Sunday, March 31, 2013

Got milk (substitutes)?

In case you are looking for a milk substitute, I figured I'd give you some helpful notes from my search.  All of my attempts were original flavors, unsweetened whenever possible.  I tried drinking it straight, putting it in cereal, and putting it in tea.

GENERAL NOTES: If you really are going to use something in place of dairy in your diet, be sure it's fortified with vitamins A&D and has a similar amount of calcium and stuff (or that you are definitely getting these materials through some other foods you have introduced into your diet).  Also, these will not have the taste or consistency of milk at all, so do not expect them to, or your taste buds and gag reflex may hate you.
  • Almond milk: What a vile substance this was.  Sure, you can get it sweetened, but I figured if I could also cut some sugar out of my diet, that would be better.  It's actually pretty good as a creamer in hot beverages.
  • Rice milk: Even the unsweetened kind tastes slightly sweet.  It's a different kind of sweet from dairy milk, but it's not the pure vileness that was the almond milk.  Because I've broken my nose a lot, I don't have a great sense of taste, so maybe these things will taste much sweeter to you.  That's what makes experimenting interesting.  Winner!
  • Coconut milk: Bleh.  Thick and sludgy-oily.  Gross straight and in cereal.  Not too bad in hot beverages, but I need something a bit more versatile if I can find it.
  • Oat milk: Have you ever eaten Cheerios?  You know the milk that's left in the bottom of the bowl?  Oat milk, unsurprisingly, tastes a lot like that only with less grit and oat dust to choke on.  This kind (if made from whole grain oats) contains fiber, too.  Great on oat-based cereal, not too bad straight, not awesome as a creamer for mint-based hot beverages.
  • Hemp milk: I was glad to find that drinking this was not like licking a rope.  (Ropes used to be made out of hemp, sometimes.)  Thicker and a bit oilier than others, this one contains ALA Omega 3+6 oils, which are good for you if you, like me, really don't get enough of them and thus should be a dry and shriveled wad.  Sort of meh in all categories, but, well, I still can only gag down one kind of fish, so I will keep it in the repertoire for that.  It actually tasted good on whole grain granola that had hemp seeds in it. 
  • Whole Grain Rice milk: A bit thicker than the regular rice milk because it has fiber.  It also tastes less sweet/polished to me.
IN CONCLUSION: Whole Grain Rice, Hemp, and Oat are in the rotation.  I keep a carton at work for tea and after-exercising when I just need to chug a cold beverage.  The other one I keep at home for cereal.  They only tend to stay fresh for 7-10 days after they're opened, so it can be a juggling act (I can't really smell when they go bad, so I just have to write the date on them and try to finish in a week) not to waste any.

I don't really cook, so I have no idea how these do in recipes as milk substitutes, so if anyone's had any experience with that, please share.  : )  Have you tried any of these?  Any ones you've tried that I've missed?  What were your reactions?

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