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Milking it: Non-dairy milk brands for the Fast Metabolism Diet

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Milking it: Non-dairy milk brands for the Fast Metabolism Diet

Thanks to greater awareness about sensitivities and health concerns about dairy milk, it’s getting easier to find non-dairy milk alternatives like almond milk, rice milk and hemp milk. But there’s a dizzying array of brands, flavors and types on store shelves. Here’s what to look for when choosing alternative dairy beverages, plus some brands to try and recipes to make your own (it’s very easy!).

 

We’ve talked quite a bit about why dairy products are avoided on the Fast Metabolism Diet (see this post for a rundown). But when you pick up a carton of rice milk or almond milk in the store and flip it over, there’s often a laundry list of additional ingredients on the back. Here’s what to look for, plus recipes for making your own — it’s easier than you think!

The standard portion for all milks is 1/4 cup. You can certainly also use a splash here and there in your tea or coffee substitute without counting towards a full portion.

If you like a hint of vanilla flavor, non-dairy milks containing vanilla extract are fine. Many are fortified with extra vitamins. You don’t really need these, and they may or may not be very bio-available. Added calcium, folic acid, vitamins A, B12 and D2 are common. You’ll see a variety of thickening agents, used to make milks  more viscous, and more like dairy milk. You’ll see carrageenan, xanthum gum or tricalcium phosphate and other thickeners and emulsifiers. Check labels carefully for:

  • Unsweetened. All milks on the Fast Metabolism Diet should be unsweetened. Be aware that most brands’ “original” varieties contain cane juice, rice syrup, sugar or other sweeteners. Look specifically for “unsweetened” on the labels.
  • No canola or soy oils. Many milks contain a small amount of oil to improve texture. Look for safflower or sunflower oil. Canola and soybean oils are not on the diet.

Rice Milk (Phase 1)

The only non-dairy milk alternative on Phase 1 is rice milk, and it’s pretty easy to find in supermarkets these days. Rice milk counts as a grain on the diet, while all other milks fall into the healthy fat category. Rice milk brands all contain a small amount of oil; in this case, we’ll make an exception and allow that small amount of fat in a Phase 1 food.

Brands to try:

Trader Joe’s Unsweetened Rice Drink

Kirkland Signature Organic Ricemilk (the carton does not say “unsweetened” but it has no added sugar)

Whole Foods 365 Organic Ricemilk Unsweetened

Make your own!

Brown rice milk is easy to make yourself. Here’s a recipe with some nice pictures from Happyolks.com. You just need brown rice, water, a strainer and a little vanilla.

Almond Milk (Phase 3)

Like rice milk, the basic ingredients are just almonds and water. But manufacturers also add a variety of thickeners to approximate the texture of dairy milk. You’ll also see added vitamins in some brands. Because almonds contain fat, most brands add some type of emulsifier, to keep the fat and water from separating and improve shelf life. Lecithin is commonly used for this – but check labels and avoid soy-based lecithin (soy isn’t on the diet). Other common additives to improve texture are xanthum gum, locust bean gum, tricalcium phosphate and gellan gum. Almond milk is also really easy to make yourself.

Brands to try:

Whole Foods Organic Unsweetened Almondmilk

Almond Breeze Original Unsweetened Almond Milk

Silk Unsweetened Almond Milk Original

Trader Joe’s Almondmilk Non Dairy Beverage

Make your own!

Making your own almond milk couldn’t be simpler. Soak 1 cup of raw almonds in water for at least 6 hours. Drain the almonds and toss into a blender or food processor with 3 cups of water. Blend until smooth. You can strain it for extra smoothness, and add vanilla if you like. Add a little stevia if you like it sweeter.

Cashew Milk (Phase 3)

Less common than almond milk, cashew milk also has a mild flavor, and some find it to be the creamiest of alternative milks.

We could not find a commercial brand that didn’t include canola oil (let us know if you find one). But making your own is just as easy as almond milk. Here’s an easy recipe with lots of pictures from CookieAndKate.com. Soak raw cashews, then blend with water. Add vanilla (optional) and/or stevia (optional).

Coconut Milk (Phase 3)

Coconut milk can be confusing because the meat and juice from coconuts can be used in different ways. Coconut milk, sold in a carton, is made by steeping coconut meat and squeezing out the liquid, along with the coconut water (you can hear it sloshing around inside the coconut). Coconut milk that comes in a can is mainly used for cooking. It’s also made from the meat of the coconut, but includes far less of the water. Coconut water is just the watery liquid inside the coconut. Coconut milk in the carton can be used for cooking and baking, as a substitute for dairy milk. The coconut milk in the can is often used in curry dishes (like my Chicken Curry). Coconut water is used as a drink — it’s popular right now as an energy drink or sports drink (Zico is the most popular brand).

We’re looking at coconut milk in the carton here. Again, avoid canola and soy oils, and buy unsweetened.

Brands to try:

So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk

Trader Joe’s Original Unsweetened Coconut Milk

Make your own!

You just need water and a coconut. This recipe from About.com is about as easy as it gets.

Hemp Milk (Phase 3)

Hemp milk might be the least common, but hemp has a lot going for it. It’s a good option for those allergic to tree nuts. And hemp milk contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, along with magnesium, calcium, fiber, potassium and 10 amino acids. It has a nutty taste, and can be a little thicker than other milks. There aren’t nearly as many brands available.

Brands to try:

Living Harvest Tempt Unsweetened Hemp Milk

Make your own!

You can make your own hemp milk too. If you have a powerful blender like a Vitamix or a Blendtec, it’s easy to grind the hemp seeds. In this hemp milk recipe from HealthyBlenderRecipes.com, be sure to substitute stevia for the dates, but you don’t really need to use sweetener at all.