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Shavuot for the Lactose Intolerant

Shavuot for the Lactose Intolerant

Some dairy Shavuot recipes even the lactose intolerant will enjoy!


Dairy foods are the traditional menu items on Shavuot. Yet many people in our community are lactose intolerant. Here are some dairy Shavuot recipes that even the lactose intolerant may be able to enjoy!

Portobello Personal Pizza Pies

The amount of lactose that can be tolerated varies from person to person. Hard cheeses, especially aged cheeses like cheddar or Swiss, are naturally very low in lactose and can usually be eaten.


4 large, whole portobello mushrooms, cleaned
1 c marinara sauce, or to taste
6 oz (400g) shredded hard cheese, or to taste
Italian seasoning
Toppings (optional)


Spoon 1/4 c of sauce onto the porous side of each mushroom. The cup of the mushroom should hold the sauce nicely. Top with cheese and your favorite pizza toppings. Sprinkle Italian seasoning. Bake at 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) until the cheese has melted. Serve fresh, if possible.

Yogurt Fruit Appetizer

The lactose in fermented dairy products like yogurt has already been partially broken down and often does not cause problems. Eating yogurt with live, active cultures has actually been found to alleviate lactose intolerance by populating the small intestine with helpful bacteria that digest lactose properly. (Sorry, frozen yogurt won’t help in this regard at all).


1 lb (1/2 kg) frozen strawberries
1 tsp vanilla extract
2-3 tsp sugar
1/2 cup canned pineapple chunks with juice
6 fl oz (3/4 cup) container vanilla or plain yogurt
1/2 cup orange juice


Blend till smooth. Freeze. Remove from freezer a little while before serving so that the consistency will be partially liquid and partially frozen. Serve in bowl or fluted glass.

Greek Salad

Feta cheese, cottage cheese, farmer cheese, sour cream, and cream cheese seem to be medium-lactose products that can often be eaten in small amounts.



1 head of romaine lettuce, chopped
¼ cup pitted green or black olives
½ small red onion, sliced thinly
2-3 ounces (100-200g) of feta cheese, crumbled
Grape tomatoes, optional


¼ tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil


Toss vegetables, cheese, and spices. Add oil and re-toss. Serve immediately.

Cheesy Baked Ziti with Less Cheese

This recipe combines several low-lactose strategies to create a traditionally high-lactose dish. Butter, like hard cheese, is very low in lactose and can usually be eaten by even sensitive individuals. Those who are not terribly sensitive can choose healthier alternatives to butter because of the small amounts used in the recipe - most of the cheesiness comes from the milk and flour roux. The average lactose intolerant person can use Lactaid (lactose-reduced or lactose-free) milk, which is simply regular milk with lactase enzyme added to it. If you can discern the slightly sweet taste of the Lactaid milk even through this savory dish, you might want to restrict it to sweeter foods such as pancakes. Some individuals who are sensitive to only large amounts of lactose will be able to tolerate regular milk in this recipe, since cooking the milk makes it easier to digest.


One pound (500g) whole wheat or regular noodles (For Shavuot I use ditallini for a slightly less casual look)
Marinara or tomato sauce
1 ½ cups milk (Lactaid or regular)
3 Tbsp flour
3 Tbsp butter or 4 Tbsp low-fat sour cream or Israeli white cheese (“gevina levana”)
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
½ tsp paprika
3 slices American cheese or 4 slices Israeli yellow cheese (“gvinat Yerushalayim”)


Pour sauce and cooked, drained noodles into a typical baking pan such as a 9x13 inch pan. Mix together. Boil the milk and flour together. (Use the same pot you used for the noodles to save on clean-up time.) Mixing more or less continuously, add the butter/sour cream/gevina levana and the spices. Pour the cheese sauce over the pan of noodles (no need to mix in). Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius) for 30-45 minutes (not strictly necessary).

Dairy-Free Cheesecake

If none of the above ideas help, try taking an over-the-counter lactase pill. Your personal dosage depends on how much lactose you plan to eat and how much lactase enzyme your body still produces, so it may take some trial and error to find the right amount. Be sure to take the capsule with your first bite of food. If all else fails and you are one of those few who cannot tolerate any dairy at all, this is the cheesecake for you. Take special care to get enough calcium and vitamin D in your diet!


Pie crust: (To save time, you can replace this with a bought graham cracker pie crust.)
3 cups finely crushed tea biscuits or cinnamon graham crackers (about 250 g)
5 Tbsp canola oil
7 1/2 Tbsp lukewarm water

Filling: (from Crowning Elegance)

6 oz (170g) soy cream cheese, such as Tofutti
12 oz (350g) soy sour cream, such as Tofutti
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup sugar, divided
4 eggs, separated
1 Tbsp fresh-grated lemon rind
½ tsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp flour


Stir oil and water evenly into the crumbs and knead together. Use your fingers or the back of a spoon to press the mixture evenly onto the bottom and sides of two 9” pie plates. Refrigerate while preparing filling. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Beat cream cheese on high speed using a flat beater until smooth. Add sour cream, then vanilla, ¾ c sugar, egg yolks, lemon rind, lemon juice, and flour. Whisk egg whites in a clean, dry bowl until soft peaks form. Add rest of the sugar and continue to whisk until peaks are stiff. Fold into the rest of the filling mixture. Fill pie crusts with the mixture. You will have some extra filling. Place pan of water on the lower rack of the oven and pie crusts on the upper rack. Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes. Turn off the oven and open the door a little. Wait 30 minutes before removing the cheesecakes. (This prevents the filling from cracking). Wrap very well to store. Does not refrigerate well for more than 3-4 days.

Have a happy and healthy holiday!

May 1, 2010

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Visitor Comments: 12

(12) Avi, December 10, 2015 4:30 AM

We have a kosher dairy free cheesecake

For anybody that needs a kosher dairy free cheesecake. We ship throughout the United States for Shavuos. We have certification from the Vaad of Buffalo. Our website is . Chag Sameach!

(11) Teresa, October 10, 2010 3:38 PM

Cheese use is OK if mature cheese

I am Peruvian, was searching for recipes I am a registered dietitian in my country which has 1/3 of the population with LI. Made a research and if you see chemical content of food you can find out which is lower and free of Lactose. You can see it at usda database and most of matured cheeses have almost nothing or nothing because it was "used" by bacteria in the process of maturation and it depends on how serious is your LI there are different degrees, some tolerate yogurt some not. Cheers and regards Shani

(10) Anonymous, May 18, 2010 1:34 PM

These are not dairy free!

I was hoping for some truely dairy free recipes and these were so disappointing.

(9) Shani Freedman, May 9, 2010 6:39 AM

LI misconceptions

Thanks everyone for your comments. There seem to be some misconceptions about LI that I’m glad I can clarify. LI is an inability for the small intestine to break down lactose (milk sugar) efficiently due to a deficiency of lactase enzyme. Unlike an allergy, it has nothing to do with the immune system. Eating a small amount of lactose - just enough to gain enjoyment but not enough to bring discomfort - or using the lactase enzyme pill, will not harm your health in any way, neither in the short term nor in the long term. Though there are some lactose intolerant individuals who cannot tolerate any lactose at all (some cannot even handle the tiny amounts of lactose that are in many medications), the vast majority of LI sufferers can tolerate a certain amount of lactose. Studies have shown that on average, the LI sufferer can tolerate 3 grams of lactose with each meal, though it varies from person to person. Butter has less than 1g per standard serving, hard cheese has about 1g, yogurt has about 3-4 per serving, etc. Goat and sheep products have the same amount of lactose as their cow correlates, but in a form that it is slightly more digestible. Many people with LI do not realize that there are differences in lactose content and digestibility between dairy foods and assume they need to be completely dairy-free. If you prefer dairy-free, that is fine, and with a little extra attention to the diet it can be perfectly healthy, but I believe there are many people who would feel liberated to learn that with a little education a dairy-free diet is unnecessary. (Depending on the rest of your diet, including small amounts of dairy is actually beneficial, as dairy products are rich in nutrients).

(8) Anonymous, May 5, 2010 5:33 AM

macademia RAW Food vegan cheesecake

Raw Vegan Cheesecake makes one cheesecake 2 cups macadamia nuts ½ cup pitted medjool dates ¼ cup dried coconut (I used unsweetened) 1½ cups cashews 6 Tbl coconut oil (melted to a liquid) ¼ cup raw agave nectar Seeds from 1 vanilla bean ¼ cup lime juice (or replace with other liquid) Place macadamia nuts and cashews in two separate bowls. Cover each with cold water and soak for 4 hours. Rinse, drain, set aside. Pulse the macadamia nuts and dates in the food processor to a sticky, crumb-like consistency. Sprinkle dried coconut on the bottom of an 8” pie plate. Press macadamia nut mixture onto it, to form a crust. Place cashews, agave nectar, coconut oil, 6 tbs water, and lime juice in the food processor. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean into the food processor. Puree until smooth and then pour onto crust. Freeze 1 to 2 hours, or until firm. Slice while frozen, but defrost on counter or in the fridge. Top with berries and enjoy! NOTE: The innards came about ½ inch from the top of the shell. If you want solely a cheesecake without a fruit or other topping, I’d recommend upping all of the inside ingredients by about 33% (i.e.- 2 cups cashews as the base, pull out your algebra skillz for the rest). Blueberry Sauce makes 1½ to 2 cups 2 cups blueberries 1 cup water ½ cup sugar ¼ tsp salt 2 Tbl cornstarch 4 Tbl water 1 Tbl butter substitute (I used coconut oil due to my friend’s allergies) Combine the blueberries, water, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil and simmer gently for 15 minutes. While simmering, mash the berries slightly with a potato masher. Mix the cornstarch into water. With the blueberries still simmering, slowly stir in the cornstarch mixture. Continue to stir for at least two minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter. This topping will likely work with other fruit besides blueberries – such as strawberries, raspberries, yourmomberries, et cetera…

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