Picture of Alternatives to Milk like Rice Milk, Casein Milk, etc

Healthy Alternatives to Cow’s Milk

Picture of alternatives to cow's milk, like rice milk, casein milk, etc

Ok, so we’ve covered pretty much every aspect of the milk topic (not really, but a lot of it anyway!), except what to drink or what to have if you truly have a casein allergy and cannot drink any kind of animal milk.  Like I talked about in Milk Part 3, this type of allergy is usually just a reaction to the pasteurization and the A1 proteins found in regular store bought milk.  Most commonly there is not a problem with good quality raw milk because the milk itself helps to digest the proteins you find in it.  But there are a select few people whose bodies cannot handle the animal dairy so we need to cover what there is out there for them.

1. Rice Milk: The first one that comes to mind is Rice Milk.  The company Cindy and I have used quite a bit in the past is Rice Dream.  They have different flavors (vanilla, etc) for their milk which makes it nice for smoothies and things like that.  Rice Dream also uses organic brown rice to make their milk so that’s better for you than the white.  How does it taste?? Sort of like a vanilla flavored skim milk really.  It is really thin, not nearly as thick and creamy as cow or goats milk.  Pluses on rice milk is that it obviously doesn’t have the casein protein so if you’re allergic to that you won’t have a problem with this type of milk.  Another plus is storage.  Rice milk keeps really well out of the fridge (before opening) for awhile so you can buy several of them and store them for when you need them.  Downside to Rice is that you only get 2.5 grams of fats and none of those are saturated fats.  Since their not coming from an animal source it’s probably better you’re not getting your saturated fats from this drink, but you’re missing out on a bunch of really important fats that you would get in animal milk.  The other downside is the amount of sugar you get in rice milk.  For every cup you drink you get 10 grams of sugar.  Now in cow’s milk you get 12 grams of sugar for every cup, but remember, you are getting lactose in raw milk (a milk sugar) that is broken down in the body by lactase and other constituents in the milk and in our bodies.  The sugar in rice milk is either evaporated cane juice or rice syrup.  So for the nutrition of it, you’re getting much less nutrition, but just basically substituting the taste of cows milk (sort of…).

2. Almond Milk: This milk is more tasty than rice milk due to its nutty flavor, but is it better for you?? Well, almonds are some of the healthiest nuts you can eat for your health in general, but with the milk, be careful what you buy.  Again, it doesn’t have to do with the almond particularly, more the additives and extra sweeteners they put in the almond milk to make it palatable. Here’s a label of Silk’s Vanilla Almond Milk.  So you can see on the “ingredients” list that they have “natural vanilla flavoring” and “other natural flavors”.  That bothers me and makes me a little nervous.  I think….exactly what are those “other” flavors???  So check the ingredients list really close to be able and keep away from the sugar additives.  You can actually make your own at home.  All you need to do is:

  • Grind one-quarter cup of almonds in a coffee grinder.
  • Combine almonds with one cup of water and blend in a blender for two to three minutes.
  • Strain the liquid using a sieve, if you like.

Now you can add sweeteners if you like at this point to taste, but YOU get to choose what goes into them.  With Almond Milk, you get more fats than rice (2.5 grams), but still no saturated fat.  Not nearly the minerals as cows milk but better for you all around than rice milk really.  So I like Almond Milk as a choice, but just look at the type of sweeteners they use and steer clear of any ambiguous “other flavors”.  Best case if you don’t make your own is to buy the refrigerated version (can get it at Sprouts) that is un-sweetened.  They sell the un-sweetened in a vanilla flavor too if that makes it taste better for you.

3. Hemp Milk: A third very viable choice for an alternative to milk if you can’t handle milk proteins, or are a vegan/vegetarian is hemp milk.  I know what you’re thinking….isn’t that what they make marijuana out of??? Yes, the hemp plant is used for that purpose, but the milk is made by grinding the hemp seeds themselves.  The chemical in the hemp plant that give it its hallucinogenic effect is called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).  This chemical is NOT found in the seeds though.  So don’t worry about seeing the pink elephants drinking this milk!! The difference in the nutrition from hemp and rice or almond is pretty substantial as well.  With hemp milk you actually get 7 grams of fat per serving, 1 gram of that in the form of saturated fat which is really important for good cholesterol production and hormone building.  In addition to that you get 5 grams of protein per serving which is like 5 times more than almond milk.  So hemp milk is a very good alternative for you if the other milks either don’t sit well with you or you want a little more nutrition in your milk alternative.  I have not tried this one myself yet, but I hear the taste is “special” so see what you think about it.  The brand that sticks out that is seemingly “better” is Hemp Bliss sold by Mannitoba.  You can purchase it straight off their website.  Not sure about specific stores that carry it, you guys may know better than me on that one.

4. Soy Milk: Ok, so I’m going to do an entire post on Soy so I don’t want to spoil it all here in this one.  Suffice to say, the only population that I even remotely think are ok drinking soy are post-menopausal women.  Men should not be taking it and children definitely do not need to be on any soy at all.  That’s all I’m going to say about that for now, we’ll cover it again.

So there are some alternatives for you if you are one of the select few people who really does have a cassein protein allergy or is lactose intolerant.  Try raw cows milk first, but then if you still have problems with it, then try one of these alternatives if you still would like to have milk in food like cereal or oatmeal or whatever.  Hope this helps..

Dr. JB

P.S. I totally left out a couple of alternatives!! I just realized that I didn’t add in Hazelnut Milk or Oat Milk so here you go….

5. Hazelnut Milk:  Hazelnut is another Nut Milk that you can make yourself, or you can buy the brand you see the most in the store, Pacific Hazelnut Milk.  Nutritionally, much like almond milk, you get a decent amount of protein from the hazelnut (2 grams per serving), and some other added minerals and nutrients.  It’s pretty easy to make yourself though:

  • 1 cup hazelnuts (soaked overnight)
  • 2 medjool dates or 4 small dates (soaked)
  • 3 cups filtered water

Discard soak water and pour nuts into the blender, add water and blend until the nuts are broken down. Strain through a nut milk bag or anything to hand that have very small holes. Pour the milk back into the rinsed out blender, then add the dates along with the soak water. Blend until smooth. This recipe makes about 500ml.

You can pretty much do the same thing with any type of nut to make your own nut milk and then sweeten it to your taste and add other flavors like vanilla to it as you like.  This saves the additives and the extra sugar they add to the store bought kind mostly.  Hazelnut Milk from Pacific has 14 grams of sugars, mostly coming from brown rice sugar.

6. Oat Milk:  Made from oat groats (hulled grain broken into fragments), this is also a milk aternative made by Pacific brand. It actually contains more protein than the Hazelnut milk at 5 grams per serving, but it also contains 19 grams of sugars!! That’s quite a bit as far as milk alternates go.  The other thing good about the oat milk is that it has a good amount of fiber per serving (2 grams).  Oats are a really good source of b-vitamins as well.  I’m not sure at the temperature that this Oat Milk is produced so it make actually wipe all the b-vitamins out, but all the same oats are a good source of them.

You can actually grind up oats in a coffee grinder and then add them to some filtered water and make the milk yourself really quickly.  It is a much easier milk to make yourself because you don’t have to soak the oats to make them soft enough to grind totally like you do with the nut milks.  Just add fruits and sweeteners to your taste and your liking.

Ok, so that’s a more inclusive list of the milk alternatives for you and your family to try…sorry for leaving 2 of them out!! I’ll post on Soy later because it is such a huge topic.  Enjoy!

Dr. JB

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