Cow’s milk has long been considered a staple of the human diet, owing to its versatility and vast nutritional benefits. In fact, 1 cup (240 ml) of whole milk provides 146 calories, 8 grams of fat, 8 grams of protein and 13 grams of carbohydrates.
Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it), due to advances in medical science and nutrition, more people are choosing not to consume dairy either due to dietary restrictions, allergies, intolerances, sensitivities, or personal preference.
Thankfully manufacturers have heard us and are continually releasing new non-dairy milk alternatives!
Check out tips for the choosing the best Non-Dairy milk alternatives below.
Often people choose a non-dairy milk due to a dietary restriction, intolerance, sensitivity, or allergy. Unfortunately, many non-dairy milks also contain certain additives such as gluten, nuts, and soy.
If you’re trying to avoid any of these products be sure to check the label carefully before purchase.
Most nut milks are 80-90% water as they are essentially just nuts, water, and a sweetener, blended together and strained. Because of this, many of the products you’ll find on market today are fortified with the extra nutrients often lacking in a plant-based diet (calcium, vitamins B12 & D).
If you know your diet could benefit from supplementary nutrients, non-dairy milks are a great option!
Cow’s milk is unrivalled in it’s calcium content vital for healthy bone and brain development, which is likely why it was considered a dietary staple for so many centuries. Many non-dairy milks are fortified with this essential nutrient, so be sure to choose on which has as least 120mg of calcium per 100ml (3.4ounces).
Vitamin B12 is essential for maintaining a healthy brain and immune system, but is most commonly consumed organically from animal products. If your diet is mainly plant-based, non-dairy milks are a great way to supplement this essential nutrient.
Peas have a very mild taste and texture and are packed with nutrients, making them the perfect protein additive. Because of this, pea protein milk has been gaining popularity in recent years, but is still quite difficult to find in your local grocery store.
Look for plant-based milks fortified with pea protein to get a few extra grams per cup.
The process to produce non-dairy milks is a lot more involved than it’s dairy counterpart, often making non-dairy milk much more expensive. In recent years we’ve seen the price of lactose-free milk come down to almost rival cow’s milk, but we foresee quite a while before the same savings are applied to nut and other non-dairy milks.
Often the main ingredient of non-dairy milks is a savoury nut or grain, so to combat this manufacturers add quite a lot of sugar to enhance the flavour and texture. If you’re mindful of additional sugar in your diet, choose unsweetened non-dairy milks over the flavoured ones, and add a bit of honey, maple syrup, or agave to your liking.
Many non-dairy milks contain thickening agents such as carrageenan, vegetable gums or vegetable oils, which may not necessarily be ‘unhealthy’ but could impact immune health if consumed in large quantities. Since the start of 2018 many manufacturers have since removed carrageenan from their products, but look out for these additives when selecting a store-bought non-dairy milk if additives are of concern for you.
The make your own method!
Between the added sugars, high costs, and strange additives found in store bought non-dairy milk alternatives, it may be easier to make your own milk at home!
To make easy nut milk at home, soak your preferred nut for 12-24 hours, drain, rinse, peel off the skins, blend with some water and a bit of sweetener (if desired), before straining through a nut milk bag, cheesecloth, or fine dish towel. If that description alone tired you out, view this blog post to learn to make nut milk at home in under 5 minutes!
Pro Tip: Use a “milking” motion when straining your nut milk out of a nut milk bag, and store in an airtight container or jug in the fridge for up to 7-10 days.