I love cow’s milk, but this is even tastier!
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Let's get this out of the way: I'm not typically a plant-based milk drinker. I love dairy, especially in my coffee. When it comes to food, the only thing I’m more passionate about than cheese is coffee. I am fanatical about coffee.
I even worked in the coffee industry for a few years just so I could learn more about beans and brewing methods. I know my way around French presses, drip brewers, pour-over coffee makers, and just about everything in-between. But, lately, I’ve been really into making simple iced lattes with my Nespresso machine (the one I own is actually on sale right now). I know the beans are pre-ground and podded, but they are really good. And I love the convenience: I just pour my favorite espresso over ice, and add in some frothy milk. It tastes just as delicious as a coffee-shop version, but for a fraction of the price!
Even though dairy milk is, frankly, more nutritious, I was looking for an option that was a little lower in saturated fat and sugar (especially since I make one or two lattes a day), but didn’t mess with the mouthfeel of my favorite drink.
A few weeks ago, Califia Farms sent me a package of their Barista-Blend Oat Milk. Honestly, I didn’t have very high hopes. I find most plant-based milks a little watery, and in my humble opinion, they just can’t compare to the creaminess of cow’s milk.
But I am an adult and that means I can admit when I’m wrong. And, man, was I wrong about this particular blend.
First, the oat milk is way creamier and richer than nut-based milks, with a very similar mouthfeel to cow’s milk. It adds a subtle, sweet note to the latte, and the nutrition is even pretty solid (especially when compared to whole milk).
One cup of whole milk has 149 calories, 8g of fat (5g of sat fat), 8g of protein, 11g of sugar, and 300mg of calcium. Califia Farms’ Oat Milk bBarista Blend has 130 calories, 7g of fat (1g of sat fat), and just 3g of sugar. It’s also not far behind dairy milk with 245mg of calcium! The only downside: It’s a lot lower in protein, with just 1g.
This oat milk is great for vegans, or those who are sensitive to lactose, but I love it just because it’s delicious and a little lower in sat fat and sugar. Want to pick some up to try? You can find it in Whole Foods and Sprouts, and online at Thrive Market and Amazon.
Dairy-Free Milk 101: A Healthy Man’s Guide to Plant-Based Milks
From coconuts to cockroaches, the world of dairy-free milk is vast. These days it’s hard to find something we haven’t tried to milk. Whether you have dietary reasons, ethical and environmental virtues, or just curious about all the hype surrounding plant-based milk alternatives, there are a plethora of versions on the market to try made from leaves, grains, nuts, and seeds.
In general, plant-based milks have less fat and every other nutritional element than dairy milk. Makes sense, since plant-based milks are predominantly water. The fat they do have, though, is mono-unsaturated (with some exceptions, as you’ll see), the kind that promotes cardiovascular health as well as great skin. They also bring more fiber to the party than dairy milk. It should go without saying that if you have an allergy to tree nuts, you’ll be limited to just a few of these plant milk options.
But the good news is that in today’s market, there are so many options that you’re guaranteed to find a plant-based milk that perfectly suits your taste as well as nutritional demands. It’s worth noting that not all plant milks are created equal.
Choosing which one is healthiest isn’t just about the milk base — it’s also about what kind of additives it includes. Depending on which brand you choose, you may find a large helping of added sugar, flavoring, and thickeners such as carrageenan, guar gum, or vegetable oil. Many also have their naturally occurring vitamin quotients boosted with added isolates of vitamin D or E so they can compete better with dairy milk.
But don’t worry — we’ve done our due diligence on your behalf. We’ve curated the most popular plant-based milks for 2021 and compared them based on their naturally occurring nutritional benefits. We’ve even included recommendations for the plant milks with the least amount of extra stuff, and even a few hints about the best ways to enjoy them.
The 13 Best Non-Dairy Plant-Based Milks, According To Nutritionists
Long gone are the days when the hardest decision in the dairy aisle was whole milk vs 2 percent. Now, you've got about a million and one non-dairy milks to choose from if you want something creamy and delicious to put in your latte, oatmeal, or bowl of cereal.
Why choose dairy-free milk though? Well, for some people, it's a growing interest in plant-based diets and the vegan movement. For others, it's lots of talk about milk sensitivities and lactose intolerance (and the gas and bloating that often accompany them). And, hey, some people just don't like the taste of cow's milk.
Whatever your reason for ditching the dairy-based stuff, you can easily swap out traditional milk for something that&rsquos just as tasty, versatile, and nutritious these days.
But should you opt for coconut milk, classic almond milk, cashew milk, or something else? Is one vegan milk truly better than the rest?
&ldquoI am often asked which non-dairy milk is &lsquobest,&rsquo and there&rsquos no easy answer," says cookbook author and nutritionist Dana Angelo White, RD. "There are so many options and they are all so different.&rdquo
The choice really comes down to knowing when or how you want to consume a non-dairy milk and what flavor and texture profile you enjoy the most.
Just know that, whatever you choose, your plant-based milk won't provide dairy milk's exact nutritional benefits. "Non-dairy milks are usually lacking in the protein and calcium department, compared to cow's milk,&rdquo says dietitian Natalie Rizzo, RD. Plus, "many also contain thickeners and sugars, for taste."
To find the most nutritious milk alternative on the store shelf, &ldquolook for as much protein as possible, since protein is an important nutrient for satiety and helps maintain a variety of metabolic functions, in addition to its structural role in the body,&rdquo says dietitian Kelly Jones, RD. She also recommends plant milks that are fortified with vitamin B12, calcium, and vitamin D (some of cow's milk's key nutrients)&mdashespecially for those who follow a vegan or heavily plant-based diet.
Not sure where to start? Here are the best non-dairy milks on the market, according to dietitians themselves.
Morning Latte Makes My Breakfast Better
I’ve posted about my love for coffee before and the wonderful feeling of sitting with a hot latte in the morning on a chilly fall or winter day. The Breakfast Project asked me to come up with a few of my favorite blogs I enjoy reading while warming up to a nice latte (or mocha in my case!)
Team Sullivan: I have posted about Janel before and recently nominated her for a ‘Women Who Shine’ competition to win $10,000. Her blog was one of the first I came across when we began our adoption journey. Her thoughts on adoption and faith really encourage and inspire me and everyone else who reads her blog.
Delighted Momma: Lindsay seems like someone I would be friends in real life. Her blog is very relatable and she always posts delicious recipes, fun diy projects and easy beauty tips.
Kisses from Katie: As a teenager, Katie told her parents she wanted to move to Uganda. For the past several years she has given up all of the typical teenage desires to help the children and people of Uganda. She now is the mother to thirteen orphaned girls and has written a book about her experience: Kisses from Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption.
Jen Hatmaker: Jen is an author, speaker and adoptive mom. Her blog is one of those you read not only for enjoyment, but to learn. Her post about the excessiveness of Christmas is one of my favorites and truly gets you thinking.
So check out these wonderful blogs over a nice latte and join us for a #LatteLove TWITTER PARTY!
What: I am co-hosting a Twitter party to talk about making your breakfast better with an at-home latte! Americans love their lattes, and with one serving of fat free milk adding nine essential nutrients but only 80 calories and no fat, lattes love you back. Join us to chat about how you can get a nutritious and delicious start to your day.
When:Thursday, October 4, at 1 p.m. ET. It will last one hour.
Where:The party will take place on Twitter, using the #LatteLove hashtag.
Who:@theMotherhood, @CooperMunroe, @EmilyMcKhann will be hosting.
Prizes:We will give away five Latte Lovers Essentials prize packs throughout the Twitter party! Each one will include a Bodum milk frother, Latte Love mug, 8 oz. Lavazza coffee, Torani syrup, McCormick spices, recipe card & coupon.
Twtvite:For more details, and to RSVP, click here!
Want a sneak peek? Enter the Latte Love Sweepstakes on Facebook – now through October 9, for a chance to win a Latte Lovers Essentials kit or Keurig brewing system! You can also find easy tips, recipes & ideas for making lattes, cappuccinos or other coffee drinks at home on The Breakfast Project or http://www.milkmustache.com.
For at-home latte recipe ideas and inspiration, check out these links: Nine-Nutrient Boost, Morning Pick-Me-Up, Ooh La Latte
Want to win a Got Milk prize pack with a latte mug and a free milk coupon? Leave a comment below with how you like to drink your milk! Giveaway open to US only and closes October 23rd.
As you start exploring the array of non-dairy milk available to you, you’ll eventually come across peanut milk. This isn’t the best milk to use in your latte. It’s reported to have an almost grassy taste, with just a whiff of peanut as an aftertaste- also, to many people’s surprise it’s purple. This someone alters the aesthetic of a traditional coffee.
Soy milk is a practical option. It’s probably the most popular of all the non-dairy milk on the market. Soy milk is commonly used in most coffee shops, cafes, and is stocked in almost every grocery store. It’s now pretty rare for eateries not to offer a soy option.
If you’re perusing the aisles looking for a reputable brand of commercial soy milk, you should try Silk. This is a great starting point!
The beauty of soy milk is that it froths up incredibly well and it’s renowned for complementing a plethora of different coffees as well as possessing numerous health benefits. However, some baristas report that steaming soy milk’s relatively hard because it’s prone to washing out and clumping. Plus, not everyone enjoys the taste. It’s somewhat of an acquired flavor so if you grew up drinking it you’re sure to love it. Whereas, if you didn’t, you may have to work pretty hard to learn to enjoy it.
Unsurprisingly, banana milk is made from bananas. However, the dash of cinnamon added to store-bought milk such as Moala make the taste of banana milk beautifully sweet. To say this milk has a distinctive taste would be an understatement- it has one of the most unique flavors of all the milk highlighted in this list.
Admittedly banana milk is probably best for smoothies and baking. However, if you enjoy a sweeter latte with a cinnamony tang, this is a fabulous option.
The best way to describe cashew milk is similar to almond milk.
Top Tip: If you’re after authentic cashew milk in your local store, check the labels first. Often commercialized cashew milk is mixed with other nut milk- which is fine, just make sure you know what you’re buying!
One of the benefits of cashew milk is that it’s sweeter than almond milk. Plus, it also has a milder, nutty taste. However, its primary drawback is that it’s even thinner than almond milk. Also, baristas report that when it’s steamed, it produces large, soap-like bubbles.
If you’re looking for a brand of cashew nut milk to try, then we recommend Elmhurst’s Cashew Milk. This seems to be one of the best on the market
You should note: like most other nut milk, cashew nut milk is also somewhat of an acquired taste.
Just like cow’s milk, coconut milk also has a very high-fat content which makes it perfect for a frothy latte.
Top Tip: when purchasing coconut milk, the cartons tend to be better for creating coffees than the cans.
Handy Hack: You can create your own coconut milk by buying a can of full-fat coconut cream and mixing it in water. This is usually a far more cost-effective option!
First things first, most non-dairy milks can be swapped cup for cup in most recipes. Double check the label to see whether you’ve bought sweetened or unsweetened as sweetened versions may impact the taste of some recipes.
Oat Milk: The current darling of the plant-based milk world, creamy, tasty oat milk is a versatile cooking and baking ingredient. With a flavor that won’t overpower, you can use it in baking recipes such as whoopie pies, and also for heartier dishes like mac and cheese. Add in coconut oil to thicken it up to a heavy cream consistency to make ice cream.
Almond Milk: Almond milk doesn’t play well with savorier dishes because of its inherently sweet flavor and its consistency makes using it for pie fillings a challenge. But you can use it as a cow’s milk substitute for many desserts and baked good recipes including pancakes, pound cakes, muffins, and biscuits.
Hemp Milk: Honestly, you don’t want to cook with hemp milk. While it’s got a nice texture, you’ll notice its strong nutty flavor in most dishes.
Coconut: Remember there are two versions of coconut milk, each with very different consistencies and nutrient profiles. You have the beverage found in the dairy and plant-based milk aisle and the canned version, which are similar in texture to a condensed milk. Use the beverage from the refrigerated dairy aisle for your coffee drinks and smoothies, and the canned coconut milks for recipes that call for something thick and rich, such as ice cream and curry. Keep in mind, the milk will add a coconut flavor to the dish.
Flax Milk: Not as easy to find depending on your market, you can sub it, for cow’s milk in any recipe where the milk isn’t being used to thicken the dish. For instance, it’s not going to work for a chocolate ganache or in Alfredo sauce but will work for a coffee cake.
Pea Milk: We were skeptical of this one at first too, but this milk made from yellow peas (it’s not green) is another versatile non-dairy milk. It works in your coffee but you can also use it to make ice cream, mac and cheese, muffin and cake batters, and more sweet and savory dishes.
Rice Milk: This is another challenging alternative milk, simply because most rice milks are thin. If it's the milk you normally have on hand, you could try fattening it up by adding sunflower oil or coconut oil to use in sweet recipes or use it as-is for glazes where rice milk's natural thinness will work to your advantage.
Soy: Probably the easiest alternative milk to use when baking as it has a similar texture, protein and fat count to dairy milk. It holds together well when heated and will even work well in custards, which is one of the hardest things to make without traditional cow’s milk.
14 Plant based Breakfast Ideas
Whether you love a sweet or a savoury breakfast, you’ve got a few minutes to spare, you want to meal prep or you need a 5 minute meal, there is something for everyone in this list of easy plant based breakfast recipes.
Healthy Vegan Black Bean Breakfast Burritos Filling, flavourful and packed with plant-based protein and fibre, these vegan black bean breakfast burritos are the perfect hearty breakfast. Just one pan, 30 minutes and you'll make enough to meal prep a week's worth of breakfast! Check out this recipe />15-Minute Vegan Apple Pie Oatmeal These might just be the most delicious oats you’ll ever make! This vegan apple pie oatmeal is topped with cinnamon and swirled with a five-ingredient tahini caramel sauce that is so delicious your head might explode. Seriously. It’s a hot, satisfying and decadent breakfast that comes together in less than fifteen minutes Check out this recipe />Homemade Sweet Potato Waffles I never met a waffle I didn't like…but these vegan, gluten free sweet potato waffles are definitely my new fave. Moist and tender inside and lightly sweet, they are delicious with any sweet or savoury topping you can add! Be sure to make a double batch so you can freeze them for later. Check out this recipe />Easy Protein-Packed Chickpea Scramble This filling, fibre and protein-packed chickpea scramble takes less than ten minutes to make and will keep you energized all morning long. Brunch it up by serving with roasted potatoes, fresh fruit and all the fixings! Check out this recipe />Blushing Beet Smoothie Bowl Super refreshing and instagrammable! Check out this recipe />Tropical Treat Granola This easy to prepare granola is like a vacation at the breakfast table! Filled with nourishing rolled oats, nuts and dried fruit. Enjoy with coconut yogurt or on top of a smoothie bowl! Check out this recipe />Healthy Homemade Cinnamon Sugar Nut Butter This rich and creamy cashew + pecan butter, inspired by Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal takes just 6 ingredients and 15 minutes to make! Low in sugar, with a satisfying crunch, this healthy homemade nut butter will make you fall in love with mornings again. Check out this recipe />11 Low FODMAP Vegan Smoothies: Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie Chocolate and peanut butter is a love language. This low FODMAP vegan smoothie has all of the flavours you crave plus enough protein and healthy fats to keep you feeling satisfied! Check out this recipe />Simple Ginger Pear Green Smoothie (Vegan) | Walder Wellness, Dietitian This simple ginger pear green smoothie is a delicious and nutritious breakfast idea. Recipe is vegan, gluten-free, and high in fiber! Check out this recipe />Tofu “Egg” Muffin Cups – Plant Based RD Perfect for meal prep, packed with protein and veggies, these tofu “egg” muffin cups are the ideal breakfast on the go treat. Check out this recipe />Tofu Scramble Recipe This Tofu Scramble Recipe is a vegan version of scrambled eggs. Loaded with flavour and is great for meal prep! Check out this recipe />Vegan Banana Oat Pancakes for Beginners (gluten free, oil free, nut free) | Veggiekins Blog I’d like to introduce you to the easiest ever, super healthy Vegan Banana Oat Pancakes. I think most vegans are familiar with this style of pancake because they’re easy, delicious and just a great go to. Check out this recipe />Banana Baked Oatmeal (Vegan!) – A Couple Cooks This banana baked oatmeal is the ideal healthy breakfast! It’s full of good-for-you ingredients and so delicious, everyone will want seconds. Check out this recipe /> Print Recipe Pin Recipe 4.75 from 8 votes
What do vegans eat for breakfast?
If you’re new to a plant-based diet, figuring out new recipes can feel exciting, but it can also feel overwhelming. My advice? Start by figuring out vegan versions of the meals you already know and love. Test out 2-3 versions as there is such a wide variety of tastes and approaches out there.
Always eat scrambled eggs? Go for a tofu or chickpea scramble (both are below!). Love a smoothie? Well, they’re the easiest thing in the world to veganize! Just make sure you’re getting a dose of plant-based protein so you feel full and satisfied with your sipper. Explore different smoothie recipes or use my DIY smoothie guide to make sure your smoothie is super balanced. If you live for your morning latte, be sure to explore a wide variety of plant-based milk alternatives until you find one with the taste and texture you love.
If you’re new to vegan or plant-based living and feel like you need some guidance, I have a simple step-by-step guide to going vegan, and our dietitians are always here if you need one-on-one advice. My plant-based cookbook, Eat More Plants, also has great advice for staying nourished and energized on a plant-based diet along with a ton of plant-based breakfast ideas that run the gamut of busy morning ready to brunch.
Top 3 Milk Alternatives: A Barista's Guide
As a barista in Seattle, presentation is very important. Baristas prefer to use cow’s milk or soy milk because it is easier to work with, and it can look like this:
A soy latte poured by yours truly!
We prefer not to hand someone a latte that looks like this:
A valiant attempt at almond milk latte art.
But don’t feel bad for us! We know that there are milks that are easier to work with, and milks that are nearly impossible. As the person drinking the latte, you probably don’t care about the presentation as much as you may be concerned with how it tastes and how it fits within your dietary restrictions. You are the one drinking it, after all.
They may not look as pretty, but with all the options out there, vegan lattes can be delicious. There are many different types of milk alternatives out there today with more and more coffee shops and the like offering a diverse selection.
First, let us celebrate all of these non-dairy choices! Coffee culture and the dairy alternative market have come so far!
Now that we have expressed our gratitude, let us compare the options. Here, I have outlined the pros and cons of the three most popular alternatives, just for you!
I remember the first time I heard of a soy milk latte. I was with my friend at cafe Vivace (the cafe in Seattle that popularized and created the standard for latte art nationwide) and she ordered a very tiny soy latte. I remember being surprised by how good it was!
Soy is the first non-dairy choice of baristas for many reasons. Soy milk creates the best foam. One can steam soy milk to a consistency that is very comparable to cow’s milk. Therefore, soy milk can be used to make any espresso drink, and it will come out not far from the texture and consistency of a standard milk latte.
Soy milk is also extremely forgiving and complimentary to many different types of coffee. The nutty, creamy flavor lends to the flavor profile of coffee and enhances the flavor of many varieties of beans and blends.
This is all great, but soy often has added sugars. Starbucks uses a vanilla-flavored (aka sweetened) barista series soy milk, for example. Soy has also been highly criticized as a product that is overused it may not be so great for humans in the large quantities with which we are frequently exposed. Soy is also a popular allergen, and I have met many a customer that can neither drink dairy milk nor soy.
Not quite as forgiving, but arguably healthier, we have almond milk.
Almond milk tastes great by itself. Coffee can taste really great by itself too. When put together, coffee and almond milk don’t taste quite as good as they did apart. An almond milk latte is still a very good thing, but it doesn’t work quite as well as some other dairy milk alternatives due to the not so complimentary flavors (or maybe it has something to do with the chemistry? If you know, or if you disagree, please tell me in the comments below!).
Almond milk also does not steam like cow’s milk or soy milk does. It is very hard to make a latte with it and nearly impossible to get enough foam out of it to make a cappuccino. Almond milk also curdles at certain temperatures, which just looks creepy, but tastes the same.
As for the health benefits, almond milk has good proteins, calcium and Vitamin D, low sugar (as long as it is unsweetened), and is full of good healthy fats. Hurray for almond milk!
The jury is in on hemp milk: it’s awesome! Up and coming as one of the more popular options for baristas, hemp milk steams similarly to soy. It’s not as easy to steam as cow’s milk, but lattes and cappuccinos are definitely still a delicious option. Legend has it, you can even make latte art with the stuff!
Hemp milk also complements coffee flavors like soy, but is slightly thicker due to the fat content. The result is a slightly creamier version of your soy latte with a flavor similar to that of almond milk. Does it get any better?
Why yes, yes it does. Hemp milk is also high in those coveted “good” fats, omega-3s and omega-6s. An 8 oz serving of hemp milk gives you 900 mg of omega-3, 4 grams of complete protein, and 46% of your daily recommended calcium. We all know those are harder to come by for vegans and vegetarians, so drink up!
Hemp milk is actually pretty simple to make at home too. Blend about 1/2 cup raw, shelled, organic hemp seeds and 3 cups filtered water, then strain through a cheesecloth. You may also add a bit of natural sweetener and cinnamon to taste.
And there you have it, the three best dairy milk alternatives for your latte. Tell me about your favorite dairy alternatives for coffee in the comments! Until next time, happy caffeinating!
Wake up and smell the cappuccino!
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