Comparing Milks and Making Your Own Milk Alternatives

June is national dairy month so in the spirit of this month let’s take a look at the different milk options that are available. This is a big conversation with my food sensitivity clients and we really try to make milk out of pretty much anything! Even if you are not a milk drinker per say (like me) it is always nice to have a type of milk around for smoothies, baking and cereals.

Before we started getting creative and blending up everything into milks we only had cow’s milk, well I guess goats milk too but that is not very common.


Cow’s Milk

Cow’s milk comes in many varieties: whole, 2%, 1%, skim (fat-free) and lactose-free. The component that makes each of them different is their fat content and therefore the calories as well.

Each type of cow’s milk has the same protein, calcium, vitamins and minerals however, choosing fat-free milk will affect the absorption of some of the vitamins that require fat (vitamins A, D, E and K).

Lactose-free milk is processed in a way that breaks down the lactose sugar that is found naturally in milk. It still has all of the nutrients listed above. About 65% of the population is lactose intolerant, meaning they do not make adequate amounts of the enzyme, lactase, to break down the milk sugar. Symptoms of a lactose intolerance include abdominal pain, bloating, flatulence, nausea, and diarrhea 30 minutes to 2 hours after consuming a lactose-containing product. For these people, lactose-free milk would be a great option.


Soy Milk

Soy milk is made from soybeans and water. It is a plant-based milk and therefore it is free of cholesterol and very low in saturated fat. It is naturally lactose free.

Soy is a controversial topic because of its estrogenic effects but the current thought is that it is still ok in moderate doses. I would limit to 1 serving of non-GMO organic soy per day but I have heard others say 2-3 servings per day.

Too much soy can be a problem for those with thyroid conditions and may prove harmful for women with a history of estrogen-receptor positive breast cancer. Other than that, moderate consumption of soy products are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and can be part of a heart healthy diet.

There is a great recipe from Rasa Malaysia (hint: its only soybeans + water)


Don’t have time to make your own? Here are a couple brands that I recommend to make your lives easier ?. They are all made from whole, organic non-gmo soybeans and water.

  • Westsoy organic unsweetened soy milk
  • Edensoy organic unsweetened soy milk
  • Pacific organic unsweetened soy milk


Almond Milk

Almond milk made from almonds and water. It is lower in calories than most other milks and also free of saturated fat. It is naturally lactose free.

Even though whole almonds are a good source of protein, almond milk is not a good source of protein or calcium.

Store bought almond milk often contains carrageenan, a thickener and emulsifier. Some studies have linked carrageenan to increased inflammation in the body and often stomach problems.

Since it is not recommended to buy the cartons of almond milk at the store, here is a very simple recipe from Danette May to make your own!


Coconut Milk

Coconut milk is made from unsulfured, unsweetened coconut meat and water. It is a plant-based milk however, it does contain more fat than other milk alternatives. It is naturally lactose free.

The type of fat found in coconut milk is medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) which have gained in popularity over the past several years.

Just like other store bought milk alternatives, coconut milk often contains added thickeners and other ingredients like carrageenan which has its negative effects.

Making your own coconut milk is as easy as 1-2… that’s it! Wellness Mama has a great recipe that I use!

If you choose to skim off the fat from your coconut milk you can make it into a wonderful coconut whipped cream for dessert.


Rice Milk

Rice milk is made from rice and water. It has very little protein and fat but is higher in carbohydrates than the milk alternatives discussed above.

This is a good choice for those who are lactose intolerant and/or have allergies to milk, soy, or nuts.

Rice does contain higher levels of arsenic that is taken up from the soil while it is growing. Because of this it is not recommended to rely on only rice and rice products. Be sure to focus on consuming a variety of other grains throughout your day.

As with other store bought milks, you can expect to see added thickeners and preservatives to improve shelf life and consistency. For this reason it is best to make your own and it is very easy!

Money Saving Mom  has a great recipe that helps you plan ahead so that you don’t have to cook rice every time you want to make your milk!


Other Milk Alternatives

If none of those sounds appetizing or work with your food sensitivities here are 9 other milks that you can make at home!

Sunflower seed milk

pecan milk

oat milk

banana milk

cashew milk

hemp seed milk

flax milk

hazelnut milk

pea milk



My dietetic degree

Soaking and Dehydrating nuts and seeds

Benefits of Soaking and Dehydrated Nuts and Seeds

Soaking and Dehydrating nuts and seedsMost of us eat nuts and seeds on a daily basis – whether it is in the form of nut/seed butter, nut milk, or just plain old nuts and seeds. This tiny little nutrient packed superfood has found its way into many diets, however, to truly gain all of the benefits they require an extra step prior to your enjoyment!

Why not eat raw nuts and seeds?
Raw nuts (and seeds) contain phytic acid – the storage form of phosphorus in plant tissues. So why is this a problem? Phytates binds to minerals in your GI tract which can cause irritation and contribute to potential nutrient deficiencies. Of course you could take phytase in the form of a supplement – like Pure Encapsulations Digestive Enzyme Ultra – every time that you eat nuts and seeds but I think there is a simpler (and cheaper) answer! Before we get to that there is one more big reason to soak and dehydrate your nuts and seeds. Raw nuts also contain enzyme inhibitors, which prevent the nut or seed from sprouting prematurely in nature. This is great for the nuts in nature but when they have been gathered for consumption something has to change. Eating too many raw nuts that still contain enzyme inhibitors can contribute to the binding of minerals and again lead to digestive strain.

How does soaking and dehydrating help?
Soaking raw nuts and seeds in salt water and then dehydrating at a low temperature (around 105-115F) tricks the phytates and enzyme inhibitors into a neutral state. The combination of minerals and low heat helps break down irritating compounds, while preserving beneficial fats and proteins. This process increases the bioavailability of important nutrients (notably the treasured B vitamins) and activates helpful digestive enzymes that increase nutrient absorption. If you do not want to complete this process yourself it is possible to purchase, however, the cost can be significant in comparison to purchasing raw nuts and soaking/dehydrating them yourself.

If you look to purchase these nuts, they are different from sprouted nuts as sprouting is a much lengthier process.

If you’re not sure if you need to soak/dehydrate your nuts, here are a few questions that might be able to help direct you:

  • Do you ever experience low belly pain after eating nuts, seeds or foods that contain them?
  • Do you ever notice pieces of nuts in your stool the day after eating them?
  • Do you eat a significant amount of phytate containing foods- such as grains, beans, nuts and seeds?
  • Do you struggle to consume enough minerals and B-vitamins in your diet?
  • Do you eat a lot of phytate-containing foods and your micronutrient test came back showing a deficiency in B-vitamins and minerals?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you will likely benefit from soaking and drying nuts prior to snacking on them.

Below is a great graphic that indicates the time that nuts/seeds should be soaked – and if you feel like going the extra mile you can try sprouting!
To prepare your nuts/seeds for soaking, first measure out 4 cups of raw nuts into a bowl. Cover with filtered water and mix in 1 TBSP of sea salt. After soaking, place nuts/seeds in your dehydrator at 105-115F for 12-24 hours. Throughout this process I find myself snacking! Turn off the dehydrator when your nuts/seeds have achieved a crunchy texture and no longer seem water-logged 🙂

Keeping the temperature under 118F maintains its “raw” status and does not comprising any of the nutrients. If you do not have a dehydrator you can dehydrate nuts in your oven at its lowest temperature – preferably at least close to 150F. Continue to watch your nuts as time will vary based on method of dehydrating.



Let us know which nuts/seeds you dehydrate!


Food Sensitivities/Food Intolerances/Food Allergies – whats the difference?

Food allergies, intolerances and sensitivities are a hot button topic lately. The definitions are commonly confused so I thought I would take minute to clear it up.

Food Allergies: Food allergies are an immune reaction that result when our immune system attacks a harmless food protein (an allergen). The body produces a large amount of  the antibody IgE (Immunoglobulin E) and releases chemicals (ex. histamine) which trigger symptoms of an allergic reaction.

Common food allergens: peanut, tree nut, milk, egg, wheat, soy, fish, shellfish, sesame

Symptoms: hives, rash, sneezing, stomach pain, redness of skin around eyes, nausea/vomiting, anaphylaxis (in extreme cases)

Diagnosing food allergies: There are several ways to test for food allergies.
Skin Prick Test – This is when the allergist drops solutions of food on your arm or back and waits about 30 minutes for a response. They are looking for a wheal and flare response which is a raised white bump surrounded by itchy red skin. The skin prick test has a 50-60% chances of showing a false positive meaning that you are not really allergic to the foods being tested. NOT IDEAL.

Blood Test – The blood tests do not help you predict the severity of an allergy but will tell you if you could have an allergy. It takes several days to get the results back, unlike the skin prick test. This tests can detect either your response to the undigested food proteins OR detect proteins that are similar among foods but do not trigger allergic reaction. Because of this the blood test also has a 50-60% chance of yielding a false positive result. NOT IDEAL.

Oral Food Challenge – This test is highly accurate but also has the potential to cause serious reactions and should only be done in the presence of an experienced allergist in a medical facility. During the food challenge, the allergist will feed you suspect foods in small doses repeatedly to see if there are any signs of a reaction. IDEAL.

Food Elimination Diet – A food elimination diet can be used to help diagnose a food allergy. During a 2-4 week period you eliminate any suspect foods while the doctor monitors symptoms. There is a gradual period of reintroduction when you add in suspecting foods and continue to monitor symptoms. IDEAL. 


Food Intolerances: Food intolerances do not involve the immune system. Some food intolerances are caused by a lack of a particular enzyme. Symptoms may appear similar to a food allergy but they will never trigger anaphylaxis. Most of the time, symptoms of a food intolerance take longer to manifest than symptoms of food allergies.

Common food intolerances: lactose intolerance, celiac disease

Symptoms: bloating, stomach ache, hives, headaches/migraines, irritable bowel

Diagnosing food intolerances: There is no accurate, reliable and validated test to identify food intolerances. The best tool is an elimination diet. Foods and symptoms are monitored and analyzed for patterns between food intake and symptom manifestation.


Food Sensitivities: Food sensitivities, like food allergies, involve the immune system however they are not measuring IgE antibodies. Food sensitivities can occur with any food/chemical and reactions can occur up to 72 hours after ingesting the offending food. Sensitivities involve non-IgE antibodies and chemical mediators – because of this allergy testing will NOT test for them.

Common food sensitivities: ANY food or chemical

Symptoms: headaches/migraines, irritable bowel, bloating, diarrhea,  joint pain, fatigue, etc. The list goes on and on.

Diagnosing food sensitivities:
ELISA/ACT Test – Uses an accurate measure of IgG however, adverse food reactions often involve more than just IgG reactions. For example, this test is not useful for IBS and migraines and it cannot test chemical reactions. IgG may appear high because it is acting as a protective antibody, in which case it may be a good thing. There are no published studies of reliability or validity.

ALCAT Test – Measures changes in white blood cell size after exposure to an antigen (food). While early studies showed good accuracy (86%) this is now an outdated technology and cannot measure lymphocyte reactions.

MRT Test – Measures changes in ratio of liquid to solids after whole blood exposure to an antigen (food). This test has excellent accuracy (94.5% sensitivity and 91.7% specificity) and reliability ( >90% split sample reproducibility). With this test we can measure food and chemical reactions by measuring the outcome of all sensitivity reactions. This is the best test for food sensitivities available at this time.


Susan Linke, food sensitivity expert and LEAP mentor does a great job explaining food sensitivities in this video.



My Food Sensitivity Story

Food Sensitivity Story

Hi I’m Carie! Registered Dietitian, self-proclaimed foodie, former IBS sufferer and green bean fanatic. For my obligatory first blog post, I’d like to share my nutrition journey you with!

Be warned…It was a messy one.

I grew up in a foodie family. We were always fairly health conscious but I was never the thinnest or prettiest girl. In high school I was the girl on the verge of an eating disorder – limiting myself to less than 1000 calories a day in secret and sharing food with my friends so I didn’t have to eat as much. I tried the fad diets of the time – mainly the Atkins Diet.

Toward the end of high school I started suffering from digestive issues – I’m talking gas, upset stomach, diarrhea every day (I know, TMI! But I’m a dietitian – talking about poop is practically in the job description). Now I started journaling in a different way. Writing down everything that I ate and cutting out nutrition labels to compare the ingredients. Highlighting commonalities.  Nothing was adding up.

This continued through the beginning of college. I saw an allergist for food allergy testing (skin testing – which I now know is SO not reliable!). From there my parents sent me to a GI specialist – there I sat with my lists and labels. SHE DIDN’T EVEN LOOK AT THEM! That day I was diagnosed with IBS and handed one sheet of paper titled ‘FODMAP diet’. No explanation. No direction.

Thank you Dr. Google for explaining IBS and the FODMAP Diet.

Thanks to Pinterest I was able to find recipes and bloggers who were well versed in FODMAPs. I experimented with this diet for the rest of my college career but found it to be very restrictive without relieving much of my symptoms. Just like my clients tell me now – I would prefer a diet that tells me exactly what to avoid so that I can skip the guessing game.

Through this crazy journey I was studying to be a dietitian. With my new found title and existing love of nutrition I became interested in integrative and functional nutrition. Through a special blood test I was able to eliminate the guessing game. Exactly what I needed!

I continue to follow a diet that tailored to my personal results and have been able to add new foods to my diet regularly and maintained a symptom free life!

This experience has shaped the way that I approach nutrition and because of this I founded my own nutrition counseling company, Feel Good Nutrition, LLC! I look forward to sharing clean recipes with all of you and discussing ways to modify recipes to meet your specific needs!

My Food Sensitivity Story1