Dairy-Free Easter Brunch

A dairy-free Easter celebration doesn't have to suck a Cadbury Creme egg!  With a few smart substitutions and easy supermarket swaps, you can put out a spread that will have ALL your guests going in for a second helping.  Hippity-hop this way for drool-worthy, dairy-free brunch inspiration.  

Easter is hands-down my favorite holiday.  There's no anxiety about the onslaught of the winter holiday season, no gift-giving, and if we're lucky, no snow.  My mom has been preparing the same meal for at least a decade - Bobby Flay's ancho-chile pork tenderloin with an orange sauce that makes everything better (my stepbrother tested it on Peeps - it's THAT addictive), garlic-smashed roasted potatoes, goat cheese and pear salad, and white peach sangria.  I can't wait for Sunday!

Last year's Easter was different.  I couldn't make it to my mom's and I was on a dairy elimination diet.  My daughter, exclusively breastfed at the time, was suspected of having a dairy allergy, and an elimination of dairy from my diet alleviated the unappetizing, stool-related symptoms.  If you've read any of my previous posts you know that I'm a dairy FIEND, so this was especially tough for me.  There's so much more to a dairy elimination than simply avoiding milk and cheese - check out the full list of ingredients that need to be avoided.  Needless to say I'm grateful my little one outgrew her dairy allergy.  But what I learned during this six month period is that, for the 4.5 million people who live dairy-free, it is entirely possible to enjoy your food, and enjoy your life - even at Easter.   

SAVORY EGG DISHES 

Quiche is an Easter brunch mainstay.  Whether crustless, filled with ham, or portioned out in muffin tins, a quiche is not a quiche without cheese, making it a no-no on the dairy-free brunch table.  The solution?  Opt for another egg-based favorite - Spanish tortilla (tortilla de patatas).  Eggs and potato are the main ingredients, but this omelet-style dish welcomes a variety of add-ins.  Spanish onion and chorizo are my favorite tortilla enhancers.  Roasted vegetables work well, too. 

Preparing a proper tortilla traditionally involves copious amounts of olive oil - a healthy monounsaturated fat.  However there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.  This recipe calls for steaming the potatoes prior to adding them to the tortilla.  I've also had good luck with baking the potato slices for a lighter tortilla.  

SWEET DISHES

Carrot cake, cheese cake, and the approximately nine million variations that combine the two are common Easter desserts.  Fruit-topped French toast and crepes are delightful, but often involve butter, and bundt cakes are now commonly made with yogurt.  Eeeeek!  What's a dairy-free guest to do?  

Smitten Kitchen's Blueberry Crumb Cake - dairy-free perfection with a few subs.  

Smitten Kitchen's Blueberry Crumb Cake - dairy-free perfection with a few subs.  

Full disclosure: Blueberry Crumb Cake doesn't exactly qualify as "health food."  What it DOES qualify as is 110% delicious - a tough feat when trying to pull off a recipe that calls for real butter.  The secret?  Earth Balance Vegan Buttery sticks.  Replace the whole milk with almond or cashew mylk, and prepare for a chorus of "oohs" and "aahs" at the table.  

Lemon Bars from Oatmeal With a Fork.  

Lemon Bars from Oatmeal With a Fork.  

If something less time-intensive is what you're after, tart and tangy lemon bars fit right in at a dairy-free Easter brunch.  What says spring louder than lemon?  Find my favorite recipes for lightened-up lemon bars here and here.    

VEGGIES

It's never a bad idea to have a salad on your Easter brunch table.  Cheese and dairy-based dressings are out, but that doesn't mean you can't offer a hint of creaminess!  Try massaging my Tahini and Lemon dressing into lacinato kale.  Toss with cubed avocado and roasted asparagus for an all-green salad that's easy on the eyes!  

Salad - author's own :)

Salad - author's own :)

Leave it to the domestic queen herself to drop major dairy-free inspiration with this dish, featuring a well-loved Easter favorite: fennel.  Check out Martha Stewart's recipe for Fennel and Smoked Salmon Salad - on the table in ten minutes.  It's an easy, healthful addition to your brunch table.  

AND FINALLY...

Easter isn't Easter without Jelly Bellys.  They're festive AND dairy free.  

My favorite flavor is Tutti Frutti.  What's yours?

My favorite flavor is Tutti Frutti.  What's yours?

Whether you're following a dairy-free meal plan or not, enjoy your food, enjoy your life!  Happy Easter!