Sour cream may be used as a topping and as an ingredient in baked products. Though it is a popular item, there are few people who are either allergic to it or possess intolerance to it. There are some good substitutes to sour cream which can be used by such people.

Sour cream is made by adding lactic acid bacteria to fatty portion of whole milk. The sugars in the cream is converted into lactose (by the bacteria) while lactic acid is generated as a byproduct. Owing to allergies such as lactose intolerance, some people do not add sour cream to their diet. There are also people who may need to avoid eating sour cream due to preference to vegan diet (which is devoid of foods derived from animals), health related factors (mainly for hormonal and skin health) or for losing weight (this is because sour cream is high on fats; this does not go well with people who are aiming to shed weight).

For such people, there are a handful of substitutes to choose from. These are grouped as non-dairy substitutes as well as dairy based alternatives. The substitutes that are non-dairy based include:

1. Cashews: These nuts are known for their high level of fat content. It makes them a great alternative for sour cream. As an added benefit, cashews also possess a high percentage of proteins. However, cashews may not be an ideal substitute for sour cream for baking proposes. It is widely used as an alternative in soups and toppings.

2. Soy: This is a strikingly similar identical to sour cream and hence is a great substitute. On the count of calories, an ounce of soy has 57 calories as against 54 in sour cream. On the fattiness front also, the similarities are striking; fat content of sour cream is 6 grams in an ounce and soy’s fat content is 5 grams. Soy-based substitute can be made quite easily by adding apple cider vinegar, salt and lemon extract to tofu.

3. Coconut milk: This is a plant-based alternative for sour cream. It is good for people with lactose intolerance as well as those following a vegan diet. It is milk made from grated coconut. This is a popular ingredient in Asian as well as Caribbean cuisines. It is made by skimming the top layer of coconut milk and mixing it with salt, lemon water and apple cider vinegar.

4. Hummus: It is made out of chickpeas and a paste made from sesame seeds. It is widely used in middle-eastern as well as Mediterranean cuisine. It is used as a filling (especially for sandwiches) as well as a dressing item.

5. Guacamole: This is made from avocados; a natural produce rich in monounsaturated fats and antioxidants. Vitamin E is also found in abundance in avocados. This natural food is blended with lemon extracts, onions and pepper. It is low on fat – constituting only about 3 grams of fats. It is used best to dress foods such as salads and nachos.

6. Black beans: Blended with onions, tomatoes and garlic, puree of black beans can make a great dip. It has a low level of fat content – at only 2 grams in a standard serving – which makes it a preferred dip for people wanting to shed weight.

7. Baba Ghanouj: This is made out of eggplant instead of chickpea; else, all its ingredients are similar to hummus. It is widely popular in middle-eastern cuisine. People add cilantro, garlic and sliced onions to it to enhance its taste. It is used as a dip for nachos and also as a dressing for salads.

The alternatives that are sourced out dairy products include

8. Cottage cheese: The key benefit is the low level of fat content and a higher percentage of proteins in this substitute. Equal servings (about 110 grams) of sour cream and cottage cheese are found to have 222 calories (in sour cream) as against 110 calories (in cottage cheese). On the fat content, cottage cheese has 12.5 grams of protein (in 110 grams) as compared to a meagre 2.5 grams of proteins in sour cream.

9. Buttermilk: This is a residual fluid of the butter making process. Lactic acid bacteria work on the liquid to form buttermilk. It is widely used in south-east Asian cuisine. It is quite flexible as an ingredient and can be used in dressings as well as for baking purposes.

10. Greek yoghurt: It is a great alternative with lesser calories and higher percentage of proteins than sour cream. It also has a lower proportion of fats. In actual value terms, an ounce of Greek yoghurt has 37 calories, 2 grams of proteins and 3 grams of fat; corresponding count for source cream are 55 calories, 1 gram of protein and 6 grams of fats.

11. Kefir: It is a version of fermented milk and is very similar in properties to buttermilk. You can make it at home by mixing milk and cottage cheese with a few drops of lemon extracts. The lemon juices lend a sour taste making it taste much like sour cream. It is high on probiotics and hence has capabilities to boost the health of your digestive system. The main benefit is its very low fat content; which is only 0.3 grams in each serving.

12. Crème fraiche: It is made with fatty cream and a bacterial culture blended to it. This blending lends it a rich texture, almost similar to cheese. As it is very liberal on the fat content, those interested in shedding extra pounds of body weight are advised to stay away from it. On value terms, an ounce of sour cream contains half the fats crème fraiche contains. However, crème fraiche is high on calorific value and due to this it can be boiled without worries about it getting separated.

13. Quark cheese: It is widely used in Europe. Its creamy texture makes it a great alternative to sour cream. Though it is rich in fats, it does come in non-fat as well as less fatty variants.

These substitutes ensure that you need not have to compromise on taste when you need to exclude sour cream from your diet. However, based on the fat content and calories in each of these substitutes you may choose the one that fits best with your dietary goals.

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