I recently did a detox, avoiding amongst other things, dairy. This caused me to have 3 different milk alternatives in the house - coconut, soy, and hemp. I have also had almond and rice milk in the past. I thought I would talk about the pros and cons of each from my perspective. My primary use of milk or milk alternatives is to add to smoothies and to my tea (I assume this can transfer to coffee). I can only speculate on other uses of the following products.
Coconut milk: I found one brand - Coconut Dream. This is a new product for me. It was creamy and worked pretty well in my tea. I also tasted it before adding it to my smoothie just to see if it tasted alot like coconut or was sweet and it was not. There is a really slight hint of coconut, but it is minimal. I would recommend trying this for cereals, soups, and just plain drinking. It is fortified with calcium and Vitamin D. The ice cream is amazing!
Hemp milk: I switched to hemp milk way back when, thinking it would be higher in and have a more complete protein. I was wrong. It has less than 25% of the protein in soy milk and is no more complete. To make things worse, it's not particularly pleasing in taste or in texture. There's something grainy to it and it has an aftertaste. I can add it to smoothies, but not to tea. There are naturally some great Omega3s (twice as many as soy milk) and it is usually fortified with other vitamins. However, there was no info. on how the Omega 3s stacked up against organic milk (organic milk is fortified in some brands with Omega 3s). In addition, I found that the one I have is sweetened with rice syrup which is disappointing - read the label! There is an unsweetened version as well, I just made the wrong assumption in buying the "original."
This is something to note when buying these milk alternatives - there is original, original unsweetened, sweetened, unsweetened with vanilla, etc. Kind of confusing. Just set aside a little extra time when you shop to read the labels. Once you know what you like, you are set to buy the same one each time.
Almond milk and rice milk: I used both of these products in the past. They are both lacking in creamy-ness. They have a more water-like texture. Almond milk is sweet whether you buy sweetened or not and has a nice flavor. Rice milk lacks flavor and is sweet only when sweetened. Both can be added to smoothies, but not tea - they separate and are too watery. All are fortified, depending on brand.
Soy milk: This is my milk alternative of choice! Now with soy milk, you will find a few brands to choose from and this is important! Silk is found in the refrigerated area which is different from the others I have mentioned so far. It is soy milk primarily, but I see the brand has now created almond milk as well. I swore off the Silk brand long ago and despite trials here and there, I still find the aftertaste and the texture unpalatable - true of the yogurts as well. However, I tried West Soy brand on a whim one day when there was a coupon and love it! The texture and the flavor are great. I buy unsweetened vanilla and it is perfect in my tea. The 9 gr. of protein per cup (about the same as cow's milk) make it perfect for my smoothies, as well. The protein is complete and soy protein is really good for heart health.
You can bake and cook with all of these alternatives. However, do some research and make sure the amounts equate to milk needs. For more on the pros and cons of actual milk from the cow - see my December 16th blog.
Which alternative will you try?