Best Alternatives to Traditional Milk

By October 5, 2014 recipes, vegan

Best Alternatives To Traditional Milk | The Macadames

Boy are there a lot of milk options out there! Since trying to eat animal free as much as possible, I have been investigating the various alternatives to dairy milk – although soy is the only one I can drink in coffee, the others are great for making smoothies, sauces, desserts & more! If you’ve recently jumped on the dairy free band wagon, I hope this list helps you in working out what the milk alternatives are and what they can be used for.

Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist nor do I have professional education/training in nutrition, this list has been compiled based on research online from reputable websites and my experience from reading nutrition books.

Coconut milk

Coconut milk with coconuts

Apparently coconut is absolutely the new almond. Between coconut water, coconut milk, coconut oil/butter, coconut flakes, coconut jelly, coconut flour, and recently I saw, coconut sugar – this tropical fruit? nut? is practically taking over the shelves of your local health food store.  

The pros: 

  • Low in cholesterol, carbohydrates and sodium.
  • Creamy texture. If you like that sort of thing. 
  • Contains those amazing “healthy fats” that are rich in lauric acid. 
  • Loaded with Vitamin B12. 

The cons: 

  • Coconut milk can often separate/solidify – just warm it up before using.
  • Low in natural protein.
  • Not for you if you’re allergic to nuts. Duhh. 
  • Most store bought versions contain additives – so be sure to buy organic or make your own. 
  • If you don’t live on a tropical island covered in coconut trees, transport of coconut products increase your carbon footprint. 
  • Tends to be on the exxy side. 

I’d use it for curries, smoothies, desserts, breakfasts (bircher, porridge) etc. 

Soy milk

Soy milk in a glass with soy beans

Over recent years, soy milk has gone the way of sunning – do it, don’t do it, wait maybe you need some sun?

Every week I stumble across another article heavily debating the pros and cons of soy milk. It’s pretty much reached a point where there is so much info for & against, I can hardly remember if I am drinking it or not?

Hailed as a superfood, and then not on one side, to Dr Weil claiming soy is good for you – it’s hard not to get confused.

Soy milk is made from extracting milk from mature soy beans; and then is typically mixed with water and some type of natural sweetener.

The pros: 

  • High in natural proteins. 
  • Thick & slightly creamy texture. 
  • Very low in saturated fat.
  • Cholesterol free. 
  • Organic soy milk is low cost and available almost anywhere. 
  • Soy milk used can be used in almost anything, smoothies, coffee, ice cream and yogurt. 

The pros: 

  • Being a common food allergy, it’s not suitable for everyone.
  • Soy crops are often loaded with pesticides and GMO – so be sure to buy organic.  
  • Some say that too much soy can increase oestrogen production
  • Soy milk has a thicker texture and often gets lumpy near the bottom of the container – just shake the bottle before pouring. 

I’d use it for coffee, smoothies, sauces (béchamel etc). 

Hemp milk

Hemp Milk | The Macadames

Hemp milk is the new kid on the block. You probably haven’t seen a lot of debate on it, which will mean you can probably impress your alternative-milk-drinker-friends with your knowledge. 

The pros:

  • Loaded with Omega 3 and 6 essential fatty acids.
  • Some research shows that it’s safe for some people with nut allergies. That being said, other research shows it may cause allergies in children — so it’s divided.
  • Low in sugar.
  • Has no cholesterol. 
  • Relatively thick texture. 
  • Tastes great and can be used for ice cream and baked goods. 

The cons: 

  • Store bought versions are often made with thickeners – so be sure to check the ingredient list. 
  • Some research shows that protein in hemp milk may not be as good as protein in soy milk.
  • Generally more expensive and harder to find. As soon as hemp milk gets picked up by the hipsters, this won’t be a problem. 

I’d use it for smoothies, breakfasts (bircher, oats, cereal) etc. 

Oat milk

Oat Milk | The Macadames

Oat milk, similar to hemp milk is newer to the market. If you don’t like nutty-tasting milk, then oat milk might be perfect for you. It’s high in folic acid, fibre, vitamin E and has been suggested to prevent heart disease, stroke and some cancers. 

The pros:

The cons:

  • High in sugar.
  • Low in protein and fiber.
  • Thinner texture, so can make baking difficult. 
  • Not suitable for people with gluten-intolerance.
  • Often contains added thickeners.
  • Conventionally grown oats often contain a load of pesticide residue – so be sure to buy organic.  

I’d drink it on its own or use it for smoothies, desserts, breakfasts (bircher, porridge, cereal) etc. 

Almond milk

Almond Milk | The Macadames

Almond milk seems to be the hipsters choice of alt-milk these days. I’ve seen it be used in Brunswick St coffee shops and even at Thr1ve

It’s made by blending roasted almonds. Then nutrients such as calcium, vitamin D, and the antioxidant vitamin E are added to the resulting liquid, which can also be sweetened or flavored. Almond milk is free of saturated fat, cholesterol, and lactose, and the unsweetened versions have just 60 calories a cup.

The pros: 

  • Tastes great. It’s slightly sweet so you can omit sweetener when making drinks/baking. 
  • High in magnesium and vitamin E.
  • Very low in fat and sugar.

The cons: 

  • Very low in protein. 
  • Thinner texture, so it usually comes with added preservatives and thickeners – avoid this by making your own
  • Not suitable for people with nut allergies.
  • It can be on the exxy side, but hey, it’s your health right? 

I’d drink it on its own or use it for coffee, smoothies, desserts, breakfasts (bircher, porridge, cereal) etc. 

Rice milk

Rice in a bowl

Rice milk is a pretty popular alternative milk, and it seems to have avoided debate. Most people consider it a healthy alternative to milk, as long as you buy organic. 

It’s created from a mixture of partially milled rice and water. Another bonus is that it’s least likely of all the milk products to trigger allergies, so it’s a good option for those who can’t drink soy, nut, or cow’s milk. 

The pros: 

  • Very low in fat.
  • Has a nice sweet flavour, and is great for baking.
  • One of the easiest alternative milks to make at home.
  • Suitable for those who have soy and nut allergies.
  • It can be quite inexpensive. 

The cons:

  • Not very high in like protein, vitamin A and fats.
  • Can be loaded with pesticides (rice is a high pesticide crop) and often other chemicals  – so be sure to buy organic.  
  • Even though it’s not added, rice milk is naturally high in sugar
  • Thinner texture, so it usually comes with added preservatives and thickeners – avoid this by making your own

I’d use it for smoothies, desserts, breakfasts (bircher, porridge, cereal) etc. 

If you’ve got any amazing milk alternatives i’ve missed here, i’d love to hear about them in the comments!’

Anisa – The Macadames. xx

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  • Reply Kelly - LEFT SIDE OF THE TABLE October 8, 2014 at 9:50 am

    Absolutely love this post!! Very clarifying and informative Anisa! I just tried hemp milk for the first time in a cappuccino in NYC. I was forced to try it lol because I didn’t want milk and that was their only alternative. But it was surprisingly amazing!! I usually stick with soy despite the controversy like you mentioned over it. I like almond milk too. However, it lacks the creaminess I like from soy lol. Thanks so much dear. HUGS from NYC!

  • Reply Anisa October 8, 2014 at 10:20 pm

    Thanks love! Hemp milk in a cappuccino really? Even better that it was amazing!! I usually stick with one soy coffee a day just incase the controversy is correct and use almond for everything else. Hugs from sunny Canberra. Can not wait to follow your travels – you are going to be AMAZING Kelly. In a few years I might need to get an autograph hahah xx

  • Reply Emma July 17, 2017 at 6:57 pm

    Brilliant article! Hemp milk cappucino’s are THE BEST. If you are looking for high-quality organic hemp products in Australia check out The Hemp Factory

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