(Guest Post) Cooking Delicious Lactose Intolerance-Friendly Recipes

Posted by Toby Amidor @ 12:44 PM


This is a guest post written by Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, founder of Toby Amidor Nutrition, and nutrition expert for’s Healthy Eating Blog. Toby trained as a clinical dietitian at New York University, and her expertise includes over 13 years of experience in various areas of food and nutrition. To learn more about Toby, check out her full bio here.

There are an estimated 30-50 million Americans who identify as being lactose intolerant. I was thrilled when the National Dairy Council asked me to participate in a lactose-free cooking demo at this year’s Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo held in Philadelphia. This demo set out to prove a point: folks with lactose intolerance CAN enjoy delicious and healthy dishes that are created by using milk and dairy products!

Defining Lactose Intolerance

The definition of lactose intolerance is the gastrointestinal symptoms associated with incomplete digestion of lactose. This definition isn’t so easy to understand, so I’ve simplified it: Milk sugar is called lactose. It’s a “double sugar” that is made from two “single sugars” (called glucose and galactose). The enzyme lactase is sent out by the body to “cut” the double sugar into its single sugar components. When lactose is not completely digested or broken down into its single sugar components, individuals with lactose intolerance get uncomfortable symptoms such as flatulence, bloating and stomach aches.

The term lactose intolerance sometimes gets confused with lactose maldigestion. Lactose maldigestion is a normal,physiologic, genetically determined decline in the activity of the lactase enzyme.

If you think you have lactose intolerance, the best thing to do is speak with your doctor and ask to be tested. A Hydrogen Breath Test and Lactose Tolerance Test are reliable ways to measure the lactose absorption in the digestive system.

Both men and women can be affected by lactose intolerance and it is less common in kids. A 2009 study found that about 8 percent of European Americans, 10 percent of Hispanic Americans, and 19.5 percent of African Americans are affected.

Dairy’s Role in a Healthy Diet

Milk and dairy products are an important part of a healthy diet. Milk provides 9-essential nutrients such as calcium,

vitamins D & B12, protein, and potassium. Lactose-free milk provides the same nutrients as regular milk. Both traditional dairy products and lactose-free dairy products can help you meet your recommended three servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy each day.

Recommendations for a Lactose Intolerance-Friendly Diet

Lactose-free milk can be used in place of traditional milk in a variety of recipes such as the Avocado Shake and Pasta with Turkey Ham that I helped demonstrate at the cooking demo.

Even if you have been diagnosed with lactose intolerance, the American Medical Association and National Institute of Health recommend that small amounts of dairy should be included in the diet. Most folks with lactose intolerance can tolerate up to 1 cup of milk. Foods such as nonfat Greek yogurt and hard cheese contain less lactose per ounce than milk and are typically easier for folks with lactose intolerance to tolerate. Yogurt is often easier to digest for lactose intolerant individuals due to live and active cultures helping to break down the lactose. One suggestion is for the Spicy Pumpkin and Shrimp Soup. A dollop of nonfat Greek yogurt could be added as a garnish. A second suggestion is for the Pasta with Turkey Ham. Freshly grated Parmesan contains a minimal amount of lactose and adds a tremendous amount of flavor.

Another way to include traditional dairy is to combine it with other foods. This allows the body more time to digest the lactose. In the Spicy Pumpkin and Shrimp Soup reduced fat lactose-free milk was used as a thickener. Traditional reduced fat milk may also be well tolerated by someone with lactose intolerance as it’s combined with a variety of other ingredients in this recipe.

My Recommendations

As a registered dietitian, my goal is to let folks know that delicious and nutritious meals are possible. This is especially true for those following a lactose-friendly eating plan—so never let anyone tell you otherwise! The three recipes I helped demonstrate are a good place to start, but are just the tip of the iceberg. There are many more recipes that you can modify just by using lactose-free products. You can also find more information about lactose intolerance on the National Dairy Council website here or on their Pinterest and Twitter pages.


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