In recent years, the grocery store refrigerator aisle has experienced a radical transformation from the days of casting a singular focus on cow juice. Many people are turning to new kinds of milk for digestive or allergic reasons or as part of a diet. Most of these white to off-white milks come from nuts, seeds or grains that are crushed and mixed with water. But knowing the right one, and how it tastes, requires more than reading the label.
This beige extract has a similar texture to cow’s milk, but is free of lactose and cholesterol and has less saturated fat. It also lacks a significant amount of protein and can be made with preservatives and thickeners.
Try It: Use its nutty flavor in baked goods, soups or morning coffee.
Mildly sweet coconut milk makes it easier to incorporate healthy triglyceride fats into a diet, which boost heart health and enhance metabolism. But avoid chugging a tall glass of the thick white stuff because it can have more calories in one tablespoon that other milks have in a full cup. And about five grams of saturated fat per serving.
Try It: Whip as a topping for a lactose-free dessert.
One of the most popular of the dairy alternatives, soy’s protein is as complete as cow’s milk while being lactose free and having little saturated fat. But it is a common food allergy. Most brands have a slightly sweet, nutty taste and a texture close to regular milk.
Try It: Use it when protein intake is paramount, as in a post-workout shake or at breakfast.
It’s similar in calories to cow’s milk, but sweeter (read: higher in carbohydrates), which goes over well with kids. Watery and translucent, rice milk doesn’t have nearly as much protein and little in the way of vitamin A, healthy fats or dairy’s creaminess. Opt for a fortified version for more calcium.
Try It: Use the chocolate or vanilla flavors in baked desserts.
This creamy, nutty potion is a rich source of omega-6 and 3 fatty acids and tends to be tolerated by those with nut allergies. The protein in hemp isn’t as complete as some of the others on this list but it does pack 10 essential amino acids.
Try It: Drink it straight up or mix with a protein smoothie.
Whether you think unpasteurized milk is healthier than the supermarket staple or that it can lead to a nasty case of E. coli, it is legal and for sale in New York. Raw milk has to be sold directly to consumers on the farm’s property and within a day of bottling, the way it’s done at Riverhead’s Ty Llwyd Farm