The Ultimate Guide to Vegan Milk

It’s pretty old news now, but even just several years ago, nondairy milks weren’t that well known. We all grew up in a culture of “drink your milk!” and had the importance of cow’s milk drilled into our heads. Despite the fact that cow’s milk has been linked to a long list of health issues, dairy is still considered an “essential” part of a complete diet. During Dominik’s wellness checks, the doctor never mentions servings of fruits or vegetables but is sure to remind me that my toddler should be drinking at least two cups of whole milk everyday.

But things are changing quickly. People are gaining knowledge on the dangers of dairy and those that are lactose intolerant finally have better alternatives. Go in any grocery store and there are at least soy, coconut, and almond milk on the shelves. Health food stores have an even larger variety of nondairy milk in a whole rainbow of flavors and options.

Here are 10 varieties of awesome nondairy milk to try:

  1. Soy: The original nondairy milk. It has more protein than cow’s milk and is a good source of calcium among many other vitamins and minerals.
  2. Almond: A great source of vitamin E and healthy fats, this milk is the most popular. It has a neutral flavor that works in both sweet and savory dishes.
  3. Coconut: The coconut milk that comes in a can is thick and sweet, but as a nondairy milk has the consistency of cow’s milk. Mildly sweet with a subtle coconut flavor, this milk is low in sugar but high in minerals.
  4. Cashew: I use cashews all the time as a creamy base and it does not disappoint as a milk. With it’s distinct cashew flavor, it is high in calcium, protein, and mood boosting vitamins and minerals.
  5. Hemp: This is probably the healthiest nondairy milk. It’s not sweet like most other choices, but it has a long list of nutrients like protein, omega fatty acids, calcium, and potassium.
  6. Oat: A personal favorite, oat milk is naturally very sweet. The perfect choice for sweet dishes and desserts, but too much for savory ones. High in protein, it’s seriously delicious and easy to make.
  7. Rice: A great affordable choice, this milk is also low in fat. It has a mildly sweet, neutral flavor that is perfect in any dish.
  8. Flax: Flax milk has an equal amount of calcium as dairy milk but is a fantastic source of omega fatty acids.
  9. Macadamia Nut: This milk is harder to find but worth the search. Delicious and high in healthy fats and antioxidants.
  10. Hazelnut: This nondairy milk is one of the yummiest around. It’ll take your coffee and desserts to the next level with this classic nutty flavor.

Thinking of making your own? It’s super easy, economical, and a great way to avoid additives like carrageenan. You will need a fine sieve or a nut bag to separate the pulp from the liquid. These can be found online or in your local health food store. A cheesecloth will also work, but it should be very fine. I use a fine sieve and it works great. And don’t forget, save the pulp! The leftovers from your homemade milk is great sprinkled over granola or stirred into batters for some extra fiber.

Nut Milk:

Soak 1 cup raw nuts. The type of nut will determine the soaking time. Almonds, macadamia nuts, and hazelnuts will need at least 6 hours. Cashews only need an hour or two. Drain and rinse the nuts and add to a high powered blender with 4 or 5 cups water and a pinch of salt. Blend for a minute or two until creamy and smooth. Pour into a fine sieve or nut bag over a bowl and squeeze all the liquid out. Store in the fridge for up to 3 or 4 days.

Oat Milk:

Soak steel cut oats in water for at least 20 minutes. Blend 1 1/2 cups rinsed and drained oats with 4 cups water until smooth and creamy. Pour into a fine sieve or nut bag over a bowl and squeeze out the liquid. Store in a covered container in the fridge for a few days.

Hemp Milk:

Blend 1 1/2 cup raw hemp seeds with 4 cups water and a pinch of salt until creamy and smooth. This milk is earthier and will probably need a little sweetening to get it to taste closer to milk. Drain through a fine sieve or nut bag. Store in the fridge for up to two days.

Flax Milk:

Blend 1/4 cup flax seeds with 4 cups water and a pinch of salt until creamy and smooth. This earthier milk works really well with a few dates added. Drain the liquid through a fine sieve or nut bag. Store in the fridge for up to five days.

Rice Milk:

Blend 1 cup cooked riced with 4 cups water until creamy and smooth. Drain through a fine sieve or nut bag. Store in the fridge for up to three or four days.

Coconut Milk:

Blend 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut with 4 cups water until creamy and smooth. Drain through a fine sieve or nut bag. Store in the fridge for up to four or five days.

Soy Milk:

Add 1 cup dry organic soybeans to a bowl of water and let soak overnight (at least 6 to 8 hours). Using your fingers and fresh water, rub the soybeans to remove the shells, they should float to the top of the water. Add the shelled soybeans to a blender with four cups water and blend until smooth and creamy. Drain through a fine sieve or nut bag. Pour the liquid in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat but continue to cook for 20 minutes, skimming the foam off of the top. Let cool completely before storing in the fridge for up to four or five days.

 

How To Flavor Your Homemade Milk:

  • For sweetened milk, add a Tablespoon or so of maple syrup or a few pitted dates to the blender
  • In addition to a sweetener, a teaspoon of vanilla extract or a few Tablespoons of cocoa powder will make vanilla or chocolate flavored milk
  • Spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, or even turmeric will add rich flavor as well as health benefits
  • *Add all flavorings to the blender, not to the finished product. This will help things to fully mix

 

Nondairy milk can be used the same way dairy milk is used. It can be added to smoothies, poured over cereal, used to add creaminess to recipes, or just chugged from a glass. Need to replace buttermilk? Add a teaspoon of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to a cup of nondairy milk.

Play around with flavorings and different types of nondairy milk and you will soon find favorites. I love oat milk in my granola or cereal but prefer unsweetened almond milk for cooking. But chocolate flavored hazelnut milk? That is enjoyed right out of the glass.

vegan-milk

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