Cow’s milk, soy milk, rice milk, almond milk, coconut milk, oat milk, quinoa milk, millet milk, hazelnut milk, hemp milk… AND THE LIST GOES ON. So how on earth, when you’re standing in the aisle of a health food shop, do you choose which is best for you? Here is a quick run down of my favourites and why…
Firstly the basis of all nut, seed or grain milks is the nut, seed or grain in question and water. That is literally it. Most commercially prepared versions then go on to add maybe a bit of vanilla, sea salt and sometimes sunflower oil – but in a nutshell (pardon the pun!) it is just the whole food + water.
Rice Milk – Rice milk has a natural sweetness that is great in smoothies, porridge and cereal. This is often my first recommendation for children who are coming off dairy – they tend to enjoy the sweetness and be quite open to drinking it. The downside to rice milk is that it has a VERY thin consistency. In my opinion it is pretty horrible in tea and coffee (often separates/curdles), and doesn’t really give the same richness in baked goods.
Almond Milk – Almond milk has a richer consistency than rice milk, and is better to use in hot beverages. It is also super easy to make, which is lucky because store bought versions can cost close to $10 per litre! My lovely friend Alexx Stuart has conveniently just created a video on how to make almond milk, which you can see below. The other great thing about almond milk is that it is naturally high in calcium – per cup offering around 200mg, where cow’s milk offers approximately 285mg (source: Nutrition Data).
Coconut Milk – We all know I love coconut oil… and coconut milk is no different. And while it may seem weird to put it in tea and coffee, I promise it is a great combination! Rooibos or dandelion tea with coconut milk are two of my favourites.
Oat Milk – Oat milk, like rice milk, is another palatable alternative that is great for kids and adults alike. Oats are an amazing food (especially moving into winter) due to their nervine properties among other things. This means that they help to soothe the nervous system, so are great for anyone suffering from stress, nervous tension or anxiety… do I see a few raised hands out there? Yes me included. And while I doubt you could drink enough oat milk to have a therapeutic dose of the active constituents, the energetics of food play a big role in the medicinal value, so any little bit helps.
Soy Milk – Soy milk, in my view, is not a great option. If you look back to my previous post on soy, there are certainly a number of downfalls – mainly in the way that we produce and process it today. When there are so many other alternatives available, I would encourage you to experiment and steer away from soy milk where you can. However, most cafes will only provide the option of dairy or soy, so in that instance evaluate which is the best choice for you.
From here you can just get creative! Try making your own nut or seed milks, adding things like raw cacao powder or even mixing combinations – almond and sunflower seed, hazelnut and cacao, hemp seed and pepitas – the options are endless! And if you ever catch me standing in the aisle of a health food shop staring for minutes on end at the wall of milk alternatives… it is because I truly can’t pick a favourite, so decide to share the love and keep them on rotation