For several years, I was allergic to dairy (an all too common allergy these days), so I had to find ways to make eating a little less miserable (and let me tell you, some dairy free food options taste absolutely terrible). One of the biggest struggle of being dairy free is finding milk substitutes that actually taste good. And while I can’t say I’ve found any that are as tasty as good ol’ cow’s milk, I have that almond and coconut milk come pretty close, depending on what kind of food you are making.
For Smoothies: Smoothies are a staple food for me. They serve as my protein shake/vitamin and I make one just about every day. I really love creamy smoothies with lots of cow milk, but I’ve found coconut milk and almond milk to serve almost as well. Coconut milk tastes great on its own (if you like coconut) and adds a nice sweetness to smoothies. Almond milk has a nuttier flavor (as you’d expect), but when it’s mixed with fruit and/or protein powders, it tastes great.
For Ice Cream: I actually like ice cream made with coconut milk better than regular (except for cookies and creme – nothing beats the flavor of cookies and creme ice cream made with regular whole milk.) The coconut flavor adds a rich sweetness to the ice cream that just can’t be beat. You can make homemade ice cream with coconut milk, or you can find a local grocery store that carries dairy-free ice creams. Rice milk desserts are pretty good as well, but I’m partial to the ones made with coconut milk. Experiment a little and see what your preference is.
For Cereal: The milk you put on cereal should be whatever dairy free milk tastes good to you on its own, since cereals tend not to hide the taste of milk very well. My favorite cereal milk is coconut milk, but you really are going to have to experiment and see what you like. I have used almond, rice, and coconut milks, and none of them taste too bad to me.
For Pancakes and other baked goods: Unfortunately I haven’t found any dairy free milks that taste good in pancake recipes. If you do try some though, make sure you use unsweetened versions of whatever milk you choose. The vanilla flavor of some almond milks comes through really strong in pancakes, as does the coconut flavor of coconut milk. Rice milk can be tolerable, but it still isn’t anywhere near as good as regular buttermilk pancakes in my opinion. The same goes for other baked goods like breads, muffins, etc., although rice milk used in muffins and cakes isn’t too bad if you have enough other flavors in the mix 🙂
Note: After going off dairy for awhile and seeing a doctor about some other health issues, I can now have dairy again. 🙂 I just can’t have it too often or I will redevelop the allergy.