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Chantal Jura, Quebec, Canada
Photo: by Chantal Jura
Good nutrition means eating a well-balanced and varied diet of foods in as close to their natural state as possible.
Alternatives to cows’ milk
Whether you are lactose intolerant, allergic to cows’ milk proteins, vegan, or just do not enjoy the taste of cows’ milk, today’s grocery stores are flooded with alternatives to cows’ milk. Soy, rice and coconut milks can usually be found at the local grocery store, though, for other milk alternatives you may need to visit a specialist health food shop. Or better still, have a go at making your own.
Out of all the alternative milks available on sale, soy milk is probably the most popular, and for a good reason: only soy has comparable amounts of protein to cows’ milk. For every one-cup serving, soy milk ranges from 80–140 calories with 1–5 g fat, depending on whether it is regular or light.
Rice milk is primarily made from brown rice and is usually not sweetened, although flavored rice milks, such as vanilla or chocolate, are becoming more common. Unless it is enriched and fortified, rice milk is very high in carbohydrates and low in protein and nutrients. Those with a milk/soy intolerance or allergy or nut allergy may find this milk a useful alternative. Rice milk contains between 120–140 calories with 2–3g fat per a one-cup serving.
Almond or hazelnut milks are an excellent addition to coffee and smoothies. Almond milk is becoming easier to find at large commercial grocers, and is often enriched with vitamin D, calcium and other nutrients. Almonds are naturally high in vitamin E, an antioxidant that protects cells from damage caused by free radicals. Almond milk contains healthy fats, but not enough protein (only one gram per cup) to be a complete substitute for cows’ or soy milk. A one-cup serving of unsweetened almond milk has about 50–60 calories with 2–3 g fat; hazelnut milk has 110–120 calories and 3–5g fat.
A newer milk to the dairy-alternative category, coconut beverages are made from filtered water and coconut cream (the thick non- liquid layer that separates and rises to the top of coconut milk during processing). Some manufacturers add thickeners and emulsifiers to improve the texture. Coconut milk is low in protein but high in fat; one cup has about 5 grams. Coconut milk may still be a good alternative if you are allergic to dairy, soy, or nuts. It is low in calories (80–90 per serving, 5g fat) and out of all the milk alternatives, it has the most similar texture to cows’ milk.
Some newly popular options out there are oat and hemp milks. Both are relatively high in carbohydrate and a good alternative if you are allergic to dairy, soy, or nuts. Hemp milk is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which may be beneficial to your heart. Oat milk has a small amount of soluble fiber and may help lower LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol. Oat milk has 120–130 calories and 2–3 g fat; hemp milk has 100–140 calories and 5–6 g fat per serving.
Because plant-based beverages can be nutritionally incomplete, they are NOT a suitable substitute for breastmilk, formula, or cows’ milk for children under the age of two.
These are two of my favorites.
1 cup of hazelnuts
2 cups of filtered water 2-3 pitted Medjool dates
Place the hazelnuts in a large container, fill with water, cover loosely and leave to soak overnight.
Drain the water, rinse the hazelnuts, and place them in a high- powered blender. Add the dates. Pour water into the blender and blend on the highest speed until the nuts are completely broken down.
Place cheese cloth/nut bag over a colander and place on top of a large bowl. Pour the liquid over the cloth, then pull up on all ends to squeeze out as much liquid as possible.
Serve straightaway or store in the refrigerator until you are ready to use for up to five days. The milk might separate a bit while it sits, just give it a quick stir or shake and it is ready.
Vanilla Cinnamon Almond Milk
1 cup raw almonds
3 cups filtered water
3 pitted Medjool dates
1 tsp vanilla extract
Place almonds in a bowl and cover with water. Soak them overnight in the water.
Rinse and drain the almonds and place in a blender along with filtered water, pitted dates, and chopped vanilla bean.
Blend on highest speed for a minute or so.
Place a nut milk bag over a large bowl and slowly pour the almond milk mixture into the bag. Gently squeeze the bottom of the bag to release the milk.
Rinse out blender and pour the milk back in.Add the cinnamon and pinch of sea salt and blend on low to combine.
Pour in to a container to store in the fridge for up to five days.