Thursday, October 8, 2009

Top Three: Best Dairy Free Beverages

(Disclaimer: I do not get paid nor am I affiliated with any company or product. I do sometimes get products sent to me to sample, but I am honest in my opinion of them. Also, in terms of eating healthy: packaged products are not the way to go. However, I am like most Americans and I do buy my share of non-whole foods. These top three posts will be ranking those.)

It's been close to three years since I discovered my gluten and dairy sensitivity and I've probably spent over one thousand dollars since then on food that just didn't taste good. I was so overwhelmed by eating this new way that when I did see "Gluten Free" and "Dairy Free" on the label of a product, I often bought it.

Fortunately as the years have passed I've discovered some great products out there, both for the gluten free and dairy free. In an effort to save other people money, I'm creating a new feature here: Top Three. This is by no means a scientific taste test where I polled a variety of individuals on their reaction to different food products. It's merely my opinion.

So, for the first "Top Three" post, I will review my top three favorite gluten-free, dairy-free beverages.

1) In the top spot is Turtle Mountain's So Delicious Coconut Milk Beverage

This milk-like product is so darn delicious that even when I don't feel like eating cereal for breakfast, I will. Just so I can eat it drenched in this milk. It's pretty new and I only discovered it about five or six months ago, but by far, it comes to closest to milk in terms of consistency (it's close to 2%) and taste, especially if you drink it cold. You can taste a hint of coconut however, so if you don't like coconut flavored things, this probably isn't your drink. I've made hot chocolate, ice cream and even soup with this stuff, all with good results. You can buy it in Original, Vanilla or Unsweetened. I tend to stick with the Unsweetened, but do indulge in the Vanilla quite often.

2) In second place is Living Harvest's Hemp Milk

My first hemp milk experience wasn't a good one. I don't even remember the brand name, but I remember the taste: it was chalky and well, gross. Living Harvest, on the other hand, knows what they're doing. You feel like you're doing something healthy (and you are -- you can find out all of the reasons why hemp is good for you here) when you're drinking it, but it also tastes good. It's slightly nutty and another nice addition to cereal. I've also used it when cooking with good results. You can get it in Original, Vanilla, Chocolate, Unsweetened Vanilla and Unsweetened Original. My favorite is the unsweetened vanilla (though the chocolate is a great indulgence too).

3) And in the number three spot is Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Milk

Almond Breeze seems to be the easiest dairy free beverage to find, whereas the top two I have only been able to find at health food and specialty stores. Almond Breeze was my go-to beverage for years and is great in coffee and tea (though be sure to shake it well first or else it looks like it curdles -- but doesn't -- it's still very drinkable). I have also had it in cereal, though it's not quite as "creamy" as the So Delicious product. The taste is good and slightly nutty like you'd expect. It's high in protein too, which makes it a great post-workout drink.

My next Top Three post will be on a related topic: Gluten-free, Dairy-Free Cereals.


Alice-Jane said...

My first experience with hemp milk was also terrible, so I never tried it again. I might have to try Living Harvest though, since you give it such high marks. And I agree about So Delicious Coconut Milk Beverages. I think they are the best tasting milk substitute on the market. So much tastier than soy, and so much richer than rice milk. I love it with cereal, too!

Alisa - Frugal Foodie said...

I am an Almond Breeze girl all the way, but that coconut milk beverage is slowly winning me over. The unsweetened works great in recipes!

Liz said...

Do give it a try again Alice-Jane! I have seen Living Harvest packaged in two different containers though, so just look for the label. The coconut milk is SO GOOD with cereal, you are right on.

Alisa! The queen of the dairy-free world, I totally value your opinion on this subject. Almond milk seems to be less expensive than the coconut milk too AND I love how supportive of the gluten-free community Blue Diamond is.

Thanks for the input ladies :)

Melanie "Gluti Girl" said...

Awesome post. I keep seeing that particular coconut milk in the grocery and was wondering if it was good. So far I've been using a lot of Almond milk. I'll have to give the coconut milk a go!

Brenda Wilkey said...

I love the Turtle Mountain's So Delicious Coconut Ice Cream. I am sure I would love the milk. The ice cream is incredibly smooth and creamy like it should be. I tend to think soy and rice dream ice creams have too much of an after taste. Except for the Tofutti ice cream because that is great. I make my own rice milk but if I decide to purchase a new kind I will give the coconut a try!