There are so many cow’s milk alternatives on the market that finding the best one may be tricky. Soy and almond milks are probably the first non-dairy drinks that come to mind — but they’re not the only dairy-free options out there.
If you’re willing to open your mind, there are dozens of alternatives to cow’s milk — like camel’s milk and quinoa milk. We’re guessing the idea of drinking camel’s milk never crossed your mind. And quinoa milk? We wouldn’t have thought of that in a million years.
And dairy-free doesn’t mean it’s not delicious! You can make many of these “milks” at home, which gives you the option to customize them to your family’s preferences (and avoid that unhealthy added sugar).
Whether you’re ditching dairy because of food sensitivities or intolerances, or you just prefer the taste of the alternatives, we’ve rounded up some of the most out-there milks that you’ve probably never heard of but totally should. Keep scrolling to learn more about the health benefits of these dairy-free milks.
Quinoa Milk Recipe Nutrition Benefits For Babies
Chances are you've heard of and love quinoa, but quinoa milk? This dairy-free milk alternative is relatively new to the market and has a slightly sweet and nutty taste. It's easy to make quinoa milk at home; all you do is blend cooked quinoa and water and then strain the mixture with cheesecloth. Quinoa is a good source of fiber and protein, as well as manganese, magnesium, and phosphorous. However, quinoa milk is mostly water (only five to 10 percent of it is quinoa), so it's nutrients are diluted compared to just quinoa.
One cup of this vegan drink contains 70 calories, one gram of fat, 12 grams of carbohydrates, two grams of sugar, and two grams of protein. Beause of its relatively balanced nutritional profile, this dairy-free beverage may be worth trying if you can find it at your local store or don't mind making it yourself.
Where to buy: ($37.59 for 6 1L. cartons, Amazon)
Hemp Milk Recipe Benefits Nutrition
Hemp mik is made by blending the seeds of the hemp plant with water and straining the liquid, similar to quinoa milk. Some people worry that hemp milk will make them high because the seeds are from the same plant that produces marijuana leaves, but you will only find trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in hemp milk — not enough to produce mind-altering effects. (And don't worry about the taste either; hemp milk has a nutty, earthy flavor.)
So, what are the benefits of hemp milk? One glass of this non-dairy drink contains 83 calories, 7.3 grams of fat, 1.3 grams of carbohydrates, and 4.7 grams of protein. Hemp milk may be one of the better cow's milk alternatives because not only does it not contain soy, lactose, or gluten, but it's also considered a complete protein, meaning it contains 10 essential amino acids.
Where to buy: ($25.65 for 6 32-oz. cartons, Amazon)
Oat Milk Calories Nutrition Benefits Make
Oat milk is popping up in grocery stores all around the country thanks in part to the fact that it's cheaper to make than most nut milks. It's made similarly to hemp and quinoa milk: Oats are blended with water and strained. Oat milk has a creamier texture than nut milks because oats easily absorb water and can easily pass through the cheesecloth strainer if they've been blended enough.
A "one-cup serving of oat milk provides 130 calories, 2.5 grams of total fat, no saturated fats, two grams of fiber, four grams protein, 35 percent of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for calcium, and 25 percent for vitamin D," Keri Gans, RDN, told Shape.com. "Compared to cow's milk and soy milk it has less protein; however, compared to other plant-based beverages, e.g., almond, cashew, coconut, and rice, it has more protein."
One thing to note when making oat milk at home is to always ensure your oats are certified gluten-free if you have an intolerance. Oats are naturally gluten-free, but they're often processed in facilities that also handle grains with gluten.
Where to buy: ($24.23 for 64 oz., Amazon)
Camel Milk Benefits
It makes sense that camels produce milk for their babies, but it's probably never occurred to you that you some humans drink it. Camel milk is popular in the Middle East, parts of Asia and Africa, and certain areas of Russia.
Even those with allergies to cow's milk may enjoy camel's milk, because the latter does not contain the same proteins that trigger cow's milk allergies. As for camel milk's nutritional benefits, it contains roughly the same protein and carbohydrate levels, but camel's milk has far less fat. Additionally, camel milk may help those with type 2 diabetes. An April 2017 review published in the International Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism noted that camel's milk could reduce insulin resistance and decrease blood sugar.
Where to buy: ($21 for five freeze-dried packets, Amazon)
Rice Milk Recipe Benefits
We like rice, so what about rice milk? This dairy-free milk alternative is made by soaking rice for a few hours before blending it with water and straining the mixture. Rice milk is popular because its sweet taste makes it easy to drink.
There are about 120 calories, 22 grams of carbohydrate, and two grams of fat in a cup-size serving of rice milk. Because of its high level of carbohydrates and lack of protein (there's less than a gram of protein in one serving), rice milk may not be the most nutritious milk alternative.
Where to buy: ($28.87 for 6 32-oz. cartons, Amazon)