Let’s face it, milk alternatives are all the rage. With folks looking to cut back on dairy for either health or moral reasons, dairy free milks are in the spotlight. Finding the right dairy free milk can be tricky, since not all dairy free milks are created equal! Lucky for those who are on the hunt, there are tons of non-dairy alternatives from your local Starbucks to major groceries. These dairy free “milks” do not contain the lactose (milk sugar) or casein (milk protein) normally found in dairy products. However, non-dairy milks differ in nutrient profile and calorie content. From traditional almond milk, to the newest addition of oat milk, the dairy-free consumer now is faced with many options to consider when purchasing a milk replacement.
Very low in calories with no saturated fat, almond milk is a great choice for smoothies or in your morning java. Many varieties contain added Calcium and Vitamin D, which help fill the gaps for those on a dairy-free diet.
Almond milk is also super simple to make it at home! Simply soak 1 cup of raw almonds in 3 cups water for at least 8 hours. Then blend on high speed for 2 minutes. Add matcha (Click here for more matcha info), cinnamon, or dates for sweetness. Pour the mixture through a nut milk bag (on amazon for $6) to strain, and store in an airtight jar in the fridge!
Soy milk is higher in calories compared to almond milk, with about 90-130 calories per cup. However, soy milk is a great source of protein, packing 7 grams per cup! Additionally, soy milk contains fiber, calcium, and 10% of your daily potassium needs.
Despite these natural benefits, soy milk is often heavily processed. Plus, there has been an ongoing debate on the influence of soy in women with estrogen receptor positive breast cancer. While the research is conflicting, if soy suits your fancy, it is best to consume organic soy products in moderation.
The newest and trendiest addition to the dairy-free bunch, Oat Milk has hit the scene to provide an option for dairy-free individuals who may be allergic to nuts and soy. More and more coffee shops, including Starbucks, are now offering oat milk. Plus, it really does have a milk like consistency, I was shocked when I tried it! However, I don’t love this milk for smoothies and beverages due to its high calorie and carbohydrate content. It’s also very low in protein and fiber, making it not ideal for filling smoothies.
The Original Oatly. Oatly Products. Retrieved August 28, 2019. https://us.oatly.com/collections/all
Ripple (Pea) Milk
Definitely consider this non-dairy milk for your cereal or smoothies. Just one serving packs 8g of protein, 0g of sugar, 32mg of DHA Omega-3s, and 50% more calcium than cow’s milk. It is also a great source of vitamin D and contains iron, making it a great addition to a vegan diet. Ripple Milk can be found at most groceries, including Stop & Shop and Whole Foods, in Original, Unsweetened Vanilla, and Chocolate flavors.
Ripple Foods. Plant Based Milk. Retrieved August 28, 2019. https://www.ripplefoods.com/products/
When you feel like mentally jetting away from the New England chill, coconut milk gives you a sweet and smooth retreat. Coconut milk’s consistency is smooth, and it dissolves nicely into beverages. The downsides are, from a cardiovascular health standpoint, coconut milk is not ideal due to its high saturated fat content. Plus, after processing, coconut milk has little to no protein and fewer essential nutrients than other nut milks. Coconut milk’s high fat content makes it a better milk for creating curries, soups, or desserts, rather than drinking on a daily basis. If you do choose coconut milk, be sure to opt for a “light” version to avoid drinking excess saturated fat.
Coconut Milk Health Benefits and Uses. Healthline. Franziska Spritzler. December 11, 2018. Retreived August 28, 2019. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/coconut-milk.
Skylar’s Healthy Tips
Whichever non-dairy alternative you choose, be sure to grab the unsweetened variety to avoid drinking added sugars. Look for milk that is fortified in calcium and vitamin D, as these nutrients may be lacking. Additionally, plant-based milks generally do not contain the protein that cow’s milk does. Be sure to add a protein source to your dairy-free smoothies, such as almond butter or Nuzest Pea Protein powder.
 Straight Talk About Soy. The Nutrition Source. Harvard School of Public Health. Retrieved August 28, 2019. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/soy/