By Shelby Grande
As a Senior Dietetics Major, I get asked questions pertaining to all the food fads and trends that come along social media on a daily basis. One question I got asked recently was “is coconut milk healthier for you than regular milk?” These types of questions are not to be answered with “yes or no”, rather you have to look at the person who is asking the question and evaluate why they would want to switch to a different food brand or in this case, milk.
Cow’s milk has been primarily used in teas, coffee, baking etc, but for individuals with dietary and allergy concerns, there needs to be alternatives to cow’s milk. Each type of milk has its advantages and disadvantages depending on a person’s diet, health, needs, and taste preference. Let’s take a look at some cow’s milk alternatives!
1. Unsweetened Almond milk: This milk is made from ground almonds and is lower in calorie (50% less calories than cow’s milk) then other leading milks. It is free of cholesterol, saturated fat, and it is lactose free! This milk is high in vitamin E, fiber, and minerals such as magnesium, selenium, potassium and iron. It has a hint of sweetness, a little nuttiness and it does not need to be refrigerated. Almond milk can be added to smoothies, in cereals, an alternative to baking, in ice cream and more!
2. Coconut milk: Coconut milk isn’t actually milk at all, it is a liquid naturally found inside of mature coconuts. Coconut milk has a creamy texture and a slightly natural sweetness. It is known as a “miracle liquid” since its nutrition offers a great ability to build up the body’s immune system. It is a full-fat milk that is high in calories, so it is better in small servings (¼-1/2 cup). It is completely free of dairy, lactose, soy, nut, or grains.
3. Cashew milk: Cashew milk has a creamy taste. It is a perfect substitution for low calorie recipes. It is rich in calcium, lactose, cholesterol, and saturated fat free! This milk has no naturally occurring sugars, so it won’t send your blood sugar into a spike. A cup contains 50% of your daily vitamin E needs so it is good for the skin and can help protect against sun damage. When the nut gets strained it loses most of its protein and fiber, so if these two nutrients are of main concern then I would look elsewhere
4. Rice milk: rice milk is the most hypoallergenic of all milks. Rice milk has more calories than the other milk alternative, but the high sugar content is naturally occurring. It is a good source of B vitamins which are essential to your metabolism, circulation and nerve function. Rice milk contains more manganese and selenium than any other alternative. These are powerful antioxidants that help protect you from all kinds of infections. Do not rely on rice milk for calcium as it has 20 mg of calcium per serving.
5. Goat’s milk: Goat’s Milk is easier to digest for many people because the size of its protein molecules. It has just as much calcium as whole milk and more tryptophan than cow’s milk. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid. Goat’s milk does contain lactose, giving it the same disadvantage as cow’s milk. Goat’s milk can be used in cereals, ice cream, fudge, caramel candies, and yogurt!
As you can see there are advantages and disadvantages to each of these alternatives, the best advice I can give you is try them all out if you can and see which one works the best with your body!
Try out these recipes that include milk alternatives!
Tofu Chocolate Pudding:
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa
5 stevia packets
1 tablespoon Vanilla
¾ cup almond milk
Directions: Combine all ingredients into a blender. Blend until a smooth consistency. Pour the mixture in a container and refrigerate for 2-4 hours. The longer the mixture is refrigerated the better the consistency. Remove the fudge and enjoy! I add walnuts, chocolate, or fresh fruit to spice it up!
Curried Coconut Chicken:
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tsp. salt and pepper
1 ½ Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 Tbs. curry powder
½ onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
14 oz. coconut milk
8 oz. tomato sauce
3 Tbs. sugar
Directions: season chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Heat oil and curry powder in a large skillet over medium-high heat for two minutes. Stir in onions and garlic, and cook 1 minute more. Add chicken, tossing lightly to coat with curry oil. Reduce heat to medium, and cook for 7-10 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink in the center and juices run clear. Pour coconut milk, tomatoes, tomato sauce, and sugar into the pan, and stir to combine. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, approximately 30-40 minutes.
Vanilla Cashew Ice Cream:
2 vanilla beans
2 cups raw cashews (ground into a powder)
1 cup maple syrup
Ice cream machine
Directions: Grind cashews into a fine powder using a coffee grinder. Cut the ends off the pods of the vanilla beans. Using the tip of the knife, carefully slice the vanilla bean down the center from end to end. Scope open the pods. Using the dull side of the blade firmly scrape the seeds out of the pods. You want to avoid puncturing the pod or pulling up too many fibers. Blend all ingredients together in a blender to get the base on the ice cream. Start by adding 2 cups of ground cashews and the seeds from 2 vanilla beans into the pitcher of the blender. Add 1 cup of the maple syrup (our sweetener). Add two cups of water. Blend the mixture until well combined. Pour mixture into ice cream machine and churn per its instructions. Put plastic wrap over the mixture. Put mixture into the freeze for a minimum of an hour.