Saying Bye Bye to Moo Moo: How To Get Milk Out Of Your Diet

I was recently at a friend’s house and she commented to me on her son’s diet. Apparently it had more dairy in it than she wanted it to have, but he really likes his milk and yogurt, and she wanted to know the best way to ease him off of it.

Knowing we want to change something and actually doing it are two very different things. I know that it’s not so easy to stop doing something you like, and it’s even harder to get someone else (your children) to stop doing something that they don’t even have the desire/logical reasons to stop. So, how do you do it?

I’ll let you know what worked for me.

Limiting dairy is included in my 10 Simple Steps to Transform Your Family’s Health, so getting a plan for doing it is a good thing.

If you don’t know why you’d want to remove cow’s milk from your diet, read MILK…It Does A Body Good. Or Does It? to start. You can find plenty more if you do a search on cow’s milk and its cons.

First, immediately switch to only ORGANIC dairy products. Non-organic dairy cows are pumped with hormones to make them produce more milk than is natural. These hormones come out in their milk, and get drunk by you. Animals kept in close unnatural quarters (not free range, eating grass) also get sick often and spread disease among each other. In order to keep them “healthy”, farmers give their animals antibiotics all the time, as a matter of course. These chemicals come out in their milk, and get drunk by you. By switching to organic, any amount of dairy products that you do end up consuming will not be as detrimental to your health. And, the added cost will make it easier for you to limit your consumption. Remember, you don’t NEED to have so  much….it’s better for you to have less, of a better quality (if at all).

I might have had a head start by never having the habit of drinking milk as a beverage. I really only drank it with chocolate syrup in it when I was little; I just didn’t like the taste, and my parents didn’t push it. The only exception was (and still is) alongside some chocolate cake or cookies, which is a rarity and only to serve my taste buds once in awhile.

Since I never really drank it, the only real time I used it was poured over cereal. So I decided to start there.  First, I stopped eating cereal so much. Once I learned to make fruit smoothies for breakfast, it limited the number of times I was tempted to pour milk on cereal.  Then I bought some milk alternatives and started experimenting with them, mixing them in with the cow’s milk at first. I liked the texture of the soy milk, but it bothered my stomach. Rice Dream brand became my favorite after trying several, and I started with about half rice milk and half cow’s milk and worked my way up (slowly) to 100% rice milk. (Here’s how to make your own almond milk at home)

Once I got used to it, I got used to it. And so can you (and your children). You just have to work up to it.

Next was cheese. That’s a real tough one for me. I LOVE cheese, especially melted.  I have tried cheese substitutes, but I am not satisfied by any of them. So, I’d rather have it much less frequently than use a substitute. If I have sliced cheese in the house for sandwiches, I will make a sandwich with melted cheese in it. Every day. Until it’s gone. So for me, I need to not have it in the house. I buy it only for a specific purpose (a specific meal), and either don’t buy extra or freeze the rest. (Freezing works well with shredded cheese; not too sure about the sliced).

Sheep and goat’s milk (and cheeses) are easier to digest and also have a stronger taste. That can work to your advantage in cutting down the dairy: crumbling a little bit of feta cheese into a salad isn’t as hard on your body but makes the whole thing more exciting.  It also works well on pizza….make it more like a focaccia with only cubes of feta instead of covering the whole thing with cheese. Not the same, but still tasty. (And it’s better food combining too).

How about yogurt, you ask? Well, first of all, ask yourself why you are eating yogurt. While it’s true that yogurt has some good bacteria in it (probiotics), you can get many more of them just by taking them in capsules. So, if you want to add probiotics to your diet, I suggest doing it that way. However, if you simply must have your yogurt  for taste, here’s my suggestion: first switch to sheep yogurt. Since it’s easier to digest than the cow’s yogurt, that’s the first step. Here in Israel I can buy sheep’s yogurt at the supermarket, sold right alongside the cow’s milk yogurt. Of course, this is still non-organic, pasteurized, etc…so it’s still not good. But, at least if you get the PLAIN kind and mix your own flavorings in (a little bit of raw honey/stevia/vanilla extract/cut up fruit…YUM) you’ll be avoiding all the chemicals and corn syrup.

Ideally, you can make your own yogurt from raw organic milk. I’ve never tried this but would like to.

As far as butter….do NOT use margarine in place of butter, thinking that it’s better for you. It is NOT.  Really, I use butter as a spread for bread, and not for much else any more. Use oil for cooking, and you can use extra virgin olive oil for dipping bread in. It’s quite tasty, and makes it easy to limit the butter to a once in a while thing.  And cutting the bread consumption down is a good thing too, so that helps.

Ice cream: Enjoy it. But only once in a while. In between, you can make good-for-you fruit “ice cream” without any added sugar in your Champion Juicer with the blank screen. Or at least I can. If you do some searching, you can probably find a way to make a yummy frozen sorbet.

So, to recap:

  1. Drink water instead of milk (or anything else) as a beverage
  2. Switch to organic. Whatever you do have will be better for you, and the added cost will help you in cutting down (which is the goal!)
  3. On cereal, buy (or make) a milk alternative and mix it in (start with 50%), gradually increasing it.
  4. Make fruit smoothies for breakfast, making it easier to eat less cereal.
  5. Get sheep or goat’s milk feta or other sharp cheese to use sparingly, instead of other cheese. Make a meal plan including fewer meals with cheese.
  6. Switch to plain sheep’s yogurt, mixing in healthier flavors. Begin to have it less frequently. If you really want to have yogurt regularly, consider making it yourself (best from raw milk)
  7. Don’t buy ice cream in large containers to keep in your freezer at home. If you eat ice cream, have it as a treat when you are out, and get creative to make healthier frozen desserts at home.

Good Non-Dairy Sources of Calcium

There are many ways to get calcium from foods other than dairy products. In fact, you might already be aware that we are UNABLE to absorb the calcium in cow’s milk; in contrast, our bodies actually PULL CALCIUM OUT OF OUR BONES in order to buffer the acidity of our blood when we drink the stuff. See my post on milk for more info.

  • Green leafy vegetables contain calcium. Examples are bok choy, kale, mustard greens, dandelion greens, turnip greens, artichokes and broccoli. Out of these options turnip greens have the highest calcium source with 200mg per cup. Fresh broccoli is our favorite. Unfortunately, I have not developed a taste for it raw, but I’m trying. Lightly steamed is better than not at all. Basically, the darker the green, the better the nutrients. Use Romaine lettuce in your salad instead of Iceberg, please!
  • Many beans are also fair sources of calcium.
  • Some fruits offering good calcium levels are figs, papaya and raisins
  • Sesame seeds in particular are very high in calcium and are so easy to add to a diet. They can be sprinkled over salads, added to casseroles, cereals and more. Tahini, which is a paste made from sesame seeds is very high in calcium with 2 tablespoons offering 130mg of calcium. Tahini is delicious spread on a pita, as an addition to a sandwich or added to falafel or humus. Humus which is made from garbanzo beans (chickpeas) offers 60mg per half cup and makes a wonderful dip.
  • Almonds are good calcium alternatives. 1 oz. of almonds provides 80mg of calcium. You can make almond milk from almonds to add to cereal or use in baking.

Daily Recommendations:

The daily recommended intake of calcium varies according to age, but will average between 500mg and 1000mg.(Dietary Reference Intakes, National Academy of Science, 1997)

Homemade Almond Milk

Are you looking for a milk alternative? If you are wondering why you should be, then please read my post on milk

Well, we try to limit our dairy consumption to occasional cheese or ice cream for a treat, so when it comes time for eating cereal, we have used rice milk for years. I recommend rice milk over soy milk because soy is quite difficult to digest.

Rice Dream costs about $3.50 per 1 liter box, and our family of 6 easily finishes a whole box for one breakfast. In learning to be frugal, I started thinking….maybe I can make my own rice milk. I haven’t really looked into it, because I think it may be complicated (but I still will try to find out at some point), but I realized that I could do what I used to do when I was weaning the boys and wanted to introduce a highly nutritious “milk” for them. I made seed and nut milks!

Raw nuts and seeds are highly nutritious and can be made into butters, and yes MILKS, for babies and adults alike. The most nutritious are almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds.

I prefer Almonds to the others for milk due to their mild taste. Here is how to do it:

1/2 to 3/4 cup raw almonds (depends on how full you want the flavor to be. I used 1/2 c)
3or 4 dates (for a little sweetness)
water

1. Put the almonds and dates(pitted) in your Vitamix or blender. (more on this below)
2.Cover with water not much above the level of the food
3.Blend on high till smooth, adding only as much water as needed to blend. It will be thick.
4. Add water until liquid consistency.
5. Strain through fine mesh strainer, and again through cheesecloth (I used a clean cloth diaper/burprag) DO NOT THROW AWAY ALMOND MUSH! This is nutritious stuff and can be used in your next smoothie or added to pancakes or cookies. Use within a day or freeze for future use.
6. Your milk should be nice and smooth, free of particles. Add as much water as you want to achieve the consistency and flavor you want. I made 1 L of milk from 1/2 c almonds & 3 dates.

Pour on your quick and easy homemade granola or other cereal and enjoy! Also delicious to drink.

Note: this milk will not keep for more than a day or two in the fridge. Use the same day for best taste and nutrition.

About the blender: Work like this is tough on a regular blender. It can be done although it will wear your blender down quickly. For regular smoothie making, nut milk making, creamy soup blending, and other yummy stuff, I highly recommend a Vitamix or similar blender. I use mine every day and love it!