If you can not successfully consume cow’s milk without a great amount of physical backlash and are in search of the best dairy alternative, never fear. Almond milk, your newest obsession, is the best alternative and is ravaging your local grocery aisles. 

What is it and where does it come from?

This non-dairy product is the product of straining ground almonds with water and removing the almond mush to leave the almond-soaked liquid behind. Almond milk is GMO-free, dairy-free, soy-free, and gluten-free.

Many plant-based companies which produce milk alternatives carry many varieties of almond milk, increasing the odds one will become your new—and edible—best friend. The best dairy alternative presents itself in original, vanilla, unsweetened original, unsweetened vanilla, and depending on the company, may be combined with other plant-based milks like coconut and cashew to enhance the flavor and nutritional benefits. Personally, I believe almond milk tastes better than coconut milk. Unlike soy milk, it does not bloat or inflame my stomach, and unlike cow's milk, to which I am intolerant, it does not anger my skin or my digestive system. 

Why is it a suitable healthy substitute?

Almond milk producer Califia Farms, along with other dairy alternative developers, purchases bulk orders of local almonds from a third-party farm to mass produce the almond milk bottles you see across shelves today. After harvesting and pressing the almonds, companies add vitamins and minerals, pure cane sugar, and a thickening agent to the liquid; either carrageenan, a seaweed derivative, or locust bean gum is used.

According to Kristin Kirkpatrick, registered dietician at Cleveland Clinic's Wellness Institute, there is 50% more calcium in most original almond milks, thanks to added calcium carbonate, which also ensures an approximate 60 calories per 8 fl oz serving of this dairy alternative.

How can I use it? What should I mix?

Aside from its excellent nutritional value and great taste, almond milk is the best dairy alternative I found because it functions as a milk substitute in almost anything I choose to cook. I frequently pour almond milk into my cereal and coffee instead of cow’s milk, as well as blend it into breakfast smoothies and protein shakes. As more people begin to embrace dairy alternatives, diverse recipes emerge, including mashed sweet potatoes, vegan banana bread, and creamy spaghetti

You can even make your own frozen dessert with almond milk, as there are many recipes online for the homemade dairy alternative, or purchase a package pre-made from your local grocery store. Available options include Ben & Jerry's dairy free flavor line and SoDelicious Dairy-Free Frozen Desserts both in pints. Not only will this satisfy your dairy-free needs, but it also accommodates health-conscious options, including vegan and vegetarian. 

As someone who is lactose-intolerant, my best dairy alternative, almond milk, is a lifesaver for me; not only can I continue to enjoy the foods I grew up loving without the discomfort, but I do not have to sacrifice taste for culinary satisfaction. After all, there is a flavor for every dish and everyone.