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If You're Going Dairy-Free, Be Careful When Buying Dips

dips in case at store
dips in case at store - Johanna Svennberg/Getty Images

Whether you're living with lactose intolerance or a dairy allergy or transitioning to a vegan lifestyle, one food category that should elicit careful label-reading for hidden dairy is store-bought dips. That's because dips, in general, are a tricky territory to navigate when you don't eat dairy. Sure, you have the obvious culprits in buffalo chicken dip, queso dip, spinach artichoke dip, or French onion dip. All of these old standards are rich with dairy or dairy byproducts.

But other, more innocuous dips (think green goddess dressing) may have hidden sources of dairy like yogurt or sour cream. That's why it is essential to scrutinize the ingredient list for any potential dairy derivatives and not be swayed by marketing verbiage like "dairy-free." The only labels or logos that can be trusted are those that come from actual certified labeling bodies, such as the Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA) or Certified Vegan.

Read more: 13 Canned Foods You Should Avoid At The Grocery Store

Certified Labeling Gives Consumers Peace Of Mind

vegan stamp
vegan stamp - Olivier Le Moal/Getty Images

To ensure you're truly getting a dairy-free option, it's crucial to thoroughly read labels and look for certifications like "Certified Vegan." "PBFA and Certified Vegan review the manufacturing process and validate whether the end product complies with specific standards," Micheline D. Cormier, RDN, LDN, a culinary systems specialist in Maryland, tells Today's Dietician. "When the manufacturer meets the standards, they can certify their products and use the appropriate seal or logo on the packaging. As a result, concerned consumers can trust that they know what they're buying."

There are two other good rules of thumb to remember when shopping for a dairy-free dip. First, ignore any claims on the front of the packaging since it's simply marketing language seeking to grab your attention. Second, when reading the ingredient list, look for the allergen statement, which must by law disclose whether the product contains milk, eggs, or other allergens like wheat or soy.

Deliciously Dairy-Free Dips To Try

fresh guacamole in a bowl
fresh guacamole in a bowl - Candice Bell/Shutterstock

If you're looking to enjoy dips without dairy, there are plenty of delicious options to explore; add these to your shopping list or whip them up at home. One of the most popular dairy-free dip choices is guacamole, made from mashed avocados, tomatoes, onions, lime juice, and spices. A delicious creamy hummus is another great dairy-free option. This savory spread is made from blended chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, garlic, and lemon juice and pairs well with veggies or pita bread.

Salsa or bean dip are other easy go-to's, or if you're looking for some Middle Eastern flavors, you can try baba ganoush. Made from roasted eggplant, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil, this spread has a rich and smoky flavor that's perfect for dipping bread or veggies.

There are also plenty of readily available dairy substitutes that can serve as ingredient replacements. Coconut milk, cashew cream, vegan sour cream or cheese, or even silken tofu can help dairy-free dippers enjoy those old standards we love so much.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.