A Guide To Dairy Free Milk
As food intolerances become more researched + well known, people are looking for new ways to get their nutrients, without feeling sick. One of the most common // most talked about intolerance is lactose — it’s estimated about 60% of people are actually lactose intolerant! Even if you don’t have a lactose intolerance, cow’s milk can still give you problems as people can also have whey + casein intolerances [both found in cow’s milk].
The main symptoms of lactose intolerance are bloating, cramping, gas, or nausea between 30 minutes to 2 hours after consuming the food. You can find a list of all symptoms + how to get tested here. Even people who don’t have an intolerance can opt to stay clear of cow’s milk for numerous reasons [environmental impact, animal cruelty, nutritional value]. Here, you’ll find a great article that gives an objective view of dairy vs. non-dairy milk. Below, we’re going over the main forms of non-dairy milk alternatives, however, this isn’t even an all-inclusive list [who knew banana milk was a thing!?] so do your own research // go with your gut [literally ; )] on which milk is best for you!
While all dairy-free milk is *lactose-free*, you can get specifically labeled lactose-free milk which usually contains lactase, which helps your body digest lactose if you’re intolerant. This type of milk is very similar to cow’s milk [still coming in typical varieties such as 2%, non-fat, + whole, read the differences between those here] + having a similar nutritional profile, but lactose-free is typically is sweeter. If you enjoy the taste of regular milk but have an intolerance, this can be a great starting point to *non-dairy* alternatives!
You can get coconut milk almost anywhere + it’s typically the most common dairy alternative option as it has a milk taste profile. This milk is also great because it can be used as a direct substitute for milk in any recipe — check out these coconut milk recipes we’ve made in the past! One downside of coconut milk is that it does have the highest fat content of dairy-free alternatives, so that’s something to consider if you drink a lot of milk.
Basically, any + every nut is being made into a milk these days. The most common right now are almond, cashew + macadamia. Nut milk is great because it contains beneficial fats, vitamin E, + is usually low in calories. However, some nut milks are actually made up of a ton of water — meaning they actually don’t have that much nutritional value, especially if there’s a ton of sugar added to it! Be on the lookout for ingredients with these types of milk — the fewer ingredients [+ ingredients you can pronounce] is best!
There really isn’t that much of a difference between each of the nut milks, so it’s best to go off of flavor when deciding which one to drink. In general, though, cashew milk tends to be slightly thicker, sweeter, + creamier, making it a great starting place for people switching to dairy-free. Try out our Gorilla Milk recipe with almond milk here!
*A popular “con” to nut milks is that they rely on the mass transportation of bees to pollinate trees, which can be extremely harmful to their wellbeing, as well as requiring a pretty astonishing amount of water to make each milk.
Oat milk lattes are HUGE right now. They’re high in protein + low in fat, making it the perfect addition to your morning coffee. While you won’t get the same nutrients as in a bowl of oats, it’s still a great dairy-free alternative.
If you have a gluten intolerance, really look at labels of oat milk as cross-contamination can occur. An un-bee-lievable con — there have been pesticide residues on oats, some of which being poisonous to the bees, so it’s something to be aware of if you plan on drinking a LOT of oat milk!
Legumes have beneficial fats, protein, fiber, vitamins, + minerals, all while being less environmentally harmful than nut milks. There’s a lot of controversy around soy so do your research + form your own opinion as there’s not a significant yes or no to this milk.
Hemp has a well-deserved reputation as a highly sustainable + eco-friendly crop, so if you’re into caring about the planet — or are just now finding out the harm to bees + the amount of water some other milks require to be made — this might be the milk for you!
Hemp seeds also have a ton of the omega-3 fatty acid ALA, which can help regulate blood pressure and cholesterol.
Compared to other dairy-free milks, rice milk has the highest amount of carbohydrates per serving. It’s also relatively low protein + has a very distinct flavor, so if you’re looking for a close replacement for dairy milk, this probably isn’t it.
One con — there’s research that has found consuming too much rice can lead to too much arsenic in their body. So, if you already have a lot of rice in your diet [rice, rice cakes, crackers, rice protein powder] you may want to choose a different milk!
As its name suggests, this milk is filled with — you guessed it — plant-based pea protein! This milk actually has a really similar amount of calories + protein to straight pea milk but has substantially fewer carbs and sugar. If you eat a primarily meat-free or vegan diet, this milk could be an easy way to get some extra protein in your diet.
Ultimately you should choose the milk that tastes the best + makes you feel your best! In all store-bought milks, it’s important to watch out for artificial ingredients // sweeteners. It’s suggested to opt for unsweetened versions of store-bought milks, but speaking from experience, it takes some getting used to — when I first started with dairy-free, I found a low sugar, vanilla almond milk + gradually made my way to lower sugar options! Some of our go-to brands are Califia Farms, Elmhurst, Malk, Ripple, + Oatly! P.S Califia Farms has season flavors like pumpkin spice + peppermint.
MAKE YOUR OWN
If you want to know exactly what’s in your milk, make your own! It’s super simple, but can generally cost more if you’re making a lot of it [nuts are expensive!] so buy nuts in bulk.
1] Soak the nuts // seeds // oats overnight + rinse in the morning
2] Add nuts + water to a blender — for each cup of nuts // seed // oats, use about 4 cups of water
3] Blend on high speed for about 3 minutes, in 30-second intervals — if you have a more expensive blender, this might not be necessary, but most smaller blenders can overheat if you have it going for more than a minute at a time!
4] Use a cheesecloth [I use a powder strainer [like this] to get any solids out
5] Add to a container and keep in the fridge // use within 3-5 days!
You can add sugar, honey, maple syrup, cinnamon, etc. to the milk as well! I started out with about 2 tbsp of sugar when I first made my cashew milk + lowered the sugar after a few weeks!
I hope we covered all of the dairy-free milks you’ve been wondering about! What’s your favorite? Let us know in the comments!