Non-Dairy Milk 101: Soy, Almond, Rice and more.

soymilk pouring

Non-Dairy Milk gets a lot of buzz. But if you’ve checked the shelves of your supermarket lately, you’ll notice that soymilk isn’t the only option. Though soymilk used to dominate the market, alternative milks such as rice, almond & hemp are now making a popular showing in the checkout line.

But the key to enjoying these plant-based, vegan milk options is to know when and how to use them – as well as the nutrition benefits. Here’s my Non-Dairy Milk Guide..

More Than Soy. The big four non-dairy milks are: soy, rice, almond and hemp. There are also other varieties like cashew, grain and coconut, but not the coconut milk you use from a can, it’s a much lower fat blend. In this guide I’ll share with you the basics about each of these non-dairy milk options. And convince try to convince you that plant milk can taste delicious!

Buying Tips! for non-dairy milk:

* Look for fortified! When buying non-dairy milk check for added vitamins, especially B12 and D and calcium.

*Shelf  vs. Fridge? The shelf-stable milks are incredibly convenient, but reach for the ultra-smooth refrigerated options if that is the flavor/texture you prefer. I have found that there is less clumping and separation of the product in the refrigerated options.

* Try a variety of brands! Trust me, not all brands are created equal. And everyone has different taste buds. Just because you tried a soymilk and hated it doesn’t mean you hate all soymilk. Give another brand a shot and see what happens.

*Look out for too much sugar! Try the unsweetened flavors to get all the nutrition and texture without the added sugar. Beware of the chocolate flavored non-dairy milks because they can be loaded with sugar, and in turn loaded with calories. Always read the labels and compare brands for sugar content.


Non-Dairy Milk 101 Guide (soy, rice, hemp, almond)

1. Soymilk – The standard, most popular and loved dairy alternative. Soymilk is widely available everywhere from mainstream supermarkets, Starbucks and more. And soymilk is the most common for a reason: it’s a fantastic substitute for dairy milk. It is creamy, rich and when properly flavored (some brands taste better than others) it has a mild savory-sweet vanilla flavor.
Use: Soymilk works in hot beverages, soups, smoothies, baked goods, creamy pasta sauces and over top cereal. When you want to replace milk in savory recipes always use plain or original flavored instead of the sweeter vanilla flavors.
Nutrition: Soymilk is naturally rich in soy isoflavones (usually 25mg per serving), protein and vitamins. Most fortified soymilks are rich in vitamins B12, D and calcium. Like all vegan milks, soy is virtually free (usually less than 0.5g) of saturated fat (unlike dairy milk).

2. Hempmilk – Hemp is gaining a lot of ground for a few reasons: it is uniquely rich in Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids and it also has an ultra creamy texture similar to soymilk. Hempmilk stands out for its protein content as well. Just like soy, hemp is actually a complete protein meaning it contains all 10 essential amino acids. Hemp milk comes in a variety of flavors and brands.
Use: Hempmilk works best in creamy recipes. I love it in savory soups, smoothies, baked goods and to top off my tea or black coffee. Tough for non-dairy beverage foam, I prefer soy over hemp.
Nutrition: Rich in complete protein, vitamins, omegas. Hemp is made from hemp seeds so it is gluten-free and nut-free.

3. Ricemilk – Ricemilk has been around for a while, but many find it much too watery to be a true dairy substitute. Rice milk has a light texture and natural sweetness. Ricemilk is also not a good source of protein, since it comes from a grain instead of a bean or seed.
Use: Not best for creamy beverages, it doesn’t foam well either. Rice milk is best drinking on its own, chilled well. Also good in smoothies, baked goods and over cold cereal or oatmeal.
Nutrition: Ricemilk is low in fat or fat free and when fortified, a god source of certain vitamins and minerals. However, don’t drink ricemilk looking for much protein.

4. Almondmilk – Almondmilk has a mild nutty flavor and a smooth creamy texture. Compared to hemp and soy, I’d say that almondmilk has a tad less bitterness to its flavor. Whenever I start chatting about non-dairy milk, I’ll encounter people who start gushing over their love of almondmilk. It’s true, almondmilk can be a delicious dairy alternative if you find a brand you love. Also, almondmilk is relatively simple to make fresh for yourself if you have the time. Almondmilk may not be a good option for nut sensitive kids, however it is gluten-free.
Use: Almondmilk is delicious on its own, blended into smoothies or even in savory recipes like pasta and soups.
Nutrition: Almondmilk isn’t a good a source of protein like hemp and soy, but it is an excellent source of vitamin E, just like whole almonds are. And fortified almondmilk is rich in vitamins B12, D  and calcium.

banana berry soy smoothie
Banana Berry Soymilk Smoothie

..One of my favorite soymilk smoothies – the recipe: Soymilk Smoothie Recipe.

In Recipes. You’ll notice that all my milk-containing recipe posts here on Family Kitchen use plant-based options. Sometimes I’ll simply say “plant milk” and allow the reader to insert their favorite milk option into the recipe. I have received many questions about plant milk lately, much of the curiosity stemming from Oprah’s Vegan Challenge Show.  I hope this guide helped to nurture your curiosity about the various plant milk options out there!

Also read:
Milking the Most From Each Glass
for an alternative perspective on the milk debate.
Oprah’s Vegan Challenge!
Check out my “Try Vegan” Guide including recipes, tips and advice.

Article Posted 5 years Ago
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