Over the past several years, the plant-based/non-dairy milk alternative market has experienced a boom in popularity that's led to an exodus from the once-daily-staple of cow milk. What started as a fringe market with only a handful of options–oat milk, soy milk, almond milk, etc.–milk alternatives have exploded to nearly a dozen different variants.
With so many choices, how's a mama to choose the right option for her growing little ones? Thankfully, it's not as difficult as it might seem.
What are plant-based milk alternatives?
There are several. Every day, it seems there's a new "milk" released to the masses. For years, the above-mentioned options cornered the market in relative uncontested fashion. But over time, other non-dairy brands sought to capitalize on trends that drove people toward giving plant-based milks a shot.
One of the most important considerations mamas should keep in mind is the health impact of these products. "Consumers are getting wise to sugar and they're asking, 'what is this doing for me?'," said Jeff Richards, CEO of Mooala. "These days, your product has to have the right nutrition profile."
Let's dive into a few of the plant-based milk up-and-comers:
1. Banana milk
As the name implies, this milk is made from bananas and water. The primary ingredient's natural sweetness makes for a beverage that lacks the added sugar and sweeteners found in other options.
Editor pick: Mooala banana milk
2. Macadamia milk
Made by soaking macadamia nuts and then blending with water, salt and additional flavors, this option features a lower water content–and fewer calories–than other inclusions on this list. You'll want to be careful of the higher fat content, though.
Editor pick: Milkadamia macadamia milk
3. Rice milk
Commonly made from brown rice, rice flour or brown rice protein, this milk is considered the least allergenic of plant milks. It has more calories than dairy milk, so you'll definitely want to monitor your child's intake if this is your milk of choice.
Editor pick: Rice Dream organic enriched original rice beverage
4. Pea milk
The newest addition to the plant-based milk category, pea milk is completely vegan and packed with protein. Also, it doesn't taste like peas so that can be a plus. It's also great for baking.
Editor pick: Ripple dairy-free original milk
5. Cashew milk
This creamy concoction is made from a mixture of cashew nuts or cashew butter and water. This beverage has significantly fewer calories than dairy milk, but also less protein and carbohydrates.
Editor pick: Elmhurst milked cashews
6. Avocado milk
Avocado milk is dairy-free, preservative-free, lactose-free, vegetarian milk that's made with oats and freeze-dried avocados. And, yes, it has a greenish tint.
Editor pick: Avocado milk
7. Chia milk
This milk alternative is primarily made from a combination of organic chia oil and protein, and contains anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. It's perfect for adding to smoothies, cereal, coffee or enjoying straight from the bottle. It also contains more calcium than a glass of traditional milk and zero grams of sugar.
Editor pick: Mamma Chia Chiamilk
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