Dairy-Free Breakfasts for the Lactose Intolerant


After a lifetime love affair with butter, cheese and milk, I’ve suddenly become lactose intolerant. My doctor suggested I stop eating dairy products cold turkey, and with regret, I complied.

Lactose intolerance is a disorder caused by the inability to digest lactose, the main carbohydrate in dairy products. People with this condition don’t make enough of the enzyme lactase, which is needed to digest lactose. Studies have estimated that lactose intolerance affects about 44% of Americans in varying degrees.

I easily adjusted to this radical change in diet at lunch and dinner, where plenty of options abound: grilled vegetables, meat and fish, tuna and chicken salad, pasta and most Asian foods.

But figuring out what to eat for breakfast was challenging. No more yogurt, cottage cheese, pancakes and cereal with milk. There are many lactose-free milks, cheeses and yogurts available today. They are excellent options for people who produce enough lactase to digest them.

While soy milk is a good substitute for cow’s milk, I don’t care for its flavor. Instead, I switched to oat milk and almond milk. Hot and cold cereals are delicious with these nondairy milks, as are smoothies. But how do you eat bagels and lox without cream cheese? I found capers and thinly sliced lemon or onion are satisfying replacements. Bialys compliment lox consumed without dairy.

Surprisingly, many margarines contain dairy, so I began preparing eggs with olive oil. I now spread peanut butter or almond butter on toast and top it with sliced bananas. Avocado toast is another delicious option. I tried chia pudding and got hooked immediately. This is a long way of saying, I’ve rediscovered breakfast.

apple muffins
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Applesauce Spice Muffins | Pareve

Yield: 12 muffins

No one misses butter and milk when they try these muffins.

  • 12 muffin tin liners
  • Nonstick vegetable spray
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon each: ground cloves, nutmeg, ginger and cardamom
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 generous cup of sweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

Set a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat oven to 350 F. Place liners inside indentations in a muffin tin for 12 muffins. Lightly coat liners with nonstick spray.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour, pecans, white and brown sugars, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, and cardamom. Using a soup spoon, make a wide well in the center of these dry ingredients. Reserve.

In another bowl, whisk together vegetable oil, egg, applesauce, vanilla, and lemon zest. Using a spatula, pour the contents of these wet ingredients into the well of the dry ingredients. Using an electric beater, start on a low setting until the dry ingredients are moistened. Then beat on high speed until ingredients are well combined. Spoon the batter evenly into the muffin tin liners.

Move to the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the muffins are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the centers of a couple of the muffins returns clean. Cool to warm and serve immediately, or cool completely and store in a covered container for 2 days. Muffins can be reheated briefly at 350 degrees for 2 minutes. Recipe freezes well.

glass bowl with chia pudding
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Chia Pudding | Pareve

Serves 1

I often make four of these puddings at a time as they are popular and make great snacks.

  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • A drizzle of maple syrup, optional
  • Berries of any kind

Pour coconut milk into a coffee mug. Add the chia seeds and stir well until they are thoroughly combined and there are no clumps. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or up to 3 days.

Chia pudding is slightly tart. If you prefer it sweeter, drizzle maple syrup on top to taste. Place berries on top.

Omelet Soufflé | Pareve

two omelette souffles in the oven
OlgaKorica / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Serves 2

This is an elegant brunch dish, an airy delight you need to make one at a time.

Equipment: a medium-size and a large-size skillet

  • 2 eggs, separated into two different bowls
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons flour
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil or more, if needed
  • 1-2 tablespoons fruit preserves

To the egg yolks, add sugar and flour. Mix with a fork until completely blended. Reserve.

With an electric beater, beat the egg whites until stiff. If you turn off the beater and lift the blades, small peaks should form. With a rubber or silicone spatula, move the egg yolk mixture into the egg whites. Very gently mix them together until completely combined.

Place enough oil in both frying pans to barely cover the bottoms. Preheat the medium-sized skillet on a medium-low flame. Using the spatula, move the omelet mixture into the medium skillet and spread evenly. The omelet will swell. After a few minutes, the omelet will pull away from the skillet edges. Using the spatula, encourage the omelet to release at the edges. At this point, start preheating the second skillet on another burner on a medium-low flame.

Continue frying, until the bottom of the omelet turns golden brown. Using a spatula turn the omelet into the larger skillet. Fry until the underside turns golden brown. When you think it’s ready, insert a knife into the omelet to make sure it is cooked through and there is no raw egg. Then turn the omelet onto a plate.

Spread preserves over half of its surface. Flip the other half on top of the preserves and cut the omelet in half. Serve immediately.


  1. This is classic misinformation. Many Ashkenazy are what is called Lactose intolerants and doctors tells them falsely not to eat anything coming from milk. FALSE! Yogurt with active bacteria, cheeses can be digested by the misname lactose intolerants. In fact this is normal for Mamalian once they pass early childhood stage when as mamelian they stop suckling and non longer need Lactaze. I am one of those and if eating something somewhere that includes sweet cream for example I immediately get terrible cramps. In fact I make my own Kefir and Boursin (sort off but more like Labane with cilantro in it). Everybody can test their limits.


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