Substitutes for Casein in Gluten-Free/Casein-Free Diet
When eliminating casein from the diet, many parents naturally turn to soy because it has become so popular in mainstream culture – soy milk, soy ice cream, soy cheese, etc. While I must admit that soy milk and soy ice cream taste really great, unfortunately, soy is not a good substitute for casein in a gluten-free/casein-free diet. Many doctors and healthcare professionals effectively treating autism encourage soy avoidance. (See Children with Starving Brains by Jaquelyn McCandless, M.D.) In many autistic children, the protein in soy causes problems similar to those caused by casein. Also, food allergies are a common problem with children with autism spectrum disorders, and soy is a very frequent food allergy. Soy should especially be avoided with boys because soy encourages the production of estrogen.
Instead of milk or soy milk, try almond milk or rice milk. Blue diamond brand makes an unsweetened almond milk (original or vanilla), which is great for those trying to keep sugar intake at a minimum. It can be sweetened with a bit of stevia. Watch out for hidden gluten in rice milk – one brand does not list any gluten containing ingredients in the ingredients list; however, on the side of the box is a statement that there is some gluten in the product.
I have not found a cheese substitute that is casein-free and tastes good. (Watch out for casein, caseinate, and also for whey.)
As far as a substitute for butter in baking – solidified coconut oil works very well. It will melt when the temperature approaches 80 degrees, so you may have to put it in the refrigerator for a little while before using it to firm it up a bit.
Experiment with your recipes, and you will find what works best for you. Remember that the extra effort really is worth it!
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