Cow’s milk is considered a staple in many people’s diets and homes. It is consumed as a beverage, poured on cereal and added to smoothies, tea or coffee. While it is a popular choice for many, some people can’t or choose not to drink milk due to personal preferences, dietary restrictions, allergies or intolerances.
In my opinion, human bodies were not physiologically designed to digest milk or milk products. Where I find a lot of people ‘get stuck’ is with this idea that milk is the only place where we can get our calcium from, when in fact, dark leafy greens are a huge source of calcium. Harvard Health conducted a study on this very issue. To see their findings, click here: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/calcium-and-milk/calcium-full-story/#calcium-from-milk
Cow’s milk, although it’s rich in high-quality protein and important vitamins and minerals, like calcium and phosphorus it’s often not a suitable option for everyone. There are several reasons you might be looking for an alternative, including: Milk allergies, Lactose intolerance, dietary restrictions or health risks.
Fortunately, if you’re looking to avoid cow’s milk, there are plenty of non-dairy alternatives available:
Soy milk is made with either soybeans or soy protein isolate, and often contains thickeners and vegetable oils to improve taste and consistency. In terms of nutrition, soy milk is a close non-dairy substitute for cow’s milk. It contains a similar amount of protein, but around half the number of calories, fats and carbohydrates.
It is also one of the few plant-based sources of high-quality “complete” protein, which provides all the essential amino acids. These are the amino acids that cannot be produced by the body and must be obtained from the diet.
On the other hand, soy has become one of the world’s most controversial foods, and people are often concerned over its effects in the body.
This is mostly because of the large amounts of isoflavones in soy. These can affect estrogen receptors in the body and affect the function of hormones.
While this topic is widely debated, there is no conclusive evidence to suggest that moderate amounts of soy or soy milk will cause harm in otherwise healthy adults.
Almond milk is made with either whole almonds or almond butter and water. It has a light texture and a slightly sweet and nutty flavor. It can be added to coffee and tea, mixed in smoothies and used as a substitute for cow’s milk in desserts and baked goods.
Compared to cow’s milk, it contains less than a quarter of the calories and less than half the fat. It is also significantly lower in protein and carbohydrates.
It is one of the lowest-calorie non-dairy milks available and is a great option for those wanting or needing to lower the number of calories they’re consuming.
My favourite… is made from water and the white flesh of brown coconuts. It is sold in cartons alongside milk and is a more diluted version of the type of coconut milk commonly used in Southeast Asian and Indian cuisines, which is usually sold in cans. Coconut milk has a creamy texture and a sweet but subtle coconut flavor.
Coconut milk contains one-third the calories of cow’s milk, half the fat and significantly less protein and carbohydrates.
In fact, coconut milk has the lowest protein and carbohydrate content of the non-dairy milks. It may not be the best option for those with increased protein requirements, but it would suit those looking to reduce their carb intake.
In its simplest form, oat milk is made from a mixture of oats and water. Oat milk is naturally sweet and mild in flavor. It can be used in cooking in the same way as cow’s milk, and tastes great with cereal or in smoothies.
Oat milk contains a similar number of calories to cow’s milk, up to double the number of carbohydrates and about half the amount of protein and fat.
Rice milk is made from milled white or brown rice and water. As with other non-dairy milks, it often contains thickeners to improve texture and taste. Rice milk is the least allergenic of the non-dairy milks. This makes it a safe option for those with intolerances to dairy, gluten, soy or nuts.
Rice milk is mild in taste and naturally sweet in flavor. It has a slightly watery consistency and is great to drink on its own as well as in smoothies, in desserts and with oatmeal.
Rice milk contains a similar number of calories to cow’s milk, but almost double the carbohydrates. It also contains considerably less protein and fat.
Cashew milk is made from a mixture of cashew nuts or cashew butter and water. It is rich and creamy and has a sweet and subtle nutty flavor. It’s great for thickening smoothies, as a creamer in coffee and as a substitute for cow’s milk in desserts.
As with most nut-based milks, the nut pulp is strained from the milk. This means the fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals from the whole cashew are lost.
Cashew milk contains fewer than one third of the calories of cow’s milk, half the fat and significantly less protein and carbohydrates.
Quinoa milk is made from water and quinoa. It is very nutritious, gluten-free and rich in high-quality protein.While quinoa has become a very popular “superfood” over recent years, quinoa milk is fairly new to the market. For this reason, it is slightly more expensive than other non-dairy milks and can be a little harder to find on supermarket shelves. But it’s quite easy to make your own.
Quinoa milk is slightly sweet and nutty and has a distinct quinoa flavor. It works best poured onto cereal and in warm porridge. Quinoa milk contains a similar number of carbohydrates to cow’s milk, but fewer than half the calories. It also contains significantly less fat and protein.
Alternatives to dairy beverages are endless and most can be found in traditional grocery stores. You just need to be willing to put a little time and effort into finding them. What are some of your favourite non-dairy beverages? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org !