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Apr 14, 2013 05:56 PM

Milk Substitutes - for Drinking

My daughter does not like the taste of cow's milk but feels that she needs to drink something to get calcium. She has tried flavored soy milk and does not especially care for it. She's asking about trying almond milk now. Do you have any recommendations for almond milk, rice milk, or other calcium-rich milk substitutes? What are your favorite brands? Flavored or unflavored?

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  1. If she's merely worried about her calcium intake, why not get the calcium from food instead of milk/fake milk drinks?

    Kale, oranges, sardines, oatmeal, sesame seeds, Swiss cheese (gruyere and Emmentaler particularly), edamame, almonds, salmon, white beans, yogurt, dried figs, turnip greens, arugula, broccoli, tofu and sunflower seeds are all very good sources for calcium.

    5 Replies
    1. re: linguafood

      I don't drink milk, either, but sometimes I like cereal and milk. So I use almond milk, either Silk brand or Blue Diamond. And its really good. I just read a review of a new product called Dream Blends. It comes in plain and soon will be available in chocolate. Its supposed to be good- a blend of cashew, almobd and hazelnut.

      1. re: Miri1

        The Dream company has been making non-dairy milk an frozen dessert alternatives for some time now - Rice Dream, Almond Dream, Soy Dream, etc. The blends are an addition to the line and appear to be pretty much the same nutritionally and with the same additives and fortifications as the others.

        Detailed info here:

      2. re: linguafood

        Might want to revisit that list. I just looked up the nutrition facts for all those foods, and many have considerably less than 100mg of calcium per serving. The recommendation is 1000mg for most ages. For reference, that's 48 servings of sunflower seeds.

        In fact, I think the only foods on your list that qualify as *good* sources of calcium are dairy products. If I remember right, the best non-dairy item had less than half as much calcium per serving as milk.

        1. re: Scrofula

          Sardines seem like a pretty good source for calcium at 325 mg per serving (milk having 300 mg).

          An oz of sesame seeds has 280 mg.

          I don't know, I'm sure one can get their calcium on without milk. That said, who keeps track of whether they ingest 1000 mg of calcium every day, anyway?

          1. re: linguafood

            Sure, it's possible to get enough calcium without milk; just not from some of the foods you listed. Of course you don't actually need to check whether you meet the RDA every day. My point was just that if you have to eat 48 servings of something to meet the recommendation, then it probably doesn't qualify as a 'very good source'.

            As for sardines and sesame, I guess our sources differ; I'm seeing 171 and 125 mg respectively. Having checked a couple of other sources, your numbers seem pretty plausible.

      3. Soy milk isn't a great source of calcium anyway because it's high in phytates which bind calcium and reduce absorption.

        Linguafood gave you good advice about looking to other food sources. Cheese & fatty fish are the best choices because they also provide Vitamin D, which is essential for intestinal calcium absorption.

        If she still wants to go with a beverage, skip the rice milk - it's a nutritional void. Almond milk is typically fortified with both calcium & Vitamin D, so that would be the best choice. There are a lot of options out there - "original" (plain), vanilla, chocolate, sweetened,'s really a matter of personal preference. The good thing about almond milk is that even the sweetened varieties are lower in sugar than cow's milk. The biggest downfall is additives - they all contain thickeners in the form of gums and/or carrageenan, so take that into consideration if it's a concern.

        I started making my own for drinking a long time ago, but I still buy it occasionally for use in baking. Whole Foods 365 Organic or Trader Joe's (both unsweetened) are my go-tos because they're the only ones that don't contain carrageenan, which I've recently discovered doesn't sit well with me. But Blue Diamond is really popular, sold in pretty much every supermarket chain, and probably your best starting place.

        1. I like TJ's and Almond Breeze original unsweetened Almond milk, and unsweetened vanilla. I usually keep both flavors in the fridge. If I have the chocolate one, I cut it half and half with unsweetened, to keep calories down.
          At first, I started drinking almond milk while on Weight Watchers, but now I really prefer it to cow's milk.

          1. Pay attention to the source of calcium in the 'milk'. Most likely it is an additive, making it just as useful as a supplement.


            1. We like the almond breeze coconut milk blend - sweetened. It's good on cereal.