Healthy Milk Alternatives You Can Make at Home
I used to love milk. Then I found out the many ways in which it was hurting me, so I had to kiss it goodbye. But with some many delicious milk alternatives, it is almost impossible to miss it.
I stopped drinking milk about a year ago and have tried different kinds of milks, some of which I've loved and some that were okay. I haven't hated any of them. Here's a list of milk alternatives along with its benefits and properties to help you find the best alternative for you.
Two Types of milks
There are two different types of vegetable milks: the ones that come from cereals (rice, oatmeal, quinoa, amaranth, spelt, barley...) and the ones that come from dried fruits (almonds, hazelnuts, sesame seed, nuts pistachios, pine nuts, pumpkin seed, sunflower seed...)
The cereal milks are high in fiber, vitamins and minerals, and contain no cholesterol or lactose.
The dried fruit milks are very nutritious and complete, as well as having a high calcium content and high quality fatty acids.
Brief overview of milk alternatives
- Soy milk
- Coconut milk
- Rice milk
- Pumpkin seed milk
- Hazelnut milk
- Almond milk
- Flax seed milk
- Sunflower seed milk
- Cashew milk
- Barley milk
Basic preparation of vegetable milks
Vegetable milks are so easy to prepare at home. The basic process is as follows:
- Soak the seeds, nuts or dried fruit in water overnight (or longer in some cases)
- Blend until the seeds or nuts are completely ground
- Sift the mixture with a fine sieve
- Let it stand
This is probably the most famous alternative to milk. Everyone knows it, and some even hate it. Soy milk is a good source of:
- essential aminoacids
- B vitamins
Soy milk's protein is the one that most closely resembles the animal protein with the added benefits that it doesn't contain bad fats and risk of decalcification.
Soy milk is ideal for asthmatics, diabetics and those with cardiovascular disease because of its low sodium levels. Regular intake of soy can reduce blood triglyceride and LDL cholesterol, which lowers your risk for heart attacks.
Because of its isoflavones, soy milk is recommended for women going through menopause and those suffering from osteoporosis. However it is not recommended for children since it has been linked to precocious puberty in girls and effemination of sexual development in boys.
*There has been much controversy regarding soy and its ill effects on health.
Rice milk is the most refreshing and easiest to digest, which makes it the perfect milk to drink when your body isn't tolerating anything, such as in cases of diarrhea, vomit, indigestion or post-surgery.
Its smooth and sweet flavor makes it ideal for dessert recipes. Also, because of its high carbohydrate content, rice milk is very energetic and can be a good pick-me-up during the day.
Rice milk is a great alternative for those with Celiac disease since it has no gluten.
The disadvantages of rice milk is that it is super watery (not good in tea or coffee) and it is low in protein and calcium. But don't get discouraged. Most rice milks in the market have been enriched with both.
But don't we need cow milk for calcium?
No, you don't. In fact, milk makes us lose calcium. WHAT??!!
Here's how it works:
Milk acidifies the body. Calcium neutralizes acids. When you drink milk, your body becomes acidic so it feels the need to neutralize what you just drank by releasing calcium from your bones. EEEEK!
So, milk is not healthy. In fact, it's actually pretty bad for your body.
Oatmeal milk is one of most complete milks out there. It is rich in:
- vitamins B1, B2, E and D
Because its high phosphorus content, rice milk is very good to improve brain activity, while the sulfur helps you have beautiful skin and stronger nails.
Oh, who doesn't love almond milk! Especially Silk's chocolate version! Almond milk is low in sodium, rich in potassium, calcium, phosphorus and protein.
This milk is also good in the prevention of osteoporosis and in the control of cholesterol levels. It contains no gluten, which makes it a good alternative for those with Celiac disease and it is an awesome milk substitute for cooking.
I love, love, love coconut milk. It is so...coconutty! The flavor is awesome and the texture is just perfect. It is very creamy and goes perfect in tea, coffee, and wherever else you want to use it.
Coconut milk is high in:
- Vitamin C and E
- Folic acid
Coconut milk is also a great diuretic, natural laxative, and a great fighter against instestinal parasites.
Pumpkin seed milk
This is a less common type of milk but not less healthy. Pumpkin seed milk is rich in:
- Vitamins A, E, and F
- Linoleic acid
Like coconut milk, pumpkin seed milk is also great for getting rid of (or preventing) intestinal parasites. Men with prostate problems will find this milk very helpful since it disinfects and reduces prostate inflammation, as well as urinary tracts.
Its high zinc content helps to strengthen immune system and sight, while the fatty acids will contribute to a beautiful skin and better cardiovascular system.
Tastes very similar to almond milk, which makes it very delicious! Hazelnut milk is low in sodium and high in:
- L-arginine- Helps prevent artery lesions and blood clots
- folic and oleic acid - wonderful for pregnant women. Helps reduce the probability of fetus deformations)
Like many of the vegetable milks previously mentioned, hazelnut milk also helps decrease LDL and triglycerides levels.
Very creamy and similar in flavor to almond milk, but with less nutty flavor. It is high in phosphorus, magnesium and B vitamins. Cashew milk is very easy to prepare at home, since it requires no pre-soaking stage or sifting. Mix the cashews with water, blend them together and drink! As easy as that, and very delicious.
- Canary grass seed milk - great for diabetics, people with cardiovascular problems, and helps with weight loss.
- Flax seed milk - low in calories, not a lot of protein.
- Sunflower seed milk - nutty taste, thick. Goes well in smoothies, teas and coffee. Has a grayish color, which may be a little unattractive.
There are plenty of milk alternatives out there. If you haven't tried any, be adventurous! You won't regret it!
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