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

We’ve talked quite a bit about why dairy products are avoided on the Fast Metabolism Diet (see this post for a rundown) and thanks to greater awareness about sensitivities and health concerns about dairy milk, it’s getting easier and easier to find non-dairy milk alternatives. 

here’s a dizzying array of brands, flavors, and types on store shelves 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 when choosing alternative dairy beverages, plus some brands to try and a recipe for making your own. It's so easy! 

Non-Dairy Alternatives

If you like a hint of vanilla flavor, non-dairy milk 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 milk more viscous, and more like dairy milk. You’ll see carrageenan, xanthan gum or tricalcium phosphate and other thickeners and emulsifiers. Check labels carefully for:

  • Unsweetened - All milk 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 kinds of milk contain a small amount of oil to improve texture. Look for safflower or sunflower oil. Canola and soybean oils are not on plan.

Rice Milk And Oat Milk (Phase 1)

Non-dairy milk alternatives on Phase 1 are rice milk and oat milk, and they pretty easy to find in supermarkets these days. Both count as a grain on the plan, while all other milk falls into the healthy fat category. Rice milk brands can 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

Thrive Organic Oat Milk - only two ingredients!

Original Pacific Organic Oat Milk

Make Your Own

Brown rice milk is easy to make yourself. Here’s a recipe  -

  • 3/4 cup brown rice
  • 7 1/2 cups of water, divided
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

In a saucepan, bring rice and 3 cups of water to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and cook for 45 minutes, adding water if the pan dries out. When rice is soft, remove from heat and add 4 1/2 more cups of water and the vanilla. Stir, and let sit for 45 minutes. Transfer rice to a blender or food processor and mix for 3-4 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve or cheesecloth into a pitcher, and enjoy for 4-5 days. It also freezes nicely. 

Homemade oat milk is really easy and much cheaper than store bought. Only two ingredients are needed - 

  • 1 cup rolled or quick oats
  • 3-4 cups water (depending on how thick you like your milk)

Soak the oats in water for at least 30 minutes. I usually soak them overnight, but it’s not necessary. Drain the oats and wash them (discard the soaking water). Blend the oats with 3 to 4 cups of clean water. Strain the oat milk using cheesecloth or strainer. Store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Portions: 1/4 cup of rice or oat milk (or any other Phase 1 milk) counts as a condiment. Anything over that starts counting towards your grain. 1 cup is a full grain serving.

Almond Milk (Phase 3)

Like rice and oat 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 plan). Other common additives to improve texture are xanthan gum, locust bean gum, tricalcium phosphate, and gellan gum. Almond milk is also really easy to make yourself.

Brands to try:

Thrive Organic Almond Beverage

Silk Unsweetened Almond Milk Original

Trader Joe’s Almond Milk Non-Dairy Beverage

Make Your Own

Making your own almond milk couldn’t be simpler.

1 cup raw almonds
3 cups water (plus some for soaking)

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.

Portions: 1/4 cup of almond milk (or any other Phase 3 nut milk) counts as a condiment. Anything over that starts counting towards your healthy fat. 1 cup is a full healthy fat serving.

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 and 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.

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 Organic Coconut Milk

Trader Joe’s Original Unsweetened Coconut Milk

Make Your Own

  • 4 cups water
  • 1½-2 cups unsweetened coconut 

Heat water until hot, but not boiling. Put shredded coconut in blender or Vitamix and add the hot water. If all the water will not fit, this can be done in batches. Blend on high for several minutes until thick and creamy. First, pour through a mesh strainer to remove most of the coconut solids. Then squeeze through a towel or cheesecloth to remove remaining pieces of coconut. Drink immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days after making for best flavor and texture. 

Portions: 1/4 cup of canned coconut milk is a full healthy fat serving. 1/2 cup boxed coconut milk is a full healthy fat serving. Coconut water is 1-2 cups.