Do you or a loved one suffer from cow’s milk allergy or lactose intolerance? Or have you or a loved one chosen the noble route of going vegan? No idea what to cook? I was there when my son was diagnosed with cow’s milk allergy and both he and I had to go dairy free. There are alternatives to cow’s milk that will help keep you going in the kitchen. Do take note that these milks cannot be the main source of milk for infant feeding as with cow’s milk, however, they can be used for cooking and food preparation. Remember that breast milk is the best source of milk for your infant. This is the experience I have had with the milk alternatives I have tried:
Almond milk tastes great in desserts but is not suitable for savoury dishes because it is very sweet. You may even find that you have to omit or reduce the amount of sugar you use in your dessert recipe. I have heard of unsweetened almond milk but have yet to find it in my grocery store. I have also found it to be significantly more expensive than other milk alternatives.
Soya milk is a versatile milk and can be used for both savoury and sweet dishes. However, it does have a stronger flavour than cow’s milk which can come through in lightly flavoured dishes. Soya milk is easy to drink by the glass when in the form of a milk shake but that is probably not the healthiest option especially for diabetics or those watching their weight. Also, my dietician has mentioned that soya milk is contraindicated for babies with cow’s milk allergy since there is close cross linking which can sometimes trigger a soya milk allergy. My paediatrician’s wise advice is to consume everything in moderation to manage allergies.
Rice milk is lightly flavoured with a lovely scent and a hint of sweetness. It can be used in both savoury and sweet dishes. However because it is slightly sweeter than cow’s milk, you may want to increase the savoury element in your dish and decrease those elements that add sweetness (for e.g. onions) to try and achieve a balance in savoury dishes. I was using rice milk for many months without questioning it’s safety because it was listed as an option for cooking with by a paediatrician we had visited, but I have recently read that there is some controversy over rice milk since rice milk and other rice products were found to have higher than average levels of inorganic arsenic. The truth on the matter… even the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) does not seem to have made their mind up on the subject yet. I have two cartons of rice milk in my cupboard and I am not sure what to do with them either…
Coconut milk is often my milk alternative of choice. Coconut milk is a versatile milk which can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes. It is often used in curries and is a popular ingredient in Thai cuisine such as the famous Thai green curry. Coconut milk adds a creaminess to your dish that most other milk alternatives do not. Some may prefer coconut milk over cow’s milk whilst others tire easily of the coconut flavour it often imparts. I would recommend it to balance acidic curries, in desserts and for use in your toddler’s cereals. It is also high in saturated fat which is an important component for your growing child’s brain.