The Newest Non-Dairy Milks to Hit the Market
A registered dietitian examines the nutritional benefits of the latest plant-based milk options.
Just a year ago, you couldn't buy pecan or peanut "milks." But these new non-dairy beverages are now on grocery store shelves, and they come with nutritional benefits beyond the more well-known rice, almond and soy milks. Plus when added to your coffee, they take your latte in a totally different and delicious direction.
While pecans are the only nut indigenous to North America and were important to Native Americans, packaged pecan milk has only been available for a little over a year.
Benefits – With more phytonutrients (potent plant protectors), specifically flavonoids, than any other nut, pecans may significantly improve insulin sensitivity and offer protection against cardiometabolic risk factors. Compared to other tree nuts, a serving of pecans, about 19 pecan halves, are among the lowest in carbs (4 grams) and highest in dietary fiber (3 grams) per serving. In each cup of Pure Pecan Milk – the most nationally available pecan milk – there is more than a quarter cup of pecans, slightly less than a full serving of pecans.
Taste – Made from organic Texas pecans, Malk tastes surprisingly like, well, pecans. It is a thinner beverage, but is so good, it would be easy to drink by the cupful.
Best uses – "Pancakes, banana nut bread, smoothies, French toast, lattes, muffins, and cupcakes have all been successfully made by our customers," says Sonia Ortiz, Marketing Director at Malk Organics. "My favorite is a white Russian cocktail."
Make your own? If you can’t find Malk, try making your own. Pecan milk is probably the easiest plant-based milk to make at home because pecans are a softer nut and only require a quick 30-min soak (and straining is optional) in this recipe from American Pecans.
In January, a small New York dairy which used to produce only cow's milk and now produces only plant-based milk started making Milked Peanuts.
Benefits – Peanuts have more protein per serving than any other nut; and peanut milk beverage has more protein than any nut milk. The Elmhurst Milked Peanuts brand – which is the most available in grocery stores – contains 6 grams of protein per serving from the 31 peanuts in each glass. It also contains about 6 grams of carbs and 0 grams fiber. "With just five ingredients: filtered water, peanuts, cane sugar, natural flavors and salt, Milked Peanuts represents a ‘clean’ label to most," says Sherry Coleman Collins, registered dietitian at the National Peanut Board.
Taste – If you only eat roasted and salted peanuts, you may be surprised by a more ‘fresh’ peanut taste of Milked Peanuts. But this pure flavor makes peanut milk beverage a perfect canvas for adding it to almost any place you may add dairy milk. And toasty Cheerios seem to be made for swimming in peanut milk, the same is true for chocolatey cereals. The Milked Peanuts with Chocolate is as expected, chocolaty and peanutty.
Best uses – Hot cocoa. It’s naturally frothy and of course, because there are few flavor combos better than chocolate and peanut butter. But because it contains no stabilizers or thickeners, warm it gently in the microwave before adding to coffee, or it may end up looking a bit like miso soup in your cup; or make iced coffee. When warmed slowly for homemade pudding or peanut soup, it does not separate.
Make your own? Can’t find Milked Peanuts? Order it online, or make your own with this recipe from the National Peanut Board.
Oatly is one of the newest oat beverages on the market and was developed in Sweden from research surrounding lactose intolerance. "Researchers were searching for an option that would be a nutritious dairy alternative with good taste and minimal environmental impact," says Sara Fletcher, Communications Lead at Oatly.
Benefits – Starting the day with a bowl of oatmeal isn’t a bad idea, and neither is pouring oat milk beverage into your coffee or cereal. Oatly contains about as much protein (2 grams) and fiber (2 grams dietary and 1 gram soluble fibers) as a half bowl of oatmeal. Unlike many other plant-based milks, it contains two vitamins vegetarians don’t often get enough of: vitamin D (40% of the recommended daily value) and vitamin B12 (50% of the recommended daily value).
Taste – With a viscosity similar to whole dairy milk, Oatly tastes very much like, well, plain oatmeal, only sweeter. One reason is the malt sugar (maltose) organically found in oats. The makers of Oatly use natural enzymes to break down oat starches producing maltose, so Oatly taste naturally sweet, with 0 grams of added sugar.
Best uses – It doesn’t separate when added to coffee or other hot beverages. The Oatly Barista Edition is thicker than The Original and froths up well; it’s also thick enough to be a good buttermilk stand-in for baking (when lemon juice is added to make ‘sour milk.’)
Make your own – There are several homemade oat milk recipes online, but we really like this smoothie where oats are used as the natural thickener that they are: Healthy Cherry Almond Oatmeal Smoothie.
Pecan, peanut and oat milk beverages may be substituted 1:1 for regular milk in most of your favorite recipes, with the exception of yeast breads; dairy milk makes homemade bread that is richer and more velvet in nature.
Healthy recipes to try with plant-based milk beverages: