Tuesday, March 5, 2013
The Best Milk Alternatives
Soy milk is the obvious choice, and it's so popular that it's becoming almost mainstream. I have to admit that in terms of flavor it's still my favorite. I do like soy milk, especially Silk brand. I think that probably most veg-leaning people eat too much soy, though. I'm not necessarily convinced that soy is evil like some people seem to think, but I do think that it's one of the most common allergens, and that some of us probably have a low level intolerance to it without even realizing it. I also know that it's a goiterogen, which means it's not great for anyone like me who's worried about thyroid health. I do eat soy occasionally, but I like tofu and soy sauce so much that I try to stay away from soy milk most of the time.
A note about choosing non-dairy milks: if you're going for a milk-like experience, choose the "plain" flavor. "Vanilla" is only a good thing if you like your milk extra sweet, and "unsweetened" might sound like a good deal but is actually less sweet than milk is naturally. Unsweetened also lets the flavor of main the ingredient shine, which in most cases isn't really what you're going for. Chocolate, of course, is a fine alternative if you like chocolate milk.
Almond milk is actually my current favorite. Try to get one without carageenan, like the Whole Foods brand, because many carageenan is bad for – you guessed it – the thyroid. The flavor is a little nutty, but that's not so bad, really. Like soy milk, plain almond milk can be used as a one-to-one substitute in most recipes that call for milk.
I'm not talking about the drink that comes in soy milk boxes, I'm talking about actual coconut milk that comes in cans. No, it's nothing like milk, but it's a good substitute for cream in some cases. It's totally awesome in homemade ice-cream, and tastes pretty good in tea and coffee, for example. (Personally, I love rooibos chai with a little coconut milk and honey.) Usually I feel like light coconut milk is an abomination, but it's actually pretty good as a creamer.
Oat milk is ok. It's a bit thick and grainy (in flavor, not texture), which is sometimes just fine. It tastes kind of hearty, for a milk.
Rice milk doesn't really belong on this list, but I wanted to talk about it anyway. Rice milk is thin and sweet in a weird way, but mostly thin. I don't recommend it, except as a last resort.
Actually, those are all the milk alternaties I've tried. I haven't tried hemp milk, for example. Do you have a favorite milk that's not on this list? Which do you prefer?