Non-dairy alternatives to milk

Many are switching to plant-based milk because of dietary restrictions
Last Updated : 13 March 2021, 04:43 IST
Last Updated : 13 March 2021, 04:43 IST

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Cow’s milk is a staple in many people’s diets. While a popular choice for many, some are choosing to switch to non-dairy options, even though it is steeper on pockets. Reasons vary from dietary restrictions, allergies or intolerances to personal preference. For many who follow a vegan lifestyle or shifting to a more sustainable life, plant-based milk is a boon.

You don’t need to go far to find some kind of plant-based milk. Soy and almond milk can be easily found in supermarket aisles. For those who find these versions to be expensive, one can also find recipes to make them right at home. Here are some alternatives you can try.

Soy milk

Made with either soybeans or soy protein isolate, it has a mild and creamy flavour and makes for a great substitute in savoury dishes, with coffee or on top of cereal.

Soy milk is the closest non-dairy substitute for cow’s milk. However, there have been concerns about its effects on the body due to the large amounts of isoflavones found in soy, which can affect estrogen receptors in the body. However, there is no conclusive evidence of this.

How to make

Soak 1/2 cup soybeans in 2-3 cups of water overnight. Discard water and rinse soybeans. Remove skins. Add the soybeans and 4 cups water to a blender and blend until smooth. Strain the mixture using butter muslin or a nut milk bag. Heat the milk in a heavy-bottom pan to 100ºC. Hold this temperature for 20 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. Cool the milk and store. Refrigerate for up to 4 days.

Almond milk

Made with whole almonds or by blending almond butter and water, it has a slightly sweet and nutty flavour. It can be added to coffee and tea, mixed in smoothies and used in desserts and baked goods.

It is one of the lowest-calorie non-dairy milks available. While it is a natural source of vitamin E, it has protein, fibre and healthy fats in much less concentration as almond milk is made up of mostly water. Almonds also contain phytic acid, a substance that limits the absorption of iron, zinc and calcium.

How to make

Soak 1 cup almonds overnight or up to 2 days. The longer the almonds soak, the creamier the almond milk you get. Drain and rinse the almonds and discard the water. Combine almonds and 2 cups of water in a blender. Blend at the highest speed for 2 minutes. Line a fine-mesh strainer with an opened nut milk bag or cheesecloth, and place over a measuring cup. Pour the almond mixture into the strainer. Press all the almond milk from the almond meal. Store the almond milk in sealed containers in the fridge for up to 2 days.

Coconut milk

Made from water and the white flesh of coconuts, this is a staple in many south Indian households. Coconut milk has a creamy texture and a sweet but subtle coconut flavour.

Coconut milk contains one-third the calories of cow’s milk and the lowest protein and carbohydrate content of the non-dairy kinds of milk. It can be used in smoothies, or for baked goods.

How to make
Add 2 cups of shredded coconut, 3 cups of water, a pinch of salt to a blender. You can add a date or 1 tbsp of a sweetener of your choice or 1/2 tsp of vanilla essence for flavour. Blend for about 2 minutes or until the mixture seems well combined.

If too thick, add 1 more cup of water. Pour the mixture over a large mixing bowl or pitcher covered with a nut milk bag or a thin towel. Transfer to a sealed container and refrigerate up to 5 days.

Oat milk

It has a mild and sweet flavour. Oat milk contains a similar amount of calories to cow’s milk, up to double the number of carbohydrates and about half the amount of protein and fat. It also contains beta-glucan, a type of soluble fibre, which can help lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels. You can add it to your tea or coffee, or even to your baked goods.

How to make

Combine 1/2 cup oats, 3 cups of water, 2 tsp of sweetener of your choice, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt in a blender and blend for 30 seconds. Place a fine-mesh strainer over a large bowl and strain the milk. Don’t push the excess pulp through the strainer. Chill overnight. Store in the fridge for 5 days.

Cashew milk

Like Almond milk, it has a sweet and nutty flavour but is richer and creamier. It’s great for thickening smoothies, as a creamer in coffee and in desserts.

Cashew milk contains less than one-third of the calories of cow’s milk, half the fat and significantly.

How to make

Soak 1 cup cashews overnight. Drain and rinse them. Add the cashews and 4 cups of water to a blender. Add 1 tbsp of sweetener and 1/2 tsp of vanilla for good measure. Blend for 1-2 minutes until the milk is smooth and creamy.

Place the cashew milk in a storage container and refrigerate for up to 4 days.

Published 12 March 2021, 21:01 IST

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