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Shavuot for the Lactose Intolerant

April 29, 2010 | by Shoshana Freedman, RD LDN

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!


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