March 22nd, 2011

Got Milk? Try These 4 Dairy Free Options

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milk alternatives

Mooove over cow milk, there are some new (and not so new) milk choices in town. Many people are opting for dairy free milk alternatives and fortunately there are some great options out there.  With just as much calcium and vitamins in milk alternatives, there are a variety of reasons for steering clear of dairy.

Why Stay Away From Dairy

  • Allergy or intolerance to dairy.
  • Dairy can cause excess mucus.
  • Cows are given steroids and other hormones to plump them up and increase milk production-if you’re not drinking organic milk these toxins could be passed on to you in a glass of milk.
  • The pasteurization process removes vitamins, proteins and enzymes while killing potentially harmful bacteria.

Milk Alternatives

Rice Milk

Rice milk is a staple in our home. We stopped drinking cow’s milk when two of our children were diagnosed with seasonal and food allergies.  We’re not completely dairy free-the kids still eat dairy filled cheese, yogurt and ice cream (I’m in on this one too). It is generally organic, enriched with vitamins and calcium and has no added sugars.

Nut Milks

Almond milk seems to be the most common nut milk-found on many store shelves.   Occasionally I spy hazelnut and cashew milk.  These are all great alternatives to dairy (provided there is no concern of a nut allergy. CAUTION: Most nut milks have added sugars unless they are labeled unsweetened. Opt for the organic nut milks to avoid any pesticides and other toxins.

Soy Milk

Careful with this one-there is sugar added to most soy milk (Silk has all natural evaporated cane juice). Soy milk does have lots of protein and calcium.   If your soy milk isn’t organic there is a good chance that the soy has been genetically modified. The Silk soy milk label also contains an allergen warning “may contain almond, coconut” so be careful if there is a nut allergy (or soy allergy). I don’t like the taste of soy milk, but your taste buds may have a different opinion.

Hemp Milk

Hemp Milk is made from hemp seeds that are soaked and ground into water which turns into a creamy, nutty drink. It is made from the same plant used to make marijuana. Don’t get excited-the seeds don’t contain any THC delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive component of marijuana. Hemp milk also contains 10 essential amino acids, making it a good vegetarian source of protein. It is a bit thicker than soy milk and rice milk.

Whether you’re drinking cow’s milk or a milk alternative, always try to drink organic milk produced without synthetic chemicals, hormones or antibiotics.

What type of milk do you drink? Have you tried any milk alternatives?

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[Top photo used under Creative Commons from James Lee/Flickr]

[Rice Milk photo used under Creative Commons from Andrea_44/Flickr]

24 Responses to “Got Milk? Try These 4 Dairy Free Options”

  1. Thanks for the info on milk alternatives. Oh, another reason to steer clear of dairy: it’s hugely resource-intensive and polluting!

    My question is about baking with milk alternatives. What do I need to know if I replace dairy milk with soy milk?

  2. About once a month, we’ll spring for a quart of organic, local, free range whole milk that comes in the cool glass bottle that you bring back to the store. The rest of the time, I make my own almond milk. It’s actually very easy (soak almonds overnight, blend with water, a vanilla bean, and honey, agave, or some other sweetener), and while it doesn’t provide all the vitamins that fortified processed ones do, it also doesn’t have all the sugar and chemicals. I’ve had good results using it instead of milk in porridge, sauces, baked goods, and pudding. Coconut milk is also a great substitute for cream, though it’s high in saturated fat.

    Andrea, I haven’t baked extensively with milk alternatives, but I think it’s pretty much a 1:1 substitution. Try to use unsweetened to avoid throwing off the sugar proportions.

  3. I, myself, am highly partial to Straus’ organic cream-top (non-homegenized) milk, but I”ll use soy milk in baking sometimes. My sister is allergic to dairy and drinks hemp milk. My vegan sister’s family drinks lots and lots of soy milk. I don’t think I’ve ever tried rice milk, although I’ve tasted some of their desserts (via the dairy-free sisters).

  4. Great point Andrea-dairy is resource intensive. I bake all the time with rice milk, not sure about soy milk. I use a 1:1 ratio. I agree with Jennifer-unsweetened is your best bet.

  5. Jennifer I love your recipe for homemade almond milk. My son just began eating almonds after having a nut allergy for 9 years (more on that to come in a future blog post!) so I would love to give almond milk a try. Have you tried raw milk?

  6. Hi Betsy-I have never tried Straus’ organic milk. Where do you find it? We are rice milk drinkers and use it for baking too. One of my sons has a soy sensitivity that he is working through. Hopefully we will add soy milk to our list of milks soon. I am also interested in having my kids try hemp milk. It’s nice that there are so many options.

  7. I dig on hemp milk. Very sweet and great in green tea. So far though, my kids and hubby won’t hop on board.

  8. Lori,

    This is very informative. Cow’s milk is not a good idea for so many reasons. I love Jennifer’s idea of making your own almond milk. That also helps reduce unnecessary manufacturing and packaging to some degree.

  9. Thanks to Jennifer and Lori for the tips on using alternatives in baking!

  10. Another good point Sandra-no unnecessary packaging on homemade milk. I am going to give homemade almond milk a try- thanks to Jennifer.

  11. Another plug for hemp milk! I drink a lot of green tea which can be pretty bitter. Maybe the hemp milk would help the flavor. What do your kids and husband drink?

  12. I’m a minority here — I really didn’t like hemp milk. It was oily and had this weird aftertaste that reminded me of my pot-ridden college campus. I couldn’t finish the container.

    The almond milk is very easy, and even my skeptical husband thinks it tastes good. Just make sure you use raw almonds! I do about 1 cup almonds to 3 cups water, 1-2TB sugar or other sweetener, half a vanilla bean (no need to seed; just toss it in with the pod), and a pinch of salt. Blend on high, strain through fine material (a clean pillowcase or piece of cotton), refrigerate and drink within the next few days.

    I recently tried raw milk. It was delicious, but my stomach was seriously unhappy that day. I’m mildly lactose intolerant to begin with, so that may not have helped.

  13. That’s funny, because I heard raw milk is less difficult to digest than pasteurized milk, to the point that some people who are mildly lactose intolerant can drink it with no problems! Something about important enzymes not having been broken down by the pasteurization process. I tried raw milk a few months ago and have been putting off writing a post about it until I’ve done more research. Stay tuned!

  14. Thanks for the recipe Jennifer. You made me laugh with your “pot-ridden college days” comment. Once you have a bad association with a food or taste it’s hard to go back. I think I’m a bit lactose intolerant also-probably from not eating it very often.

  15. Curious to hear what you find Andrea. I was just given a lot of information about a local raw milk farm. I might have to do some leg work too….we can compare notes!

  16. I love almond milk! It’s great icy cold after a hot run. I haven’t tried hemp milk. I do love Silk brand soy milks, too. Chocolate Silk, mmmm!

  17. Almond milk is delicious! My kids would live on chocolate anything if they had the choice (I probably would too!).

  18. Lori, Straus milk is on the northern coast of CA, near where I live. If I ever move, I hope I can find a similar product elsewhere. I am really loving the nonhomogenized milk, and I love returning my glass bottles knowing they will be reused!

  19. Thanks Betsy. I was just given information on a local (Boston area) farm that produces non-homogenized milk. It must feel great to reuse the glass bottles-I wish more products came in glass reusables.

  20. Soy milk is great but i still prefer the old school cows milk since it contains more calcium. ,*..;

    Hottest piece of content on our very own web blog

  21. There has been some controversy over protein milk which says that it contains phytoestrogens which can affect the human body. ”

    Newly released write-up straight from our online site

  22. […] cups milk alternative. I use rice milk, but other dairy-free alternatives such as almond or soy milk will work […]

  23. When selecting store bought Soy and Almond Milk, do you have concerns about carrageenan?

  24. […] kids too. If there’s a nut allergy it’s simple to swap out the almond milk for another type of dairy-free milk. Leave out the nutritional yeast if you’re celebrating […]

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About Lori

Hi! I’m Lori, a recovering attorney, writer, and mom to three boys. Join me as I uncover and share the latest info on healthy living. Learn more.

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