Feature Food - Dairy Free Milk with Pea Protein

By: Kristin M. MacDonald, MS, RD, LDN

Owner, Healthy Appetites Nutrition Counseling, L.L.C.

I often see clients who are avoiding dairy milk due to a preference, allergy or another reason.  When meal planning for these clients I find it hard to simply replace dairy milk with almond milk (a favorite of many clients) because almond milk is surprisingly low in protein. 

Almonds themselves have a decent amount of protein - 7 grams of protein for a ¼ cup of almonds; however, almond milk has only 1 gram of protein per cup versus dairy milk, which has 8 grams of protein per cup.  If you read the ingredients on a carton of almond milk you’ll see that the first ingredient is usually water.  Also, many varieties are sweetened and contain added sugar. 

Dairy-free milk with pea protein is another option.  Ripple and Silk are two brands that make this dairy milk alternative.  Ripple’s unsweetened original variety has 70 calories, 0 grams of cholesterol, 8 grams of plant-based pea protein, 4.5 grams of fat (including healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats) and 450 mg of calcium per cup (this is more than the 293 mg of calcium per cup of dairy milk).  Ripple’s pea protein milk is also soy free, nut free, gluten free, lactose-free and vegan.  The flavor is rather bland, but the texture is creamy and smooth.  The cost is about $4.99 for 48 fluid ounces.  

Silk makes a product called Protein Nut Milk, which is an almond and cashew-based milk that also contains added pea protein.  I would recommend choosing the non-vanilla version, which has less added sugar - only 2 grams per cup versus 6 grams per cup in the vanilla variety.  This product also contains 130 calories, 8 grams of fat (again, this consists of mainly unsaturated fats) and 450 mg of calcium per cup.  Silk’s Protein Nut Milk is lactose-free, gluten free, soy free, carrageenan free and cholesterol free.  The flavor is ever-so-slightly sweet, though the texture is a bit more watery than Ripple’s product.  The cost is about $3.99 for a half gallon (64 fluid ounces). 

I think Ripple or Silk dairy-free milk with pea protein is a great option to blend into shakes and smoothies, or poured over a bowl of cereal to boost protein content for those avoiding dairy products. 

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