Monday, August 2, 2010

Casein Free Milk and Butter - Part II

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     In my previous post on casein free milk and butter I cleared up exactly what casein was, why so many folks with Celiac also react to casein, and suggested a few casein free alternatives to traditional animal products. If you haven’t checked that out yet, be sure to pop over there before you leave!
     I still get asked plenty of questions about what exactly is casein free in the dairy isle and I want to address some of those more common ones here today. Many of the questions that come in regarding casein are wondering if their favorite diary product has casein in it. Does butter have casein? Does being dairy free really mean no casein? Is there casein in soy products? What about skim milk or reduced fat milk? Does sheep or goats milk have casein? What cheeses are casein free or have low casein amounts?
     To give a brief run down on casein, it is one of the proteins that make up all animal milk usually contributing around 80% of the total proteins. Casein is often used in protein powders and meal supplement bars to help boost nutrition and give the consumer a full feeling thanks to the wonderful coagulation properties of the protein which allow for long-term digestion and absorption of the protein.
     This sticky coagulation property is one of the reasons folks with Celiac will have a problem digesting it – the protein is strikingly similar to the gluten molecule and the body will react very similarly to it.
     Now for a brief run down on what is and what is not safe in your dairy isle…
     All animal milk is off limits. I have yet to find one that says “casein free” on the label. There are plenty of lactose free milks available, but lactose is not casein, it is another protein entirely so be sure not to confuse these two. Skim milk has a higher concentration of protein - including casein - than full fat milk does, so don’t make this mistake either. The higher protein in skim milk is caused from taking the milk, spinning off the fat and using the remaining liquid as the final product. So this has the same protein content as before, with a smaller overall volume, thus the higher protein concentration. Boiling or heating milk does not remove the casein, either.
     Rice, soy, hemp, cashew, almond, and coconut are all popular replacement milks for those of us who find animal based milks off limits. You might find that you prefer one over the other or even one brand over another, so shop around and see what you like and what works best for your kitchen. Everyone’s preferences are going to be different.
     Just as all animal milk is off limits, so is all animal based cheeses. Remember how casein is a great coagulator and kind of sticky? Sadly, this is how cheeses come out so deliciously solid making it off limits for us, as well.
     There are many cheese alternatives available on the market today, but a good bit of them still contain casein, so this is where label reading skills come in especially important (you are reading those labels, right?). Some good brands that I look for include Daiya, HeidiHo, and Tofutti. They all look, act, and taste like the real thing. I’ve been away from cheese for a good bit now, but the spouse, who is a devoted dairy consumer, seems to enjoy them all the same. I’ve also heard good things about Follow Your Heart, and Teese Vegan Cheese. Check around your local grocers and see what they have. If you can’t find something for you, ask the manager to order a product for you. Chances are if you want it, someone else does too.
     Butter also falls into the same off-limit category as the above animal-based milks and cheeses. Anything that is made with animal milk needs to be avoided 100% to be sure of a fully casein free diet.
     There are several alternatives on the market that are very tasty and act just the same for cooking and baking. I’ve enjoyed using Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks and Spread for several years now and haven’t had any issues with it. I enjoy the flavor and the fact that I can bake and cook with it. Coconut oil is another popular alternative that many folks turn to. I’m not a huge fan because of the smell, but it’s wildly popular nonetheless. Country Crock might work for you, but it does contain whey and lactic acid in some of their varieties, so proceed with caution here. Check around your dairy isle and see what products they have for you.
     Ghee is the last category that I want to cover. Ghee is tricky. In theory, it should be safe for those of us with a casein allergy. Ghee, or clarified butter as it is sometimes referred to, is made by simmering pure butter until it separates into layers. The top layer is whey and becomes foamy and is removed during cooking with a spoon or other method. The very bottom layer is the milk solids where the casein resides. The middle section is the ghee. The ghee is very carefully poured off the solids and usually strained through a sieve or cheesecloth to ensure all solids are removed from the ghee. This process should leave the end result with no casein, but there is a high chance of cross contamination and left over solids, so this is where caution comes in. I still indulge in Indian food and most of the time I do not have any issues. Use your own judgment on this one.
     I hope this clears up any questions you might have regarding a casein free diet. Feel free to comment below or email me any additional questions you might have or issues you would like me to address.
- Patricia


  1. According to the Silk website, all of their soy milk are made with non GMO soy. They are also part of the non-GMO project.

  2. Thanks for updating me! I went searching for info on this and it seems that in September of 2010, one month after this was posted, they began using all GMO free beans. I know there were many customers that were shocked Silk had continued to use Monsanto beans and the company soon switched over after Monsanto became quite the unpopular company! Kudos to Silk for taking this step!

  3. Thank you for the research and information. I really appreciate that you took the time. I don't have a profile to list so will sign off as me, Denise

  4. Thank you so much for this information. My 10 year old daughter was recently diagnosed with aspbergers and I'm very grateful that you posted this. I have been reading how diet has been a big factor with autism and aspbergers and how it can help having a gluten free and casein free diet. I did not know where to start and your page was very easy to understand.

    A thousand thank you's.

  5. Thank you for this info! I'm partly new to the gluten free/milk free scene, got put on government assistance (food stamps) and can't afford "GOOD" food any more, and have increasingly gotten sick again because what I used to order online I can't with food stamps, and it's all junk food. I live in a small town too, not much for gluten, milk & soy free alternatives if you can't order over the internet. I also don't like/support the GMO stuff, I would LOVE it if they came out with an organic non-GMO soy free milk! I also don't have a profile so will sign off as me, Tina from northern Minnesota :)

  6. Milk can be very bad for some people but please DO NOT USE SOY products as a replacement (with exception of small amounts of fermented soy).

    1. When posting a comment that discourages something, please explain why you feel that way and what evidence supports your stance.

    2. Too much non fermented soy milk and/or almond milk can cause thyroid issues and/or reproductive issues because they have goiterogenic properties.

      Non fermented soy (soymilk, tofu, soynuts, soy protein isolates, and bean curd are bad for the following reasons. Only two glasses of soy milk a day can alter a woman's menstrual cycle. The phytoestrogens can cause infertility, aggravate tumors or even cause cancer. It can depress growth by inhibiting the absorption of iodine and depressing the metabolism. It also promotes kidney stones and increases the need for vitamin D. It contains high levels of aluminum which is toxic to the nervous system and kidneys. It us high in phytic acid which blocks the absorption of copper, iron, calcium, magnesium, and Zinc in the intestines. It contains a trypsin inhibitor which reduces the ability to digest protein, and causes pancreatic disorders which can stunt growth. The processing of the soy also creates MSG.

      Fermented soy (tempeh, misso, natto, soy sauce, and fermented soy milk) doesn't have the negative factors of non fermented soy and has added beneficial effects. It inhibits cancer and lessens the possibility of osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease.

      Almond milk has all the negative effects of the goiterogenic compounds (affecting the thyroid, fertility, etc.). It also inhibits the absorption of iodine and it's high in sugar.

      So using regular soymilk or almond milk on occasion likely won't hurt you, but using it regularly as a milk replacement could have some serious health effects.

      Personally I recommend either fortified rice milk or coconut milk. Rice milk doesn't have a distinctive taste either, so it is more similar tasting to milk than the others.

      The choice is yours. Feel free to do your own research.

      Good luck everyone!


    3. Add to those problems the rice milk issues: rice is typically very high in arsenic. Rice accumulates more arsenic than other food crops. In fact, it is the single biggest food source of inorganic arsenic, which is the more toxic form. Also, if the rice comes from China (or some other countries) will Have much Heavy metals like lead in it due to their pollution problems affecting the soil. American adults eating just one 200-gram serving (about a cup) of this rice could consume 10 times the amount of lead deemed safe by the Food and Drug Administration in a day. And infants and children consuming child-size portions could swallow 30 to 60 times more than their recommended daily limit.

  7. It seems to me that your information is incomplete because there are different forms of casein: that with the A1 protein (mutant cows) and the type with A2 protein (not generally available in Europe or USA because of the mutated dairy herds). However, goat's milk and sheep's milk is A2 casein. I've found that I am highly intolerant of A1 but I can eat A2 with no problem.

  8. Thanks for the comment, Clive. The information above is obviously incomplete and I would never expect a reader to assume it is complete - a full explanation for the gamut of casein-free milk and butter would be far too excessive for this format.
    While I have heard of the A1 - A2 caseins in the past, I was focusing here on casein-free products.



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