When it comes to deciding which dairy-free milk to use, there is a lot to consider!
For many, cow’s milk is one of the earliest foods that are given to us as children. For this reason, many people associate milk with comfort. However, almost half of the world’s population is intolerant to lactose, or milk sugar.
Other components of milk that may be problematic include the milk proteins lactalbumin and casein. No matter which constituent of milk causes the issue, dairy intolerance can cause a whole host of health problems including, but not limited to, abdominal pain, acne, bloating, congestion, ear infections, eczema, diarrhea, hives, inflammation, itchy skin, joint or muscle pain, low mood, rashes, and weight gain.
Dietary restrictions, flavour, nutrition and environmental sustainability all come into play. Fortunately, there is dairy free milk for everyone! And, especially if you are willing to make your own at home, there are so many different ways to substitute cow’s milk with delicious and healthy alternatives!
Dairy alternatives that have been flying off the shelves in the years have been almond, cashew, soy, coconut, and now oat milk. Which of these are right for you?
Soy milk is probably the best known and widely used dairy free milk. Rich in protein and flavour, soy milk is a tasty option. However, soy is one of the top allergens and soybeans are also one of the top GMO crops (genetically modified). For this reason, many prefer to either only consume soy milk once every few weeks, or avoid it all together. When purchasing soy milk, always buy organic, which does not use genetically modified soybeans.
Almond milk is another popular dairy free milk. Delicious, rich in protein and calcium and well tolerated, almond milk has been a staple in health conscious households for many years. However, due to the environmental impact of almond farming, many consumers are beginning to seek out more environmentally sustainable dairy free alternatives.
Oat milk is relatively new to the party, but is an excellent alternative for many! Oat milk is nutty and contains significant amounts of zinc, iron and magnesium. Oats are an environmentally sustainable crop. One of the best things about oat milk is it is SO easy and inexpensive to make at home! For those avoiding grains, however, oat milk wouldn’t be the right fit.
Hemp milk is delicious, nutritious and nut free! It has a light, nutty flavour, is very creamy, and contains a good amount of protein and healthy fat. This is another milk that is easy and inexpensive to make at home. And, for those who are avoiding grains, hemp milk provides a sustainable and delicious nut free alternative.
One of the creamiest dairy free milks, cashew milk is amazing in coffee, smoothies and both sweet and savoury recipes. Cashew milk is rich in protein and important minerals including magnesium, iron, potassium and zinc. Cashews also require less water to grow, making cashew milk a more environmentally sustainable choice than, for example, almond milk.
Think outside the box!
These are only just a few of many dairy-free milk options. If you have a good blender, and cheesecloth or nut milk bag, you can experiment making milk from any nut, seed or grain. Some interesting kinds of milk I have tried are pumpkin seed milk, Brazil nut milk, rice milk, coconut milk, millet milk, and sunflower seed milk! Get creative in your kitchen, use new and interesting ingredients, and find the dairy free milk that fits your needs. What is your favourite dairy free milk? Let us know!