Your Ultimate Guide to Non-Dairy Milks

Non-dairy milk is great. Its tasty, its versatile, and its cruelty free. But, it can be very confusing. You’re making a dinner for your lactose intolerant friend – what milk goes best? Which one is the healthiest? Why is this so hard? With so many non-dairy milks on our supermarket shelfs nowadays, choosing the right one can be a hard task. Whether you have recently gone vegan, are lactose-intolerant or just fancy a change to non-dairy milk, here is the ultimate guide to non-dairy milks!

Below is a chart comparing different nutritional values of non-dairy milk. Each value is taken from that milks best-selling brand, so these may vary from brand to brand! So many brand also do variations, such as sweetened, non-sweetened, low fat etc., so make sure you check out the nutritional information on the carton before buying!

Soy Milk

As you can see from the chart above, soymilk has the highest protein content of all the non-dairy milks.  This makes it a great choice if you have recently turned vegan, or are trying to gain more muscle. Soymilk also has around 75% more antioxidants than cow’s milk!

(Picture sourced from http://czzs.org/genetically-modified-soy-illegally-in-republic-of-srpska...)

So what can you use soymilk in? Firstly, as it is already high in protein, mixing with a protein shake post-gym will get you even better macros. As soymilk has a rich and creamy texture, it is great to drink straight from the glass, over cereal, in porridge or in coffee. In terms of cooking soy milk is one of the best milks to choose if the recipe requires cow’s milk but you want to make a dairy-free alternative – as it is very similar textually to cow’s milk, as well as being stable at high temperatures, it makes a great switch out in savoury dishes and sauces.

One of the other great things about soymilk is the price; it is by far the cheapest non-dairy milk on the list. This is because many supermarkets make their own brand soymilk but no other non-dairy milk. For example, Aldi sell a litre of soymilk for just 49p. So if you’re looking for a non-dairy milk that doesn’t break the bank balance, opt for soymilk.

Almond milk                                                                                       

Almond milk is my personal favourite dairy-free milk. Not only is it delicious, but if you are counting calories, almond milk is your best bet, at the leading brand containing just 13kcal per 100ml, and one of the lowest amounts of fat! Furthermore, it is full of vitamins.

Almond milk is slightly sweet, nutty and creamy. It is very tasty straight from the glass, in coffee or in cereal. While almond milk can definitely be used in savoury dishes, because of its sweeter taste, it’s certainly very well suited for desserts and baking. One of our favourite ways to use almond milk is in smoothies, as it doesn’t rack up the calorie content but adds a sweet and nutty taste.

                                                                  (picture sourced from http://food.ndtv.com/opinions/why-soaked-almonds-are-better-than-raw-alm...)                                                                

 

Cashew milk

Cashew milk is another best-selling non-dairy milk. Similar to almond milk, while cashew milk doesn’t contain much protein it is one of the lowest in calories and fat, making it great for eating healthily. Furthermore, cashew milk is often fortified with calcium, and contains lots of vitamin A, D and B12, making it a great choice nutritionally.

Again, similarly to almond milk, cashew milk has a very creamy texture and nutty taste. However, cashew milk is not as sweet, so therefore works great in both savoury and sweet dishes. It has become a very common vegan mac and cheese hack, to use cashew or cashew milk to give the mac and cheese a great texture and flavour.

One of my favourite things about cashew milk is how easy it is to make at home. Cashews are the easiest nuts to blend because there is no pulp to strain.

 

Coconut milk                                                                  

Coconut milk can be one of the more confusing milks; yes, there is a difference between coconut milk beverages and coconut milk in a can. Coconut milk as a beverage contains the highest quantity of fat and saturated fat of the non-dairy milks – but don’t be put off! There are a tonne of vitamins and minerals in coconut milk, as well as it tasting incredible.

Coconut milk is delicious in coffees, smoothie, granola and especially tasty in any forms of spiced tea, like masala. Its creamy consistency also makes coconut milk a perfect dairy alternative in baking and in desserts. However, its strong and sweet flavour makes it not a great alternative in milder tasting desserts.

                                                                                      (Picture sourced https://www.amazon.com/Molivera-Organics-Fractionated-Coconut-Aromathera...)

However, Coconut milk in the can is a little different. You certainly wouldn’t want to drink this from a glass or eat it with cereal! However, this is perfect for soups, stews, sauces and goes excellently in curries. For example, a delicious tofu korma can be made with coconut milk to make it extra creamy and wholesome.

Hemp milk Hemp milk is perhaps one of the least well-known varieties of plant-based milks. It is a great source of the omega-3 fatty acid ALA, and is low in calories too.

Hemp milk is thick, creamy and has a slight nutty texture. It does, however, have a strong taste, so is certainly better suited to cooking with in savoury dishes, rather than drinking alone. However, the PETA argue that hemp milk is one of the best non-dairy milks to drink with tea to give it a deeper flavour!

 

Oat milk Oat milk is, again, one of the least well-known non-dairy milks, however, due to a great marketing campaign by leading selling brand, Oatly, more and more people are buying oat milk. Oat milk is high in fibre, vitamin E and folic acid, which are all essential; nutrients. It is also, however, one of the highest in calories, but compared to cow’s milk is still less.

Oat milk is light with a mild, slightly sweet flavour. It is tasty straight from the glass, with cereal or in smoothies too. In terms of cooking, because of oat milk’s mild flavour it goes well in both savoury and sweet dishes. Its light texture also makes it a great choice for lighter cream (i.e. mushroom), and also in curries.

                                          (Picture sourced: https://www.oatsovernight.com/blogs/news/overnight-oats)

Rice milk Rice milk is a great alternative for nut, gluten or soy allergy sufferers as it has the lowest allergy risk of all the non-dairy milks we have listed. Unsurprisingly, rice milk has the highest amount of carbs and calories, which is great if you need energy, but not as desirable if you are counting calories.

Rice milk is quite a lot thinner compared to other milks, and also has a milder flavour. Its flavour is very light and sweet, and therefore nice in tea and with cereal. Its sweet taste does make it a good choice to make desserts with, however is unfavourable for baking; because it is so thin, rice milk needs a thickening agent if you plan to bake with it, such as cornstarch. Furthermore, its delicate texture makes it work well in light sauces and soups but it may be too sweet for more savoury recipes.