Seanna Thomas: ABC Kitchen


8 Delicious Alternatives to Cow's Milk

A quick rundown of the taste and nutrition of dairy alternatives

How do dairy alternatives stack up in flavour and nutrition when compared with cow milk? Here's a quick breakdown. | Nutrition |

We are lucky to live in a world with so many options, aren’t we? But they’re so darn confusing sometimes. The Internet is a wonderful wealth of knowledge but can be intensely conflicting. One site says “it’s healthy,” the other says: “avoid it!” Thank goodness I’m here to help you sort this stuff out.

With health concerns and allergies, many of us are steering (see what I did there?) away from dairy. But which dairy alternative do you choose? I have the most popular cow’s milk alternatives and all the glorious information in one place so you can make an informed decision. Here goes!

Let’s start with dairy milk so we can compare. All information will be for 1 cup (250ml) of unsweetened milk:

2% Cow’s Milk:

Fat: 5g                   Calories: 122       Sugar: 12g           Protein: 8g

Organic, grass-fed cow’s milk contains more omega-3 fats, vitamin E and beta-carotene, which makes it a better choice if you decide (or are able to) drink cow’s milk. My rating: 5/10…average.

Almond Milk:

Fat: 3.5g               Calories: 40         Sugar: >0.5g       Protein: 1.5g

Almond milk can be made at home with ground almonds and water or purchased in a carton. Be careful of buying sweetened or flavoured almond milks (Watch out for ORIGINAL, they are usually sweetened). There would be no benefit to drinking this milk if you fill it up with sugar. Also, the benefit of making your own at home is there are no additives like carrageenan (a thickener). My rating: DELICIOUS

Soy Milk:             

Fat: 4g                   Calories: 80         Sugar: 1g              Protein: 7g

Soy, and therefore, soy milk, is a hot topic these days. Many people are avoiding soy because of GMO claims, hormone issues, cancer concerns or thyroid function. Lots of research is still being conducted. Do your own research and don’t drink or eat soy if you won’t sleep at night. If finding a cleaner, organic or non-gmo soy based product will make you feel better, then by all means-go for it. My rating: 6/10 because it’s a little boring.

Coconut Milk:

Fat: 4.5g               Calories: 45         Sugar: 0g              Protein: 0g

This is for the stuff that comes in the carton, not the can. There is WAY more (delicious) fat in the can, but we’re talking stuff to put on your cereal, yes? Be aware and read your labels! Not all coconut milks are created equal. Some will be high in fat because they’ll contain the coconut cream as well. Others have additives and sweeteners. Basic coconut milk is full of vitamins and excellent for your health. Go coconut! My rating: 9/10

Rice Milk:

Fat: 2.5g               Calories: 70         Sugar: >1g           Protein: 0g

Rice milk is thin and not incredibly interesting but it’s easy on the stomach and a great alternative for allergy sufferers. Rice milk is higher in carbohydrates than some other alternatives and doesn’t offer much in terms of vitamins and minerals. Good for babies because there’s not much flavor-just be sure they’re getting their protein and nutrients elsewhere. Okay for baking if you need something dairy-free. My rating: Bleh.

Hemp Milk:

Fat: 5g                   Calories: 60         Sugar: 0g              Protein: 2g

Deliciously creamy and yes, higher in fat, but a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. And no sugar! I’m a big fan of this milk for everything. Smoothies, baking, on cereal-any time you need milk. My rating: 10/10 because yummmmmmm.

Oat Milk:

Fat: 2.5g               Calories: 130       Sugar: 19g           Protein: 4g

Oat milk is a fantastic alternative because it can easily be made at home-there are multiple recipes on the interweb. It’s naturally sweet and full of vitamins. I’m a big fan of oat-based items so for taste, I give this one a big thumbs up. My rating: 7/10…it would be higher except for that sugar content.

Cashew Milk:

Fat: 2g                   Calories: 25         Sugar: 0g              Protein:>1g

Cashews are the best part of mixed nuts, so it’s no surprise that this milk is super yummy and ultra-versatile. The fat content is lower than you would expect, so this is an excellent option. Cashew milk is high in magnesium which is helpful in supporting bone health, hair, nails and even our gums. Yes please! My rating: Cashew milk is the business.

With some newer options such as hemp and cashew milk, you don’t have to stick to boring rice and soy milk anymore. They’re great backups if you need an alternative in a pinch, but try something new and get ultimate nutrition and tastiness.

You’ll notice almost all the alternatives milks are lower in fat, but what concerns me is sugar. Oat milk is very high, but do remember these are natural sugars… also, if you’re making oat milk yourself, the sugar content will vary greatly.

There you have it-all the information in one place. Whether you’re going dairy-free for allergy reasons or health concerns, or just lowering your dairy intake to change things up this year, you can make an informed decision on what to drink…or which one to try first. My vote is for hemp! And not just because I'm half a hippie, it's delicious!

dairy milk alternatives

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