Are you looking for a vegan alternative to cow’s milk? Do you want something to add to cereal, coffee or tea so you can fully enjoy them? Not to worry, there are plenty of options in beans, grains, nuts and seeds.
Fortunately, these fantastic substitutes are now widely available in mainstream shops. You’ll be able to pick up nut-based milks such as hazelnut milk, almond milk, coconut milk, alongside soya milk, rice milk, hemp milk and oat milk.
Basic nutrition overview
The prime rule in nutrition is that no singular form of food should be relied upon independently to provide a full and healthy diet. Instead, a balanced collection of nutritious foods need to make up an entire “dietary puzzle” – one of which is milk (in plant or animal form). Plant-based milks are mainly made up of water, around 90-95%, with additional vitamins and minerals like vitamin D, B12 and calcium; some also include oil and salt.
Purer milks can be created too which you can try at home with our very own recipe listed at the bottom of this blog!
If you are part of the growing community of people who follow a plant-based diet, the reliance on these milk substitutes is commonly used as a prerequisite. You therefore need to be aware of the types of substitutes available as well as what they provide for you on a nutritional level. Let’s start with the most popular substitutes available…
Coconut milk is a relatively new item in the milk substitutes family, and is widely available in mainstream supermarkets. It is formed of pressed coconut and water; it’s also lactose-free. It contains a higher volume of fat than alternate plant-based milks and is enriched with calcium in many commercials shops.
The thick coconut milk found in cans are highly unsuitable for drinking, being used in curries and desserts and containing increased levels of fats. It’s incredibly simple to concoct your own coconut milk, it’s simply a case of soaking desiccated coconut, or unsweetened coconut flakes in hot water before blending and straining through a nut milk bag or colander.
Important to note: coconut milk is not actually coconut water
Rice milk has a sweet flavour and is armed with vitamin D, B12 and calcium. It’s available in a variation of flavours and tastes as well as in a basic sweetened or unsweetened form. The sweetened form of this milk pairs particularly well with cereals or even by itself as a revitalising beverage. It’s also low in protein and lactose-free!
Almond milk is now considered the most popular of the milk substitutes recently surpassing soya milk. It’s made up of water with only a dash of ground almonds (around 2%). Additionally, sunflower lecithin and sea salt are tossed into the mix as well as stabilising agents. It’s also heightened by calcium and a variety of vitamins including vitamin D, E, B2 and B12. It’s incredibly easy to create your own almond milk so be sure to check-in to the recipe at the foot of this page.
Quick tip: works incredibly well with granola!
Another growing item in the milk substitute market, oat milk is considered to be one of the most nutritious plant-based milks with its great volumes of iron and calcium. Most commercial varieties are littered with many additions such as vitamins and minerals (vitamin D, B2 and B12). This is made up of pre-soaked oats with a higher percentage of the key ingredient this time (10% oats) – it has a creamy flavour as well as being low in fat and lactose-free!
Hazelnut milk is becoming increasingly popular too! Following a similar recipe, hazelnut is also made up of water and a small volume of ground hazelnuts (about 2.5%). Again sugar, sunflower lecithin, stabilising agents as well as vitamins and minerals are present. It’s incredibly enjoyable as a warm drink or with granola/muesli with its creamy, smooth and nutty taste.
Make your own nut milks at home…
You will need…
A blender and some muslin
A cup of seeds or nuts. Select from the likes of hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, hempseed, pecans, almonds or sesame seeds.
4 cups filtered water
Ground raw chocolate, cacao (for chocolate milk), ground cinnamon, vanilla pod (for vanilla milk), Medjool dates or raisins.
You’ll need to soak the seeds or nuts for about 2-4 hours – be sure to peel the nuts to prevent any bitter tastes from dominating the milk. Drain the water and blend the nuts and seeds with filtered water for a few minutes. Pour the resulting mixture through the muslin being sure to squeeze and strain the milk. If you want to create a creamy consistency, use a little less water. Rinse the blender and pour the fresh milk back in adding any sweeteners if you desire. Blend once more. Decanter the milk into a container and refrigerate and there you have it – a beautifully delicious nut milk!
Be sure not to throw away the pulp used to soak the seeds or nuts as a high volume of nutrition and energy lies here! You can place it into many other recipes, for example it is a great addition to homemade bread or biscuits.