5 Amazing Non-Dairy Milk Alternatives

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As the world becomes more health-conscious, our choices for staple food items, like milk expand. Whoever thought that non-dairy milk alternatives would see a rise in popularity? That soy milk wouldn’t be the only option available?

Now more than ever, there are many amazing non-dairy alternatives to choose from, including almond, cashew, coconut, oat and non-GMO soy.

What’s more, you can even make non-dairy milks from the comfort of your own home! All you’ll need is a nut milk bag to strain almond or cashew milks before you can enjoy them. There’s never been a better time to substitute milk for a healthier non-dairy variety.

Learn more in: Milk: Is It Fit For Humans?

Harmful Ingredients To Watch Out For

The trouble with most health fads is that manufacturers want to capitalise on the trend, so they jump on a band wagon, begin pumping out a product, and add questionable ingredients to make it as profitable as possible.

So like anything, it pays to know the ingredients and buy from ethical sources whenever you're making the switch to more 'conscious' products.

Get into the habit of reading labels. If any of these ingredients appear, you may want to consider a different brand. 

Some common ingredients to be wary of in products that 'look' healthy include:

  • Carrageenan: a seaweed-based thickener that causes inflammation.
  • Natural Flavours: could mean anything from sugars to MSG. 
  • Vegetable Oils: usually, come from GMO corn or soy crops and are extracted using toxic chemical solvents.
  • Sugar: buy the unsweetened original blend to avoid unnecessary amounts of added sugar.

Learn more in: Cancer-Causing Chemicals In Supermarket Foods.

So what are the best non-dairy alternatives?

Non-dairy milks do not all offer the same universal health benefits when compared to one another; they vary in their nutritional benefit and fat, protein and fibre content.

Some are wonderful for baking, others perfect for whole grain cereals and smoothies and some are more ideally suited as a dairy milk replacement for your morning coffee.

Here’s everything you need to know about non-dairy milk alternatives!

1. Almond Milk

Almond milk is a delicious low-calorie, high protein milk with a smooth nutty flavour.

It makes for a wonderful non-dairy milk alternative for smoothies and to add to your morning muesli.

However, if you have a nut allergy, you’ll want to buy a hypoallergenic milk instead.

How It’s Made: Almond milk is made by soaking almonds, before blending them with filtered water and then pressing through a nut bag to create the milk.

It's always best to prepare your own Almond milk at home, though some brands are of high quality also.

If buying Almond Milk from the supermarket, avoid brands that have starches, thickeners or any preservatives added.

Just watch out for carrageenan; it’s a common thickening agent.

Nutrition Per Cup:

  • Calories: 30-60 
  • Fat: 2.5 grams
  • Protein: 1 gram

Some other health benefits associated with drinking almond milk include its being a solid source of good fats - monounsaturated and polyunsaturated.

Good fats support heart health and balance cholesterol levels. Almonds are naturally rich in vitamin E, and just one cup of unsweetened almond milk provides you with nearly half your daily intake. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that helps manage stress, cut inflammation and protects against disease.

Learn more in: Good Fats Versus Bad Fats.

2. Cashew Milk

Cashew milk is a popular nut milk with a neutral taste that can be used in either cooking, deserts and smoothies.

It’s versatile with a mild flavour, unlike almond or soy. It's also very quick and easy to prepare at home using a blender with water and 1 or 2 other ingredients, because the nuts require very little soaking time.

Cashew Milk is a delightful alternative to high fat, heavy cream in deserts, due to its smooth, creamy texture. It’s also a popular base for faux-cheeses (cashew cheese, which is becoming more and more popular and can be found in many health food stores today).

For taste and convenience, it's hard to beat cashew milk when preparing a smoothie. 

How It’s Made: Cashew milk is made by soaking cashews in filtered water then blending until smooth.

How To Make Your Own Cashew Milk: All you need is: 6 cups of filtered water, 1 cup of raw cashews and a pinch of good quality salt, like GOOD Salt Trio Value Pack. Soak cashews in 3 cups of water and salt for 30 mins-1 hour, add to the blender with water and blend.

How To Make Cashew Cacao Delight Milk Smoothie: Combine cashew milk (2 cups or more to taste), 2 pitted medjool dates, 1 frozen banana with a scoop of raw cacao in a blender and blend until smooth. Alongside your smoothie try, Cornucopia Epicurean Snack featuring cashews.  For an alternative smoothie using your favourite fruit e.g. banana, mango or berries, it's great to still add 1 or 2 pitted medjool dates to give your smoothie a delightful sweetness before blending.

Nutrition Per Cup:

  • Calories: 25-50
  • Fat: 2-4 grams
  • Protein: 1 gram

Cashew milk is fantastic for your health, but drinking store-bought differs from drinking homemade. Store-bought is fortified and contains fewer calories and fat because it's strained. Whereas if you're looking for more protein, naturally occurring magnesium and a thicker product, homemade is better.

In one cup of unsweetened cashew milk is about a quarter of your daily intake of magnesium. Magnesium supports good immune function and promotes heart health. It also contains good fats for your heart and to balance cholesterol levels.

3. Coconut Milk

Coconut milk is the most popular milk replacement in the preparation of delightful, raw food deserts, thanks to its creamy and mild taste.

The use of coconut milk is a relatively new addition to the western diet, whereas it's a staple in cooking in many other cultures.

There are many different types of coconut beverages available:

  • Unsweetened coconut milk: is the kind that you buy in cartons that’s been thinned out to remove some of the fat, and is fortified for extra nutrition. It can be used in anything from smoothies to cooking or as an addition to your morning coffee or breakfast cereal.
  • Canned or coconut cream: has received less processing, so it’s fattier, richer and closer to its natural state. It’s the most nutritious. However, because it's higher in calories and fat, you should consume in moderation.
  • Coconut water: is made from juvenile coconut flesh and is thinned out; containing less nutritional benefits.

How It’s Made: Unsweetened coconut milk is made by grating and pressing matured coconut flesh with about 50% filtered water, whilst coconut water is a ratio of 94% water to coconut.

Coconut milk - like cow’s milk - can have the consistency (thin or thick) altered by how it’s blended; which affects the fat and calories. The amount of straining is the difference between canned and unsweetened. Snack on a Coconut Raw Energy Bar with a glass of unsweetened coconut milk for a double dose of coconut!

Nutrition Per Cup:

Unsweetened Coconut Milk, Canned Coconut Milk & Coconut Water

  • Calories: 50 - Calories: 445 - Calories: 19-45
  • Fat: 3-5 grams - Fat: 48 grams - Fat: 0-2 grams
  • Protein: 0 grams - Protein: 4.5 grams - Protein: 1-3 grams

The primary health benefit of coconut milk is it contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), a type of saturated fat that can help with weight control, balancing cholesterol and support good heart health. The healthy fat, lauric acid present in coconut milk may even help cut inflammation and prevent against viral or bacterial infections.

When buying coconut milk at the supermarket, you'll find many varieties to choose from.  Again, choose organic and look for brands that have little to no preservatives or additives.

Learn more in: The Healing Powers Of Coconuts.

4. Oat Milk

Oat milk is one of the most suitable choices for anyone and is brimming with naturally occurring soluble fibre for heart health. It’s neutral tasting and has a similar consistency to cow’s milk. It’s also thicker and doesn’t curdle the same way almond does. It’s an excellent choice for your beverages, cooking or baking.  If you need more fibre, mix Get Things Moving Natural Fibre Blend into your smoothie. 

How It’s Made: steep steel-cut oats or oat groats in water, then blend and strain off the remaining oat pulp.

Nutrition Per Cup:

  • Calories: 120
  • Fat: 5 grams
  • Protein: 3 grams

Oat milk is quite nutritious with naturally occurring and readily absorbed beta-glucan, a soluble fibre that reduces cholesterol and is heart-healthy. It also contains B vitamins, which are essential for your overall health. B vitamins help to elevate your energy levels, improve cognitive functioning, prevent infections and encourages cell growth (hair, skin and nails). Bear in mind store-bought oat milk is often overloaded with sugar, so opt for unsweetened.

5. NON-GMO Soy Milk

The most common milk alternative that’s low in carbs, high in protein and is the most readily available non-dairy. However, soy has a strong flavour, so it’s not the best choice to cook with, but is alright for baking. The controversy with soy is whether it contains genetically modified ingredients (GMO). Only ever buy the brands that bear a GMO-Free sticker, as soy is a crop that is frequently genetically modified - which counteracts any health benefits and is harmful to your health.

How It’s Made: soy is soaked in water than ground down, boiled and strained.

Nutrition Per Cup:

  • Calories: 80-100
  • Fat: 4 grams
  • Protein: 7 grams

This non-dairy milk nutritionally speaking, is the closest to cow’s milk with similar levels of protein, carbs and fat. Soy milk is a “complete protein,” meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids that your body can’t produce. These essential acids are what your body uses to build muscle and support proper immune functioning.

Learn more in: The Truth About Protein & Muscular System Foods.

Amazing Non-Dairy Milk For Your Best Health

With so much variety on the market, there is no need to rely on cow’s milk, not when any of these alternatives offer better health benefits. And the best part, you don’t need a farm or a cow. All you need is the proper ingredients (non-dairy alternative, filtered water), a nut milk bag and you can make non-dairy milks from home!

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