5 Day Packet-Free Challenge – Day 2: Dairy

Packet Free Lunchbox Challenge

DAY 2: 



Dairy is a bit of a grey area. It’s not universally well tolerated, and not right for everyone. Plenty of people feel much better without it. If you’re one of them: great! Eat some sardines and leafy greens to get your calcium, find another source of the good fat, and don’t worry about it.

On the other hand, if you do tolerate dairy well, studies have shown that consumption of dairy, especially full-fat dairy and fermented dairy products, can protect against metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease.

Regardless of where you sit on the dairy spectrum and what your views are as to it’s importance or otherwise, what can be agreed upon is that eating low fat dairy or dairy replacement foods (nut milk or coconut milk based foods for example) loaded with additives is not good.

Additives and preservatives are linked to a wide range of issues from behavioural problems, headaches, restless legs, hyperactivity, eczema, dermatitis, asthma, depression.

So today we’re going to look at options with dairy from ingredients to steer clear off to what makes a better product in this area.

Are you a label detective?

Become a label detective: Yes sorry but you really can’t rely on front of pack labelling as it can be so misleading – especially if you’re in NZ or Australia with the ridiculous Health Star Rating system.


Skim Milk, cream, sugar, water, thickener (1422, 1442), passionfruit juice (0.7%), halal gelatine, natural flavour, acidity regulator (330, 331), natural colour (carotene), preservative (202, minerals (iron, zinc), vitamins (B6, folate & D), live cultures (including L. acidopilus and B. lactis).



Pasteurised milk, salt, cultures, enzyme (non-animal rennet). Anti caking agent (460), preservative (200).
No added colours or flavours.



Skim milk – Skim milk is produced by forcing milk through tiny holes at high pressure, and then blowing it out into the air. This causes a lot of nitrates to form and the cholesterol in the milk is oxidised. Oxidised cholesterol contributes to the buildup of plaque in the arteries, to atherosclerosis.

Sugar – The World Health Organisation recommendations are for children to consume no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar a day (and this includes for fruit juice and syrups as well as sugar added to any product.) With yoghurt you do have approximately 1 tsp (4 grams) of sugar that’s naturally occurring but the remainder will be added sugar.

1422 & 1442 – These are stabilisers and thickeners which in isolation (but weirdly not in combination with other additives) are prohibited for food for infants and associated with digestive issues.

Passionfruit Juice – The World Health Organisation officially classifies fruit juice as an “free sugar” – essentially when you see juice being added to a product it’s being added as a sugar.

E202 – A preservative that’s mainly petroleum derived and has been associated with allergic reactions, asthma, hay fever, hyperactivity, skin irritation (eczema, dermatitis, itching, hives, rash etc.) and stomach upset. It’s prohibited in foods for infants.

Natural Flavour– Again opinions diverge on safety of natural flavours. But one thing is certain the flavours are not so natural as many consumers understand that term. MSG is a “natural flavor,” and so are other additives like castoreum (a vanilla flavour made from the anal sacs of beavers). Then again, “natural flavour” can be as simple as salt and pepper. Without calling the manufacturer of the food, there’s no way to actually tell what “natural flavour” is, so unless you’re willing to do some research, it’s a safer bet to avoid it.

In the cheese:

460 – Anti-caking agent – it’s not highlighted as being problematical per se but if you like me object to eating products with powdered wood pulp then you’ll want to avoid it. The processed food industry loves this stuff. It’s cheap. It helps stabilise food, lowers fat content, increases fibre. And yes we do eat cellulose when we eat plants of course but this additive is produced in a laboratory not grown in your garden!

200 – a preservative that has been linked to allergic reactions, asthma, hay fever, hyperactivity, skin irritation (eczema, dermatitis, itching, hives, rash etc.) and stomach upset and prohibited in foods for infants.


For yoghurts you’re looking for plain vanilla products with 2 ingredients – (organic) whole milk and a starter culture. If they have a flavour then it should be listed in words that you can understand – like raspberry and lemon.

Prefer yoghurts, cheeses and milk drinks that don’t use flavour enhancers, antioxidants, preservatives, colours, GMO or palm oil (unless noted to be sustainable palm oil).

Try to avoid industrial seed oils (hard to do this they’re everywhere in packet foods!) and added flavours.

Green Orange Red
Made with milk and culture.

Generally additive free.

May have added flavour but still all recognisable ingredients and lower sugar.

GMO free.

Gluten free

Moderate salt.



Generally additive free but has: thickener added (like tapioca starch).

Also consider whether has:


Natural Flavours?

Packaging – from both environmental standpoint & children’s use of product?

-see my FB live video on this topic in
relation to pouch yoghurts.

Many additives:

Flavour enhancers,

Thickeners (lab derived)







If you love dairy and dairy seems to love you then all good.

But you may consider going dairy free for a period to see how your children respond – this is particularly useful to consider doing if your children have asthma or and kinds of skin conditions. Coconut or nut milks/creams/yoghurts – make good alternatives and goats milk/cheese is apparently (and I’ve found) less likely to cause issues.


Go and look in your fridge and take a look at any dairy products you have and see if any of them have any additives. When you’re next our shopping for yoghurt, icecream, milks, creams, milk powders, cheese try to buy a brand that does not have the problematic additives.


Get into the kitchen and have a go making your own yoghurt or ice-cream or butter. Remember to share your pics with us on social media. Use the hashtags: #packetfreefebruary #domskitchen so we can find them.

There are a few companies are making products that avoid many or all of the most problematical ingredients. Check out the FB group today for more recommendations.

These are not blanket endorsements you need to check the backs of all packets as even from one company you can get very different products and companies vary their ingredients often.


Yoghurt & Milk/Cream – plain full fat dairy, nut or coconut yoghurt & avoid low fat + added sugar & additives. Add your own fresh fruit or make your own fresh fruit puree or even add your own sugar or honey or maple syrup – at least you know how much your adding and avoiding all the other additives. Remember with all creams including coconut – add water to cream to make your own “drinking milk” – easy!

Cheese – block of plain cheese – avoid grated or thin slice / individual cut with additives.

Make it yourself ideas – these are all dairy free but feel free to try with dairy too.

Yoghurt recipe – Homemade Coconut Yoghurt

Smoothie recipe – Chef Dom’s Clean Green Super Smoothie

Icecream recipe – so many variations of this – add or subtract the amount of liquid to make more smoothie or more icedream

Check out the FB group for a fun butter recipe!

(Experimental) Dairy free “cheese” – Zucchini Cheese (check this tonight there are some problems with the website right now.)


Make a note of these resources and see more in the FB group today.

My thoughts on Uno Yoghurt…

(P.S. This is an FB live Replay)

How was your day one? Got a question? Head over to the Dom’s Kitchen Challenge Chat Facebook group and add it today’s post or add your question at the comment section of this post. Feel free to email me with any questions you may have as well!

Don’t forget! Share your recipe creations or lunch boxes in the FB group here. Remember we have cool spot prizes.

Claire Deeks

Real Food Advocate For Families