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5 Vegan Alternatives to Milk

by Kourtney Linebaugh on February 1, 2013

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While some vegan milks (such as soy) have a flavor similar to cow’s milk, others (like coconut and hazelnut) offer a new perspective on how tasty plant-based milks can be.

Whether added to cereals or smoothies or enjoyed on their own, non-dairy plant based milks can be bought unfortified, or fortified with important minerals and vitamins such as calcium, B-12, and vitamin D.

As well as being creamy and tasty, most plant milks are also available in a variety of flavors that make a delicious hot or cold drink. When it comes to tea, coffee or breakfast cereal however, some find the unflavored milks work better.

Check the brands carried by your local supermarket or health food store for specific nutritional details and keep your eyes open for different flavors, such as chocolate, french vanilla or chai.

Rice Milk

Light and sweet, with a thin consistency that is similar to 1%  milk.

Low in fat and naturally high in B vitamins, rice milk contains manganese and selenium, which are powerful antioxidants that help protect you from infections and cancers.

Serving Suggestion: Hot/steamed rice milk with a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg.

If rice milk is too sweet or simple for your palate, give almond milk a try.

Almond Milk

A complex, slightly nutty flavor, with a hint of sweetness.

Naturally nutritious, almond milk is a good milk to make at home. As well as being low in fat and calories, it is high in many essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin E.

Serving Suggestion: Almond milk latte. Pour frothed almond milk over a shot of espresso.

Is almond milk too nutty or complex for you? Try oat milk.

Oat Milk

Light “oaty” flavor, more subtle than almond or coconut.

Oat milk is high in protein, fiber, and iron. It also contains antioxidants which can protect against certain diseases, including heart disease, stroke, and some cancers.

Serving Suggestion: Mexican hot chocolate. 1 cup oat milk, 1 spoonful cocoa powder, ½ tsp vanilla, ½ tsp cinnamon, and a pinch cayenne pepper. Sweeten to taste.

Looking for a vegan milk with a texture similar to cow’s milk? Try coconut milk.

Coconut Milk

A rich, creamy milk with a quiet side note of coconut.

Although the taste is very different, the consistency of coconut milk is very similar to cow’s milk. As well as being low in calories and high in B-12, it is also a good source of omegas and healthy fats.

Serving Suggestion: Fresh brewed coffee with a splash of coconut milk. Or, try adding ½ cup coconut milk to homemade smoothies.

If coconut milk isn’t quite exotic enough for you, try hemp milk.

Hemp Milk

Bitter, earthy flavor

Hemp milk is made from the seeds of the hemp plant. THC-free and legal, hemp milk is a good choice for its naturally-occurring omega fatty acids, as well as fiber. Interestingly, it is free from any known allergens.

Serving Suggestion: Hemp milk hot chocolate. Add a few scoops of cocoa to vanilla hemp milk for a creamy hot chocolate treat.

If hemp milk’s flavor is too much for you, try a simpler flavor like rice or almond milk.

 

DIY: Make Your Own Nut or Seed Milk

Sunflower Milk
yields 1 quart

1 quart ice cold water
2/3 cup sunflower seeds
2–3 tsp. sweetener, to taste
a dash of vanilla (optional)

  1. Place sunflower seeds in a blender, just covering the blades.
  2. Cover seeds with one cup of water and blend to a purée (about one minute).
  3. Add sweetener and vanilla. Use a plastic spatula or a little water to get the pieces of seeds off the sides of the blender.
  4. When the purée becomes difficult to blend, add a few more tablespoons of water until it is completely smooth.
  5. Fill to the top with ice cold water while still blending.
  •  Optional ~ Strain milk through a fine strainer or cheese cloth.
  • Use cashews in place of sunflower seeds for a rich, cream-like “milk”.
  • Serve with cold cereal, raisins and fruit.

 

Almond Milk
yields 4–5 cups

1/2 cup almonds
1 quart ice cold water
2 1/2 Tbsp. maple syrup/sweetener
a dash of almond extract

For a white, creamy milk, blanch the almonds. Pour boiling water over almonds and let sit for 5–10 minutes. Remove the outer brown layer which will come off easily.

  1. Cover the blades of the blender completely with almonds.
  2. Pour one cup of water (a little over the almonds) into the blender and purée until smooth and creamy. Use a plastic spatula or a little water to get the pieces of almond off the sides of the blender.
  3. When the purée becomes difficult to blend, add a few more tablespoons of water until it is completely smooth.
  4. Fill to the top with ice cold water while still blending. Add maple syrup and almond extract and blend again.
  • Almond milk can be strained for an even smoother consistency.

These recipes have been reproduced from Incredibly Delicious: Recipes for a New Paradigm, which includes all sorts of tips to help make the transition to veganism easy and delicious.

 

Image courtesy of Somchai Som / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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