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GUEST POST "Dairy Free" by Carly Smith

Hi!  My name is Carly Smith, and I am a Certified Health Coach and Nutrition Consultant in Bozeman, MT. I am passionate about healthy eating and lifestyle and I am obsessed with helping people learn about how to feed themselves and particularly their children.  I teach classes both in person and online, as well as coach clients one-on-one until their goal is achieved!

I am holistic in my approach to nutrition, which takes a departure from the typically recommended food pyramid, cookie-cutter approach.  One of those areas in which I disagree with the food pyramid is the topic of dairy.  Dairy is a perfect food—in the correct context.  It is ideal for…….calves.  Cow’s milk is just that: milk for cows.  Dairy is meant to help calves triple their size in a short period of time, so it is full of growth hormones which can wreak havoc on the human body.  By simply eliminating dairy, many people can experience symptoms similar to removing gluten, as there is a protein in milk (casein) which can behave in similar ways in the body to gluten.  Potential benefits of eliminating dairy also include improved gut health, improved digestion, reduced gas, bloating and abdominal pain, clearer skin, weight loss and less exposure to hormones and antibiotics.  While these improvements may not be experienced by everyone, I believe anyone can benefit from eliminating dairy from their diet, or at the very least, limiting it.

After deciding to eliminate dairy from ones diet, the struggle can ensue.  How can I enjoy anything creamy again?  What about Mexican or Italian food without melty cheese?  And what will I put in my coffee??  It can be difficult to adjust to life without dairy, but after the change has been made, you may not even notice it.  While I do not generally advocate using an abundance of “dairy-free” products, they can make Taco Tuesday a little tastier every once in a while.  I would encourage you to not go out and buy those products in bulk, as they really don’t deserve a starring role in a healthy diet. Nut milks can also serve as a stand-in for dairy products, particularly in coffee, protein shake or smoothie.  Just be mindful of the ingredients, paying close attention to added sugar. When it comes to creamy soups and sauces, canned coconut milk is often the best replacement.  I usually replace half the suggested milk with coconut milk and half with stock (chicken, beef, or vegetable).  Otherwise coconut milk can take on a slightly sweet taste.  Coconut or nut milk can also be combined with chia seeds to make chia pudding, an excellent stand in for yogurt, but better.  Chia seeds are full of fiber which will help keep you satisfied, as well as omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and protein. One last replacement for dairy is mayo.  This may sound counterintuitive, but I am referring to homemade mayo.  Homemade mayo is made with high quality olive or avocado oil, rather than inflammatory seed oil.  This is a great source of good fat and can be used to impart a creamy texture to dressings and dips, such as ranch and Caesar.

I hope that I have given you some new ideas to incorporate into your dairy-free diet. For more ideas on healthy eating of all types, please visit my website: I’m always happy to talk nutrition for you or your family; find me on Facebook (Fresh Start Health Coaching) or shoot me an email (

Sausage Pumpkin Soup


1 lb. Ground Sausage (I use the All-Natural Jimmy Dean from Costco)

1-2 apples, shredded

1 onion, shredded

1 package sliced mushrooms

1 garlic clove

1 Tbsp. Italian Seasoning

15 oz. can pumpkin puree

4 cups chicken broth

1/2 Cup coconut milk


Brown Sausage (use the same big pot you'll make the soup in). Set aside on paper towels to drain

In pot, add shredded apples, onion, mushrooms, minced garlic and cook until soft

Add pumpkin and italian seasoning and stir well to combine.

Add chicken broth and let simmer about 20 minutes, or put in crock pot on low

Before serving, add coconut milk and stir through

Ranch Dressing (recipe from Danielle Walker, Against All Grain):
½ cup homemade mayonnaise

¼ cup coconut milk

1 garlic clove, crushed

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped

2 teaspoons lemon juice

¼ teaspoon onion powder

¼ teaspoon sea salt

Chia Pudding (recipe from Wellness Mama)

2 cups coconut milk (homemade or natural)

½ cup Chia Seeds

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ cup (or less) maple syrup or honey

Optional: ¼ teaspoon cinnamon powder

Combine all ingredients and put into individual sized serving containers.  Allow to sit in the refrigerator overnight and you have breakfast made!  Top with fresh or dried fruit, applesauce, jam, nuts, granola or even chocolate shavings.

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