The “maids a milking gift” is pretty sweet. I’m pretty sure I would pass that chore off to someone else if that was my job.

    So what about milk? Most of us think of cow’s milk, but these days there are dozens of kinds of milk: goat’s milk, soy milk, almond milk and other nut milk, rice milk, buttermilk and other variations on cow’s milk, such as evaporated, condensed, powdered and more. Is one better than the other?

    First the definition of “milk” is the fluid from a lactating mammal – mother’s milk. So, technically some of these kinds of milk aren’t really “milk” by definition.

    There are many types of milk available on the market today.

    Milk (aka Cow’s Milk)

    Cow’s milk is one of the best and most bioavailable food sources of calcium, as well as vitamin D. Milk, is also a good source of protein at 8-9 grams per cup. All cow’s milk vitamin A and vitamin D fortified. Some people refer to whole milk as “vitamin D” milk, but all are fortified with vitamin D, even the fat-free. Whole milk is 3.3% fat, then there is 2%, 1% and fat-free. Here is a quick profile of milk:

    • Whole milk is 150 calories per cup and 8 grams of fat.
    • 2% milk (aka reduced fat) is 125 calories per cup and 5 grams of fat.
    • 1% milk (aka low-fat) is 105 calories per cup and 2.5 grams of fat.
    • Skim/fat-free milk is 90 calories per cup and 0 grams of fat.

    The protein and calcium are slightly higher as the fat content go down. The other nutrients, such as carbohydrates, sodium, and vitamins, are almost the same.


    Originally, buttermilk was the liquid that formed when making butter from cream. It is not milk that has butter. Most buttermilk today, often used in baking, comes from introducing an acid into milk. I usually do it by adding vinegar or lemon juice instead of buying an entire container of buttermilk. Buttermilk comes in reduced fat or low-fat. If you have ever made butter from heavy cream – you’ve seen buttermilk separated from the butter after you are done.

    Goat’s Milk

    I remember goat’s milk from when I was growing up because my aunt was allergic to cow’s milk and used goat’s milk as an alternative. (Soy milk had yet to become widely available.) You can find it in cans or refrigerated. To most people, there is a unique/different taste to goat’s milk, and it may take some getting used to. Like cow’s milk, it comes in whole and low-fat versions, but in direct comparison, goat’s milk has more calories and fat per cup: whole goat’s milk = 170 calories and 10 grams of fat in one cup.

    Soy Milk

    Dozens of types of soymilk are available. This milk is often used by people who can’t, don’t or won’t drink milk for various reasons. Since it is a plant food, vegans often choose this liquid as their milk substitute. People who can’t tolerate lactose (naturally occurring milk sugar) may also choose soymilk instead. If is difficult to list the calorie and fat content of soymilk since the companies have various types (regular and light) and many flavors from plain, vanilla and chocolate.

    Almond Milk, Cashew Milk, Coconut Milk

    Almond milk has been around for many years but has recently received more attention now that there are more flavors of vanilla, chocolate, and plain. Newer cashew milk is the same idea just with cashews instead of almonds. And newer coconut milk as another alternative. (Not to be confused with coconut water or the canned coconut milk with is REALLY thick and somewhat solid.)

    Take a look at the nut milk ingredients. They are pretty much just water and a handful of nuts. Really. There are some vitamins and minerals ADDED to the product, some flavoring so it doesn’t taste like nut flavored water, and some gums for thickeners so it doesn’t feel like nut flavored water. Seriously – that is what pretty much all of these are. Very, very small amount of nuts. So, the low calories of most of these kinds of milk are because it is pretty much flavored, thickened water.

    Most of the nut milk has 1 gram of protein or less. Depending what you are choosing it will have some fat, since they come from nuts. Any calcium in it is all added, and our ability to absorb it is pretty low. They have NO lactose and can add a lot of flavor to a smoothie.

    Other Plant Kinds of Milk – Oat Milk, Rice Milk, Pea Protein Milk

    As with the nut milk, the plant kinds of milk have little nutrition compared to animal milk. Some are just a water-based product after having been soaked in the grain (like oat and rice milk).

    Pea protein is a relatively new thing on the market and is being seen in lots of products targeted towards the vegan population or those wanting to cut back on animal sources. Again, take a look at ingredients of these alternative milk. They have oils added (not necessarily a bad thing), vitamins and minerals added (again not necessarily bad), and gums to help with the thickening of the product. Protein is nearly matched to the cow’s milk – but plant protein and animal protein are not equal. So, this is not comparing apples to apples, but apples to eggs.

    Other Cow’s Milk

    Sweetened condensed milk has a lot of added sugar. Usually used in baking or Vietnamese Coffee. It comes in whole, low-fat and fat-free versions, so the calories and fat vary. It is very high in calories.

    Evaporated milk is milk with half the water removed. Often used in baking, it substitutes for “regular” milk if needed. Just add an equal amount of water. Evaporate milk also comes in whole, low-fat and free-free versions now too, so it can lighten a recipe.

    Non-fat dry milk is powdered milk. You add water to the powder to get fat-free liquid milk. I often suggest the powder be used to increase calories in the diets of people who would like to gain weight since it has protein, calories, and no fat. Add it to soups, cereal, and beverages to boost health calories.

    Here is a way to get three kinds of milk in one: Tres Leches Cake or Three Milk Cake, believed to originate from Latin America, but many people love this dessert. This is a lightened version from Cooking Light, but it isn’t a low-calorie dessert. Enjoy!

    Seven Swan’s a Swimming,

    Six Geese a Laying,

    Five Golden Rings,

    Four Calling Birds,

    Three French Hens,

    Two Turtle Doves,

    and a Partridge in a Pear Tree.