Healthy and tasty milk alternatives -

Got milk? Alternatives for the lactose intolerant

The most common food allergy affecting children in the U.S. is milk, and more than 50 million adults are lactose intolerant.

Instead of suffering through belly aches and bloating, more people are switching to milk substitutes.

The sale of non-milk alternatives have risen 17.5 percent, and they are quickly taking over shelf space at your local grocery store in the form of almond and soy bean milk, just to name a few.

We found some children to sample some of these products.

Seven-year-old Courtney Rick said, "It looks like peanut butter."

Every milk alternatives makes quite an impression as soon as someone swallows it.

Manufacturers can make milk from soy, almonds, rice, coconut, and hemp. Yes, that's right, the same plant that marijuana or "pot" comes from.

"They're making milk out of almost anything these days," says Healthy Lifestyle Coach Lisa Stimmer.

There's demand for milk alternatives because some people are unable to drink regular milk.

Soy milk is most similar to cow's milk as far as the protein count and consistency.

Aidan Crawford, however, didn't like the cup of soy milk we asked him to sample.

"It's worse than regular milk," Crawford said.

Soy can also have a few side effects. Some people are allergic and others, particularly men, are anxious over conflicting reports that soy milk may raise their estrogen levels.

If you're not sold on drinking soy milk, you do have an alternative with almond milk which is the lowest in calories.

It received high marks among our samplers until the little ones found out the source of what was in their cup came from a nut.

When we asked Courtney to taste it again, she shook her head no.

If you have allergies to nuts and are unable to drink almond milk, you could try rice milk.

The children who participated in our test liked the sweetness of rice milk, but the flavor of this cream was confusing.

"Tastes like strawberries," said Crawford.

Considering rice milk's higher sugar content and lower protein punch, it didn't win approval from the parents of our child testers.

On the other hand, the vanilla vapors coming off the coconut milk made it a family-wide favorite.

It's loaded with healthy fats and the only milk, once we revealed its source, that didn't make it suddenly seem "nasty" among our child testers.

The healthiest of our milk samples, according to our health expert, is hemp milk.

"People think, oh it's healthy--it must not taste good," Stimmer said.

Hemp milk has a stronger, almost wheat-like aftertaste. It is, after all, made from the marijuana plant.

"So, I'm failing a drug test at this point," asked Aidan's father, Dan Crawford.

We assured him that he couldn't get high on hemp milk because it is made from the seeds of the plant which don't contain the drug THC.

Instead, hemp milk is packed with Omega fatty acids, protein, as well as a hefty price tag. Our box of hemp milk cost more than $4 per quart.

Almond milk was the most affordable of all the alternatives we sampled, but at $2.68, its still a dollar or more per quart than milk.

While it may take a few days for your children to adjust to an alternative milk product, health experts say, with a little trial and error, you'll find an alternative they will like.

You can cook and bake with all of these milk alternatives, but just make sure you use an unsweetened variety.

While the taste may take some getting used to, if you can't deal with dairy, the switch may prove to be a lot more soothing on your stomach.

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