One of the things that do become a bit of a challenge when you are dealing with a dairy allergy, is snacking, especially on the go. You’d be surprised at how many pre-packaged snacks have dairy in, so I tend to make my favourite snacks at home, or I have a selection of ‘go to’ snacks that I know I can grab for when I am out. My little boy Artie, enjoys snacks so I try to incorporate calcium-rich snacks to help his intake as well as looking for something that isn’t full of empty calories and has a good amount of nutrients within it. Of course, like with anything, he does enjoy some other snacks that aren’t so good but we like to take an everything in moderation approach whilst encouraging him to choose a healthy choice.
My favourite snacks I can prepare at home are:
Houmous and breadsticks/crudites – This is a brilliant snack, houmous contains tahini, a sesame seed paste, which is a great source of calcium, as well as other nutrients. Chickpeas are also a source of calcium too. Breadsticks are generally dairy-free but always check the labels. Throwing in a handful of carrot, cucumber or pepper sticks is an excellent way of bumping up your 5 a day too.
Flapjacks – Pretty much most shop bought flapjacks will include butter but that is no reason to miss out on this delicious energy boosting snack! Grab any flapjack recipe online and substitute the butter for a dairy free spread like Flora Dairy Free, Vitalite or Pure Spread, or you can completely omit the butter and opt for coconut oil if you prefer. Throw in a handful of chopped dried apricots, raisins, chia seeds or flax seed to boost your calcium intake. If you want to increase the protein, add a handful of cooked quinoa, which incidentally also has a healthy serving of calcium too.
Nuts – Nuts are so easy to keep a small pot in your bag, with a long shelf life, and a host of nutritional benefits they are guaranteed to help fill you up and keep your sweet cravings at bay! According to the international osteoporosis foundation, almonds and hazelnuts have the best source of calcium, however, I do enjoy mixing in my favourites, cashews!
Fruit – Easy to grab in a hurry, although if you have more time, I like to take a small pot of almond or cashew butter to dip apple or pear slices into! You’ll be getting a lovely dose of fibre and vitamins, plus the nut butter will help increase your calcium intake.
Boiled egg – a great protein-rich snack that will keep cravings at bay, whilst being dairy free too. I’m always surprised at how many people think dairy-free includes egg, but it doesn’t. Of course, some dairy allergy suffers also have secondary allergies, ours is soya dairy and soya lecithin. If you can enjoy eggs in your diet and have access to a cool bag or fridge, these are a great snack!
Smoothies – Really easy to whip up at home in the blender before work and you can just give it a shake and enjoy when you want. My favourite combination is dairy-free milk, a banana, cocoa, some desiccated coconut and some porridge oats. Such a delicious combo I picked up from a friend of mine (Yummy Mummy Eats Clean – I’ll also share her delicious oat biscuit snacks because they are just too good not to share). Another great combination is coconut water with banana, dates, cashews, cinnamon and spinach. Experiment with the flavours you like to find what works for you. Go easy on the nuts and fruit as can really rack up the calories/sugar without you noticing. A small handful of nuts, say 7-10, or 1 piece of fruit is what I normally stick to as a rule.
Crackers with nut butter or houmous. A quick pick me up and you can mix and match depending on what you like on top – our favourites are cream crackers, Nairns Oat Cakes (which you can also get gluten-free) or Crackerbread. Sainsbury’s do some handy mini houmous pots in a 4 pack which are excellent for this purpose.
Corn Cakes – I’m not much of a rice cake lover despite their popularity but I do love corn cakes. Much crunchier and enjoyable. I like to top mine with some tinned salmon and a little mayonnaise. Tinned salmon with the bones, is a really good source of calcium – the bones are soft so you can eat them and don’t even know they are there, plus it’s really delicious and the protein keeps you full to stop cravings.
Dairy-free yoghurt – we like coconut or almond yoghurts, deliciously topped with fruit or a sprinkle of seeds. The coconut collaborative and rebel kitchen dairy free range are lovely and they do a selection of flavours, or if you want something that is fortified with calcium KOKO yoghurt is great. It usually comes in a large tub so without the convenience, but its no hardship to pop into a small container for on the go.
On the go snacks – We don’t always have time to make a healthy snack before leaving for work, but here are some of my favourite dairy-free snacks that I can leave in my car/bag ready for when I need one.
Nakd bars – the queen of the snack bar, so many delicious flavours so you are bound to find something you like, they have some really interesting flavours – carrot cake, cocoa orange and blueberry muffin are my absolute favourites! They come in at around 130-150 calories which is reasonable for a snack containing nuts, and usually contain dried fruits – so whilst they do have a fair bit of natural sugar, you are getting a good source of nutrients too. If you want something with fewer calories, opt for the Nakd Breakfast Bars, they include gluten-free oats, are wheat and dairy free and come in at under 100 calories but still taste just as delicious.
Pulsin Fruity Oat Bars – These are a good alternative to Nakd bars if you can’t have nuts. My little boy isn’t allowed to take nuts to his nursery so I find these taste similar but without the nuts. They do a few different flavours and a lower on the calories at around 90 calories each so they’re handy to keep in your bag or at work for an afternoon pick me up.
Popcorn – The popcorn industry has really boomed lately and you can easily find your flavour, sweet or savoury. My favourite is the Propercorn Worcester sauce and sundried tomato flavour – yum!
Popchips – If you really can’t face the healthy snacks today, these are a tasty treat alternative. Around 90 calories a pack and easy to stuff in your bag on the way out. Whats not to like.
Soreen lunchbox bars – Only banana and apple varieties are dairy-free but have a good shelf life and under 100 calories a bar so a handy snack for on the go.
If you have any favourites, I haven’t mentioned, we always love to hear your suggestions too! Leave a comment with your ideas for dairy-free snacking!
(I am not a qualified nutritionist nor dietician, my options are based upon my own experience with a dairy allergy and home research only, so if you are in any doubt of what is best for you to include into your allergy diet, please consult a dietician)