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TIP OF THE DAY: Healthy Milk Alternatives

Cows need not apply: Soy milk is made from
soybeans and water. Photo courtesy
Mercola.com.

  Americans have been embracing dairy milk alternatives for a variety of reasons. Almond, hemp, oat, rice and soy milks are cholesterol-free, lactose-free, parve kosher, sustainable and vegan. They are low carb, low calorie, low fat and most are a good source of protein and fiber. They also require no refrigeration until the container is opened.

Milk alternatives can be substituted for dairy milk in any situation: from drinking a glassful to lightening coffee and tea to baking to pouring over cereal, to sauces and soups. They are available in plain, sweetened and flavored varieties, and can be fortified with vitamins and nutrients.

All of the alternatives have the creamy texture of dairy milk; each has different nutritional benefits. But the key is what tastes best to you. When a plain variety has a subtle flavor, such as the nuttiness of almond milk, that nuance is often covered up in the flavored/sweetened varieties.

  • Soy milk, made from ground soybeans and water, has been on store shelves the longest, and is the most mainstream (as evidenced by the soy lattes at Starbucks). While soy milk lacks the calcium and Vitamin D of dairy milk, it is an excellent source of thiamine and magnesium, plus other essential minerals. The flavored varieties are as appealing as a smoothie.
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    There have been issues with consuming large quantities of soy milk, including the amount of phytoestrogens which can block estrogen. Check with your healthcare professional before using more than a few ounces a day.

  • Rice milk is made from brown rice and water. It has both vitamin D and calcium but lacks protein and fiber. It is lower in calories and has less fat than soy milk. It is slightly higher in carbs.
  • Almond milk is made from ground almonds and water. The plain variety has a subtle nutty flavor. Almond milk is low in calories, carbs and fat and has a small amount of protein. We love the flavored varieties, especially the chocolate milk.
  • Oat milk is made from primarily from oats but other grains—barley, rice, soybeans—can be incorporated. Oat milk is low in fat, with a slightly higher amount of protein than almond milk, but has a higher amount of calories and carbs than the other milk alternatives.
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    Granola with Blue Diamond Almond Breeze almond milk. Photo courtesy Blue Diamond.

  • Hemp milk is made from ground hemp seeds and water. Rich in protein and nutrition, hemp milk contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, vitamins A, E, B-12 and folic acid, magnesium, potassium and iron and the amino acid, GLA. Hemp contains anti-inflammatory agents and improves circulation. That’s all great news; we just prefer the flavor of the mother milk alternatives. Hemp milk does not contain the hallucinatory chemical, THC.
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    While many people view these alternatives as “health food,” the flavored varieties—particularly almond milk and soy milk—are as delicious as any glass of chocolate milk or creamy dairy treat.

    As an old commercial advised: “Try it, you’ll like it!”

      




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