Creams, be it heavy cream, sour cream, coffee creamer, are a popular ingredient in many dishes, drinks and desserts, which could make navigating this area tricky for the lactose intolerant. It adds a richness and body to things like soups and casseroles, and simply omitting the cream to make it dairy free will change the outcome of a recipe.
Cream can be between 10 and 40% fat; this is dependent on the type of cream, with heavy cream having the higher fat and sugar content. According to Heathline, a tablespoon of heavy cream has 0.5g of lactose, which makes it a relatively low lactose containing dairy product. Heavy cream in small amounts is usually tolerable.
Luckily with the expansion of vegan and lactose free versions, there is a wider choice of lactose free creams or substitutes available. There are even homemade alternatives that will do.
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Silk launched its first lactose and dairy free heavy whipping cream this year. It is made with filtered water, coconut oil, sunflower oil and faba bean protein. It can be used cup for cup in recipes from sauces and soups to whipped toppings.
Nestle’s Carnation Almond Cooking Milk was launched as a substitute for milk in both sweet and savory recipes, but it is a lot creamier than its name suggests and can be used as a substitute for light or heavy cream and its lactose free.
The majority of cream substitutes in stores are whipped topping alternatives, which are great when being used for sweet dishes, but when it comes to soups, sauces and savory products, the sweetened dairy free products will not do. Full fat coconut milk or coconut cream, found in cans as it is fattier and heavier than coconut milk in cartons or bottles, will add the creamy texture. Adding towards the end of cooking and try not to use too much as it can overpower the flavor of the soup. Pureed potatoes or cornstarch can be another alternative to using cream in a recipe, the starch in potatoes and cornstarch gives the desired thickness that cream provides.
Heavy Cream – Homemade Substitute
Oil and dairy free milk will make a lactose free heavy cream substitute. Note, it will not whip like heavy cream does, but will be suitable in dishes that require heavy cream added. To make this heavy cream alternative, combine two thirds of a cup of lactose free milk with one third of a cup of flavorless oil. It will make an excellent replacement for sauces or soups or casseroles.
Milk and cornstarch is another homemade alternative to heavy cream, again it will not whip, be lacking in the flavor of cream, but will provide the correct texture. Add two tablespoons of cornstarch to your choice of lactose free milk, stir until dissolved and wait for the mixture to thicken.
Blended silken tofu can be used as a cream substitute in sauces and soups. It can be used as a one for one replacement for heavy cream, although it will not whip.
Nut butters or ground nuts can be combined with equal parts water to create a nut cream. These will not whip and will impart a nutty flavor on the recipe. Cashew cream is another nut-based alternative that can be used in sweet or savory recipes. Soaking one cup of cashews in water for at least two hours, draining, then blending with three quarters of a cup of water until smooth will give you a cream that can pour or be whipped. To whip, chill the cream first, then whisk.
Whipping creams and toppings are more readily available in stores. The range is extensive, with coconut-based alternatives, plant-based whipped toppings, oat-based and many more. Whipped cream alternatives include Nature’s Charm coconut whipping cream, So Delicious CocoWhip, SoyaToo soy whip in a carton and truwhip vegan. Dairy free whipped topping can also be found in cans, such as Reddi-wip, in coconut or almond milk, 365 oat-based whipped topping, SoyaToo soy whip in a can, 365 plant-based whipped topping. These can all be used in the same way you would use the dairy alternative.
A can of coconut milk can be used to make whipped topping. Chill the can so the thicker cream separates from the water, drain, and whip just like regular cream. Adding sugar and vanilla will create a whipped topping suitable for desserts.
Aquafaba, the liquid from cooking chickpeas can be used to create a whipped topping. Add the liquid from a can of chickpeas to a mixer, hand or stand, and add 1/8 to 1/2 a teaspoon of cream of tartar, and whisk until you reach your desired thickness. Adding sugar and vanilla will make a sweet, whipped topping. A stand or hand mixer is best for this, as whisking by hand will not produce the same results.
Sour cream is relatively low in lactose, and brands such as Daisy Pure & Natural are made with heavy cream. However, there is a large range of completely dairy free alternatives available, which include Good Karma plant-based sour cream, Follow Your Heart dairy free sour cream, Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream and WayFare dairy free sour cream.
In a similar manner to making cashew cream, this recipe can be adapted to make a sour cream. Adding lemon juice, around a tablespoon, and a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to the soaked cashews and water, creates a sour cream alternative that can be used in the same way. Adding lemon juice to coconut cream creates another substitute for sour cream.
There are a number of cream cheese alternatives that can be swapped for their dairy counterparts available. Philadelphia makes lactose free version of its classic cream cheese, with less than 0.01% lactose, and is made with real milk and cream. Green Valley Creamery makes a cream cheese made with pure cream and adds the lactase enzyme. Kite Hill makes an almond milk-based cream cheese. These can all be used in recipes that require cream cheese, such as cheesecakes or pasta sauces.
Dairy free coffee creamers are widely available with the ranges growing year on year. So Delicious dairy free coconut milk coffee creamer comes in multiple flavors, the company also makes almond-based coffee creamers. Ripple half & half is completely dairy-free and uses oils and pea protein. Silk has a range of coffee creamers, almond or soy, both come in a range of flavors. Natural Bliss, Nutpods, Califia Farms are all brands that make dairy free creamers.