Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Heart of the Matter

When I first found out that I needed to eliminate soy and dairy from my diet, the immediate question was, if I can't drink milk, and I can't drink soy milk, what do I drink?
Luckily, there are a lot of "milk" alternatives on the market today, and in all honesty, it's really a matter of personal preference. I don't have a perfect milk or soy depends on how sweet you like your milk alternative and what you're using it for.
I should mention right off the bat that some milk alternatives contain soy...almond milk being the big culprit. So always, always check labels. Here's a quick rundown of the milk alternatives that I've tried and my general thoughts and recommendations on them. But your best bet is really to go to PCC or Whole Foods and load up your cart with one of everything you can try. Be prepared to toss any that turn you off (I certainly wasted some money in this endevour), but it's hard to find what you like without being willing to try things.
  • Oat Milk: I'm listing this first because it's my favorite. When I'm craving a glass of milk, this is what I grab. It's comforting, with a oatmeal sort of taste, but is really quite nice, and has a good thickness. It's one of the thickest milk alternatives I've found - closest in consistency to soy milk. I tried heating it up for hot chocolate - big mistake. I've found this is best either ice cold for drinking straight, or any temperature if you're adding it to coffee. Speaking of coffee, this is my add-in of choice. It is the most mild (unlike rice milk, which gives coffee an odd flavor, in my opinion), and it gives the coffee the right caramel color that I'm so used to with my half and half. What can I saw, drinking coffee is very ritualistic, and these things are important. HA!
  • Rice Milk: Great alternative for diary replacement in baking - be sure to get the Original (not vanilla). My Costco carries Rice Dream Original rice milk and I buy it there and store the aseptic containers in the garage. I go through them quickly, so this is a good cost saver. Rice milk works well as a replacement for milk on cereal, and I've found great success replacing it 1:1 with milk in french toast, pancakes, cornbread, etc. It doesn't have a lot of fat/binding, so you have to experiment, but in baked goods, you can't even tell the difference. My husband can confirm this. Rice Dream brand also makes a few other rice milk-based beverages, including a Vanilla, Chocolate, Chocolate Chai, Vanilla Hazelnut, and Horchata (cinnamon rice milk). All three of these are really sweet, but if you like sweet or want something special to add to your morning coffee, give them a try.
  • Nut Milk: There are a variety of these. Hazenut milk is a popular one. It's much sweeter then oat or rice milk. You might try it in coffee, but I found it left a bit of an oily sheen on the top of my joe and it turned me off. And in all honesty, it's just too sweet for my liking. Try different ones and see what you like, but as I mentioned above, be careful with almond milk - most labels I've read contain soy.
  • Hemp Milk: Haven't tried this yet. I'll let you know what I think when I get around to it.
  • Coconut Milk: This is a decent option for recipes for puddings and ice cream. I haven't experimented much with using coconut milk as a milk replacement, but I'll keep everyone updated. Just know that this is a safe alternative.

One final note - if milk and soy alternatives are new to you, look in the Natural Foods section of your grocery store. You won't find these in the cold case - they're on the shelves, usually with the juice, in aseptic cartons that you only have to store in the refrigerator once you open them. They are generally fresh, once opened, for 7-10 days.

1 comment:

  1. i drink brand "blue diamond" almond milk and it is "soy free"....and vanilla flavored is delicious by itself!