For those who can’t tolerate cow’s milk or who are vegan or vegetarian, there are many milk alternatives to choose from. I am lactose intolerant, and when I was a kid, there wasn’t much choice. I had to use Coffee Rich on my cereal, and I just had to avoid dairy products for the most part or suffer from gas, bloating, and other discomforts.
I still remember going to a sleepover and my friend’s mom making pancakes in the morning with water instead of milk. They didn’t taste great and all the other kids weren’t very impressed.
Although I used Lactaid milk and Lactaid pills when I got older, I didn’t realize until later that the lactose in milk wasn’t the other thing that bothered me.
Here are just three of the alternatives available.
My personal favourite milk alternative is almond milk. It has a nice nutty taste and has no added sugar if you choose the unsweetened kind. It contains vitamins A, D, and E, riboflavin, B12 as well as potassium, calcium, zinc, and protein. Different brands have different amounts, so you want to read the labels. It’s obviously not good for those who have nut allergies. I use it in oatmeal, smoothies, egg dishes, baking, etc.
If you do have nut allergies, hemp milk is a good choice. It has omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, as well as vitamins A, B12, folic acid, D, E, fiber, iron, magnesium, beta-carotene, calcium, potassium, niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, phosphorus, zinc, acid, and phytosterols. It also has 10 essential amino acids. Hemp milk is easy to digest and mostly non allergenic.
Coconut milk is another alternative to cow’s milk. It is very nutritious and has fiber, vitamins C, E, B1, B3, B5, B6 as well as magnesium, calcium, selenium, iron, and phosphorus. The fat in coconut milk is mostly medium chain saturated fatty acids (MCFAs). One is lauric acid, which is converted in the body into monolaurin. This is an antiviral and antibacterial compound that kills many different disease causing organisms. It has a very creamy texture, which might be a pro or a con, depending on your preference. Because of the taste, it might not go as well in baked goods or in other recipes. My mom loves it in her morning smoothie.
Watch Out for Carrageenan
It’s important to read the labels when you’re shopping for a milk alternative, because many contain carrageenan. It is a food additive that’s taken from red seaweed that’s used to thicken and stabilize. Carrageenan can cause gastrointestinal inflammation and ulcers and can be a carcinogen. The FDA considers it safe, but the European Union has banned it in infant formulas. It is in many products including juices, yogurt, ice cream, cottage cheese, and packaged foods. One of the brands that doesn’t contain carrageenan is Silk Almond. Make sure you shake it well.
Make Your Own Almond Milk
You can also make your own almond milk to ensure there is nothing harmful in it. It involves soaking a cup of almonds overnight, rinsing them the next day and blending them with 4 to 5 cups of water. You will then have to strain the mixture through a cheesecloth or fine strainer.
If that sounds like too much work, this great video shows you an easier way to make yourself some almond milk in only one minute.
There are options for those who are lactose intolerant, have a sensitivity to casein or whey or who are dairy free for other reasons. If you haven’t tried one yet, I suggest trying a few, or making your own.
Image courtesy of lobster20 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net