If you’ve strolled through the dairy aisle of your local market in the last few years, you’ve probably noticed that most of the bottles and cartons are actually dairy replacements. The embrace of plant-based alternatives has gone beyond just vegans and the lactose intolerant, with all kinds of people appreciating the health benefits and longer shelf-life of dairy replacements.
While it’s easy to see why so many are making the switch to a plant-based beverage, it’s trickier to choose among the seemingly endless options available. You could go with a dairy alternative you recognize from your local coffee shop or pick the one that just sounds the best, but you need to take a closer look at the label and actually sample the beverage to make an informed decision.
Lucky for you, we’ve already done an exhaustive search, which ended the moment we tried Mariani Walnutmilk. Sure, it’s not the most famous plant-based beverage—well, not yet—but there are a variety of reasons why it’s become our new favorite dairy alternative.
First, we should get a little more specific about what we mean by walnut milk. We’re particularly excited by the one made by Mariani. It was the first walnut milk to market, arriving in refrigerated dairy cases in 2018, but Mariani’s experience with walnuts goes back much further, starting more than 50 years ago when they planted their first walnut orchard in the Sacramento Valley.
Today they continue to exclusively use walnuts grown in California by family-owned farms, which guarantees that Mariani Walnutmilk continues to be free of any genetically modified or artificial ingredients, in addition to being gluten, dairy and soy-free. Even as the demand for walnut milk spikes, Mariani is maintaining its grower-to-glass connection.
Sourcing the highest quality walnuts also ensures that Mariani Walnutmilk has an unrivaled taste and texture. The smooth, creamy quality of walnut milk might make you assume that it’s heavier than the bottles and cartons surrounding it in the dairy case, but it only has 45 calories per eight ounce serving, which is less than half of what you’ll find in one percent dairy milk. It also includes zero to four grams of sugar per serving. The exact amount of sugar depends on the flavor, but regardless of whether you choose sweetened, unsweetened or vanilla, you can be sure you’ll be getting less sugar than you would from most other dairy alternatives.
What’s inside every glass of Mariani Walnutmilk, however, is even more important than what it’s missing. A serving comes packed with 450mg of calcium, in addition to being a great source of Vitamins A, D and E. Plus, you can still enjoy all the health benefits that have earned walnuts their reputation as a superfood. Among nuts, walnuts have the highest amount of alpha-linolenic acid or ALA, a plant-based essential omega-3 fatty acid that contributes to cardiovascular health by lowering cholesterol, reducing high blood pressure and acting as an anti-inflammatory. Those health benefits don’t go anywhere when you enjoy walnuts in beverage form.
Drinking it straight isn’t the only way to enjoy the health benefits of Mariani Walnutmilk. You can pour it on your favorite cereal or into your morning coffee, and it’s versatile enough to elevate many other recipes. For instance, you can blend it with bananas and frozen strawberries to make an irresistibly creamy smoothie. If you want to get even more wild, you can use it when making macaroni and cheese to add some nutrition to the indulgent dish.
We’re far from finished exploring all the ways to experience Mariani Walnutmilk, but we’ve tried enough to know it’s going to be a staple in our fridge for a long time. If you’re looking to develop more of a plant-based diet, or simply want milk that offers more nutritional benefits and fewer calories and sugar, you should really give it a chance. It might just become your new favorite dairy alternative.