When I first started my food journey, one of the first things I encountered was milk alternatives. Soy milk? What do you mean there is other milk? was a common thought for me. Personally, I’ve never been a big milk fan. I’ve never just needed a glass of milk with dinner. Obviously, I know that it doesn’t really agree with me now so it makes sense but this idea of other milks as astonishing.
Initially, I started with the lactic free milks. I’d been drinking organic for so long that I honestly don’t remember what sparked the situation. Eventually, I added soy milk into the milk and then almond. So today, I want to spend some time talking about milk alternatives.
Soy milk is typically something we are most familiar with. More often than not, I find that soy is the diary free alternative available for coffee shops. Soy milk is made from soy beans and can provide essentially fatty acids. In opinion, I find the consistency of it to be thicker than other non-dairy milks. It also can be a bit more filling to drink than other options.
However, soy can be a bit more controversial. Too much can effect your hormone balance. It is also found in a lot of foods as fillers. Additionally, more and more people find they have a sensitivity or allergy to it. If you are choosing to use soy in your diet, I would strive to use non-gmo and to also be aware of how much you consume.
Almond milk is the next standard for most people. Personally, this is a staple for my house. It’s actually quite simple to make. However, I will admit that I tend to purchase mine in the story because I don’t use it daily. Flavored almond milk is quite common so I would suggest sticking with the unsweetened original for every day use. More often than not, I’ve found myself going to make a savory recipe with the vanilla almond milk in the fridge because I’ve just run out of original. If you plan to cook with it a bit, stick with the plain version.
Coconut milk is next up on the list. This one can be a bit trickier because there seem to be so many options. Canned coconut milk with full fat or light is great for Indian dishes, to thicken recipes or chilled and used to make coconut whipped cream. However, you can also purchase it in the carton in the fridge section. The consistency found in the carton version is more like that of almond milk where as the canned version tends to separate liquid from solid. Be sure to read the recipe carefully before purchasing.
Cashew milk is a recent favorite in my life as far as non-dairy milks go. One my best friends cannot stand almond milk. It has too much of a flavor for her but she finds cashew milk to be a smooth and not so strong alternative. Personally, I don’t see much difference but I bounce between the two.
And for the final alternative, the award goes to hemp seed milk. For those with allergies to soy or nuts, hemp is a great option. I don’t tend to see this as frequently in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. However, you can often find it amongst the pantry stored milks if you want to give it a go.
I will say that these are not all of the alternative milks out there. For example, brazil nut milk is an option I’ve seen. However, these are the ones I know you could get on hand at most grocery stores. If you’re interested in learning how to make your own, I’ll be putting a post up on that later next month.
Things of note with non-dairy milks:
Most options are offered sweetened or unsweetened. If you’re looking to save on calories or avoid the extra sugar found in regular milk. opt for the unsweetened versions. Also, be sure to know which your coffee shop uses and ask if they offer an unsweetened version. Many use the sweetened kind as their standard.
Despite being a healthier option, non-dairy milks can feature fillers that you aren’t even aware you need to pay attention to such as carrageenan. This chemical is often found as a thickening agent for non-dairy milks. It is known to cause chronic inflammation which is the base cause of many serious diseases.
I hope this has helped you learn a little bit more about alternative milks. I know that it can be super overwhelming at first but you’ll get there.
What is your favorite milk option? Leave me a note below and let me know.