CHOOSING PLANT-BASED MILKS
For those who can’t tolerate or prefer to avoid cow’s milk, plant-based milks are a great way to enjoy dairy-like creaminess.
All plant-based milks are made similarly. Nuts, seeds or grains are soaked in water and blended until very smooth, then strained for a creamy drink. There’s an extra step in making quinoa milk – the quinoa is first cooked, then blended with water and strained.
How do you choose a plant-based milk? It depends on your dietary preferences and taste. If you’d like a fruit smoothie with added protein, go with soy milk. Have a sensitive stomach? Try rice milk. Coconut milk is a versatile choice that works in both sweet and savory dishes. Hazelnut milk makes an excellent foam for specialty coffee drinks.
Unsweetened almond milk is a popular non-dairy drink for its mild flavor and low calories (1). Sweet and rich oat milk has fiber and goes well with oatmeal and granola. If you’d like to make a non-dairy cream sauce or dressing, try cashew milk. Hemp milk is another option for those with sensitivities to nuts and dairy.
CHILLED or SHELF-STABLE?
Plant-based drinks are available in shelf-stable packages or in the refrigerated dairy case. Selection may vary by store. Because non-dairy beverages tend to separate during storage, shake the container before each use.
You get the same quality and taste in both chilled and shelf-stable packages. Unopened shelf-stable products can be stored up to 6 months in the pantry, saving you refrigerator space. Prefer chilled milk? Put shelf-stable milk in the fridge for a few hours for a refreshing drink.
Shelf-stable products are heated to 280°F for 2 seconds to kill harmful bacteria, then put into sterilized boxes with several layers that protect the contents from light and oxygen.
Nutrient data collected August 4, 2016, from USDA Food Composition Databases at https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/search and manufacturers’ product labels.
(1) US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Nutrient Data Laboratory. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 28. Version Current: September 2015, slightly revised May 2016. Internet: https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/