Simply Food: Dairy-free Chocolate Chip Cookies

I read recently that 75 percent of people in the world are lactose intolerant. I am not certain of the accuracy of this number but I know that there are a lot of people who suffer from this.

Lactose intolerance is sometimes called lactase deficiency. Lactose intolerance develops over time. The first sign usually begins at about age two when the human body stops producing lactase. Lactase is necessary to digest dairy without stomach problems. A lactose intolerant person has an inability to easily digest lactose when lactase decreases. Lactose is a sugar found in milk.

The good news is that even lactose intolerant people can usually tolerate some dairy. However, to avoid the stomach cramps and bloating which occur about 30 minutes to an hour after consuming dairy, a lactose intolerant person should know about dairy substitutions and alternatives. If nothing else, it is nice to know which dairy items seem to cause fewer problems.

There are many substitutes a person can use to lessen their dairy consumption if too much dairy is uncomfortable for them. For example, you can find lactase-added milk. When lactase is added to the cow’s milk, people seem to be able to digest the milk without a problem. This milk tastes a little sweeter than regular milk. Some people just do not want to switch to any of the alternate milks out there and want to stick with cow’s milk. Lactase added milk is probably the best answer for them. There are many other types of milks that can be used instead of the traditional cow’s milk: soy, almond, rice, coconut, cashew, and hemp milk can all be found in stores. My favorite is almond milk. I use this as a substitute all of the time.

As I mentioned earlier, many people who are lactose intolerant may still be able to handle a little dairy in their diet without any bad effects. Yogurt has less lactose than most other dairy. So, yogurt may be a good choice. Maybe switching to yogurt rather than cottage cheese as a snack could help. Also, using yogurt instead of sour cream or cream cheese could help digestion.

Some cheeses have much less lactose than milk. For example, fermented cheeses have small amounts of lactose. Some good examples are hard or aged cheeses such as Swiss, Parmesan, and blue cheeses. These cheeses have around 2 grams of lactose per ounce versus the 11 grams of lactose found in a glass of traditional cow’s milk. If you cannot stomach a glass of milk, you may still be able to have a slice of Swiss cheese on your sandwich without any problems.

If you are going to consume fewer dairy foods, it is important to ensure your body is getting sufficient nutrients. The USDA promotes milk because of its many nutrients. Milk contains high levels of calcium, vitamin D and potassium. To get more calcium, eat more leafy green vegetables, like spinach, kale, turnips, and collard greens, and beans. You can also drink calcium fortified orange juice. You can get lots of potassium from tomatoes, spinach, sweet potatoes, bananas, and oranges. You can take a vitamin D supplement or get it from the sun if you are careful to limit your exposure. Also, fatty fish such as salmon, trout, mackerel and tuna are good sources of this vitamin. Look for vitamin D enriched mushrooms in your grocery store too. Egg yolks and liver are also good sources of vitamin D.

This week, Daphne told me she wanted to make vegan cookies. She and I sifted through some recipes to see what type of cookies we would want to make vegan. In the end, she went with chocolate chip cookies. These are usually made with butter and milk chocolate chips. I thought, if we substitute the milk for something else, these can be a treat for people who are lactose intolerant. We chose dairy free butter and dark chocolate chips (without any milk) as substitutes for dairy.

Instead of eggs (to make them vegan), we used flax seeds. Daphne made them while I photographed her work. They were so easy to make and tasted delicious. I am not a huge sweets person, so I might not be the best judge to determine if they are as good as the usual cookies. I thought they were delectable.

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