By: Gaby Talarico

Dairy Sensitivity and Dairy Allergy

Besides gluten, another common and major food allergy in the U.S. today is dairy sensitivity. There are actually two forms of dairy sensitivity that people could experience: lactose intolerance and dairy allergy. While lactose intolerance is associated with the digestive system, dairy allergy is associated with the immune system. Lactose intolerance is when “your body doesn’t make lactose, the enzyme needed to digest milk” (WebMD). When a person with lactose intolerance consumes dairy, the lactose never digests in the stomach, and instead travels to the colon where the lactose will be “broken down by bacteria and causing bloating and gas” (WebMD). 

On the other hand, dairy allergy is when the body reacts to the proteins in the milk triggering an immune response, which is an allergic reaction. In simpler terms, the body believes the milk proteins are foreign and need to be removed. To do this, the immune system starts fighting the proteins, which could cause the individual to experience rashes, hives, swelling, trouble swallowing, and/or trouble breathing. (WebMD)

If an individual has either of the two dairy sensitivities mentioned above, they will not be able to consume any food product or recipe with dairy as a component. However, the food world has come a long way with dairy free substitutes! From my experience with experimenting in the dairy-free space, I have started creating a list of go-to brands for certain cheese products. For cream cheese, sour cream and ricotta cheese, I think Tofutti Brand and Kite Hill have great options. Kite Hill also has some good dairy-free ravioli options! For sliced cheese, I think Chao is a great replacement if you like American Cheese. And for butter, I like the Earth Balance brand. For coffee creamers, I like Trader Joes Coconut Milk Vanilla flavored the best… It is hard to get a thick creamy taste for a “creamer” from non-dairy sources. For parmesan cheese, I thought Go Veggie brand was pretty close to the real thing. That’s my research thus far, but I am still looking to try new brands. I have also heard good things about Miyoko’s and Follow your Heart brands…I must try them soon!

It is great to have cheese substitutes, but what if you just want to make a dairy-free meal without these cheese substitutes, it is actually not as hard as you would think. Cashews, cauliflower and beans are ingredients people can use to help make things “creamy” without actual cream or milk. There are also a lot of great recipes and cultural dishes in today’s age that don’t use any dairy products at all. For example, the Asian culture has almost no cheese or dairy in their cooking. 

Another great resource for the non-dairy world are food bloggers/food websites. There are now so many dairy-free bloggers that now cater to the dairy-free lifestyle because they had to be as well. It is very easy to search online to find a variety of recipes to choose from for your next family dinner. Even though I don’t need to be dairy free, on occasion, I like to showcase dairy-free recipes and sometimes I mention how an ingredient could be made dairy-free too! I hope after reading this article, you are educated about dairy sensitive and are more confident about the dairy free options available. I have also gifted one of my own dairy free recipes below for you to start experimenting with! 

Dairy-Free Creamy Mushroom Stroganoff Sauce

Do you love a creamy mushroom stroganoff, but don’t want to feel heavy and bloated afterwards? This sauce gives this comfort classic a healthy and yummy twist! It not only dairy-free, but it is also packed with protein from tofu! This stroganoff sauce is also a great meal to make for your “meat-less Mondays” or if you are trying to have a plant-based meal. I dare you to serve this sauce over egg noodles for your kids and see if they can tell the difference. 

Side note…you can just use the base sauce for a cream-free “cream” sauce!

Gaby’s Recipe

Serves: 6-7

“Cream” Base Sauce Ingredients:

1 – 1 lb package silken tofu

1/2 tsp garlic salt

1/8 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp onion powder

1 3/4 tsp lemon juice

1/4 tsp salt

2 tbsp nutritional yeast

1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk 

Other Ingredients Needed:

1 lb whole cremini mushrooms cut into 1/8 inch slices (not super thin)

1 tbsp canola oil

10 garlic cloves diced (1/4 cup diced)

1/4 tsp salt

2 tsp corn starch

1 1/2 tsp lemon juice

Optional Ingredients/Ideas (to serve the sauce over):

Linguini or fettuccini

Zucchini noodles

Egg Noodles


1. Blend the “Cream” Base Ingredients in a blender until smooth, set aside. (You can also just use this sauce for a dairy free, protein packed “cream” sauce).

2. Heat the canola oil in a deep-dish large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook for 2-3 min, or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. 

3. Add the diced garlic and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly.

4. Add the sliced mushrooms to the pan and cook on medium-high for 3 min, stirring to incorporate. Then, turn the temperature to medium heat and continue to cook for an additional 2-3 min or until all of the mushroom liquid is almost gone, stirring occasionally.

5. Add the “Cream” Base Sauce and stir to full incorporate. 

6. Whisk into the sauce: 1/4 tsp salt, 1 1/2 tsp lemon juice and 2 tsp corn starch until fully dissolved. 

7. Turn the heat to medium-high and cook for 4-5 min or until thickened, stirring occasionally to make sure the bottom doesn’t burn. 

8. Serve over linguini/fettuccini, egg noodles or zucchini noodles and top with dairy-free parmesan or regular parmesan if you don’t need to be dairy-free!

Work Cited

Talarico, Gaby. “Dairy-Free Creamy Mushroom Stroganoff Sauce.” Foodie with Flavor, Foodie with Flavor, 17 July 2020,

“Lactose Intolerance vs. Dairy Allergy: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Living With.” WebMD, WebMD,

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