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Dairy or Non – Dairy. That is the question.
There are a lot of differing views regarding dairy. Some believe dairy is necessary to deliver calcium to our bones. Some believe that if it isn’t our mothers’ milk it isn’t our milk.
There are many other sources of calcium along with minerals and nutrients we need to maintain strong bones and good health besides milk and dairy.
With that being said I would opt for dairy rather than soda pop.
For the sake of this article, we are only going to discuss what is “clean” and what isn’t. You can decide what is best for you. Dairy or non-dairy. We will be discussing both here.
I believe in common sense. When a diet or lifestyle is too restrictive it is not sustainable. You can choose to go all the way and that is fine. I would just ask that if you can’t you don’t beat yourself up.
When choosing a dairy product look for the following information on the label.
- Organic certification
- No growth hormones(if organic than you know there are no growth hormones)
- No additives(ie., carrageenan, gums, etc.)
- Low heat pasteurization or raw if you can obtain it.
- No homogenization
- Glass or BPA-free container
Milk – The Cleanest version is raw and organic. If you choose pasteurized opt for organic.
Yogurt – Yogurt is a great option for adding gut-healthy bacteria, protein, and calcium to your diet. There are a ton of brands and most of them are not clean. Choose organic with no added flavors or sugars. If you have an instant pot you make it very easily. I know you are thinking why bother. Well, it is so much cheaper and it really is so very easy. I make a batch and it lasts 2 weeks in the fridge. Add some fresh fruit and a drizzle of honey and oh my….
Block Cheese – Opt for organic. Do not choose fat-free or low fat. It is the fat that makes the cheese. Chemical processes are used to remove the fat and this is avoided with clean eating.
Prepared Cheese – Grate your own. pre-grated cheese contains other ingredients to prevent it from clumping together in the bag. This also prevents it from melting nice and smooth as well and it costs more to have someone else grate it for you. If you still prefer to buy it pre-grated than read the ingredient list and opt for the one with the least additional additives.
Cottage Cheese – This might surprise you but many brands have a huge ingredient list and are not considered clean at all. Again, read the ingredient list. Here is a great article that breaks down the various brands and shows which ones have the least amount of garbage included. Or… make your own. Here is a recipe from Alton Brown(love Alton Brown) using just 4 ingredients.
Ricotta Cheese – What is better than ricotta cheese? Organic Valley is one brand I know of. There may be other brands as well so just look at the label. It is so easy to make though that I would highly recommend you give it a try. It comes out so much better than any store-bought and it is only 3 ingredients. Here is a great recipe.
Cream Cheese – Again, just loaded with all sorts of crap you can’t even pronounce. I cannot seem to find any brand of cream cheese that does not contain some sort of gum. Therefore, I would not consider cream cheese clean. Here is another article by the same great guy that provides us with a list of brands with the ingredients listed. However, if you do choose to eat it- well, (I think now you are getting the idea.) Read the labels and opt for the least amount of ingredients.
Processed Cheese Food – This is basically fake food. Not clean and should be avoided. This would be things like Cheeze Whiz, Velveeta, American Cheese slices that come in the wrappers. Some things are in the gray zone. This one is not. Stay away from it at all costs.
NON – DAIRY
I started to create a list as I did above with the real dairy but there is too much variation between brands.
Non – Dairy Milk – (Almond, coconut, soy, hemp, oat, etc.) There are many nutritional benefits with non-dairy milk and many folks that either can’t consume dairy due to food intolerances or choose not to, find these great alternatives. With that being said, most non-dairy products are not clean. I have included a link to Clean Plates. They have done an incredible job of finding the cleanest options.
Non-Dairy Cheeses – I tried non-dairy cheese once. I bought it accidentally. Awful. As far as whether it is clean or not, again I would say not clean but read your ingredient list if this is a product you want to consume.
These are just general guidelines. You can follow them as stringently as you want to or as loosely. If you are getting rid of soda, cool-aid, junk food, and choosing a dairy or non – dairy food item that is minimally processed you are doing well.