Milk Alternatives; Friend or Foe?
Photo: India Times

Fresh cows milk...fresh goats milk....nut milk....low fat UHT milk.....coconut milk......boxed or made fresh......CHOICES, CHOICES, CHOICES!

I am not a great decision maker at the best of times and the milk section in the grocery store is no exception. Unlucky for me, as well as my poor decision making skills I am also a trend follower.

“Do you have kale?”, “Can I please add Chia” and “Where do you stock your quinoa?” are phrases that we are all guilty of, don’t lie. But unlike these super food super trends, milk alternatives deserve a closer a look. How do we know what to choose and how do we know what exactly we are consuming?

It is true; many milk alternatives provide health benefits but with this can come added sugars and oils. Whether you are lactose intolerant, vegan, allergic or just want to give the cows a break, unless you are making your own, take a look through the following to decide which is right for you. 

Soy Milk

Easily the most popular milk alternative in Asia. This may make you think it’s the best option but I’m not convinced. While there are extensive benefits to drinking Soy Milk, including a high source of protein, potassium, magnesium and boosts in calcium and iron, a plant like oestrogen comes in Soy Milk. This means that over consumption can impact your hormone balance, which can lead to serious health problems including fertility issues.

For Soy consumers with IBS, lactose intolerance or Crohn’s disease remember… Soy Milk made from whole soybeans is not a good idea. Rather, Soy Milk made from isolated soy protein will sit well in your gut.

For Malaysians given soybean products are seen in each meal it is not a milk alternative I would recommend consuming. 

Almond milk

In its raw form made from scratch, almond milk is a great alternative. No cholesterol, high antioxidant, no problem? Incorrect. Not all of us have time or energy to make our own. Scrolling through the ingredients in a main stream Almond Milk I discovered 7g of sugar and 7% salt, not to mention an array of other ingredients I have never heard of. My advice? Choose an unsweetened option. Silk brand is my personal favourite.

Did you know?
Almonds needs a lot of water to produce and with the main grower being drought hit California you may want to consider the sustainability of this option.

Coconut Milk

Ensuring you balance the good fat bad fat debate, coconut milk is packed with goodness. So what’s the trick? Coconut milk may not be what you find in a can. Real Coconut Milk is the fruition of coconut flesh and water and should have no added ingredients. In my opinion, Ayam Coconut Milk is the best available in most supermarkets. While I am happy cooking, baking and blending with this milk alterative, if you’re watching your calories, limit your intake to a minimum.

Did you know?

Coconut milk freezes really well so fill up those ice cube trays and pop one in your smoothie for extra creaminess.

My favourite option thus far would be the nut milks because I find it tasty yet subtle enough to mix into various forms of food. In my home, we always believe that making something from scratch is by far better tasting that anything from a bottle or a box. So, I tried out this recipe by The Minimalist Baker and loved it. It is pretty simple too for those who don't like spending a lot of time in the kitchen. You can now find raw nuts to make nut milks from our Amazin' Health Essential range. We have a good selection of raw, fresh and premium quality whole nuts.

Almond Milk Recipe

(Vegan and Gluten Free)

Serves: 5 cups
  • 1 cup raw almonds, soaked overnight in cool water (or 1-2 hours in very hot water)
  • 5 cups filtered water (less to thicken, more to thin)
  • 2 dates, pitted, or other sweetener of choice (omit for unsweetened)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or one vanilla bean, scraped (omit for plain)
  • pinch sea salt
  1. Add your soaked almonds, water, dates, salt and vanilla to a high speed blender and blend until creamy and smooth. Keep it running for at least 1-2 minutes so you get the most out of your almonds.
  2. Strain using a nut milk bag, or my favorite trick - a thin dish towel. Simply lay a clean dish towel over a mixing bowl, pour over the almond milk, and carefully gather the corners and lift up. Then squeeze until all of the liquid is extracted. Discard pulp, or save for adding to baked goods (especially crackers).
  3. Transfer milk to a jar or covered bottle and refrigerate. Will keep for up to a few days, though best when fresh. Shake well before drinking as it tends to separate.
  4. You can also make other flavors, including strawberry, banana and chocolate!
Nutrition Information (based on rough estimate of 1/2 cup of 10 total servings)
Serving size: 1/2 cup
Calories: 30
Fat: 2.4g
Saturated fat: 0g
Carbohydrates: 1g
Sugar: .7g
Sodium: 19mg
Fiber: .7g
Protein: 1g

Try it out and you'll notice the difference in taste. You wouldn't want to buy the prepackaged nut milks once you start making your own! The taste is by far more superior and definitely more packed with nutrients as it is raw and fresh.

Happy nut milking!