Top 3 Milk Alternatives with Tasty Recipes and Health Benefits
Lactose intolerance or dairy intolerance is largely known to be a digestive problem, but it is actually a problem which affects more of us than we would like to think! While less than 5% of the UK population is affected, up to 50% of the populations of South America, Africa, and Asia suffer from it, and most of the time it remains undiagnosed. It’s caused when a person doesn’t have an enzyme called lactase, which breaks down the natural sugar found in animal milk and milk products, such as yogurt and cheese. Identifying the disease is not tough, but owing to its distinctive symptoms such as to avoid bloating, cramps and abdominal pain is difficult.
As we get better at diagnosing such intolerances, the number of healthy alternatives to dairy in shops and the number of people drinking them is rising. Even if you are not lactose intolerant, you can try different varieties of milk like oat milk, soya milk, hazelnut milk and almond milk.
Most milk alternatives are now fortified with calcium, which helps build strong bones and teeth, and ensures that blood clots normally. They also have vitamin D, which is important for encouraging the absorption of calcium from food so that people have many of the benefits of normal milk.
Why Should you Seek an Alternative to Cow Milk?
From our very childhood, we have been programmed to believe that we must drink milk to get calcium. Non-milk drinkers have a difficult time getting their required dose of calcium, but not any longer as there are many alternatives to cow milk, which are not only nutritious but also a delicious addition to cereals and beverages.
If you are vegan -Animal rights activists propagate the fact that cruelty is inherent in industrial farming. The animals are treated very badly, giving them enough reason to skip cow’s milk for other healthier and more humane alternatives. For people who are vegan, the other alternatives of milk suit them just right, as they stay away from animal products.
Intolerance and Allergies -Lactose intolerant people avoid milk for health issues. When we are kids, we begin producing less lactase. When we produce less lactase, there is a strong chance of us turning lactose-intolerant as we grow older. There are also chances that the protein contained in milk like casein, whey, and lactalbumin cause severe allergies to some people.
The calcium issue – There is a school of thought propagating the idea that people who drink milk suffer from osteoporosis, a debilitating bone disorder, unlike people living in China, who stay away from milk and yet have the least incidences of this disease. This is contrary to the popular perception that cow milk prevents osteoporosis. So there are conflicting reports on the same.
Too many hormones – There are a number of hormones in milk, which harm our body in more ways than one, including pituitary, steroid, hypothalamus, and thyroid hormone ill effects.
Antibiotics – Currently, cows are in such a state of disease and mistreatment that they are continually being injected with antibiotic medicines, and rubbed down with chemical-laden ointments which seep into their body. Finally when we drink milk, we end up ingesting these antibiotics.
Now that we know the potentially harmful effects of cow’s milk, we must think of milk alternatives, which are not only nutritionally sound but also taste good. Let us explore the benefits of milk alternatives, or rather almond milk, which nutritionally, comes a close second to cow milk.
Almond milk is rich in calcium, with one cup offering approximately 300 mg, meeting 30 percent of our daily requirements. The benefit of Calcium has been stated time and again. It plays a big role in building and maintaining strong bones and teeth. Almond milk contains 25% of your daily recommended Vitamin D intake and 30% of calcium, both of which aid in building and maintaining strong, healthy bones. Building strong bones is important as it helps fight osteoporosis, later in life. Calcium is also needed to help regulate blood pressure and is necessary for muscle contraction. Check out the other benefits of almond milk or almond milk nutrition.
Diabetic Benefits -Almond milk is wonderful for those who are diabetic or who are looking for milk that will stabilize their blood sugar levels, as a typical serving only contains 8 grams of carbohydrates, 7 grams of which are sugar. These sugars make up the carbohydrate content that does not store as fat in our bodies, in comparison to that of normal dairy milk, which contains simple sugars. Our bodies tend to store such simple sugars as fat, causing our bodies to lose out the nutrients. Also, almond milk has a low amount of simple sugars, giving it a low glycemic nature, which means it is digested fully by the body and used for energy. As diabetic patients are supposed to consume low-glycemic foods, almond milk is an ideal choice.
Heart Healthy -Opting for almond milk can also promote a healthy heart as there is only 5 mg of sodium and no cholesterol in a typical serving. The low amount of sodium, no cholesterol and presence of around 150 mg of Potassium within milk helps keep blood pressure levels normal and helps in maintaining a healthy heart.
Alzheimer’s disease Prevention-Almond milk is full of vitamin D, which is necessary for cell generation and also bolsters the immunity of the body, thus helping by preventing degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease.
Body Building -Almond milk helps increase muscle power, which is apt for people who are thinking of building their bodies, looking for a natural way to increase muscle strength and give them the power which only supplements and unnatural products give. It helps improve muscle due to the riboflavin content which is a form of Vitamin B and iron. In a serving of almond milk there is 4% of your recommended daily intake of iron, which helps in regulating oxygen absorption. High amounts of riboflavin also help prevent migraines and headaches.
Soy milk, which is made from soaking, grinding and boiling soy beans with water, is a very nutritious alternative to dairy. Soy is also full of proteins, calcium, minerals and essential fatty acids. These nutrients provide energy and help the body to function well. Check out the salient facts of soy milk nutrition.
Improve Lipid Profile-The most important characteristic of soy milk is its ability to improve your blood lipid profile. Unlike cow milk which is high in saturated fat, soy milk is full of unsaturated fats which are good for your cholesterol.
Strengthen Blood Vessel Integrity-The omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acid content in soymilk, as well as the powerful photo-antioxidants in soy, can prevent hemorrhage and lesions
Promote Weight Loss-Soy milk is naturally lower in sugar content than regular milk. Cow’s milk has about 12 grams of sugar per cup but soy milk has 7 grams of sugar. It also contains fiber which helps you to be satiated for longer hours.
Prevent Prostate Cancer-Soy milk is a rich source of phytoestrogen, a unique plant hormone that can control the production of testosterone in men. The slump in testosterone levels helps prevent prostate cancer in men. Studies have shown that men can prevent the onset of cancer by drinking soy milk and have other food stuff containing soy.
Prevent Postmenopausal Syndromes-During the time of menopause, the production of estrogen drops in a women’s body and soy, which contains phytoestrogens can help with the symptoms of menopause.
Prevent Osteoporosis-Osteoporosis is another age and hormone related disease. The phytoestrogen in soy can help with calcium absorption by your body and prevents the loss of bone mass. Have soy milk fortified with vitamin D to prevent osteoporosis.
Recipes Containing Soy Milk
This milk, with relatively less fat content than dairy milk can be made into a number of delicious of concoctions to cater to your nutritional requirements. Try these following recipes to chop and change your regular meal plans and give it a delicious twist. Check out one of the best tasting dairy free milk.
Lemon Soymilk Pudding
If you have a pronounced sweet tooth, and can’t stop yourself from reaching out for desserts, try the following dessert to satisfy your sweet tooth.
1 tablespoons corn starch
Zest of 2 lemons
1 pinches salt
1 cup sugar
1-liter soy milk
2 lemons (juice)
In a large pot (or plastic container if you want to make it in the microwave, which works very well) mix the cornstarch, the grated lemon zest, salt, and sugar.
Slowly mix in enough soy milk to make a smooth paste.
Then mix in the rest, keeping it smooth.
Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened.
Stir in as much lemon juice as you like- 2 large ones but it may be more or less according to taste and how juicy the lemons are.
If making in the microwave, microwave on high for 2 or 3 minutes at a time, stirring well in between times, until thickened and then add the lemon juice.
If you object to bits of lemon zest it should be strained before you chill it.
Dairy-free Chocolate Pudding
This is a simple vegan dessert, nutritious and healthy. Give your taste buds a much-needed break from bland foods and try this easy but sumptuous recipe.
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoon of water
1 and a half cup of soy milk
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
I/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and water to form a paste.
In a large saucepan over medium heat, stir together soy milk, vanilla, sugar, cocoa and cornstarch mixture. Cook, stirring constantly until mixture boils. Continue to cook and stir until mixture thickens. Remove from heat. Pudding will continue to thicken as it cools. Allow to cool five minutes, and then chill in refrigerator until completely cool.
Oat milk is a nutritious alternative to cow’s milk. It is naturally lactose-free and low in calories and fat. It has a mild, slightly sweet flavor, making it similar to low-fat cow’s milk. It is made by soaking oats in water for a period of time. There are a few different types of oats, but all can be used to make oat milk. The most common are oat groats but rolled oats and steel cut oats are also an option.
Oat milk provides many nutrients and health enhancing properties. It is low in fat and calories, which makes help maintain an ideal body weight. The following points can prove that oat milk is a nutritious alternative to dairy milk.
It is cholesterol free – It also has properties known to reduce bad cholesterol. Thus, it reduces the risk of heart disease.
Enhances the immune system -Oats and oat milk are high in protein, fiber, and iron. These nutritional qualities help enhance the immune system, prevent cardiovascular diseases, help maintain good cholesterol levels and blood sugar levels, and provide ample amount of energy.
Full of minerals – Oat milk is a source of phytochemicals, and minerals like calcium, potassium, phosphorus, many B vitamins, vitamin E, vitamin A, and folic acid. Phytochemicals are found in plants. They act as antioxidants and help protect from free radical damage. Free radicals can lead to various illness, diseases, and cancer. Studies show that phytochemicals help protect against heart disease, stroke, and cancer.
Healthy Digestive System – Both kinds of dietary fiber, soluble and insoluble, are found in oat milk. These two fiber compounds help maintain a healthy digestive system. They promote regularity, prevent constipation, and promote satiety. Oat milk may be also great for hair and skin.
Recipes with Oat Milk
Check out the following recipes to include the nutrient rich oat milk and the goodness of creamy coconut milk. It can be counted among the best milk substitutes.
Coconut Cream Milk
This is a wonderful healthier version of the ubiquitous kheer. It does not have white sugar, yet you do not miss it, as you have natural sweetener in agave. Enjoy it, guilt free!
400 ml coconut cream
600 ml of oat milk
150 ground grain rice
A bit of vanilla essence
50 g of agave
1 teaspoon of arrowroot
Rinse the rice. In a large saucepan, add a little water.
Heat the oat milk and coconut cream. When it boils, lower the heat and add the rice and vanilla. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
Dilute the arrowroot in a little water. 5 minutes before the end of cooking, add the agave syrup and arrowroot.
Stir until the mixture thickens.
Oat Milk Pancakes
Make your pancakes nutritious with this lovely recipe. Give it the zest of the sweet and tangy peach and you have one great concoction of fruits and oat milk. Since oat milk is one of the healthiest milk, this is indeed a very healthy recipe.
1 cup stone ground brown bread wheat flour
1 cup oat milk
1 T tahini (high source of calcium)
1 t baking soda
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 ripe peach
1 ripe pear
2 T butter
Add your oil, egg, and tahini and oat milk together and whisk. Mix the sugar, salt, baking soda and flour together. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix together to make a batter.
Heat your griddle on high coated with a light layer of butter. Pour one ladle of the pancake batter into the middle of the hot griddle and let it spread evenly. Turn the pancake over when you start seeing bubbles form. Flip the pancake and let it cook on the other side for 15 seconds. Remove the pancake and place on a plate and place in a warming drawer. Repeat until all the batter is used up.
Heat a small saucepan on high and melt the butter. Dice the peach and the pear keeping the juices from cutting the fruit. Add the diced fruit and juice to the saucepan and stir the melted butter evenly around the fruit. Add sugar and let it simmer for 4-8 minutes until a syrupy consistency forms. Remove from heat and pour over pancakes. Eat and enjoy immediately. Garnish with fresh cream and mint.
Whatever your reasons may be of avoiding cow’s milk, there are some great alternatives to your favorite beverage. Experiment a little to know which suits you best among the dairy free milk alternatives and which of them caters to your taste buds, because if you are accustomed to the sweetness of cow’s milk, these alternatives of milk will take some getting used to. But once you get the hang of the taste, nobody can stop you from indulging in a glass full of creamy hot milk!
Alekhya is a Postgraduate in Nutrition (Osmania University) and has over 3 years of experience in the field of Fitness & Nutrition. She is a full-time contributor at The Fit Indian, with her core area of expertise being weight loss, weight gain, natural home remedies, recipes, diet tips, PCOS management, and infertility among myriad other health-related issues.
She has helped out many people in achieving their health goals. Her undying passion for exploring everything related to the world of Food & Nutrition reflects in her work. This dedication to health is magnified through her sugar-free and gluten-free brownies and smoothies, which has gained her friends’ admiration. A rule she abides by that is worth taking note of is “Eat right to feel right”.