When dairy was taken out of my diet, I was faced with what to drink, or use in recipes, to replace it. While there are many choices out there, there are very few I would consider drinking personally. One of the first things I increased in our diet was homemade bone broths (mainly chicken broth) for it’s high mineral content (like calcium) to replace what we wouldn’t be getting in milk anymore. Cultures, such as Asian ones, who don’t have dairy in their diet, will have broth at almost every meal. This makes good nutritional sense. But one can’t put chicken broth in chocolate puddings! And I have a hard time making enough to have at every meal.
I looked at my options.
Soy, nut, and rice milk were some of the most popular choices. Soy was definitely out. Highly indigestible (read my posts on soaking grains, and consider that soy is one of the most phytate high legume there is, and you will understand why), and I am not comfortable with other aspects of soy. I liked the taste of nut milk, but I would want to make it myself so that I could soak the nuts before hand (to reduce phytates). Rice milk was another option, and I didn’t mind it to much (as long as I didn’t compare it to real milk). But I wasn’t crazy about it because I didn’t really feel that it added much nutritional value to our diet. It was just grains and water blended up together. And who really needs more grains? I certainly wasn’t excited about making it a mainstay of my, or my family’s diet. We already ate a lot of grains as it was.
And then I found a solution that has been working wonderfully.
Coconut milk won me over. Coconut milk is a traditional food that has been drunk or eaten for a long time. Plus one. Coconut has varying levels of coconut oil in it. Coconut oil is currently making a come back in health groups. In our version of coconut milk, we use coconut juice, or water, which has it’s own benefits as well. I have been experimenting with culturing this mixture with very good results (a coconut kefir!). This isn’t only for “dairy free” people!
In Sally Fallon’s book, Eat Fat, Lose Fat, she recommends drinking a mixture of coconut milk and water with calcium added, in replacement of raw milk, if you are unable to find a local source for it, or allergic. I respect her opinion, so this helped me feel that we were on the right track.
We have been enjoying drinking this “milk”. We use it in our smoothies, in desserts, in hot chocolate, egg nog, and drink it plain! It is very nourishing and satisfying. It even looks like milk (though tastes nothing like it!). I will share Sally Fallon’s recipe for coconut milk, and then give the one my family likes better, that we came up with. My husband thought that Sally’s was a little to watery for his taste, though I liked it just fine. Our coconut milk doesn’t taste watery, because it contains coconut water, or juice, which keeps that coconut flavor.
Sally Fallon’s Coconut Milk Tonic, from Eat Fat, Lose Fat
This has the same amount of calories and calcium as milk.
I can whole coconut milk
2 1/4 cups water
2 tablespoons maple syrup (or a pinch of stevia)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon dolomite powder (for calcium)
Mix all ingredients together in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat and heat until warm and dolomite is dissolved.
Our Coconut Milk Tonic
Our coconut milk tonic has coconut water (or juice) in it. Make sure that you get one that does not contain sugar! It is the water from a young coconut and is very good for you ( it deserves a whole post of it’s own). We use Thai Kitchen’s organic coconut milk. It is very creamy! You could add dolomite powder to this version as well, if desired.
1 can of coconut milk
1 can (17 ounces) of coconut water or juice, no sugar added
1 teaspoon vanilla, optional
Mix together with a whisk, or with a hand blender. Chill and enjoy.
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Just a few comments on the points in this article:
– One problem with coconut juice is that it has a high amount of carbohydrates, typically 12 to 20 grams. A coca cola would have maybe 27 grams for comparison. Many people who use coconut milk are either Paleo dieters or diabetics, both of whom strictly avoid liquid carbohydrates and try to get carbs from vegetables and fruit with fiber intact.
– There is good experimental evidence that supplemental calcium very significantly increases risk of cardiac death and prostate cancer. There is NOT good evidence that supplemental calcium prevents osteoporosis. So that makes me wonder if even the Dolomite version is worth doing. Personally I want to stick to Sardines and cheese and natural calcium sources, where the calcium is presumably bound with the other things you need to absorb it.
Coconut milk itself is WONDERFUL. As someone who is lactose intolerant, I use coconut milk and organic whipping cream as two of my primary liquid saturated fat sources.
Are you concerned about BPA? I stopped buying canned coconut milk for this reason. I am concerned about it leaching from cans, especially in a high fat liquid like coconut milk. I try to never eat from a can, but especially with a product that can’t be rinsed?