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Ditch Dairy for These Deliciously Nutritious Milk Alternatives

milk substitutes to add to smoothies

One of the go-to liquids to add into smoothies is good ole’ dairy milk. But what about for those of us who just don’t do well with dairy?

There are a lot of us milk intolerant folk these days. We range from being lactose intolerant to those prone to hormonal acne to those who are straight up allergic to milk.

Thankfully – dairy milk isn’t the only creamy, milky option when it comes to smoothies. There’s are huge range of wonderfully nutritious, dairy and lactose-free milk substitutes out there. Plus, they’re incredibly easy to make – pretty much all the slow juicers will produce delicious nut milks in a matter of minutes (the Omega, Hurom, Champion and Green Star juicers are all great for this) – and come with a chock full of health benefits of their own!

Here are a few of the best ones to add into your smoothies!

Almond Milk

best milk alternatives

Almond milk is without a doubt one of the most popular milk alternatives on the market today. And is it any surprise why? This stuff is simply delicious.

But it’s got a lot more going for it than taste alone. In brief, here are some reasons you should get on this almond milk bandwagon…

What’s so great about almond milk?

  • Super Low-Cal: Almond milk has one of the lowest caloric contents of all the milk alternatives out there, making it the preferred choice of those looking to shed pounds and keep them off. One cup of almond milk (an 8 oz. serving) is only 40 calories.
  • Whopping Dose of Healthy Fats: Of all the milk alternatives, almond milk is the richest source of monounsaturated fats. An 8 oz. serving of almond milk has around 3 grams per serving, but they’re all healthy fats that are good for you.
  • Rich Source of Skin-Healthy Vitamin E: Vitamin E – the lovely antioxidant that boosts and protects skin health – is abundant in almond milk. Just one cup provides you with 50% of your DV!
  • Nutrient-Dense: Almond milk comes with a whole load of other nutritional benefits as well – just one cup of this creamy, yummy milk has 30% of you DV of calcium as well as 25% of your DV of vitamin D. Not to mention the magnesium, copper, zinc, iron, manganese, phosphorous, potassium, and selenium it contains.

The one area in which almond milk falls short is in the protein department – it only provides around 1 gram of protein per 8 oz serving, which is abysmally low compared to the 7 grams you get for the same-sized serving of dairy milk.

But adding a bunch of high-protein fruits and vegetables to your almond milk smoothies to compensate is an easy, elegant solution to this!

Cashew Milk

cashew-milk-benefits

‘Though not as well-known as almond milk – cashew milk has a loyal following made up of those who’ve tasted this stuff. It’s hands-down the yummiest milk alternative ever made. And it’s healthy, too…

What’s so great about cashew milk?

  • Abundant in Good Fats: Like most nuts and nut milks, cashew milk is a rich source of heart-healthy, mostly monounsaturated fats that support cardiovascular health and lower bad cholesterol.
  • Rich Source of Vital Nutrients: Cashew milk has a great nutritional profile, featuring the usual roundup of stars: copper, iron, phosphorous, manganese, selenium, zinc, etc. But where it really shines is in its copper and magnesium department – just 100 grams of cashews gives you over 100% of your DV for copper and over 70% of your DV for magnesium!
  • Makes You Feel Good: And not only ’cause it tastes so yummy, but also ’cause cashew milk is loaded with the amino acid tryptophan which plays an important role in the production of serotoning – you now, the “Feel Good” hormone.

Now for the drawbacks of cashew milk – it’s high in calories, with just one cup of cashew milk giving you 158 calories! So drink this stuff sparingly, especially if you’re trying to lose weight.

Cashew milk is also not the best source of protein – with around 4 grams of protein per serving, it’s better than almond milk, but still falls short of cow’s milk. Add in plenty of protein rich veggies!

Coconut Milk

coconut-milk-benefits

Another awesome weight-loss-promoting milk substitute, coconut milk lends a delicious flavor to your smoothie recipes and comes with quite a few benefits of its own…

What’s so great about coconut milk?

  • Dairy-, Gluten-, Lactose-, Soy-, Nut-Free: Okay, so coconut milk provides a safe haven for those who are allergic or averse to like, everything. It’s non-dairy, there’s no gluten, there’s no lactose, and there’s no soy nor nuts. It’s safe.
  • Chock Full of Nutrition: Coconut milk is very rich in vitamins and minerals like C, E, B1, B3, B5, and B6 as well as iron, selenium, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorous.
  • Source of Unique Fats: So coconut milk is about 25% fat. But before you go getting turned off by this fact, you should know that the fats found in coconut milk are medium-chain fatty acids that our bodies convert into really helpful compounds with antiviral, antibacterial, and antiprotozoal properties. These medium-chain triglycerides have even been shown to aid in weight loss!

The biggest downsides of coconut milk are that it is high in fat and low in protein. How to get around this? Don’t overdo your coconut milk consumption and add in plenty of protein rich foods!

Soy Milk

milk alternatives

Apart from almond milk, soy milk is probably the most well-know, most popular milk substitute on the market. Thanks to this, it’s also the most affordable option of all the milk alternatives. But that’s the only thing it has going for it, soy milk has heaps of benefits as well…

What’s so great about soy milk?

  • Dairy-, Lactose-, Nut-, Gluten-Free: Soy milk is a pretty good option for those who don’t like dairy but are also allergic to nuts. Most soy milk you’ll find is also gluten free, so it’ll be easier on your stomach if you don’t take well to gluten.
  • Great Source of Protein: Soy milk distinguishes itself from other milk alternatives simply ’cause it’s a great source of protein, with a single 8-ounce cup of soy milk providing around 7 grams of protein (same as cow’s milk!).
  • Has All the Essential Amino Acids: Nuff said.

The one thing you must know about soy milk is that it’s rich in phytoestrogens. This can be okay for those who need the extra boost in estrogen – i.e. menopausal women – but a drawback for those who really don’t want the increase in estrogen – i.e. men.

Quinoa Milk

milk substitutes

Quinoa is already a darling of health nuts everywhere and now it comes in milk form as well. If you haven’t heard of quinoa or quinoa milk yet, it’s high time to get on board! This stuff is great for you…

What’s so great about quinoa milk?

  • Dairy-, Lactose-, Gluten-, Nut-, and Soy-Free: Wow. Quinoa’s practically in a department of its own. Sort of like coconut milk (see above), but without the high fat content.
  • Great Source of Protein:  Quinoa milk is on par with cow’s milk and soy milk in the protein department – the World Health Organization equates the protein levels in quinoa to that found in cow’s milk.
  • Amino Acids Galore: The thing that really makes quinoa unique is that it contains the amino acids lysine, methionine, and cystine, making quinoa a complete protein with an essential amino acid balance that is most similar to milk.

But quinoa milk is also not totally perfect – it’s not a good fit for those who are hypersensitive to saponin, which is the soapy coating that quinoa seeds are encased in. Most of this stuff is washed off during the milk processing but a small bit of it can remain.

One more note on quinoa milk is that it seems to be kind of like durian (you know, that fart-smelling fruit), as in some people love it and some people hate it. There is rarely an in-between.

The good news is that when you’re adding quinoa milk to your smoothie recipes, it doesn’t really matter if you don’t like the taste since the other ingredients mask it and you get all the health benefits without the taste 🙂

Okay, the above are my personal favorite milk alternatives to add into smoothies. But this is a very incomplete list – check this list for a full list of milk alternatives you can whip up with your juicer or blender!

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