The 3 Healthiest Milk Substitutes for Kids and Adults| Updated: Jul 12, 2019
Pasteurization denatures fragile milk proteins and renders them allergenic because digestive enzymes no longer work effectively on them. It also destroys lactase, the enzyme necessary for digesting lactose, the naturally occurring sugar in milk.
A simple switch to fresh from the farm raw milk solves both of these problems. In those rare instances when a child is truly allergic to cow or goat milk – even the farm-fresh variety, figuring out which plant-based milk to try can be a bewildering experience for a concerned parent.
Soy milk, also called soya bean milk, is clearly not a good option as high amounts of isoflavones (plant estrogens) disrupt the hormonal development of young children. Commercial rice milk is high in sugar and low in nutrition with little to no protein or fats to stabilize the blood sugar. Even store-bought almond milk is not a good choice as it is also very low in protein and fat, high in sugar and is not made from almonds that have been properly soaked/dehydrated first to eliminate anti-nutrients such as phytic acid which block mineral absorption and cause digestive distress.
So, what is a Mom or Dad to do?
Fortunately, there are three excellent milk substitutes that are delicious, healthy and easy to make when there are milk allergies in the home or even just when you are traveling or temporarily have no access to farm fresh whole milk.
I hope you enjoy these recipes for healthy dairy substitutes for your child that will be both tasty and nourishing! You may even wish to take a sip or two yourself!
Who Should Drink NonDairy Milk?
Please note that these milk substitutes are for a child older than one year. A baby younger than one that is not breastfed should be getting a homemade formula and if allergic to milk, homemade dairy-free baby formula is best.
Never use these recipes to make plant-based or vegan baby formula.
3 Most Nutritious Dairy Milk Substitutes
Coconut Milk Tonic Recipe
This drink contains the same amount of calories and calcium as cow’s milk and is high in good fats to stabilize the blood sugar in those active toddlers and children who, without good fats in the diet, will constantly be clamoring for refined carbs.
Coconut Milk Tonic
Coconut milk beverage that is an excellent and nutritious stand-in for dairy milk when allergies are present.
Mix all ingredients together in a medium saucepan over medium to low heat until all the dolomite is dissolved.
Serve immediately or refrigerate.
Use homemade coconut milk instead of canned if desired.
Coconut milk powder is fine to use if organic. Beware .. nonorganic coconut milk powder usually has GMO maltodextrin in it.
*I do not recommend culinary coconut milk in tetra packs as this coconut milk is watered down. How do I know this? It doesn't harden like it should in the refrigerator like canned coconut milk does.
Traditional Rice Milk Recipe
Makes 2 quarts
If your child is also allergic to coconut, traditional rice milk works well instead of the sugar-laden, nutritionless version from the store.
1/2 cup brown rice (arsenic free sources)
8 cups filtered water
1 tsp sea salt (sources)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice or homemade apple cider vinegar (sources)
1/4 cup raw honey (sources)
1 tsp cinnamon (sources)
Cook rice in water, covered, until rice is mushy. This will take several hours. Process rice and liquid together in a food processor or food mill. Place a liquefied mixture in a glass jug with salt and lemon juice or cider vinegar. Cover tightly and leave on the counter for 2-3 days. Refrigerate.
To serve, blend with honey and cinnamon and dilute with enough filtered water to achieve desired consistency. Note that honey is only suitable for children over 1 year of age.
If you prefer nonfermented beverages, this rice milk recipe made with wild rice uses soaked rice instead of fermentation to render the rice digestible with no slightly sour taste.
Homemade Almond Milk
Makes 2 quarts
While almond milk from the store is not a good choice, the homemade version is both delicious and nutritious. You can also make this fermented almond milk recipe to add enzymes and probiotics if you prefer.
2 cups skinless raw almonds (sources)
2 tsp sea salt (sources)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice or raw apple cider vinegar (sources)
1/8 cup coconut sugar, sucanat or raw honey (sources)
1 tsp vanilla extract (sources)
1 tsp almond extract (sources)
Soak almonds overnight in filtered water and sea salt. Drain off the soaking water and process almonds in a food processor until a smooth paste.
In a 2-quart glass jug mix the almond paste with other ingredients and enough filtered water to fill the jug. Note that honey is only suitable for children over the age of one.
Cover tightly and leave on the counter for 2 days.
Refrigerate. Stir before serving. Enjoy alone or try making this refreshing blueberry banana almond milk smoothie recipe.
Sources and More Information
Since 2002, Sarah has been a Health and Nutrition Educator dedicated to helping families effectively incorporate the principles of ancestral diets within the modern household.
Sarah was awarded Activist of the Year at the International Wise Traditions Conference in 2010.
Sarah received a Bachelor of Arts (summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) in Economics from Furman University and a Master of Government Administration from the University of Pennsylvania.
Mother to three healthy children, blogger, and best-selling author, her work has been covered by USA Today, The New York Times, National Review, ABC, NBC, and many others.