Smart Balance Light Buttery Spread

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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.

Smart Balance Light Buttery Spread

Pumpkin French Toast Bowls

Pumpkin French Toast in a bowl.

Did you ever make a recipe based on random ingredients you had in the fridge?

I rarely go out of my way to buy ingredients for a specific recipe. Usually I browse the ingredients I have in my kitchen and make something up. Sometimes for inspiration, I dig up a recipe from a cookbook or my Pinterest account.

This was one of those recipes.

Some days I just wake up wanting to cook something! Being eager to post recipes on my brand new blog is also highly motivational.

So on this particular morning when I checked my fridge, I found leftover pumpkin puree and half a loaf of French bread. I plunged into my endless collection of fall recipes on Pinterest and found one for pumpkin french toast by Minimalist Baker. This was a large recipe, but I only needed two servings—one for me, one for my husband. My new single serving size ceramic baking bowls inspired me to make individual servings. I also adapted it to be dairy free, of course.

Pumpkin French Toast Bowls

This French toast recipe is so yummy. I poured agave nectar on mine for a tasty syrup, but my husband ate his up without anything added.  He doesn’t usually use condiments, but this tells me it was pretty good.

You can play around with this recipe to make it your own. Let the bread soak up the liquid longer if you like. Try a different type of bread, like sweet cinnamon raisin bread. Add extra pumpkin, or add some powdered sugar on top after baking. Try using some different non-dairy milks as well.

While you can use any type of non-dairy milk in this recipe, I recommend one that contains vanilla and spices. I used Silk Very Vanilla Soy Milk, but some other good options would be Silk Vanilla Almondmilk, SoDelicious Coconut Nog, or Rice Dream Vanilla Rice Milk.

I just made an amazing homemade oat milk recipe from This oat milk would be great to use in any French toast recipe because of its vanilla and cinnamon flavors. I hope you use your favorite dairy-free ingredients and enjoy!

Pumpkin French Toast Bowls
Serves 4
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  1. 1/2 loaf French Bread (about 10 slices)
  2. 3 eggs
  3. 1/2 cup vanilla soy milk
  4. 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  5. 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  6. 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  7. 1/8 teaspoon ginger
  8. dash sea salt
  9. 1/8 cup pumpkin puree
  10. 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  11. 2 tablespoons agave nectar
  12. 2 teaspoons vegan butter
  1. Cut bread into cubes. I made mine thin, about 1/2 an inch.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add all ingredients except bread and butter alternative, and whisk until combined.
  3. Add bread cubes into bowl. Using a mixing spoon, gently fold bread into mixture until just coated and allow cubes to soak up liquid for 10 minutes or longer.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Add 1 teaspoon of melted butter alternative into each individual oven safe bowl, or 2 teaspoons into the bottom of a nonstick loaf pan. This is important so the French Toast doesn't stick.
  5. Place in oven and bake for 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool before serving. Drizzle with melted butter alternative and your favorite syrup.
don't miss dairy
Baked French Toast bowls

Cooked French Toast with agave nectar.

A bite of pumpkin french toast.

If you try this recipe, let me know! Did you try any variations, and how did it turn out?

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Dairy Free Spinach Artichoke Dip

Cheesy, gooey, hot spinach and artichoke dip with a little kick. It’s okay lactose intolerant person, this is for you. This recipe is made fresh and flavorful to taste better than your average restaurant style artichoke dip. I served it to a group of cheese-loving, dairy-eating ladies and they ate it all up! It’s a lot healthier than an average dish of the dairy version of this dip, as the soy cream cheese and dairy free shreds are low in saturated fat and cholesterol free. I even used light mayonnaise to make it healthier.

Just know, real mayonnaise is completely dairy free. I try to point this out as much as I can, because I’ve noticed a general misconception that mayo is associated with dairy. Either people associate eggs as being dairy, or just mayo as being made with cows milk, but real mayonnaise is made only with eggs–no cow products at all. The Best Foods mayonnaise I used contains the following simple ingredients: soybean oil, water, whole eggs, vinegar, salt, sugar, and lemon juice. No lactose whatsoever. It’s an important ingredient in most artichoke dip recipes.

The other dairy free ingredients I used were Trader Joe’s This is Not a Tub of Cream Cheese, This is a Tub of Non-Dairy Spread, though I also recommend using either Tofutti Cream Cheese and/or Tofutti Sour Cream. I used Daiya Mozzarella Style Shreds to substitute real cheese, but I recommend Trader Joe’s Soy Mozzarella as well. For the second cheese you can use real Parmigiano Reggiano, which is said to be completely lactose free due to the process it is made and aged. But to keep this dish completely dairy free, use Galaxy Foods Vegan Grated Parmesan or Parma! instead. Last but not least, in every recipe that calls for butter, I replace it with Smart Balance Light Buttery Spread, which is completely dairy free, yet still tastes amazingly like real butter.

Cooking all these non-dairy ingredients together really brings out their dairy flavor. Eating them all separately and cold makes you never want to buy them again-so don’t do it! Combine them by cooking with other ingredients and spices to get the same level of comfort food satisfaction. I absolutely love this spinach artichoke dip.


1 large bag fresh baby spinach
2 cans artichoke hearts, chopped
1 medium size yellow onion, chopped
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 6oz containers This is Not a Tub of Cream Cheese
1 cup real mayonnaise
2/3 cup plus 1/4 cup grated parmigiano reggiano or Vegan Grated Parmesan
3/4 cup plus 1/4 cup Daiya Mozarella style shreds
3 tablespoons Smart Balance Light Buttery Spread
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1. Chop up your onion, artichokes, and garlic. Melt the Smart Balance Light Buttery Spread in a large saucepan over medium heat.
2. Once melted, toss in the onions and cook until translucent, about five minutes. Throw in the minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds with the buttery onions.
3. Add red pepper flakes, sea salt, and black pepper to the pan, immediately followed by all of the spinach. Spinach takes up a ton of space when first added, so it will be easier to add it to the pan in portions. It will cook down quickly. Cook spinach in butter, onion, and garlic mixture for 2-3 minutes once all added.

4. Remove pan temporarily from heat. With a slotted spoon, remove the spinach, onion, and garlic from the pan, leaving as much flavored butter behind as possible. Set spinach mixture aside.  I set my spinach on a cutting board and chopped it up to make it more manageable to eat.

5. Add the artichokes to the remaining flavored buttery liquid in the pan and return to heat. Cook until the liquid is cooked off and the artichokes begin to brown. Add more Smart Balance if needed.

6. While artichokes are cooking create the base for your dip. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Soften the tubs of non-dairy cream cheese in the microwave for 30 seconds. You want them to be easy to work with. Add the non-dairy cream cheese to a large mixing bowl.
7. Add mayonnaise to the non-dairy cream cheese and combine until smooth.
8. Next add 3/4 cup mozzarella shreds and 2/3 cup Parmigiano Reggiano or parmesan alternative, spinach mixture, and browned artichokes to the cream cheese and mayo mixture. Stir until well combined.
9. Transfer to a large baking dish and top with remaining mozzarella and parmesan. Cook for 15 minutes, or until mixture is hot and bubbly. Cooking these non-dairy ingredients together is the key to their delicious dairy taste. When I served this dish, no one could tell it was dairy free.
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Carrot Soup

Getting over the flu? Trying to boost your immune system? Do you have a fridge full of leftover carrots? Or are you just looking for a warm and soothing meal for those cold winter nights? If you answered yes to one or all of the above questions (like I did), then try some of my rich, milk-less carrot soup. It’s sweet, spicy, healthy, and very addicting.

I make it with chicken broth, but use vegetable broth to make a yummy vegan soup. This recipe calls for garlic olive oil, though a teaspoon of minced garlic thrown in at the end will work just as well. Make sure to add one or two teaspoons more butter or oil to the saucepan. I recommend using a food processor for this recipe to get the smoothest consistency.


2 teaspoons garlic olive oil
2 tablespoons Smart Balance Light Buttery Spread
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/8 teaspoon red pepper
dash ground ginger
dash sea salt
dash black pepper
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2 1/2 cups raw carrots, peeled and chopped
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth

1. In a 6 quart saucepan, heat Smart Balance over medium low until melted. Add garlic olive oil and stir to combine. Add onions, carrots, curry powder, red pepper, ginger, salt and pepper and stir to coat, cooking until the onions are tender, about five minutes.

2. Add chicken stock, stirring to blend. Bring soup to a boil, stirring occasionally.

3. Once boiling, reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Carrots need to be soft enough to puree. Remove from heat and prepare food processor.

4. In a food processor, ladle a small amount of soup from the saucepan at a time. Puree each batch for at least 20 seconds. Use a spatula to scrape out the pureed carrot soup into a fresh saucepan. It will have a smooth, creamy consistency and a bright orange color.

5. Heat the pureed carrot soup over medium heat until hot, then it is ready to serve. To make a thinner consistency, more chicken broth can be added after the pureeing process.

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