Approximately 75 percent of the world's population is lactose intolerant. Lactose is the predominant sugar found in milk products such as yogurt, milk and ice cream. Lactase, an enzyme produced in the small intestine, and is responsible for breaking down lactose so it can be absorbed into the bloodstream. People who are lactose intolerant either don't produce enough lactase or any at all. Without lactase, lactose remains undigested and can lead to uncomfortable symptoms which may include bloating, cramping and diarrhea. Thanks to new products on the market that contain the enzyme lactase, many people who are lactose intolerant can now enjoy foods that were once prohibited. Lactaid products have lactase added to them so products like cottage cheese and milk can be enjoyed without distress. In addition, these products are high in calcium, an important nutrient that can protect bone integrity and help stave off osteoporosis.

Below are some lactose-free recipes that everyone, lactose intolerant or not, will enjoy!

Oatmeal Blueberry Pancakes

Ingredients:

• 2 1/2 cups old fashioned oats

• 6 egg whites, beaten

• 1 cup nonfat vanilla soymilk

• 2 teaspoons oil (any kind will do)

• 1 teaspoon baking powder

• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

• 1 teaspoon cinnamon

• 1/2 cup natural unsweetened applesauce

• 1 cup blueberries

Directions: Blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor until fairly smooth. (Until you have a normal pancake mix consistency). Coat a skillet with nonfat cooking spray making sure the skillet is hot. Pour half a cup of the batter into the skillet and cook until firm, flipping occasionally.

12 Servings

Nutrition content Per Serving: 100 calories,16g carbohydrates,2g fiber,4 g protein, 2g fat,0g sat. Fat, 93 mg sodium.

Macaroni and Cheese

Ingredients:

• 1 cup low-fat soy milk

• 1 cup Lactaid low-fat cottage cheese

• 11/2 cups Veggie shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese

• 1/4 teaspoon salt

• 1/8 teaspoon pepper

• 1 pound multigrain elbow pasta

• 3 tablespoons whole wheat bread crumbs

Directions: Preheat oven to 400F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. In a saucepan, bring the milk to a boil. Lower the heat and stir in the cottage cheese, cheddar cheese, salt and pepper. Stir until the cheese is melted and keep warm. Cook pasta until tender, but firm. Drain pasta and return to its pot. Add the cheese sauce to the pasta and stir well to combine. Transfer the mixture to a baking dish or casserole and sprinkle the top with bread crumbs. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until bubbly and the top is golden. Serve immediately.

Serves 4

Nutritional Content Per Serving:411calories,50g carbohydrates, 5g fiber,28g protein,2g total fat,1g sat fat,126 mg sodium.

Cream of Vegetable Soup

Ingredients:

• 2 cups spinach

• 2 cups broccoli

• 2 cups mushrooms

• 2 cups cauliflower

• 2 cups peppers

• 1 cup onion, chopped

• 1 cup sliced celery

• 2 cloves garlic, minced

• 4 cups chicken broth

• 1 1/2 cups of low-fat soy milk

• 1 teaspoon dried oregano

• 1 teaspoon dried basil

• 1/4 teaspoon salt

• 1/4 teaspoon pepper

• Veggie Soy Parmesan Cheese

Directions: Heat a large stockpot over high heat. Spray with cooking spray. Add the onion and saute for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for 2 minutes more. Add the spinach, broccoli, mushrooms, cauliflower, peppers, chicken broth and spices. Season with salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil and then simmer for 15 minutes. Add the low-fat soy milk to the pot and puree the vegetables. Continue pureeing until the soup is at the consistency you like. Serve and top with grated Parmesan cheese.

Serves 8

Nutrition Content Per Serving: 110calories, 15g carbohydrate,6g fiber, 6g protein, 4g fat,1g sat. fat, 800mg sodium

Tanya Zuckerbrot, MS, RD is a nutritionist and founder of Skinnyandthecity.com. She is also the creator of The F-Factor DietaC/, an innovative nutritional program she has used for more than ten years to provide hundreds of her clients with all the tools they need to achieve easy weight loss and maintenance, improved health and well-being. For more information log onto www.FFactorDiet.com.

Tanya Zuckerbrot MS, RD, is a Registered Dietitian in New York City and the author of two bestselling diet books: The F-Factor Diet and The Miracle Carb Diet: Make Calories and Fat Disappear – with Fiber.

Subscribe to Tanya’s FREE Weekly Newsletter and follow her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. To learn more about Tanya’s private nutrition counseling services visit www.ffactor.com.