8 Dairy-Free Milks You've Never Heard Of
You're familiar with almond milk, coconut milk, and perhaps hemp milk. But in Europe, nondairy milk brands are churning out some unexpected drink options that are difficult to find or not even available in the U.S., like milk made from millet, tigernuts, and spelt. According to consumer marketing firm DairyCo, sales of plant-based milks surged by more than 30 percent in Great Britain alone last year. "And Europe tends to be very trendy and cutting edge, so it's only natural that they'd have newer stuff," says Nicolette Pace, R.D., a nutrition counselor with a high European clientele.
While it may be some time until you can buy all of these, you can find recipes for many homemade versions online, and one company plans to release algae milk next spring in the U.S. In the meantime, check out what health-forward Europeans are already drinking-and what will hopefully come across the pond soon so we can raise a glass too.
Italian "vegetable drink" maker IsolaBio offers an organic, unsweetened version of this gluten-free seed drink, and Soyana in Switzerland produces chocolate millet milk. Millet's nutty flavor likely makes a milk that's easy to drink, and the unsweetened variety is low in calories. But it also has a super-low protein content-less than 1 gram per serving-something that's common with most nondairy milks other than soy, says dietician Julieanna Hever, R.D.
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Chocolate Quinoa Milk
In Italy, you can sip Rice ChoQuinoa, an unsweetened blend of quinoa, rice, and cocoa. For straight quinoa milk, head to Spain, where you'll find an agave-sweetened version that's said to be yummy in pancake recipes. Like millet milk, the unsweetened is low in calories but also pretty meager in the protein department.
Spaniards can buy Ecomil's powdered drink made with almonds, buckwheat, carob, and chestnuts, and stir it into hot or cold water. At 379 calories, 10g protein, 17g sugars, and more than half a day's worth of calcium, it's clearly meant as a meal replacement. For a lighter option, plain buckwheat milk sweetened with organic rice syrup only has 47 calories a glass.
High in phosphorus, potassium, and vitamins C and E, almond-like tigernuts may boost heart health and reduce the risk of colon cancer. They're grown mostly in the Mediterranean, and in Spain the nuts are blended with water to make a sweet, milky drink called horchata de chufa. (If you're feeling adventurous, you can order tigernuts online and make your own horchata de chufa at home.) Nutritionally, the stuff is pretty similar to almond milk.
You'll find straight-up organic unsweetened barley milk in Switzerland, which'll run you 50 calories and 1.5g fat per cup and is said to be naturally sweet. Over in Spain, EcoMil offers "museli milk," a combination of barley, almonds, amaranth, and oats.
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The Bridge Bio Kamut Drink is versatile for sauces, baked goods, and in coffee, the company says. If you crave something more exotic, Amandin, a Spanish company, sells milk made from the ancient grain with goji berries mixed in.
The Swiss love this wheat-like grain. In their homeland you'll find plain spelt milk, chocolate spelt milk, spelt milk fortified with calcium from red algae, and even spelt milk with hazelnuts, all of which run you less than 100 calories.
Solazyme, a U.S. company that makes algae protein powder and flour, plans to debut algae milk next spring. The algae flour, which is packed with healthy fats and fiber, is the main ingredient in the milk, along with whey protein concentrate, sugar, vanilla, and salt, so each cup has 5g protein, 2g fiber, and 7g sugars for 120 calories. And don't worry, it's a pale, buttery color, not neon green.