It is probably obvious that there are soy, almond, coconut, rice, cashew, and even hemp milk replacement products for “those people”—the vegans and other health nuts. And perhaps you can’t see yourself ever venturing into purchasing those products. But–why not? Why not get a half gallon and try it in some limited ways? You may not like to drink it plain, but there are many ways to use non-dairy milk products in cooking where the taste and consistency is indistinguishable. Even plain, it might taste different at first and take some time to get used to. Did you ever move from whole milk to 2%? At first it is not so pleasant, but soon you get used to it so you don’t miss whole milk. Also, when many of the non-dairy milk choices are compared nutritionally to cow’s milk, there are health benefits to non-dairy milk (all kinds are fortified with calcium and vitamin D) Here are the non-dairy milk products I use most often:
- Soy milk is the most like whole cow’s milk in terms of the consistency and nutrition. Soy milk has the same amount of protein and calcium as cow’s milk, but half the calories of whole milk. It can be a great way to substitute for cow’s milk in cooking and baking. Here a recipe for banana pancakes using soy milk instead of cow’s milk.
- Almond milk tastes the most like 2% cow’s milk to us so we use it for cereal or for drinking a glass of milk. Almond milk has less protein but as much calcium as soy or cow’s milk, and is very low in calories. (Chocolate almond milk is delicious and a great treat for kids or adults). Here is a Shepherd’s Pie recipe that uses almond milk.
- Coconut milk. This is my favorite for making curry sauces, adding to soup to make “cream of”, in mashed potatoes, and even whipped cream topping for dessert. Coconut milk has a lot of saturated fat, so if you are watching calories and fat you may want to go easy on it. I use both the canned and the ½ gallon size.
- Flax milk does not have any protein, but has the same amount of calcium as others mentioned above, and is a great source of Omega 3 fatty acids. Flax oil or seeds are the highest in Omega 3s, even above fish. A cup of Good Karma Flax Milk has 1200 mg of Omega 3 fatty acids.
All of these milk substitutes can be used for baking cakes or cookies. Almost any recipe that calls for milk will taste the same with one of these substitutes, even our long time favorite side dish, mashed potatoes. Some add vanilla which may not work for cooking (or with potatoes) so watch the labels when purchasing.