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What are Some Milk Substitutes?

Many people have an allergy or sensitivity to dairy products or avoid them for ethical reasons.
Soymilk.
Whole oats which can be used to make a substitute for milk in some recipes.
Almonds can be used to make almond milk.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 28 August 2014
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Milk substitutes are often derived from either rice or soy. Products like Rice Dream® and Silk® are readily available right next to the usual dairy offerings of milk. These products come in generic brands as well, which many find comparable to name brands.

Some products use a milk substitute to replace dairy ingredients like cream. One can find ice creams made by both Rice Dream® and Silk® next to traditional milk or cream frozen confections.

Both rice and soymilk are comparable to milk in protein, but lower in saturated fats. Rice milk has a lower protein count than both dairy and soymilk. Some people have difficulty digesting soy and may prefer a milk substitute made from rice. One can also make one’s own milk substitute from soy or rice.

One can make rice milk by cooking one part rice to four parts water. Some like to add a dash of vanilla for extra flavoring. After the rice is fully cooked, it needs to be blended with its liquid and then strained several times through cheesecloth. Many find fresh rice milk a fantastic addition to their daily diet.

Soymilk is often the preferred milk substitute because of its high protein content. Soymilk takes a lot longer than rice milk to make at home because one must soak the soybeans overnight before cooking them. The usual proportion in cooking is one part dried soybeans to five parts of water. These too are cooked, blended and strained.

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Some people prefer the taste of almond milk to rice or soymilk. Almond milk is harder to find in grocery stores than the latter two. However, many find it more digestible, and enjoy its high protein content. Almond milk was a traditional food of the Arabic Moors, who praised its sweetness and it’s ability to keep well in poor storage conditions. Cooks enjoy using almond milk as a milk substitute in dishes like rice pudding or pumpkin pie.

Recipes for almond milk usually require almonds to be boiled with water, and then ground in the blender. The result is a somewhat chunky textured product, which must be strained to create a finer consistency. Homemade almond milk will usually keep in the refrigerator for a week, and is a great milk substitute choice for vegetarians. It is also the most popular milk substitute in the Raw Food movement, now gaining popularity.

Other milk substitutes are coconut milk, oat milk, or milk derived from other grains like barley. With the exception of coconut milk, most other milk substitutes are less commonly found in stores, though one may have luck finding a few at natural food stores. Recipes for making these milk substitutes can be easily found online.

Nutritional experts suggest avoiding milk substitutes in the form of artificial creamers. These creamers are frequently made from saturated fats, which tend to be more fattening than even half and half or cream. Some low fat versions are now being produced, but nutritional experts still suggest choosing a healthier milk substitute or dairy itself over products made from oils.

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Discuss this Article

anon300043
Post 6

I hope one of you can help with this. I need something to go in my coffee and tea. I can't drink cow's milk. Goat's milk just doesn't cut it and I won't drink soy milk. I like coconut 'milk' but it's really fatty and doesn't taste right anyway. Does anyone know of a good-tasting substitute, maybe even dehydrated so I can carry it with me?

bigblind
Post 5

@lotusfeet – The evidence about possible negative effects of soy haven’t been completely conclusive yet. However, soy does contain compounds that are very similar in structure to estrogen, a hormone that helps regulate female bodily functions. Some studies have shown that soy has caused higher rates of breast and ovarian cancer in women. Soy’s effect on men is a little less well documented. There has been some evidence however, that soy has caused a decreased sperm count in men but again, it’s not conclusive.

lotusfeet
Post 4

@cmsmith10 - What are some of the disadvantages that are believed to come with soy milk?

lori43
Post 3

@krisl – It’s hard to say which of the main three substitutes is the best, assuming you are referring to almond milk, soy milk, and rice milk. There are a lot of trade offs between the three. Soy milk has a lot of protein, but it also has a lot of fats. The fats found in soy milk however, are of the less harmful, unsaturated variety. Almond milk is known to be rich in nutrients such as vitamin E, among others. In my opinion, it’s also the tastiest milk substitute, and goes well in more things than soy milk. I hope this helps.

cmsmith10
Post 2

@krisl: Three milk substitutes that I have used are almond milk, rice milk, and soy milk. Almond milk has a nice taste and is around sixty calories per cup for the sweetened version. You can make it at home if you want a higher concentration of almonds.

Rice milk has more calories and more carbs than almond milk so it might not be the best option if you are on a low carb diet. It has a sweet taste and is thinner in texture than almond milk.

Soy milk has a variety of choices including sugar free or low fat. Many people compare this as the closest to cow’s milk. It is rich in isoflavones which can act as estrogen in the body. I would use soy milk as my last choice. There are still studies being done as to the disadvantages of soy milk.

krisl
Post 1

What are the health benefits of the main three milk substitutes? Which is the healthiest of the three?

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