It’s the open-ended debate…. your favorite dairy-free milk alternative. Since I haven’t been able to eat dairy after being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease, I had to re-adjust everything I ate. Luckily for me, there were plenty of dairy substitutes and milk substitutes already on the market.
Almond milk has been my favorite dairy alternative from the beginning. In fact I love it so much, I recently shared with you how to make home-made almond milk. However, even though almond milk is DELICIOUS, with a dairy-free diet it’s sometimes nice to switch up the milk you drink because some may not be the most nutritionally complete plant-based milk, but that really depends on the brand and kind you have bought.
That said, I wanted to share some other milk alternatives that are on the market. Feel free to experiment and find one that works best for you!
What is Plant-Based Milk?
As the name implies, plant-based milk is from plants. Dairy milk comes from cows and has properties that make it hard for some people who are allergic to dairy to digest. Plant-based milk comes from other plants and seeds and can be homemade by soaking the plants and seeds over night. Almond milk and soy milk are a few examples.
You can buy plant-based milk or make your own. The main benefit to making your own as opposed to buying it is you know exactly what is being put in the milk, from the amount of almonds to any additional sweeteners you add. In other words, it’s a much cleaner product when you make it at home. I love making homemade almond milk when I can because not only do I know exactly what I’m putting into my body and what I’m feeding my family, but it also tastes really good.
When I don’t have time to make almond milk, I like to buy it to have on hand. My favorite brand is from Good Mylk Co. and Three Trees Almond Milk.
If you are looking to make your own nut milk, you can download 6 of my favorite recipes here:
The Best Plant-Based Milk Options
Alright, now let’s get down to it: the best plant-based milk options. I’ll be giving an overview of 5 plant-based milk alternatives.
- Oat Milk
- Hemp Milk
- Rice Milk
- Flax Seed Milk
- Pea Milk
1. Oat Milk
Talk about a craze! Oat milk stormed the scene and many people quickly became obsessed, especially coffee-lovers as it’s really good in lattes, cappuccinos, not to mention it’s easier on the wallet to make instead of nut milks. But how does it stack up?
It’s dairy free, nut free, and soy free. Most are gluten-free, but if you do have a gluten allergy, be sure to look for certified Gluten-free oat milk. It’s also a lot creamier than other nut milks and has a subtly sweet flavor.
Oatly is a very popular oat milk brand. 1 cup (240 ml) of their oat-milk contains:
- 120 calories
- 5 grams of fat
- 2 grams of dietary fiber
- 3 grams of protein
- 3.6 mcg of Vitamin D
- 350 mg of Calcium
- And more!
The image pictured above is the Oat Yeah by Silk, however, because of possible contamination, their website says they cannot guarantee it to be gluten free, even though the oats are naturally gluten free.
How to Make Your Own Oat Milk
Oat milk is essentially made by soaking steel-cut oats or whole oats in water, blending them, and using a cheesecloth to strain it. It’s more environmentally friendly to make as opposed to nut milk. This oat milk recipe from the Minimalist Baker is super easy:
- 1 Cup of Organic Gluten Free Rolled Oats (these are my favorite), regular rolled oats, or steel cut oats, take your pick 🙂
- Natural sweetener, if you want (Minimalist baker recommends 1 organic pitted date or 1 Tbsp of organic Maple Syrup)
- 4 cups of water
- A pinch of salt
- 1/2 tsp of organic vanilla if you need it a little sweeter
- Blend oats, water and the rest of the ingredients in a blender until well mixed (Minimalist Baker recommends not blending it too much)
- Strain the blended using a clean t-shirt or thin towel
- Store in the fridge in a closed container
Since I try to stay away from sugar as much as I can, I’d simplify the recipe and probably would not include the vanilla and just add a date to sweeten it a little bit.
This milk alternative is super easy to make and when you know exactly what goes in it, you can feel good about drinking it. In this case, this recipe is super flexible and allows you to adjust as you see fit for you and your family.
2. Hemp Milk
Next on the list is hemp milk. Now, seeing this may have brought up some concern for you. However let me assure you, hemp milk does not contain THC and thus does not give you the feeling of being ‘high’. (Read more about THC and my journey with CBD here).
One of the benefits of hemp is that it is a complete protein and it’s one of the few plants that are. It has more protein and healthy fats than almond milk, rice milk and oat milk. The drink itself has a creamy texture.
Tempt is the brand of hemp milk that is picture above. It says that it’s gluten and soy free. Some of it’s other nutrition facts for 1 cup are:
- 8 grams of Fat
- 2 grams of protein
- 6% Iron
- 30% Calcium
Another brand of Hemp Milk that I like is from Good Mylk Co. You can either buy it in a ‘Ready to Drink’ pack, or in a Concentrate form.
How to Make Your Own Hemp Milk
Essentially, the way you make hemp milk is the same for how you would make oat milk: blend and strain. This recipe from godairyfree.org shows how easy it is:
- Divide 2 cups of water
- Sweeteners: 1/2 tsp of pure organic vanilla and 2 tbsp of organic Maple Syrup
- 1/2 of organic hemp seeds that are shelled
- Pinch of salt
- Put one cup of water and the hemp seeds into a blender and blend until smooth
- Add the other cup of water, sweeteners and salt and blend again until it’s creamy
- Strain through a cheesecloth into container and squeeze out any extract
- Chill in refrigerator
Again, this recipe is so super easy and another great milk alternative for a dairy-free lifestyle.
3. Rice Milk
Moving right along our next milk alternative is rice milk. Rice goes with everything, so it makes sense that works as a milk alternative as well. It’s commonly made with brown rice and as you can see on the packaging, it’s “Easy to Digest” which is always a plus in my book and it’s lower in fat.
Organic Rice Dream (pictured above) is lactose, dairy, gluten, and cholesterol free. Some of it’s nutrients are:
- 2.5 grams of Total Fat
- 1 gram of protein
- 23 grams of Total Carbohydrates
Rice Milk doesn’t have much nutritional value. However, when you need a dairy-free milk alternative that isn’t one of the others mentioned, this will do the trick.
How to Make Your Own Rice Milk
Remember when I said making oat milk was easy? Well, this one is even easier! This recipe from “Don’t Waste the Crumbs” only needs two ingredients and one step! The only disclaimer is that the rice needs to be cooked before making the milk, so plan accordingly.
- 4 cups of water
- 1 cup of organic rice (make sure it’s cooked!)
- Blend together until it’s a good consistency
So while rice milk may not top the charts as being the most nutritious, it’s definitely an easy option if I need to quick make some for my morning smoothie.
4. Flax Seed Milk
Up next for milk alternatives is Flax Seed Milk. This milk has a lot of good benefits to it. The Good Karma Flaxmilk says it’s product is dairy, lactose, soy, gluten and nut free, so a really good option when trying to avoid allergies. Additionally, it’s got a creamy texture and is high in Omega 3 Fatty Acids. Other nutritional facts for 1 cup of Good Karma Flaxmilk are:
- 2.5 grams of total fat
- 30% Daily Value of Calcium
The nutritional value of this milk puts it a little higher on my list.
How to Make Your Own Flax Seed Milk
Out of the milks previously mentioned, the process to make Flax Milk is a little longer. The recipe on HealthfulPursuit.com needs 4 ingredients and is made as follows:
- 6 cups of water
- 5 organic pitted dates
- 1/4 cup of organic whole flax seeds, raw
- 2 tsp of pure organic vanilla extract
- Blend flax seeds and water in a blender
- Pour mixture through a nut milk bag into another container and squeeze out any excess
- Repeat the seconds step, pouring liquid back into blender with new nut milk bag
- Add the other ingredients and blend until the dates are all the way blended
- Can store in the fridge for 3-5 days
As you can see, this one takes a few more steps to complete. However, to gain the benefits of flax with the added peace-of-mind of what goes in it, I would set aside some time to make a batch for the week.
5. Pea Milk
Last, but certainly not least as it has taken the world by storm is pea milk, specifically Ripple Pea Milk. Along with Ripple being vegan, lactose, dairy, nut, soy, GMO, and gluten free, it also has creamy and rich texture and taste. It has great nutritional value. Here are some of the nutritional values for one cup of Ripple Milk:
- 8 grams of protein
- 45% Daily Value of Calcium
- 30% Daily Value of Vitamin D
This one is up there for having good nutritional values! Plus, the packing is super cute, and I’m a sucker for good branding 🙂 Read why branding is important for your company here.
How to Make Your Own Pea Milk
While Ripple has some amazing health benefits, it does includes some ingredients that I don’t love. That’s where making your own comes in handy. Making pea milk is a bit more of a challenge and may be harder to replicate the taste of the store bought. However, I found a recipe by The Life With Lily that goes like this:
- 1 cup of organic yellow split peas
- 4-5 pitted organic Dates
- 2 Tbsp of Organic Coconut Oil (The original recipe calls for grape seed oil, however, I would rather include coconut oil for this recipe)
- 4 cups of water
- 2 Tbsp Vanilla Extract
- Soak peas overnight
- Add them to a pot with 3 cups of water and cook until soft
- Add the all the ingredients (minus the water) to a blender and blend until smooth
- Add the water and continue blending until smooth
- Strain through cheese cloth
- Can be refrigerated 4 days in a closed container
Supplies you May Need
Want to make your own nut milk? Here are a few things you might need to get you started:
I also recommend investing in the Almond Cow! It makes almond milk so quickly, it’s amazing. I soak the almonds the night before and then add them in the morning and it’s ready in a snap! It’s one of my favorite kitchen appliances!
Additional Articles You Might Like
I’ve written a few other blog posts about other products that make a dairy-free diet very manageable!
- 7 Products that Make Living a Healthy Life Style Easier: Here I share my favorite dairy-free yogurt, Coconut Cult, and 6 other awesome products.
- Dairy-Free Desserts: Here is a sugar cookie recipe I tried at Christmas time that I love!
- Healthy Restaurants in Phoenix: I shared 9 healthy restaurants in Phoenix that are really helpful with food allergies.
Have you tried milk alternatives? Which ones are your favorites? Let me know in the comments or over on my Instagram!