Got (non-dairy) milk?! In the last decade, sales of non-dairy ‘mylks’ have sky-rocketed; since 2011, US sales of dairy-free milks have risen by 30 percent. The reason for this is multi-facetted; some people are choosing to turn their backs on dairy for ethical and environmental reasons, whereas others have made the decision based on their health. With whole supermarket aisles dedicated to ditching dairy, I’ve come up with a simple guide to navigating this new nutritional minefield of choice!
Low in calories (30-50 calories per cup), fat (less than 3.5g per cup) and sugar (less than 1g per cup), and high in micronutrients and antioxidants (for example; one cup contains up to 450mg of calcium), almond milk is Protein World’s first choice when it comes to dairy replacements. The mild, slightly nutty taste and creamy yet light texture means almond milk incredibly versatile; it’s my firm favourite for porridges, pancakes and smoothies!
Alongside almond milk, cashew milk is becoming widely popular, and for good reason; it’s rich and creamy, with a mild, naturally sweet flavour that’s very similar to cow’s milk. Moreover, like almond milk, it’s super low in calories and carbs (25-40 calories and less than 1g sugar per cup). At a little extra cost, it also boasts slightly more protein! Choose for baking or in smoothies.
Similar to almond milk, hazelnut milk is packed full of micronutrients (think vitamin E, omega-3s and B vitamins) and has a wonderful nutty flavour that complements smoothies. It also heats better than most other nut milks and so makes the perfect base for porridges. Not everyone is a fan of the stronger flavour though so make sure you try before you buy!
Another highly popular choice, coconut milk has a thick, rich consistency, is low in sugar and high in vitamins (less than 1g sugar and up to 120 IU vitamin D per cup). However, I advise you consume this in moderation, as coconut milk is high in saturated fat (4-5g per cup) and is one of the most expensive dairy replacements. It also isn’t the best to use in baking due to the stronger flavour. Instead, use as a weekend treat for smoothies!
Nut-milks not your thing? There’s still a huge range of non-dairy choices! For example, hemp milk has the same mildly sweet, nutty taste of hazelnut milk and the richness and creaminess of cashew milk. It contains all 9 essential amino acids, as well as essential omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. Perfect for savoury baking!
Lower in protein (less than 1g per cup) than hemp or nut-based milks, rice milk is also sweeter and has a thinner consistency that’s similar to skimmed cow’s milk (so is best avoided when baking). It’s also low in fat (less than 2.5g per cup), and has a refreshing taste, making it perfect for mixing with smoothies.
Guess what; this one tastes like, well; oats (more specifically, raw oats; earthy, grainy and slightly starchy)! Whilst higher in calories than most other non-dairy milks (130 calories per cup), oat milk has a lot going for it. It’s thicker in consistency than rice and nut-milks and heats well, making it a great choice for porridges, pancakes and baking. Oat milk also packs a nutritional punch; each serving is loaded with fibre and contains 10% of your recommended intake of iron. However, be sure to avoid if you are intolerant to gluten.
One of the most popular non-dairy milks, soy has a creamy texture that’s similar to dairy milk. It generally has a neutral flavour, although some people find soy milk to have a metallic aftertaste (especially long-life versions). Like hemp milk, soy milk is a complete source of protein (i.e. it contains all 9 essential amino acids). However, I would advise against using soy milk due to the possibility of the main ingredient coming from GMO organisms.
Non-dairy milk is becoming udderly(!) popular. With so many choices out there, I’d recommend following this guide and experimenting at home with a few varieties that catch your eye. Whichever non-dairy milk you opt for, be sure to choose non-flavoured, unsweetened varieties to avoid unnecessary added sugar. Be sure to also graze (sorry; can’t help ourselves!) your eye over the nutritional information, as quantities of micronutrients such as calcium and vitamin D can vary substantially.