by Krista Lyons
When I was little, I hated milk. As I grew older, my body began to hate cow’s milk too. Lactose intolerance set in and I have found myself seriously weighing my options if I am feeling tempted by an ice cream cone. Although I have tried several milk substitutes over the years, I never was able to settle on one that I truly liked. And, if I am being honest, I still only like regular milk with cookies.
Unfortunately, my husband, Otis, is a whole milk man. He could drink it all day, every day. He refers to lactose free milk as “not milk” or “white water”.
Flavor debate aside, dairy from a cow can wreak havoc on our bodies. In fact, as we age, the amount of the lactase enzyme that our body creates, which breaks down the lactose in milk, decreases. When you combine the steroids and antibiotics given to cows with the fact that we are the only species that drinks milk as an adult, you have a recipe for sour stomach, inflammation, and overall aches and pains.
To take the danger out of our morning routines of cereal, coffee and all of the other dairy goodies we consume throughout the day, we decided to do a taste test of milk substitutes to find out which tastes the best and give a healthy alternative. Not all milk is created equally, so we set out to find out which ones are the best.
Because milk is used in a variety of ways, we tested the milk by itself, with cereal, and with coffee.
After going to our local Publix and garnering more than a few odd looks from passers-by on the milk aisle, we brought home four milk substitutes to try: Lactaid Fat Free Milk, Califia Farms Creamy Original Almond Milk, Silk Coconut Milk, and Rice Dream Rice Milk. Keep in mind that all percentages are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.
Here is what we thought of each one:
Lactaid Fat Free Milk
Fast Facts: 90 calories per serving (0 calories from fat), 0g total fat, 5 mg cholesterol (1%DV), 125 mg sodium (5%DV), 410 mg potassium (12%DV), 13 g total carbohydrates (4%DV), 0 g dietary fiber, 12 g sugars, 8 g protein (17%DV).
Vitamin A 10%, Vitamin C 0%, Calcium 50%, Iron 0%, Vitamin D 25%, Riboflavin 25%, Vitamin B12 15%, Phosphorus 35%.
Made from: Real Milk
Pros: 500 mg of calcium per serving, made from real milk, no calories from fat
For anyone who loves real milk but just can’t digest the regular stuff, this is the closest you can get to the real thing. It is very close to 2 percent milk with regards to how thick it is, and the smell is just like regular milk as well.
What we thought:
K: It’s just like regular milk, only sweeter. It tastes great in cereal too. It really doesn’t change the flavor of the cereal at all, which is great because I like my Kashi to taste as it should. In coffee, it tastes thinner than regular milk so I am not a huge fan. I like my coffee to be a vehicle for sugar milk so this kind of required me to use less coffee than I like.
O: It is sweeter than whole milk, but it is nothing to write home about.
Califia Farms Creamy Original Almond Milk
Fast Facts: 60 calories per serving (35 calories from fat), 4 g fat (6%DV), 0 mg cholesterol, 160 mg sodium (7%DV), 6 g total carbohydrate (2%DV), 1g dietary fiber (4%DV), 5g sugars, 1g protein.
Vitamin A 10%, Vitamin C 0%, Calcium 45%, Iron 4%, Vitamin D 25%, Vitamin E 50%, Riboflavin, 25%, Vitamin B 50%, Zinc 10%
Made from: Almonds
Pros: No dairy, 100% vegan, no saturated fats, carrageenan free
What we thought:
K: This bottle is so pretty that I want to save it when we are done and put flowers in it. Seriously pretty bottle. I also really like the little cutesy sayings on it. But enough about the bottle! (I am a sucker for pretty things). This one is really thick with a brown tint to it. It kind of looks like a milkshake.
O: Yeah and it kind of tastes like a milkshake.
K: Oh no. It tastes like watery, nutty milk. It isn’t as thick as it looks once you drink it. But it definitely leaves an aftertaste. It might be good if you really like an almond flavor for milkshakes though. Cereal is a no-go for this one. It works well as a coffee creamer, but it leaves too strong of an almond taste for my liking. The texture is perfect for coffee but the taste is just not my favorite.
O: I really like this one. It tastes like cream, but it does leave the same kind of chalky taste in your mouth that regular almonds do. Its definitely not as sweet as the Lactaid. I think this would be a better mate for cookies and pastries. As for coffee, the almond flavor is barely noticeable. Taste like I put regular milk into my coffee with a hint of nut.
Silk Coconut Milk
Fast Facts: 80 calories per serving (50 calories from fat), 5 g total fat (8%DV), 4.5 g saturated fat (23%DV), 0g trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 35 mg sodium (2%DV), 40 mg potassium (1%DV), 7 g total carbohydrates (2%DV), 0 g dietary fiber, 7 g sugars, 0 g protein.
Vitamin A 10%, Vitamin C 0%, Calcium 45%, Iron 2%, Vitamin D 25%, Vitamin B12 50%
Made from: Coconut Milk
Pros: Free of dairy, soy, gluten, lactose, cholesterol, eggs, casein and MSG
What we thought:
K: I realize that this one is probably the most unhealthy. It has no riboflavin– what’s up with that? Health aside though, this is my favorite. It lives up to the name: silk. It is nice and thick like cream but is slightly sweeter. Maybe I just found my new favorite. It smells sweeter than the others. It tastes like vanilla and I really don’t taste coconut in it.
It would be really good for baking pound cakes. It tastes a lot thicker than regular milk but very silky. I 100% hate milk but would drink this. Its also really good in cereal. It is like a milkshake treat. But the sugar content seems high so this wouldn’t be my first choice for everyday milk.
It tastes really good in the coffee, I think I might start getting this just to use as my new favorite coffee creamer. It is slightly healthier and less sugar than the coffee creamer I normally use. I love this. It is like a treat. It made my coffee seem fancier than usual.
O: This one is the sweetest of them all and the thickest as well. The taste is overpowering for cereal or cooking. It also tastes kind of salty to me. I do not like it in my coffee. Way too salty for my cup of Joe. Not my favorite.
Rice Dream Rice Milk
Fast Facts: 120 calories per serving, 20 calories from fat, 2.5 g total fat (4.5%DV), 0 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, .5 g polyunsaturated fat, 1.5 g monounsaturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 80 mg sodium (3%DV), 23 g total carbohydrates (8%DV), 0 g dietary fiber, 10 g sugars, 1 g protein.
Vitamin A 10%, Vitamin C 0%, Calcium 30%, Iron 4%, Vitamin D 25%, Vitamin B12 25%, Phosphorus 15%
Made from: Brown Rice
Pros: No dairy, organic, no preservatives or GMOs, kosher
What we thought:
K: … How to begin. It was not very good. It has a weird aftertaste like old rice cakes or something, and for some reason kind of tastes nutty. It smells like Rice Krispies cereal (not the sweet treats, just the cereal). It looks like regular milk, which I suppose is a good thing, but it is just not my taste. As for how it goes with coffee: I did not think you could mess up coffee until now. It tastes like I mixed cereal milk with my coffee. It is also the highest in calories so would not be good if you are trying to keep your calories down.
O: It is different… it tastes like I dipped cereal into my coffee for sure. I found it really sweet, which was off putting. We both had to use a lot of it to get our coffee to the same color as the others. As for how it tastes plain, this is what you get when you let rice cereal get soggy in a bowl of skim milk. It is really thin, and almost watery. It also leaves a sour aftertaste, which is not something I want in my cup of milk.
In the end we found that we both have very different taste buds. But the top two favorites were the almond milk and the coconut milk. The almond milk also seemed to have the highest values when it comes to vitamins.
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