For those who can't tolerate dairy having alternatives for smoothies, to put in coffee and tea, or just to drink can be nice. There are so many different milk substitutes available in most stores, it can be hard to choose. Here is a super quick rundown on what I know about milk subs:
- Almond Milk: Almond milk is rich and cream with a mouth feel similar to milk, and I particularly love it's just slightly off white color. It's particularly good with just a splash of vanilla, which accentuates almonds natural sweetness. Almonds are a good source of quality fat, vitamin E, manganese, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, selenium, iron, zinc and calcium, and almond milk is one of the best choices for milk substitutes. BUT BEWARE- many store bought almond milks contain soy based stabilizers, so if you're avoiding soy (and you should...) either read labels closely or make your own (see below). Almond milk is a great substitute for baking.
- Coconut Milk: Coconut milk is another great choice, as it is also thick and cream and high in nutrients like folate, selenium, B vitamins, iron, potassium, phosphorus, vitamins E and C, and iron, among others. It is also a great source of both saturated and monounsaturated fat, although it does have a lot of fat compared to almond milk, so if you're watching your weight it may be good to use coconut milk in moderation. Coconut milk is subtly sweet with a light coconut flavor, and is great for athletes post workout (especially hard workouts) because of it's combination of carbs, fat, and trace nutrients. It's worth noting that canned coconut milk usually contains guar gum as a stabilizer and usually comes in cans lined with BPA, if you are trying to avoid either of these substances. Another reason to make your own!
- Hemp Milk: I'm not sold on this one, so I haven't tried it. It doesn't have the nutritional profile of the two milks discussed above- it's only real health benefit is that it contains Omega-3's. And besides being lower in nutrients, it is REALLY expensive, and I don't think you can make it at home. Plus it's a relatively new product, while almond and coconut milk have been made by traditional societies for at least hundreds of years.
- Rice Milk: Meh. That's what I have to say about rice milk. As with rice, it is super low in nutrients and very starchy, which means it makes the blood sugar spike. It also lacks fat and protein, which the two at the top of my list contain at least a little of. It's also more watery than the other choices and not really good for anything beyond drinking and using on cereal.
- Soy Milk: It's no secret I'm not a fan of soy. I do have to say that once in a blue moon, if I'm off dairy AND at a major coffee chain AND hankering for a latte AND the stars align I will have soy milk. But that doesn't happen very often. Soy contains phytoestrogens which may increase the risk of breast cancer, and I personally believe its "heart healthy" claim is a bit overblown.
And it is easy.
I take no credit for these methods. I have done them both, and all I have to say is check out these links, the methods are so simple and well explained that I have nothing to add.
How to Make Coconut Milk from Mommypotamas - Okay, I do have one thing to add about this one. Instead of kneading the coconut, I use the blender (as she mentions) and blend for one minute. I've done both and prefer blending, because I can do some other small job and keep my hands clean. ALSO MAKE SURE YOU USE UNSWEETENED COCONUT. That is all:)
How to Make Almond Milk from the Nourishing Gourmet I just love this one, that's all I have to say. I add a little vanilla and... mmmm. I do highly suggest soaking the almonds in salted water as she suggests, as it helps break down anti-nutrients and activates enzymes.