As the mustached celebrities in those milk ads tell us milk does a body good thanks to its calcium, vitamin D and other nutrients But what if you’re lactose intolerant, vegan or simple not a an of cow’s milk? You have plenty of nondiary options- from the more common ones like soy and rice milks to the nut, oat, and even hemp varieties. “I tell patients with lactose issues to explore all of these nondiary alternatives because they all meet different nutritional needs and have unique tastes,” says Karen Graham, RD, an Arizona-based integrative nutritionist. What’s more, each of these milks has a distinct color, texture and flavor that make it fun and interesting to cook with. San Francisco based chef and nutrition consultant Grace Avila shares her favorite ways to use these milks.
The oriinal and most popular nondiary milk, soy milk has a nutritional profile similar to cow’s milk – it’s high in protein (seven grams per cup to skim milk’s nearly nine) and rich in iron. Soy milk is also low in saturated fat and contains no cholesterol. Some people, however, can’t get past the bitter aftertaste and strong odor. If this sounds like you, test the vanilla and chocolate-flavored varieties.
Made from a mixture of brown rice, water and sweeteners, rice milk – like its main ingredient – is high in carbohydrates and low in protein (only one gram of protein per cup). Because it has fewer nutrients than other nondiary milks, store bought rice milk is typically fortified with calcium and vitamin D, says Graham.
Boasting 10 essential amino acids and a balance of omega-3s and omega-6s, hemp milk – made by blending hemp seeds and water – is an excellent source of protein. Also, one cup contains 16 percent more calcium than soy or cow’s milk.
Snacking on almonds is a surefire way to add protein and fiber to your diet – so it’s a bit shocking that a cup of almond milk only contains one to two grams of protein. Why? The drink is more water than nuts, says Graham, which makes it low in calories – only 60 per cup. Yet it contains plenty of vitamin E and trace minerals.
Oat milk is made from a mixture of water and oat groats (the grain hulled and smashed), along with a few other grains such as barley or brown rice. Low in fat and high in calcium, folic acid and iron – oat milk is a healthy alternative to cow’s milk. Unfortunately, it does contains gluten – a problem for those sensitive to wheat.