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The Other Milk

Choosing plant-based milks

For those who can’t tolerate or prefer to avoid cow’s milk, plant-based milks are a great way to enjoy dairy-like creaminess.

All plant-based milks are made similarly. Nuts, seeds or grains are soaked in water and blended until very smooth, then strained for a creamy drink. There’s an extra step in making quinoa milk – the quinoa is first cooked, then blended with water and strained.

How do you choose a plant-based milk? It depends on your dietary preferences and taste. If you’d like a fruit smoothie with added protein, go with soy milk. Have a sensitive stomach? Try rice milk. Coconut milk is a versatile choice that works in both sweet and savory dishes. Hazelnut milk makes an excellent foam for specialty coffee drinks.

Chilled or Shelf-Stable?

Plant-based drinks are available in shelf-stable packages or in the refrigerated dairy case. Selection may vary by store. Because non-dairy beverages tend to separate during storage, shake the container before each use.

You get the same quality and taste in both chilled and shelf-stable packages. Unopened shelf-stable products can be stored up to 6 months in the pantry, saving you refrigerator space. Prefer chilled milk? Put shelf-stable milk in the fridge for a few hours for a refreshing drink.

Shelf-stable products are heated to 280°F for 2 seconds to kill harmful bacteria, then put into sterilized boxes with several layers that protect the contents from light and oxygen.


Almond milk is a low-calorie option and has a nutty flavor that pairs well with granola and cereals (1).

  • Unsweetened serving size: 1 cup
  • Calories: 39
  • Protein: 2g
  • Fat: 3g
  • Sat fat: 0g
  • Sugar: 0g


Smooth and mild, oat milk is delicious in coffee or baked into muffins. It also adds creaminess to sauces and savory dishes.

  • Sweetened serving size: 1 cup
  • Calories: 130
  • Protein: 4g
  • Fat: 2.5g
  • Sat fat: 0g
  • Sugar: 19g


Quinoa milk is creamy, nutty-flavored and a quality gluten-free grain milk. Try it over cereal or granola, or add cocoa powder for the kids.

  • Unsweetened serving size: 1 cup
  • Calories: 70
  • Protein: 2g
  • Fat: 1g
  • Sat fat: 0g
  • Sugar: 2g


Soy milk is a good source of protein, providing almost as much as you’d find in dairy milk (1).

  • Sweetened serving size: 1 cup
  • Calories: 80
  • Protein: 7 g
  • Fat: 4g
  • Sat fat: .5g
  • Sugar: 1g


Rice milk is great for those who have sensitivities to other milks. It has a mild, naturally sweet taste that goes well with smoothies or cereals.

  • Sweetened serving size: 1 cup
  • Calories: 113
  • Protein: 1g
  • Fat: 2.5g
  • Sat fat: 0g
  • Sugar: 13g


Hazelnut milk has the delicate taste of hazelnuts, which makes it delicious in coffee as well as sweet treats and vegan ice creams.

  • Sweetened serving size: 1 cup
  • Calories: 110
  • Protein: 2g
  • Fat: 3.5g
  • Sat fat: 0g
  • Sugar: 14g


Low-calorie cashew milk makes a naturally sweet addition to coffee and oatmeal, or use it to make creamy vegan salad dressings.

  • Sweetened serving size: 1 cup
  • Calories: 25
  • Protein: <1g
  • Fat: 2g
  • Sat fat: 0g
  • Sugar: 7g


Versatile and rich, coconut milk can be added to coffee, baked goods, and ice cream, or savory dishes like rice and curries.

  • Sweetened serving size: 1 cup
  • Calories: 45
  • Protein: 0g
  • Fat: 4.5g
  • Sat fat: 5g
  • Sugar: 0g


Creamy, nutty hemp milk is an alternative for those who have nut and dairy sensitivities. Try it in desserts and soups.

  • Sweetened serving size: 1 cup
  • Calories: 70
  • Protein: 3g
  • Fat: 5g
  • Sat fat: .5g
  • Sugar: 0g

Nutrient data collected August 4, 2016, from USDA Food Composition Databases at and manufacturers’ product labels.

(1) US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Nutrient Data Laboratory. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 28. Version Current: September 2015, slightly revised May 2016. Internet

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