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Replacing Butter, Spreads, and Toppings for a Dairy-Free Diet

You can find dozens of varieties of butter substitutes and margarines in supermarkets, but you need to read labels carefully to find those that contain no dairy byproducts.

The consistency and flavor of these alternatives are quite good. In fact, you probably won’t notice much, if any, difference between these dairy-free products and other varieties of margarine. Dairy-free margarine also melts well.

In addition to being dairy-free, these products are better for your health than butter or margarine that’s made with partially hydrogenated oils because they’re low in saturated fat and free of artery-clogging trans fats. Among many others, you can try Fleishmann’s Light Margarine, Smart Balance Light, and Earth Balance. Experiment to see which ones you like best.

On a baked potato or blintz, nondairy sour cream delivers the same creamy goodness as its dairy-based cousin — with zero lactose and no artery-clogging saturated fat. You also can use nondairy sour cream on burritos and nachos and in recipes for dips and spreads. Brands include Soymage, Tofutti Sour Supreme, Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream, and others.

If you love bagels, you probably love big smears of cream cheese on them. Face it: Jelly on a bagel just doesn’t cut it. The good news is that nondairy cream cheese products work as a great replacement. They’re creamy and spreadable, just like dairy cream cheese. They taste good, too. Find dairy-free cream cheese in the refrigerator case at any natural foods store. Brands you may try include Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese, Soymage, and Follow Your Heart Vegan Gourmet Cream Cheese, among others.

You can use nondairy cream cheese in a wide variety of ways, including in recipes for cookies and brownies, and for dips and spreads. You can even use it to make old-fashioned cheesecake.

If you’re severely allergic to dairy products, however, be careful. Even kosher foods may be contaminated with tiny particles of dairy from food production lines that may be adjacent to those that are processing foods labeled as pareve or parve. Tiny particles of dairy may be able to migrate through the air and land in products that are otherwise dairy-free. The chances are slim, but it’s possible.

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