Written by Larissa Stanley, a volunteer at Calgary Family Nutrition. For more information, you can see her bio here.

Nutrients that dairy provides

With children’s tiny tummies, they typically get a lot of important vitamins and nutrients from dairy products. The biggest of these are calcium, vitamin D, protein and fat.

  • Calcium and Vitamin D are very important for keeping your child’s bones and teeth strong and healthy.
  • Protein is responsible for building, repairing and maintaining the tissues in our bodies. This becomes extra important in children since they are growing so much.
  • Fat is important for overall health. It also contains a lot of calories for a small amount, which makes sure your child is getting the energy they need to grow.

While dairy products are often recommended as a source of calcium, there are still many ways to have a diet rich in vitamins and nutrients without them. For example, fluid milk can be replaced with a few different alternatives. Check the last blog post for what the alternatives provide.

Cooking dairy free

I want to share a delicious dairy-free meal with you that is still packed with protein, fat and calcium. The other night I planned to make salmon cakes from canned salmon as a quick meal before a sports practice. Canned salmon, with the bones in, is a really great source of both calcium, fat and protein. Thinking about this I thought I would try to jam pack the recipe with as many non-dairy sources of calcium as possible. Served with a side of rice or roasted potatoes and some veggies, you wouldn’t even think twice about this meal not containing any dairy.

For vegetables, I added some high-in-calcium kale into the cakes. I personally buy frozen kale as I find it easier to add to recipes, but you could also add fresh. I thought they turned out really well!

As for the lemon dill sauce, I tried a tahini sauce. Tahini is a sesame paste that is high in calcium and fat, much like nut butter in texture but made from sesame seeds. It can really help to add a creamy flavour into dressings and sauces that milk and creams typically add. I would recommend looking in the international aisle in the grocery store when buying tahini as I have noticed that it tends to cost less.

Salmon Cakes  (Modified from https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/9401/salmon-patties-i/)

Dairy Free Salmon Cakes

Calcium rich salmon cakes with added kale and tahini sauce

Salmon Cakes

  • 1 can Canned Salmon
  • 1/4 cup Diced onion
  • 1/2 cup Kale (thawed from frozen) (You can use fresh kale here, just increase to 1 cup)
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/2 cup Whole Wheat bread crumbs
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp Olive oil

Tahini Lemon Dill Sauce

  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp Fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup Tahini
  • 2 Tbsp Water
  • 1 Tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups Dill, fresh, packed with stems removed and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 tsp Salt

Salmon Cakes

  1. Drain the salmon and add onion, kale, egg, bread crumbs and garlic powder. Mix until combined. 

  2. Form into 4-5 patties with hands.
  3. Heat olive oil in a pan on medium-high heat. Place patties in pan and brown each side. Serve with vegetables and potatoes or rice. 

Tahini Lemon Dill Sauce

  1. Add all ingredients to a food processor or blender. If you are using dried dill you could likely just mix in a bowl. Serve with salmon patties, warm in a sauce pan if desired. To add a more traditional lemon dill flavour, you could add some Dijon mustard.  

If you are interested in other ways to make sure your child with a milk allergy is getting all the nutrients they need while still eating tasty food, consider booking an Allergy Consultation with Calgary Family Nutrition.