Alternatives to milk

Possibly 75% of people around the world are lactose intolerant – which might go some way to explaining why there are so many alternatives to milk.

But there are numerous other reasons too, it might be simply be beneficial to health, or autism related, or asthma, or galactosaemia, or a sensitivity to casein or one of many other problems with drinking milk.

Whatever your reason it’s important to make sure you’re still getting the calcium, iodine and vitamins that you need.

Here are some of the alternatives…

Goat’s milk
Rich in nutrients and easier to digest (even though it still contains lactose). It has less casein but almost as much fat and calories as cow’s milk. However, it can cause a vitamin B12 deficiency in children.

Sheep’s milk
Sheep’s milk has twice as many minerals, eg. calcium, phosphorus and zinc and the vitamin B-complex, as cow’s milk. But it is also higher in calories and fat. Like goat’s milk, it is easily digested. And it’s also a good source of iodine, which helps if you suffer with thyroid problems.

Camel’s milk
Five times as much Vitamin C as cow’s milk. Helps with diabetes. Contains some lactose. Not easy to source.

Buffalo’s milk
Higher in calcium, protein and iron and contains more vitamins and minerals (including calcium and iron) and 43% less cholesterol than cow’s milk. But it also has twice as much fat and still contains lactose. Not easy to source.

Hemp milk
Half the amount of protein of cow’s milk, and calcium is often added. Rich in Omega 3, minerals and vitamins, hemp milk also has a creamy consistency. No lactose.

Quinoa milk
Quinoa is a very digestive food and nutritionally well balanced. It’s protein contains all essential amino acids and it is rich in unsaturated fatty acids. No lactose.

Spelt milk
A good source of fibre and B-complex vitamins. Cholesterol free. No lactose.

Oat milk
Rich in fibre, lowers cholesterol and low-GI. It’s actually the preferred energy drink of many athletes. A pleasant milky taste. No lactose.

Barley milk
Has a higher phosphorus and potassium content than regular milk. Helpful in repairing the body, though it doesn’t contain calcium. No lactose.

Kamut-wheat milk
Highly recommended for its milk-like taste. No lactose.

Millet milk
Lower in fat, higher in fibre and less calories than cow’s milk. Rich in protein and minerals. No lactose.

Rice milk
Compared to soya, rice milk is considered closer to cow’s milk in taste and texture. It is naturally sweet, low in fat and high in fibre. But it’s also low in calcium and protein. No lactose.

Soya milk
Soya milk is high in protein so it’s useful for cooking with. It is also comparatively cheaper than other milk alternatives due to its ubiquity. However, some avoid it because it can raise estrogen levels. No lactose.

Almond milk
Tastes great, and has some of the lowest calorie counts of all milk alternatives. No lactose.

Hazelnut milk
A thicker consistency. It also provides calcium and sulphur. No lactose.

Coconut milk
Lots of phosphorus, iron, magnesium and fibre makes coconut milk a superfood. It’s low in calories, boosts immunity and has a distinctive creamy taste.

Cashew nut milk
Delicious but not easy to find. Just as well it’s easy to make… Cashew’s are a good source of copper and magnesium.

Raw milk
The argument is that pasteurisation destroys some of the goodness in milk which would actually make it digestible for people with gut problems. It remains to be seen whether ‘green top milk’ is actually helpful for people with psoriasis and high blood pressure.

UV milk
Possibly the milk of the future: milk that is treated by UV instead of pasteurisation?

Lactose-Free milk
Or, of course, you could take the lactose out of the milk

You can also make milk from peas, peanuts, or seeds!

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Pasta galore! In more flavours than you could possibly think – recipe below

Forget fish and chips or curry, pasta is the nation’s favourite when it comes to choosing what to cook.

In many UK homes Italian food is served 2-3 times a week with “spag bol” in top position as the most cooked meal.

Pasta - everyone's favourite meal
Pasta - everyone's favourite meal

Imagine pasta salad with sun-dried tomatoes, rocket and walnuts; or goats cheese and honey ravioli; or creamy spinach and asparagus fettuccine – it all sounds soooo delicious, but if you have a friend with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) it’s immediately off the menu.

Still, IBS sufferers can eat pasta if it’s not made from traditional durum wheat. Biona have spaghetti, fusilli and tagliatelle all made from spelt, a more ancient grain which doesn’t effect people with IBS.

In fact pasta can be made from corn, rice, kamut, buckwheat, amaranth, millet or quinoa; vegetables are often used in pasta too.

Using other types of pasta also means a bigger range of flavour: nutty or sweet, firm or rich in texture. Choose the right kind of pasta and you really can amplify how your dinner will taste.

Here’s a buckwheat pasta recipe called Pizzoccheri – it’s a great comfort food.

125g butter
1/2 teaspoon of dried sage
2 cloves of crushed garlic
2 medium potatoes, cubed
300g dried buckwheat pasta
1 small savoy cabbage
100g brie sliced
100g grated mature cheddar
50g grated parmesan
salt and pepper
a pinch ground nutmeg

1. In a small pan, melt the butter together with the cloves of garlic and the sage. Keep on a low heat so it does not burn.
2. Cook the pasta in boliling water for about 15 minutes (buckwheat pasta takes longer then normal pasta).
3. At the same time boil a second pan of salted water. Shred the cabbage leaves and blanch for 1 minute. Drain and place in a large serving dish. Keep the pan of water.
4. Add the potatoes to the same water and boil until very tender (about 10 minutes). Drain and add to cabbage.
5. When the pasta is cooked to al dente. Drain and toss in with the cabbage and potatoes. Mix in the cheeses.
6. Pour the butter over the top of the pasta and season with the salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Gluten-free pasta

When it comes to gluten-free the Italians are well educated about Ceoliac disease. All Italian children are tested for gluten intolerance by the time they are 6.

We get a little benefit of their know-how with companies like Buontempo who price their gluten-free pasta at very competitive prices. And our very own Doves, the British purveyor of organic and gluten-free flours, has an organic gluten-free pasta range where the pasta is made in… well Italy, obviously.

There are so many pasta companies out there who are worthy of a mention. Barkat, for example, is a special diet company who have just introduced it’s own gluten-free macaroni.

The best thing to do is to type ‘pasta‘ into the GoodnessDirect search box and then use the brand guide on the right to check through the different options.

Kamut wheat

Kamut is the brand name of the ancient wheat grain khorasan, useful to some people with wheat sensitivity; ancient legend says that it is the grain Noah took with him onto the ark. The health properties of the wheat are possibly down to the fact that Kamut is organically grown and has never been genetically modified or hybridised. However, Kamut does contain gluten, so it’s not suitable for coeliacs.

The flavour is naturally sweet and nutty with a smooth buttery taste. It is used as an alternative to durum wheat in Lima’s Pastas, and in Nature’s Path Cereals (Optimum Power and Organic Heritage Flakes). Dove’s Farm now stock Kamut flour as well.

The grain has more protein than modern wheat and many more minerals too, including selenium, zinc, and magnesium. Selenium is recognised particularly for it high antioxidant properties. A high proportion of lipids means that the wheat delivers more energy to the body than common wheatgrains and it also has more vitamin E.