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Soy Milk vs. Rice Milk vs. Almond Milk vs. Skim Milk vs. ???

So I have bee trying to eat a little healthier and bring my own cereal and milk to the office for breakfast. In choosing milk i was looking for low calories, so i picked the unsweetened Vanilla flavored Almond milk, partly because it was low calories, but mostly because I had a $1 off coupon.
But, i really have done no research on this topic, and don't feel like it. But, I'm sure that some of you have done thorough research on the topic. So, what are the positives and negatives of each. I'm thinking about nutrition, calories, the whole deal.
Or is there some other grain or product whose "milk" is superior. Quinoa, Millet, heck, I don't know.

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  1. On a related topic, can anyone explain to me why a half gallon of almond milk costs about $2.50, and an 8 oz. can of almonds costs about $5? Or bulk almonds (unroasted), still way more expensive if you filled a half gallon milk carton with them, than the same container filled with almond milk.
    You can't tell me that it doesn't take a whole lot of almonds to make a half gallon of almond milk. Is it diluted with water?

    4 Replies
    1. re: TroyTempest

      Not really diluted with water, but made with water. Almond, soy, and rice milk are made by processing the nut/bean/grain with water then straining out the solids. The recipes I've seen for homemade almond milk use 3-4 cups of water for a cup of almonds.

      1. re: mpjmph

        i've also seen a nut "milk" made by swirling around unroasted cashews with filtered water in a vitamix.

        i tried the technique using blanched raw almonds and it tasted OK

      2. re: TroyTempest

        Almond milk is not 'juice' squeezed from almonds. None of these 'milks' are that.

        Horchatta, a Mexican rice drink, is made by grinding rice, letting it soak overnight, straining, and seasoning with sugar and cinnamon. 'Kwaker' is a popular drink in Latin America made by soaking rolled oats, and then straining. Or a small amount of oats may be cooked with fruits (including pineapple rinds) and sugar, and then strained.

        Look at the ingredients lists. If they make big claims about minerals like calcium, it is likely that calcium has been added.

        These drinks differ widely in taste and consistency. They vary with brand, and among different flavors of a brand.

        For some people the soy in soymilk is a big plus. But soymilk tends to have a stronger flavor. Some don't like that flavor, and prefer a sweet vanilla flavored brand. Silk is one of the better tasting soy milks.

        In my limited experiences, Rice Dream (plain) is the closest to skim milk when eaten with cereal.

        If you consume a lot, the cheapest way to buy major brands (like Silk) is by the multicarton box (e.g. a box of 6 cartons from Sam's Club). Trader Joes tends to have good prices on these drinks, especially the versions with their own label.

        1. re: paulj

          You know, one of the frustrating things for me and the reason that I posted this is that people will tell you negative things about all of them.

        1. If you want to eat healthier, ditch the cereal. It's a highly processed food that your body just turns into sugar.

          The best milk is whole raw milk. Raw milk is pretty well tolerated even by people who can't do lactose because the enzymes that break down the lactose are still intact. Plus, pasteurization changes the form of the lactic acid in milk so that it is broken down into sugar much more quickly than that found in raw milk, so it keeps you satisfied much longer. It's also got all those handy enzymes still intact. Raw milk is safer to eat than spinach (since the CDC started keeping data, no one has died from consuming raw milk... a bunch of people have died from eating spinach -- the good bacteria in raw milk are strong enough that they actually destroy pathogens quite quickly, unless they are so overloaded that the pathogens win, as is what happens in milk destined for pasteurization, which also happens to be full of nasties like pus.). And you know why they have to add vitamins to milk? 'Cuz pasteurization destroys the ones that were already there.

          Skim milk was fed to pigs to fatten them up. Now they feed it to humans with the lie that it's healthy. There are numerous studies demonstrating that people lose more weight when they drink whole milk than when they drink skim milk.

          Soy milk is chock full of phytoestrogens. Monks used to consume soy to kill their libidos. The only soy that should be consumed is fermented soy (natto, miso). Plus it's a major GMO crop and there is not a single long term study demonstrating that GMOs are safe. By the third generation, rats are infertile.

          Store bought almond milk is full of additives and almost always made from unsoaked almonds. Almonds are high in phytic acid which is a nasty antinutrient that prevents your body from digesting your food properly and absorbing the nutrients in it. You can make your own almond milk from soaked almonds and it'll be loads healthier, but almonds are still seeds and do not have a favourable ratio of Omega 6s and Omega 3s. (Macadamias are the best in that regard.)

          Coconut milk is very good. You can make your own for cheaper than it comes in the cans, too (plus you get to avoid the BPA and BPS).

          Quit counting calories. That puts the focus on all the wrong things, plus it turns people into fatphobes, and fat is essential to health. Eat a variety of whole, real foods and cook what needs to be cooked to deactivate all the antinutrients that run around in some raw foods.

          5 Replies
          1. re: wapfcat

            So if i am ditching the cereal then the rest of your post is moot, I guess.

            1. re: wapfcat

              http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2013/03...
              This is just one of hundreds of cases of raw milk causing poisoning in recent years. It might not kill you (although it might), but it can make you VERY ill, with life-long consequences. In addition to campylobacter, lysteria and salmonella are common in raw milk poisoning outbreaks.

              1. re: wapfcat

                Cereal is only highly processed if you buy Sugar Pops or Tony The Tiger type crap that is geared to kids and stupid adults.
                And your recommendation of whole raw cow's milk is scary.
                I woudn't go near it.

                1. re: joe_the_cook

                  my friend who is in the food business summed her take on raw milk up by saying
                  "why would anyone risk a serious, life-theatening, disease if they could EASILY avoid it?'

              2. So for a more useful answer... I don't eat cold cereal on a regular basis, but will buy a box every few months as a treat. I honestly wouldn't recommend it as a daily breakfast, but having a bowl of low sugar/high fiber cereal for breakfast is better than no breakfast at all.

                I don't like milk. I have a completely irrational ick reaction to it. I happily consume other dairy, but the idea of straight milk is just grosses me out. If you like milk and milk likes you, then milk is no better or worse than milk alternatives. On the rare occasion I use milk, I prefer 1% or 2%. Skim feels more watery than water.

                I used to use soy milk, and enjoyed most of the refrigerated varieties. I stopped because I was concerned about phytoestrogens due to several factors in my personal and family health history. On top of the phytoestrogens, fermented soy gives me headaches, so I just try to limit my soy consuption over all. If you do not have personal health reasons for avoiding soy, then give it a try.

                I tried coconut milk, the type that is refrigerated and intended to me a cow milk substitute, as opposed to the canned type that is sweet/think. I found it to be very thin and tasteless. If you like skim milk, you will probably like coconut milk. If you prefer a little fat content, then coconut milk will feel thin.

                I haven't really used rice milk. It has always look thin to me, and I imagine it would be similar to coconut milk. Give it a try and see what you think, but I can't judge either way.

                Now I use almond milk. It has a slightly fuller mouth feel than skim milk, and I like the way it tastes without sweeteners of flavorings.

                3 Replies
                1. re: mpjmph

                  Thanks. Out of soy vs. almond milk, i like the taste of almond better as well.

                  1. re: mpjmph

                    There are various things that go by the name of 'coconut milk'. There's a very sweet kind meant for pinacoladas and little else. There's the canned kind used for SE Asia cooking. There's a richer coconut cream of the same category. And there is the milk substitute sold in tetrapacks.

                    Many of these drinks use carrageenan or other thickeners to give a mouth feel that is closer to milk. Milk itself is a little sweet (lactose), so most substitutes are also sweetened, though many more so.

                    The SE Asian style of canned coconut milk does make a good substitute for milk when cooking, especially for things like rice and tapioca pudding.

                    1. re: paulj

                      I was referring to the tetrapack milk substitute kind, which I found very disappointing. I was hoping for a light milk substitute with a hint of coconut flavor, but found it completely flavorless. I wonder if SE Asian style of canned coconut milk cut with the milk substitute kind would work on cereal...

                  2. Almond and rice milk are nearly useless nutritionally. Soy's a bit more nutrient-dense, but has problems of its own (other posters have covered this). Regular milk is probably the best of the lot. 2% is about right for me. If it contains more calories than you want, why not just consume less?

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Scrofula

                      Well, i mean you have to consume a certain amount to get all the cereal wet. Other than H+H in my coffee, that's about the only time i have milk, unless you count yogurt and cheese.

                      1. re: TroyTempest

                        I meant you could keep the cereal-liquid ratio the same, but reduce the overall serving size to get the total calorie count you want.

                    2. I'm cutting back on dairy (lactose-intolerant) and my favorite substitute so far is Blue Diamond Breeze Vanilla Almond-Coconut Milk. I pretty much only use it in cereal, and find it works very well. Nutritional info per cup: 70 cal, 3 g fat, no cholesterol, 9 g sugar, 1 g protein, various vitamins/minerals. If that's too much sugar, the unsweetened version (45 cal, 0 g sugar) is also good - just harder to find, in my experience.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: rovingfoodie

                        I haven't see that one yet. Will have to look.

                        1. re: rovingfoodie

                          We like cream of wheat for breakfast, and I usually make it with skim milk. Tried it with vaniilla almond-coconut milk (heated gently) and my, oh my, was it good!

                        2. I think that I've tried them all - soy, rice, almond, quinoa + oat, coconut, hemp. Lately my favorite is, for its combination of nutrition and taste, Good Karma Flaxmilk Original or Unsweetened, refrigerated half gallons occasionally available for $2.99 at Oakland and Berkeley Grocery Outlets in the SF Bay Area. Has a slight nutty taste, more so than almond milk. The ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 is about 3.5:1 in favor of omega-3 (1200 mg per serving). Works well for me as a coffee creamer or for cereal. has decent ingredients but not organic.

                          I was finding soy too chalky, rice milk too thin, almond disappointing in that it probably calculated out to less than an ounce of almonds per half gallon. The quinoa + oat was intriguing but only found it a few times in the stores. Hemp milk gave me headaches - wonder why.

                          Good Karma FlaxMilk
                          distributed by Good Karma of Glendale, CA
                          goodkarmafoods.com

                          1. imho,
                            the nut milks don't contain enough protein to fill me up.
                            i prefer soy milk.
                            in particular i prefer the 365 brand of organic soy milk that can be found in the refrigerator section of whole foods. get the ORIGINAL flavor.

                            my neighbor and i did a side by side taste test of the 365 with the refrigerated soy milk from TJ's and found the TJ's to be very watery-flavored.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: westsidegal

                              We don't have TJ's here in Austin yet. When we do get one and it will be soon, there will be world peace, an end to famine and all diseases will be miraculously cured. ;-)