Food intolerances: how to replace milk in recipes for children

It happens more and more often that children need to follow a diet free of milk and derivatives due to lactose intolerance or allergy to milk proteins. This can happen both for a limited period of time (when the problem encountered by the doctor is temporary), and for longer periods or even forever (when the problem is allergic).

This is because  two different types of problems can arise with respect to milk: lactose intolerance and allergy to milk proteins . The first occurs when the digestive system is unable to digest lactose perfectly.

Allergies , on the other hand, are caused by milk proteins and trigger a reaction from the immune system .

In general, those who suffer from it must eliminate the food that causes the reaction (while for intolerance, lactose can be taken in small doses).

For further information:  lactose intolerance/milk protein allergy: two different realities.

In one case or another, however, the parents of intolerant or allergic children have the arduous task of preparing dishes suitable for the diet, in many cases also paying attention to reading the labels of the foods purchased.

For further information:  milk allergy, how to recognize it and ways to treat it

How to replace milk and derivatives in recipes

Replacing milk in recipes  is fortunately possible. In fact, there are foods that can be used instead of milk , butter and cheese without having to give up preparing dishes that children like, such as creams, sweets, cakes and homemade biscuits (excellent for breakfast and as a snack).

So let’s see what these  alternatives are and also some recipes without milk suitable for children.

Milk substitutes

For those who have intolerance/allergy problems as well as cow’s milk, even goat’s or sheep’s milk, the most important milk substitutes that can be used with satisfaction in recipes are water, vegetable milk, orange juice , apple juice, white wine (but not recommended for recipes where the quantity exceeds 100ml).

Valid substitutes for butter or cream, on the other hand, can be vegetable cream, yoghurt, oil, margarine, while cheeses, if they are included in the recipe, can be replaced with vegetable-type cheeses (the most used is tofu ).

Vegetable milk

Among the various types of vegetable milk,  the best known are: soy milk (milk low in calories and rich in protein, among the most used and known), oat milk, rice milk, almond milk, coconut milk and many others.

None of these types of milk tastes like cow’s milk and none is ever better than the other. The choice depends on personal taste. For this reason, the best thing is to try more than one type and even more brands and stop at what the child likes best. 

Usage guidelines

Each of these types of milk can be used like cow’s milk, therefore good both to drink and as ingredients for recipes to prepare for children.

The ratio for replacing a vegetable milk with cow’s milk is 1:1 , i.e. if a recipe calls for 100 ml of milk these can be replaced with 100 ml of vegetable milk.

But the possibilities of substitution can also be other.

In some recipes where milk is used, this can be replaced with water. Depending on the recipes, the water can be flavored with vanilla, grated citrus peel or used as it is. Even if the difference in nutritional intake between milk and water is not comparable, often the taste of desserts is not affected.

The same applies when the milk is replaced by orange or apple juice, even if in this case the dessert will have a slight fruit flavour. The ratio is always 1:1.

In some recipes, the milk can be replaced with fresh cream, including vegetable cream (1:1 ratio) or with 125 g of yoghurt (which can be eaten by lactose intolerant people).

Instead, to replace the butter you can use margarine (useful in dough where the butter should be added in small pieces) or seed oil (useful when melted butter should be added to the dough.

Margarine is used in the same quantity indicated for butter, while if oil is used it is necessary to add a little less.

To learn more about replacement doses, I recommend reading and looking at replacement tables .

Dairy free recipes

Dairy-free recipes for the most common preparations

At this point, to help you prepare  lactose-free recipes for children,  I thought I’d share with you some basic recipes (such as those for making cream, béchamel, or cream) that will come in handy for you to be able to cook lots of excellent sweet and savory dishes.

Dairy-free recipes for snacks for breakfast, as a snack or to take to school

Recipes for sweets and biscuits without milk / butter

Dairy-free ice cream recipes

Ice cream (especially homemade ice cream) is one of those complete, balanced and nutritious foods that children like the most. In its composition there is an excellent proportion between proteins, carbohydrates / sugars and fats and for this reason it is considered an excellent healthy and genuine snack.

For children who are allergic or intolerant to lactose, eating ice cream outside the home can be a problem. In general, fruit ice creams are considered safe but it is always good to ask to dispel any doubts.

For the other creamy flavours, many ice cream parlors offer the “lactose-free” alternative, i.e. generally based on soy or rice milk.

Lately, however, more and more parents like to prepare homemade ice cream. This habit allows you to offer children an ice cream made with healthy ingredients and above all safe for both allergy / lactose intolerance.

If you want to try it, in the following links you will find three excellent recipes to prepare excellent lactose-free ice creams

For other types of food intolerances , I suggest you also read these posts:

Kathryn Barlow is an OB/GYN doctor, which is the medical specialty that deals with the care of women's reproductive health, including pregnancy and childbirth.

Obstetricians provide care to women during pregnancy, labor, and delivery, while gynecologists focus on the health of the female reproductive system, including the ovaries, uterus, vagina, and breasts. OB/GYN doctors are trained to provide medical and surgical care for a wide range of conditions related to women's reproductive health.

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