THE FIVE BEST DAIRY ALTERNATIVES TO MILK
By Rebecca Jacobs
Dairy allergies are extremely common and quite prevalent among the younger population. This can make packing kids’ lunches and using milk alternatives a little tricky. Lactose intolerance is also very common, and many people who cannot tolerate lactose or dairy may feel they are missing out on foods like yogurt, ice cream, and even milk bases for things like smoothies and protein shakes. The good news is that there are healthy dairy alternatives that can taste just as good as milk and provide you with even more nutritional value. Here are my top five picks:
Coconut makes a wonderful dairy alternative and has become quite popular over the past couple of years. Not only will coconut milk or coconut cream serve as a great alternative due to its rich and creamy taste, it will also provide you with lots of nutritional benefits. Coconut milk is generally well tolerated and much easier to digest than regular dairy products. It will also inject a nice boost of healthy fats into your diet while giving you sustained energy. Try coconut milk as a base for your smoothies or make a homemade coconut milk ice cream.
As long as you don’t have an almond allergy, almond milk is another good dairy alternative and can be used in smoothies, protein shakes, cereals, and even as a coffee creamer. Almond milk is much lighter than regular milk and coconut milk, but it is the perfect option if you’re looking for a lower calorie milk with less fat. You’ll also love its refreshing nutty flavor.
Rice milk is a delicious hypoallergenic dairy alternative. If you have a nut allergy, and are avoiding dairy as well, rice milk may be the way to go. It is easily digested and lighter than your typical whole milk or coconut milk, but it pairs nicely with a protein shake or cereal. Although rice milk is much lower in calcium than regular dairy milk, it is high in antioxidants and is a viable source of B vitamins. (1) Since some milks can be high in sugar, be sure to look for an unsweetened version to gain the most health benefits.
Flax milk is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for overall health, and provides many heart health benefits. It is slightly lower in calories than coconut milk, but its texture is thin. Flax milk works well as a replacement for anyone used to drinking skim milk who is looking for a healthy dairy alternative. Its naturally sweet flavor makes it the perfect companion for a cup of tea or coffee.
Milk made from hemp seeds provides a ton of nutritional value since hemp seeds are beneficial to heart health by maintaining healthy cholesterol levels and a healthy digestive balance. Hemp milk has a mild nutty flavor and is one of the thinner dairy alternatives. I would recommend using it in your morning bowl of oats or in a bowl of cereal.
There are lots of delicious ways to enjoy dairy alternatives. Here is one of my favorites.
Dairy Free Cocoa Strawberry Smoothie Recipe:
1 cup dairy free milk of choice
1 frozen banana
4 frozen strawberries
1 tablespoon dark cocoa powder
1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 handful of ice cubes
Place all ingredients in a high-speed blender and blend until smooth.
Enjoy right away!
Tip: This smoothie is both kid and adult friendly. Try using it in place of sweetened juices or artificial protein drinks.
Rebecca Jacobs is a holistic nutritionist who believes in a non-traditional approach to achieving health goals. She understands that everyone’s journey is different, and she is aware that one size does not fit all. Some of Rebecca’s areas of interest include detoxification, weight loss, kidney health, food sensitivities, and digestive health.
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