When I first found out about my daughter MT’s milk allergy, I thought margarine would be a viable dairy-free butter substitute. But, upon reading every margarine ingredient label in the store, I found that most margarines contain whey.
A search of the web for dairy-free butter substitutes revealed a handful of options. Some are not available anymore (i.e. Nucoa Margarine and Shedd’s Willow Run Soybean Margarine) but we’ve found and used two brands consistently over the past five years: Earth Balance and Smart Balance.
Earth Balance. We love Earth Balance buttery spreads. They have great flavor and texture. They also work well as a butter substitute in cooking, baking (with the exception of Earth Balance Organic Whipped and Earth Balance With Olive Oil) and spreading. In addition, I know that any of the five Earth Balance spreads will work with my daughter’s dairy and egg allergies. All Earth Balance spreads are vegan, gluten-free, casein-free, lactose-free, and non-GMO. One variety is even soy-free.
Earth Balance counts the food allergy community among their major consumers. They dedicate a page to allergy awareness as well as one to detailing which Earth Balance products are safe for which top 8 allergy.
Earth Balance buttery spreads are relatively easy to find. Most recently, I’ve found huge tubs of organic Earth Balance (whipped?) at Costco. I also buy it at my local Safeway, Nob Hill, and Whole Foods Market.
As always read every label to make sure the product will work for your food allergy or intolerance. No cross-contamination or manufacturing information appears on the ingredient label, so those with severe allergies or intolerance may want to contact the manufacturer for this information. The same goes for Smart Balance spreads (below).
Smart Balance. We are also fans of Smart Balance spreads. However, we are careful when purchasing Smart Balance because many of their spreads are not dairy free. Some contain whey, and others contain lactic acid. It is questionable whether lactic acid should be of concern to those with a dairy allergy — this is a great topic to discuss your doctor.
Smart Balance buttery spreads have a buttery flavor and soften quickly at room temperature, making them great for spreading. We use Smart Balance interchangeably with Earth Balance on toast and bread.
While the Smart Balance web site lists six of its spreads as dairy/lactose free, we’ve only used Smart Balance Light Buttery Spread with Flaxseed (states Vegan on the label). I have to admit that the use of Non-Dairy (v. Dairy Free) on the ingredient label makes me nervous.
We purchase our Smart Balance Light Buttery Spread with Flaxseed at our local Lucky Supermarket.
Below is a table detailing the uses for Earth Balance and Smart Balance Buttery Spreads for easy comparison.
|Earth Balance Original Buttery Spread|
|Earth Balance with Olive Oil|
|Earth Balance Soy Free|
|Earth Balance Soy Garden|
|Earth Balance Organic Whipped|
|Smart Balance Light with Flaxseed|
|Smart Balance Organic|
Have you tried Earth Balance or Smart Balance spreads? What has been your experience with dairy-free buttery substitutes?