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Nutrition Comparisons continued...

Protein amounts and qualities vary widely in nondairy milk options. Experts agree that soymilk comes closest to cow’s milk in both areas, while rice milk falls shortest.  

  • Cow’s milk, 1 cup: 8 grams of protein
  • Soy milk, 1 cup: 5-10 grams of protein
  • Almond milk, 1 cup: 1 gram of protein
  • Rice milk, 1 cup:  0.28 grams to 1 gram

Just remember:

  • Not all calcium-fortified nondairy milks have the same amount of calcium.
  • Check the type of calcium added. For example, the calcium carbonate that's typically added to soymilk is well absorbed, but tricalcium phosphate may not be.
  • Vegans, take note: Pick nondairy milk that's fortified with vitamin B12 since its richest sources are meat, cheese, and eggs.

Cooking Tips

You can use nondairy products for drinking, stirring into coffee, pouring onto cereal, and as a substitute for cow’s milk in recipes. Hobbs has used soy, almond, and rice milk in smoothies, nondairy ice cream, mashed potatoes, soups, sauces, and other dishes.

Substitute calcium-fortified lactose-free cow's milk or a nondairy alternative, cup for cup, in place of regular cow’s milk. Be aware that rice milk’s thinner consistency doesn’t lend itself as well to sauces or puddings. “Those dishes don’t come out as creamy. It’s sort of the difference between using whole milk and skim milk,” Hobbs says.

Pick the right flavor for the right dish. Nondairy beverages, such as soy and almond milk, come in plain, as well as vanilla, chocolate, and other flavors. Use plain varieties for savory recipes, such as mashed potatoes, creamy sauces, cream-based soups, scrambled eggs, or omelets. Save vanilla, chocolate, and other flavored milks for sweet foods, such as cookies, cakes, quick breads, muffins, pancakes, and waffles. If a recipe calls for buttermilk, make your own by adding 2 teaspoons of vinegar or lemon juice to one cup of any nondairy milk. Mix well and let it stand for a few minutes before using. It won't look like buttermilk, but it will act like it.

Don’t store nondairy milk in the freezer. Doing so won’t affect the product’s safety or nutrition, but freezing will harm its consistency.