Product Review: Trader Joe’s Whole Grain Drink Non-Dairy Milk

I’ve been debating whether or not to cover this item. It’s not like there aren’t already a whole lot of gluten-free milk options in the world! At the same time, there are a lot of people who can’t (or won’t) drink cow’s milk, and who might be allergic to soy milk. This leaves some less-than-exciting options like rice milk, hemp milk, or making your own almond milk. This milk has millet, amaranth, and quinoa, which is interesting. When we first saw this item, we thought that it sounded like a good idea, and we decided to give a try.

Here are the ingredients for the unsweetened variety:

Filtered Water, Organic Brown Rice, Organic Inulin, Organic Expeller Pressed Canola and/or Organic Expeller Pressed Safflower Oil, Organic Tapioca Starch, Sea Salt, Organic Vanilla Extract, Vitamin Mineral Pre-Mix (Tricalcium Phosphate, Vitamin A Palmitate, Ergocalciferol [Vitamin D2], Cyanocobalamin [Vitamin B12]), Soy Lecithin, Natural Flavor, Carrageenan, Organic Amaranth, Organic Millet, Organic Quinoa.

And here is the sweetened variety:

Filtered Water, Organic Brown Rice, Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Organic Inulin, Organic Expeller Pressed Canola and/or Organic Expeller Pressed Safflower Oil, Organic Brown Rice Syrup Solids, Sea Salt, Organic Vanilla Extract, Vitamin Mineral Pre-Mix (Tricalcium Phosphate, Vitamin A Palmitate, Ergocalciferol [Vitamin D2], Cyanocobalamin [Vitamin B12]), Soy Lecithin, Natural Flavor, Carrageenan, Organic Amaranth, Organic Millet, Organic Quinoa.

The main difference between the two is that the sweetened one has evaporated cane juice and brown rice syrup solids. The unsweetened has tapioca starch. Those of you who are used to reading ingredients will be struck by two things: 1) The presence of amaranth, millet, and quinoa at the very bottom of the list means that they don’t really make up any real part of the milk and are more there as flavors at best. And 2) What the heck is inulin?

Inulin is a food additive that has been gaining popularity. It’s a naturally-occurring fiber that tastes sweet, but that isn’t digested. There are a lot of health claims about inulin, mostly having to do with stomach bacteria. Because we can’t digest the stuff, our stomach bacteria does it instead. Some say this is good. Others aren’t so excited. The Wikipedia page on inulin has good information on it, as does this page – Inulin: Friend or Foe? I don’t know enough about this stuff to be an expert, but I’m one of those people who distrust artificial sweeteners. At the same time, inulin is naturally occurring and can be found in onions, garlic, Jerusalem artichokes, agave, and a number of other plants.

As you can see from the photo, the milk has that more watery sort of consistency that rice milk has. By now you’re probably all wondering how the milk tastes. I thought it was OK. When you look at the ingredients, you see that it’s basically fortified rice milk with a bunch of stuff thrown in and a strange indigestible sweetener. Those of you who are used to unsweetened non-dairy milks will find that both versions are rather sweet. I’m thinking that this is because of the inulin. In fact, I bought a carton of both and although I didn’t exactly perform a taste test on them, I remember thinking that I would have trouble telling which one is which by gauging the sweetness.

What it tastes the most like, to me, is millet. If you enjoy that nutty-corny taste that millet has, you might like this milk. It certainly doesn’t taste bad, and as I mentioned at the beginning of the article, it does offer a bit more variety in the non-dairy milk category. I wish that I felt strongly one way or the other, but instead I was left with the impression that some people might like it. I didn’t really like it enough to switch from my usual milk of choice.

I would love to hear from anybody out there who gave this milk a try. And also, what you think of inulin, if anybody out there has a strong opinion, let us know what you think in the comments!

Comments

  1. says

    I live on Almond Breeze almond milk. Comes in a carton. They have it at Freddies. It tastes great – we get the unsweetened original and it’s better on cereal than anything else I’ve tried. It’s even good in a glass with cookies.

    Ingredients: Purified water, almonds, tapioca starch, calcium carbonate, sea salt, potassium citrate, carageenan, soy lecithin, natural flavor, vitamin A palmitate, vitamin D, natural vitamin E.

  2. katie says

    I used to drink only almond milk and this is also what I gave my son. Then I discovered TJ’s whole grain milk. I LOVE it. He loves it. I drink it straight from the carton when i am thirsty but as a former whole milk (cow) addict, I find it satisfies my milk craving (for instance, with a cookie). It takes a few boxes to acclimate, but once you do, you will dig it. I get only the unsweetened. I don’t like sweetened milks in any form.
    One thing: I have always wondered how much of amaranth and millet and quinoa there actually is bc as stated above, these ingredients are listed last. In fact, this question is what drove me to the internet in the frist place. I am hopin the nutritional benefits of this beverage are high considering how much we drink. Not sure of this.

  3. SIRAJ MUHAMMAD FUNTUA, DEPT. OF FOOD SCIENCE & TECH., FEDERAL POLYTECHNIC, PMB 1012, ZAMFARA STATE, NIGERIA. says

    I like taken soy milk, but i still prefers dairy milk, because i am not lactose intolerant.However, my best non-dairy milk are Coconut and Tiger nut milk products.

  4. George says

    I tasted both at Trader Joes. Not very good, in my humble opinion. Whether it is sunflower, canola or safflower oil, none of them are good for you despite the Omega 6 claims. Both of these milks and all rice milk formulas have a lot of it.

    Pacific Foods Oat Milk is much better for you.

  5. Theresa says

    I just discovered this and bought a carton of the sweetened variety. It tastes fine, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to get it based on taste. Soy milk is just as good.
    I bought it because I thought it would have some health benefit, and was a bit aggravated when I read the ingredient list. Is oil really necessary? Couldn’t they have put more of the advertised ingredients in? *sigh*.

  6. katie says

    I have been considering getting off of dairy and moving to something else, but really don’t like soy or rice milk. I saw this grain drink and decided to give it a try. I don’t think I will drink it straight, but did enjoy it on cereal this morning. The biggest disappointment was the fact that it has no significant protein in it. That surprised me as quinoa tends to be protein rich…which solidifies the claim that it is there more for flavor rather than nutritional benefit. I will continue searching for other non-dairy alternatives, but will use this in cereal for now.

  7. Dora says

    I just bought the TJ’s Whole Grain drink because it has amaranth, millet and quinoa. BUT I did notice those three ingredients were last. I like soy milk and I do find the whole grain milk on the watery side, but not bad. It’s good in coffee, haven’t tried it in cereal yet. What do you think about the amount of carbs?

  8. Robin says

    It is a Bummer that this product has Soy Lethicin in it!!!! Because Soy allergic people are going to be attacked to this product. Too bad they did not use sunflower Lethicin

  9. Angie says

    I tried this product (the sweetened one) and i just so happen to love it. Im not sure why others haven’t been to excited about it. I drink it by itself because i love that grain after taste flavor, and its great in cereal :) I plan to buy it often.

  10. Lane says

    I just tried TJ’s original (sweetened) whole grain drink today over cereal and fresh apricots. Although I do prefer its taste to rice milk, I too am disappointed by the lack of nutrients. On the positive side, I think that any of the varieties (sweetened, unsweetened or vanilla) would make a wonderful milk substitute when baking.
    Dave, what do you think/what have you heard about hemp milk? I have a carton in my fridge and will probably try some after I finish off the whole grain.

    • Sienna says

      Lane, I drink hemp milk all the time! I get the unsweetened plain Tempt brand. It was a bit of an acquired taste at first but I’ve really come to like it. And if I’m using it on cereal and feel like it needs a little sweetener, I sprinkle a tsp or less of date sugar on top and that does the trick. Hemp milk has twice as much protein as carbs, unlike most other non-dairy milks. And to my knowledge, allergic reactions to hemp products are extremely rare, unlike soy. Definitely give it a try. :) -Sienna

  11. Lois says

    Hemp milk can’t be used in coffee because it separates in heated items and sticks to the side of the cup. Grain milk is great tasting and I love it in coffee or cereal. Unfortunately for those of us who like the grain milk, Trader’s is discontinuing both hemp and grain milks.

    • Diane says

      Joel – I so agree – I cannot drink any of the other choices (except hemp milk which I find too rich for me) and REALLY LOVED this product. Any ideas where else whole grain milk could be obtained?

  12. Lyn says

    Hi, I really loved this milk. The taste was just great. Then TJ took it off the shelf. When I asked about the Whole Grain Milk, their reply was “it is discontinued”.

  13. John says

    I got strung out on this, and They dicontinued it, as usual…I liked only the Unsweetened variety…It was watery, but I got used to it and I think it was good for me, in comparison to alternatives. Everything else has way too many calories…I used this stuff with breakfast cereal and it worked…For DRINKING, I use Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Original Unsweetened, but now they’re jacking the price up on that. Where can I get this Trader Joe’s stuff now?…Is it available under another name?

    • Sienna says

      John, I looked around on the web a little when it was discontinued and couldn’t find anything like it. But you’d think someone has got to come out with something like it soon! It seems like there are so many non-dairy milk alternatives out there and a “whole grain” one seems like such an obvious alternative! Dave and I personally like Tempt’s Unsweetened Hemp Milk. Low calorie, low carb. Takes a little getting used to but now we’re hooked. :)

  14. Sun says

    With recent unfavorable news on arsenic in brown rice, what kind of information can we get regarding arsenic in this product? How do we find out if this product is high in arsenic?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *