Dairy-Free Dalliances

Readers that have hopped over here from my Food & Fitness blog will be aware of my strange body and all it's little idiosyncrasies; top of the list being my allergy to dairy which appeared a few years back after a particularly vicious strain of viral gastroenteritis (yes really, the body does some odd things when in recovery from a virus, mine chose to no longer allow my stomach lining to deal with dairy proteins. Excellent.).

For me, the one major hurdle with a food allergy is working out how to cheat the system. Your own system, in fact. Learning your limits, working out how far you can push it before you have a severe reaction and what mild reactions you are prepared to deal with and at what cost. Kind of like how one of my friends with a peanut allergy used to think that Revel Russian Roulette was an excellent game when he'd had a few pints, but without having to be hospitalised. 

My example of this is fudge. My friend Sam makes the best fudge ever. EVER. When she makes me a bag of it I will eat the whole lot in two sittings, bounce off the wall from the sugar consumption and then crash into a bit of comedown. The other side effect pops up the next day, I have a skin breakout. 

For a while I could get away with so many things in my diet. I stayed well away from cow's milk, yoghurt and soft cheeses but I could get away with milk chocolate, hard cheese and the odd treat like fudge. However, my body has recently caught up with my cheating and decided to punish me. It got me the way it knew it would hurt me the most after having a a bit of Dairy Milk every day - by giving me a massive skin breakout right across one side of my face.

So that's it. Milk chocolate has gone in the bin. I'm currently re-testing my limit with hard cheese (30g a week cooked into food seems to have no adverse effects - so my enchiladas are safe!) but otherwise I'm having to be dairy-free a lot more these days. Honestly, I'm too vain to deal with the side effects (I should add the skin breakouts are the nicer side effects, others are so bad that they put me into a doctors office in excruciating pain - so I know a few spots should be the least of my worries but you know, vanity prevails).

Step up Twitter and recommendations for good dark chocolate. I'm no stranger to Lindt but then someone recommended this: 

and it's bloody good stuff. It's £3 for 80g but it's worth it. As of yet I've not been able to eat more than 20g in one sitting - and I am a seasoned chocoholic. It's that rich. It's incredible. 

I've also been pretty partial to Nutella in my time, but as that's had to go in the bin too (sigh) I've needed a substitute for my porridge. I've tried dark chocolate spreads before and they're far too bitter, so here's my two favourites:

Hello Van Gogh exploding TARDIS mug!

Sweet Freedom's Choc Shot is amazing. I mix it with almond milk and hot water when I want a cup of hot chocolate, I mix it (or top) my porridge with it and I've even put it in (dairy free) cake frosting for a nice sweet chocolate flavour. It's not bitter like cocoa, so it's perfect for all these things.

I'm pretty sure this needs no explanation. Peanut butter blended with dark chocolate. Shut up and take my money!

Speaking of cake frosting, I decided to have a go at being a dairy-free baker on my day off a couple of weeks ago. Making dairy-free cakes is simple - you just sub the butter for a dairy-free spread of your choice and that's it, it makes no difference in flavour (thanks to sugar, vanilla extract and cocoa going in most of my recipes) what I was foxed about was cake frosting. 

I love buttercream on cakes but I'm very picky about it. I should say that I love my buttercream recipe; everyone else's tastes too rich, too sweet or gives me a headache (won't the real Goldilocks please stand up?), but I know I cannot eat it any more without serious skin repercussions and as much as I love cake, I'm not willing to ruin my skin for it. 

So, I decided I'd create dairy-free frosting. The base was simple enough; 150g of your chosen dairy-free spread, 125g of sifted icing sugar (I don't like it too sweet) and then .... hmm. I need a flavour as the spread tastes of bugger all the sugar tastes of, well, sugar. I needed something else.

If I was doing vanilla cupcakes I would have reached for the Choc Shot, but as I had made chocolate cupcakes I needed something else. Coconut. Artisana to the rescue!

I can't tell you how much I love this stuff. I have to order it from the US (the iHerb man cometh!), it costs about £7 per jar but it's SO worth every penny. I use it in so many things and have been known to just dump a spoonful of it on a square of dark chocolate (yes, it's filthy as hell but amazing in your mouth). Two tablespoons of coconut butter whipped into the frosting base and  - ta-dah! Dairy-free coconut frosting.

I think it's gorgeous. Ever the professional, I made my husband (who does not tolerate my weird eating habits very well at all) taste test it, even he agreed that it's delicious, and that was after I told him it was dairy-free; I didn't have to lie or 'trick' him into eating it. I feel like a raging success.

To sum up, being allergic to dairy need not suck. You can have your cake and eat it, just be prepared to add a few extra jars to your storage cupboard in order to be able to do so. 
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  1. Twitter chocolate recommender extraordinaire!

  2. Essentially all cakes are vehicles to get more buttercream into the body no matter what form the buttercream is!