Pumpkin Festival and back, this dog mom was feeling tired and a little car sick. I crashed and fell asleep as soon as I got home, leaving my bags on the floor. I woke up to a little Chihuahua enjoying a sweet pumpkiny treat all over my white carpet. She had found both pumpkin rolls in my partially opened backpack, took them both to her bed, chewed through the tightly wrapped cellophane, and feasted on little plastic covered bites.

It’s really my fault (and Eric’s, too) for leaving the bags on the floor and not watching the puppy. I’ve learned my lesson. The positive side? I guess I just have to make my own dairy free pumpkin roll. Consider it coming soon.

Though I was quite mad at my little puppy, I couldn’t stay mad for long. I know from experience that it’s super hard to resist pumpkin roll that’s right within your reach.  So when we carve our pumpkin, she’ll still get a taste.

While Mia gets the innards, the humans get the seeds. Those we save for roasting. It’s a very simple process to roast them in the oven with some oil and salt. On to the recipe.

Roasted chili lime pumpkin seeds from

Plain roasted pumpkin seeds are a perfect munching snack, but it’s nice to spice them up sometimes. For our last batch of seeds we really did go spicy with a chili lime seasoning.

Chili and lime aren’t exactly fall themed seasonings, but we are loving this flavor combination right now. We use it on our stove top popcorn as well! Plus, the chili powder and cayenne pepper give your roasted seeds a beautiful autumn color,  and they are so flavorful.

Use the chili powder you are likely to have in your spice rack already. My huge container of chili powder is Tone’s brand from Sams Club, and it contains “other spices” plus garlic powder and salt. Feel free to add as much cayenne pepper as you want to really give your seeds a kick. These are spicy enough that Mia won’t go anywhere near them.

Chili Lime Pumpkin Seeds from

Chili Lime Pumpkin Seeds from

Chili Lime Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
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  1. Seeds scooped from a medium size pumpkin
  2. 2 tablespoons of SmartBalance Light Buttery Spread
  3. 1 tablespoon chili powder
  4. the juice of 1/2 a lime
  5. 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  6. 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  7. zest of half a lime
  1. Cover your freshly scooped pumpkin seeds with water in a medium bowl. Stir them around to loosen the pulp, then drain the water, picking out as much of the pulp as you can. Lay the seeds over a paper towel or cloth and pat dry.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. In a small bowl, melt 2 tablespoons of SmartBalance Light Buttery Spread. Add lime juice and pumpkin seeds to bowl of melted butter and stir to coat.
  4. Add chili powder, cayenne pepper, and salt, stirring to coat seeds with seasoning evenly.
  5. Spread the seeds onto a foil lined baking sheet to form one even layer. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring to turn the seeds halfway through.
  6. Allow to cool for a few minutes before adding lime zest. Salt to taste.
  1. We got about a cup and a half of seeds from our pumpkin. If you have fewer, adjust the seasonings. You can always roast a small test batch to make sure you're not over (or under) seasoning your seeds.
don't miss dairy

Me and Eric in front of the runner up pumpkin from this years biggest pumpkin contest.

Picking out pumpkins at Bob’s Pumpkin Farm in Half Moon Bay.


Our pumpkins for Halloween.

Hope you enjoy my recipe for roasted pumpkin seeds. Do you have any favorite pumpkin or Halloween traditions?

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Chocolate Cashew Butter

Chocolate Cashew Butter from
We had a ton of roasted cashews that we weren’t eating, so I decided to turn them into something we would eat.

Most cashew cream or cheese recipes I’ve been wanting to try call for raw cashews, so I couldn’t make any of these. Trail mix left me with kind of the same problem, and granola bars seemed kind of a blah idea. I know, I know– everybody loves granola bars except me. It’s not that I don’t like them, I just don’t love them.

I started thinking about how I’ve been meaning to make a dairy free version of Nutella, and then it occurred to me: I bet roasted cashews would make a really delicious chocolate cashew butter.  Go!

First I pulverized the roasted cashews in my food processor, then added vegetable oil, white sugar, and cocoa powder. You can definitely add a sweeter oil to yours, like a nut oil. I just like to use what I have in my kitchen already. I did have a little trouble getting this to be low sugar and still taste like chocolate, but with some experimenting and taste testing, I eventually got a good flavor balance. 

Cashews in food processor
Crumbled cashews

Processed cashews
It’s sweet but not too sweet, with a buttery, chocolate flavor. YUM.

I suppose I could have kept processing it to make it smoother, but I’m impatient. My food processor is not the greatest and it was taking a long time. Feel free to make yours into a smooth-and-shiny-as-Nutella-butter….or mix in some bigger cashew pieces to make a crunchy butter! 

This is great for spreading and dipping. Spread on graham crackers or croissants, or make a cashew butter and jelly sandwich. I ate most of this batch as a dip with salted pretzels, which was so addicting. It was one of those snacks where you eat a few and you’re like, okay, just one more, then that one more turns into an empty bag of pretzels and a need to buy more cashews.

I hope you enjoy this simple chocolate cashew butter as much as I did! 

Chocolate Cashew Butter from

Chocolate Cashew Butter
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  1. 1 cup roasted cashews (salted is okay)
  2. 3 tablespoons oil of your choice
  3. 2 tablespoons, plus 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  4. 1/8 teaspoon vanilla
  5. 1/8 cup sugar
  6. dash of sea salt
  1. In a food processor, grind your cashews until finely chopped.
  2. Add oil and process until smooth.
  3. Add vanilla, cocoa powder, sugar, and salt, then process until well combined. Taste, and add more sugar or cocoa powder to your liking.
don't miss dairy
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