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Mooving Away from Milk? Dairy Alternatives Part II

By John DiGilio in Food on Feb 28, 2011 7:00PM

2011_2_DiGilio_SoyMilk.jpgThis is the second of two installments covering some of the more popular alternatives to dairy milk-based products. Whether you like your dairy servings in a glass or on a plate, there are plenty of tasty possibilities that are free of lactose and animal proteins. In Part I, we covered legume or plant-based milks as well as an overview of the major types of milk alternatives. Now we conclude, with a look at nut and grain-based milk alternatives.

Nut milks have become popular of late and more have been showing up in stores. A blended mixture of water and nuts with the pulp filtered out, they offer a thinner texture but a wonderfully nutty flavor. Great for coffee and hot chocolate, that nuttiness will add a tasty twist to hot drinks. They too are great on cereal and are OK for cooking, providing thickness is not issue. You have to be careful when adding them to dishes as they do tend to carry a heavy flavor. Almond milk is perhaps the most commonly found of the nut milks, though they can be made from almost any nut. Blue Diamond’s Almond Breeze brand is delicious. Again, try the chocolate by the glass. It is delicious. Cheese lovers will be thrilled with the taste and texture of Dr. Cow’s Aged Cashew Tree Nut Cheese. It is 100% vegan, cholesterol free, and even aged (like good cheese should be!). It is pricey, but worth it. Nut milks can be even be easily made at home with a strong blender, a fine strainer, and your favorite raw nuts. They offer good amounts of protein, vitamins A and E, potassium, essential fatty acids, and fiber.

Finally, there are the grain milks. These are actually made through a fermentation process using such popular grains as rice, oats, wheat, spelt, and more. In our opinion, these are the least milk-like of the milk alternatives. This is not to say that they are not tasty or good for you. Grain milks tend to be low in saturated fats and are lactose and milk protein free, which is makes them perfect for the lactose intolerant, vegans and people with milk allergies. Rice milk has actually been available for drinking and in cheese and ice cream forms for quite some time. The Rice Dream brand is the most popular and widely available of these and offers a wide range of non-dairy products. Their line of frozen desserts continues to expand and improve. We recommend the Cookies n’ Dream and Neapolitan flavors. Oat milk is the new kid on the block and available mainly in health food stores right now. We have read good things about it, but have yet to to try it. Pacific Natural's oat milk has been getting some good press and we hope to get our hands on some soon.

So that about covers the gamut of major dairy alternatives. New ones seem to coming along all the time. The best way to get a handle on them is to try them, both by the glass and in your favorite recipes. Be creative - tired cows everywhere will be thankful. So will your tastebuds and your body. We are not advocating that you give up milk altogether. That is up to you. But there are healthy, delicious alternatives worth at least the occasional diversion.

Favorite recipes using non-dairy milk? Put them in the comments below!

Photo by Live Strong.