March 18, 2022
Your go-to milk is practically a personality trait nowadays.
There are a number of reasons why people are opting to consume less dairy, but luckily, there are just as many alternative milks to choose from — from oat to almond and now, even pistachio. These rich, milky beverages are made with things like protein-packed nuts, creamy oats, and nutrient-dense plants, and they taste just as great in your coffee or your favorite baked goods as your classic cow’s milk.
Here’s a guide to some of the most popular alternative milks (and even a few lesser-known options) for vegans, lactose intolerant folks and everyone in between.
What is it? A beverage made by grinding almonds and blending them with water, then straining the liquid to remove any pulp. Often, other thickeners and preservatives are added, though you can make your own at home without these ingredients.
What it tastes like: Almond milk has a nutty flavor that is very similar to raw almonds, though some brands may include additives such as flavors or sweeteners to change or enhance the flavor.
Health benefits of almond milk: Almond milk is lower in calories than cow’s milk, and it’s naturally high in Vitamin E. It’s also a relatively mild-flavored, low-sugar milk alternative if it’s made without added sweeteners.
Try it: Thrive Market Organic Almond Beverage (or make your own using our Homemade Almond Milk recipe and our Thrive Market Organic Raw Almonds)
What is it? A beverage made from grinding cashews and blending them with water, then removing the pulp. Similarly to almond milk, thickeners and preservatives are common in many store-bought cashew milks.
What it tastes like: Cashew milk has a similar flavor to raw cashews — creamy and mildly nutty.
Health benefits of cashew milk: Cashew milk is high in Vitamin K, iron, and fiber (particularly if you make it from scratch in a high-speed blender that doesn’t require much straining).
Try it: Make your own using our Homemade Cashew Milk recipe and Thrive Market Organic Sprouted Cashews
What is it? A beverage made from grinding rolled oats and blending them with water, then straining out the pulp.
What it tastes like: oat milk has a more neutral flavor than nut milks, which may make an easier transition from dairy milk. It’s also thicker and creamier, which makes it easier to foam and froth in hot drinks.
Health benefits of oat milk: Oats are 100% whole grains, which means they’re a good source of fiber, plant-based protein, and minerals like iron, calcium and magnesium. Oats are also shown to help lower cholesterol.
Try it: Califia Farms Oat Milk Barista Blend, or make your own with this Homemade Oat Milk recipe and Thrive Market Organic Gluten-Free Rolled Oats
What is it? A beverage made from hemp seeds that have been blended with water; may be strained to remove the pulp, but often doesn’t require straining.
What it tastes like: Has a sweet, slightly nutty flavor (similar to sunflower seeds or pine nuts) and a creamier texture than other alternative milks.
Health benefits of hemp milk: Hemp seeds are good sources of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and they also provide protein and fiber (more so if the milk isn’t strained to remove the pulp).
Try it: Pacific Foods Hemp Beverage, Unsweetened Original
What is it? A beverage made from whole soybeans blended with water, boiled, and strained to filter out the remaining pulp.
What it tastes like: Soy milk tastes slightly sweet and similar to oatmeal; it’s also often thinner in consistency than other milk alternatives.
Health benefits of soy milk: Soy milk is a higher source of protein than any other alternative milk, containing even more protein than whole milk.
Try it: Homemade Soy Milk recipe
What is it? A beverage made from blending pistachios with water, then sometimes straining to remove the pulp.
What it tastes like: Pistachio milk is creamy and mildly sweet, with a (you guessed it!) subtle, pistachio-like flavor.
Health benefits of pistachio milk: Pistachio milk is lower in calories than other alternative milks, and pistachios are a source of cholesterol-lowering mono- and polyunsaturated fats (often considered “good” fats).
Try it: Táche Pistachio Milk
What is it? A beverage made by boiling the flesh of a coconut, then blending it with water; not to be confused with coconut water, which is made by removing the liquid from inside a whole coconut.
What it tastes like: Most coconut milks have a fairly strong coconut flavor, though canned coconut milks (which are intended for baking and cooking) are much more concentrated than coconut milks made to replace dairy milk.
Health benefits of coconut milk: Coconut milk is fairly high in calories, and many of its calories come from a type of fat called MCTs (medium-chain triglycerides). These have become a popular supplement (particularly among those who follow the ketogenic diet) because they’re metabolized differently than other fats and are more efficiently turned into energy.
Try it: Pacific Foods Original Unsweetened Coconut Non-Dairy Beverage or Thrive Market Organic Coconut Milk
What is it? A beverage made from spent barley grains after the process of making beer; an “upcycled” dairy milk alternative that uses waste barley that would otherwise be thrown away or fed to livestock.
What it tastes like: Barley milk is rich and creamy, with a flavor similar to toasted grains or oatmeal.
Health benefits of barley milk: Barley milk is a good source of protein compared to other non-dairy milks, and it offers 50% more protein per serving than cow’s milk.
Try it: Take Two Foods Barley Milk
What is it? A beverage made by grinding flax seeds and blending them with water.
What it tastes like: Flax milk has a very mild flavor, so it is often thickened with a thickening agent and enhanced with natural flavors like vanilla or sea salt.
Health benefits of flax milk: Flax milk is about as high in calcium as cow’s milk, and it’s a good source of omega-3 fatty acid and alpha linolenic acid.
Try it: Malibu Mylk Flax Mylk
What is it? A beverage made by soaking macadamia nuts and blending them with water, then straining to remove any pulp.
What it tastes like: While many nut milks have only a mild, nutty flavor, many find that macadamia milk retains a stronger macadamia taste, which is quite rich and buttery.
Health benefits of macadamia milk: Macadamia nuts are rich in antioxidants and monounsaturated fats, which are healthy fats that may boost heart health.
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