By Amy Gorin, MS, RDN
Looking for vegan milk options? These non-dairy milk alternatives will hit home as the best dairy-free milk options and the best lactose-free milks out there. Try these tasty non-dairy products today!
While I love a glass of milk, I also think nut, seed, and grain milks are delicious and can be great additions to my meals, snacks, and recipes.
But with so many different dairy-free milk alternatives out there, choosing the right one can be challenging. Not every alternative milk features the same nutritional benefits, for starters. Don't worry! I'm about to clear up all the non-dairy milk confusion for you.
Why Drink Dairy-Free Milk?
If you asked a vegan eater or someone with lactose intolerance what they use to replace milk 20 years ago, there's a big chance you'd only get one answer: soy milk. But in 2020, coffee shops almost always have almond milk and oat milks on hand, in addition to standard soy.
And brand new non-dairy milks made from out of out-of-the-box ingredients are now showing up at the grocery store on a regular basis. Plus, you might be stocking up on those shelf-stable versions during the current coronavirus outbreak. These alternative milks aren't just for vegan eaters or folks who have lactose intolerance, folks.
With so many options on the market, how can you possibly decide which one to pour in your cereal or add to your smoothie?
In this blog post, I'm laying out all the facts on dozen non-dairy milks to help you decide which drink is best for you, including their nutritional benefits and their best uses. Let's get started!
Non-Dairy Milk Alternatives to Sip
Almond milk has become the go-to nondairy staple, with sales up 250% over the past five years, according to a Nielsen report. I drink quite a bit of unsweetened almond milk in my home!
Now, even more alternatives to cow's milk are crowding supermarket shelves.
Here, I'm covering three uniquely creamy varieties, plus tips from Jonathan Poyourow, RD, assistant professor of culinary nutrition at Johnson & Wales University. This info will help you find the alt milks that best suits your tastebuds.
All these alternative milks didn't come out of thin air. In fact, the rise of plant-based eating has played a huge role in creating dairy-free versions made from grains, nuts, and seeds. So out of the crowded field, which ones come out on top?
Here are a few to consider. Try them all, and you may find that your go-to pick depends on your individual taste and texture preferences–as well as what amount of protein, as well as vitamins and minerals, you're looking for.
1. Macadamia Milk
This nut milk is sweet on its own, with no need for added sugars and only 50 to 60 calories per serving. It’s typically fortified with several vitamins and provides about half your daily intake of vitamin B12, a vitamin critical to nerve and blood-cell health. To increase protein count, some milks contain ingredients beyond macadamia nuts and water, such as pea protein.
Curries and smoothies
Recipe to Try
Macadamia-milk berry smoothie: Combine 1 Tablespoon chia seeds and ½ cup macadamia milk in a cup; set aside 10 minutes. In a blender, process milk-chia mixture, ½ cup fresh berries, and 1 teaspoon honey until smooth.
2. Pistachio Milk
The nuttiest-tasting of the bunch, pistachio milk contains about 30 calories per serving and offers more fiber than many of its counterparts. It’s hard to find in stores, though, so consider blending your own.
Creamed vegetables and as stock in lentil soups
Recipe to Try
Creamy asparagus casserole recipe: Chop 16 asparagus spears into 2-inch pieces, then steam until just tender. In a bowl, mix 1¼ cups pistachio milk with 8 ounces softened light cream cheese. Stir in asparagus. Pour mixture onto a greased 1-quart baking dish; sprinkle with 1 cup seasoned breadcrumbs. Bake at 375° F until bubbly, about 25 minutes.
3. Cashew Milk
More buttery than nutty, cashew milk typically has between 25 and 40 calories per serving. But some brands are more concentrated, add sugar, and may contain up to 100 calories. The alt milk naturally has a small amount of iron and calcium.
Stirring into pancake and French toast batters
Recipe to Try
Old-fashioned pancakes: In a bowl, sift 1½ cups all-purpose flour with 3 ½ teaspoons baking powder, 1 Tablespoon sugar, and 1 teaspoon salt. Make a well in the center. Pour in 1¼ cups cashew milk, 1 egg, and 3 Tablespoons canola oil; mix until smooth. Heat an oiled pan over medium heat. Scoop ¼ cup batter into pan for each pancake; brown on both sides.
More Non-Dairy Milks to Try
Believe it or not, we haven't covered all of the alt-milks just yet! There's also hazelnut milk, coconut milk, oat milk, pea milk, hemp milk, and even banana milk.
In my article for Everyday Health, I give the low-down on how to make the most of additional non-dairy milks, from whipping up a latte to blending it into a smoothie. Can you guess which dairy alternatives are my go-tos?
How to Make Your Own Dairy-Free Milk
To yield about one cup of nut milk, simply rinse ¼ cup nuts (for a creamier milk, first soak them for 4 to 6 hours), blend with a cup of water, and strain through a cheesecloth.
For added flavor plus antioxidants, stir these mix-ins into one cup of nut milk.
If You Want Vanilla Milk...
Add ½ teaspoon vanilla extract.
If You Want Chocolate Milk...
Add 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder.
If You Want Spiced Milk...
Add ½ teaspoon nutmeg or cinnamon.
This blog post was updated in August 2020. A version of this content originally appeared in Yoga Journal.
- Nielsen report
- Jonathan Poyourow, RD, assistant professor of culinary nutrition at Johnson & Wales University
- 8 Healthy Plant-Based Milks That Are Making a Splash,
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I'd love to hear from you! What are your favorite nut milks? What do you consider the best lactose-free milk and the best vegan milk?
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