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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.


Charred Citrus Broccoli

For anyone who has a child, or a husband, who won’t eat plain vegetables, this is a flavorful way to serve broccoli as a side dish. I made it most recently to go with a pulled pork tenderloin recipe. For awhile I was cooking broccoli by lightly steaming in the microwave or steam cooker then adding a little SmartBalance and Mrs. Dash all-purpose salt free seasoning. I could only get Eric to eat about two pieces–which he claimed was a full serving of vegetables–then I usually ate the rest. I love broccoli in any form!

At some point Eric started coming home from work raving about the vegetables they served at Google. Well, I’m no trained chef, but I wanted to give some dishes a shot. I asked Eric for the best descriptions he could possibly give. This was hard to work with, but I did my best. I know that Google chefs post typed ingredients above each dish served in the food places. If I asked a woman to figure out the ingredients for me, she would probably take a picture on her Android, or even ask the server in person, jotting it down and shooting me a quick text. However…

I made due with the description of crisp, crunchy, charred, and tangy. I immediately recognized why Eric loved this brocolli–he loves crispy, toasted, burnt things. When he asks for toast he means it better have some black on it. I looked up some recipes and experimented. What I came up with was apparently correct and “better than Google,” which makes me feel accomplished. This is the simple broccoli that he will get another serving of, or eat right out of the pan. I have broiled this recipe as well as baked it and the result is great either way.


1 head fresh broccoli
1/2 1 lime
1/2 1 lemon
1 teaspoon olive oil
sea salt
black pepper


1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Rinse and drain broccoli, shaking dry. Cut off the stem and discard, then break up the head into bite size pieces and place in a medium size bowl.

2. Coat broccoli pieces in the juice of half a lemon and half a lime, olive oil, then sprinkle with a dash or two of sea salt and black pepper. Stir to coat. The broccoli pieces will turn a brighter shade of green when evenly coated in citrus juice and oil, and liquid will be absorbed.

3. Line a baking sheet with foil and place broccoli pieces, spreading them apart (not on top of each other) so that they can charr evenly. Cook for 10 minutes, checking often. They are done when they are slightly blackened. Should be crisp, crunchy, charred, and tangy.

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Dairy-Free Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Dairy-Free Broccoli Cheddar Soup from (Updated from original post on January 24, 2013)

My dairy-free broccoli cheddar soup is sweet, rich, and creamy, just like the dairy version. I’ve been craving this soup since one of my friends ordered a big bowl of it at Panera!

Isn’t it so disappointing to see a yummy soup on a restaurant menu, only to find out it has dairy in it? Please tell me I’m not the only one who goes through this.

I don’t know how many times I’ve asked about a seemingly harmless tomato or butternut squash soup, only to find out it’s made with cream. It’s a total downer. Oh, and you have to be specific and ask if there’s any dairy in it, because many times I’ve asked if the soup is vegan, to which the cashier behind the counter confidently responds “yes, this is a vegan soup.” Turns out some people do not know the difference between vegan and vegetarian. So now I make sure I say, specifically, I am lactose intolerant, and I can’t have any milk or dairy.

I feel like a total alien when I do this. People always look at me like I’m crazy.

That being said, perhaps I was crazy to re-create a soup thats key ingredients are milk and cheese, but the result was better than I could have expected! I am always impressed with this soup every time I make it, and so are my dairy-loving friends.

Dairy-Free Broccoli Cheddar Soup from

The combination of sweet onion and sweetened almond milk in this recipe makes a perfect dairy-free soup base. Sweetened almond milk is ideal for savory recipes because its flavor is closer to cow’s milk. I recommend following the first few steps of this recipe to make any dish that calls for a cream-based canned soup, such as chicken and rice casserole. It can always be pureed in a food processor for a smoother texture. 

A dairy-free cheese I recommend using is Trader Joe’s Shredded Soy Cheese Blend, but it’s not completely vegan. For vegan soup I recommend using Daiya Cheddar Style Shreds. I’ve also used rice cheese in this recipe with great results.

Sometimes I like to use what I call a fake cheese cocktail: a mixture of different soy or veggie based cheeses to achieve a more natural flavor. The cheddar-style flavors can be very strong, and they taste more realistic if toned down with parmesan flavor or mozzarella. Experiment with different brands, but I usually agree that less is more when it comes to adding fake cheese. Try half a cup and judge the flavor, and then add more if you like it.

Dairy-Free Broccoli Cheddar Soup from

Dairy-Free Broccoli Cheddar Soup
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  1. 4 tablespoons vegan butter
  2. 1 sweet onion, finely chopped
  3. 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  4. 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  5. 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  6. 2 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  7. 2 cups sweetened almond milk
  8. 3 cups fresh broccoli, chopped
  9. 1 cup shredded vegan cheddar cheese
  1. In a large saucepan, melt vegan butter over medium low heat. Add onions, salt, and pepper and cook for 5 minutes or until onions are tender.
  2. Add flour and cook for 1-2 minutes, careful not to burn the flour.
  3. Slowly whisk in chicken broth until well combined and bring to a simmer.
  4. Whisk in almond milk until blended, and then stir in broccoli. Cook uncovered at a simmer over low heat for 15-20 minutes, until broccoli is tender, stirring occasionally. Do not bring to a boil.
  5. Finally, whisk in the vegan cheddar cheese until melted.* Salt and pepper to taste.** Remove saucepan from heat and serve.
  1. *Depending on the brand used it can be tricky to melt completely, so I say whisk it. Whisking will also break down some of the larger broccoli pieces, creating a smoother soup. Different vegan cheeses vary in taste. You may find that your soup tastes better with more cheese added.
  2. **Depending on the type of vegan cheese and broth used, the salt content will vary. Taste the soup when it's done before adding any extra salt.
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Dairy-Free Broccoli Cheddar Soup from

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Dairy-Free Chicken Broccoli Alfredo

I love cheesy pasta dishes. I was disappointed when I went back to Pittsburgh in August and had lunch at one of my favorite restaurants–Joe Mama’s–and realized that all of my usual orders were smothered in cheesy sauces: Hug Yo Belly Gemelli, Herbed Chicken and Penne, Nonna’s Gnocchi, and the list goes on.

Another Pittsburgh restaurant, Eat ‘n’ Park, was a common place for me and my husband to go for a quick lunch or dinner. Our usual was their Chicken Broccoli Alfredo. In college we loved to go to The Underground at Carnegie Mellon, where we would get a plate of hot pasta topped with creamy Alfredo sauce and marinara. The point is, I used to order Alfredo all the time.

I gave it up for awhile, refining my tastes by ordering complex pasta dishes at Italian places and trying new things with more nutrition. But lately I’ve been craving cheesy things.

The only solution to that is to experiment with dairy alternative products and to create masterpieces. My dairy free chicken broccoli Alfredo is definitely a masterpiece. It tastes better than the real thing and I’m serious.

I could eat this everyday!

I used the most realistic tasting dairy-free alternatives: Smart Balance Light Buttery Spread, Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Almond Milk, and Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream. Aged parmesan cheese has very little lactose, 0mg per serving, so it’s not going to bother lactose intolerant people in small amounts. In large amounts it will, so if you eat a lot be careful or take a Lactaid pill. It cannot be eaten by people with a milk allergy.

For a completely dairy-free version, I recommend using Vegan Grated Parmesan Cheese Alternative by Galaxy Nutritional Foods. There’s also a parmesan cheese alternative on the market called Parma. It’s made with walnuts, salt, and nutritional yeast. 

Dairy-Free Chicken Broccoli Alfredo
Serves 2
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  1. 3 tablespoons Smart Balance Light Buttery Spread
  2. 1 cup almond milk
  3. 1/2 cup Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream
  4. 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  5. 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  6. 1 tablespoon water
  7. 1/3 cup parmesan cheese or parmesan cheese alternative
  8. 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish
  9. 2 chicken breasts, sliced and grilled
  10. 1/2 lb of linguine
  11. 1 1/2 cups fresh broccoli, plus water for steaming
  1. Timing is everything in this recipe so prep your ingredients before starting. Make sure your chicken breast is cooking before starting the sauce, pasta, and broccoli. I cut mine into four thin strips and started grilling them on my George Foreman Grill at the same time I started cooking the pasta. I also recommend broiling--6 to 8 minutes per side--for a grilled chicken taste. Start pasta by following the directions for cooking on the back of the box. Prep broccoli for quick light microwave steaming by putting it in a dish with a tablespoon of water and covering it.
  2. Once your pasta and chicken are cooking, start the sauce. Melt Smart Balance in a large saucepan over medium heat. After it is melted add almond milk, sour cream, and garlic powder. Whisk to combine.
  3. Dissolve the cornstarch in water in a small dish and gradually add to milk mixture, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Bring sauce to a simmer. Cook for five minutes or until mixture has started to thicken. Add parmesan cheese and whisk to combine.
  4. While the sauce is thickening, steam fresh broccoli for two minutes in the microwave. Go back to the sauce, remove from heat, and stir in 1 tablespoon of fresh parsley.
  5. Cut your chicken into small strips and combine all ingredients in the saucepan to coat with the Alfredo sauce, alternatively you can layer them: pasta, chicken, broccoli, and sauce. Garnish with a sprig of parsley. Mangia!
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