School has started a couple of days ago and I am finally settling into my usual routine after the long summer holidays and all the traveling. It is morning, I just got home from dropping off the kids at school and finally I am having some ME TIME!! Listening to Swan Lake (every time I watch it I am amazed by the dance of the four little swans so I just had to share the link with you),
enjoying a huge delicious cup of almond latte I am doing my favorite thing- writing a post! Yesterday my friend Angie suggested to write about certain ingredients that I use everyday as part of our plant-based diet and that not everybody might be familiar with. What I use everyday and consider one the most basic ingredients in my kitchen is MILK.
In my very first post “Debunking Food Myths. Chapter One: Milk” I listed the major health disadvantages of cow’s milk and tried to debunk the myths about its health benefits. The bottom line is that cow’s milk can be considered liquid meat because of the similar composition of saturated fats, protein, growth hormones, antibiotic residues, residues of pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, other veterinary drugs, fertilizers, synthetic preservatives and additives. The consumption of cow’s milk is strongly associated with the development of cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer, osteoporosis (yes, that is not a typo), iron deficiency, diabetes and other chronic diseases (see my previous post with more details).
In this post, I would like to point out the positive aspects of plant-based milks. Clearly, the biggest plus is the lack of saturated fats and animal protein. The second big advantage is the amount of nutrients found in these milks (vitamins, minerals etc)
Today, a huge number of plant-based milks has flooded the marketplace in response to consumer demand. Whether for lactose intolerance or other health reasons, many people turn to these delicious nutritious dairy alternatives.
Each type of milk provides its unique texture and flavor. Here is a little overview:
ALMOND MILK has a silky consistency, a hint of natural sweetness and a slight nutty taste. I use it for pretty much anything. Ingredients: healthy unsaturated fats, “good” omega-3-fatty acids and “good” plant protein, magnesium, selenium, manganese and vitamin E.
RICE MILK is thinner and lower in protein and other nutrients. However, rice is the least allergenic food available, so this product works well for people with allergies or who simply prefer the taste and texture.
OAT MILK is grainier, but slightly thicker than rice milk. It provides some fabulous fiber. A surprising fact about oat milk is that it contains more calcium in one serving than regular cow’s milk. The net calcium balance was found to be positive with plant-based milks as compared to with dairy products (read more on “Debunking Food Myths. Chapter One: Milk“).
HEMP MILK offers some of hemp’s famous omega-3 fatty acids. Plus, it contains a bunch of vitamins like Vitamin A, D, E, B-12 and a number of essential minerals.
Regardless to your preference, select the unsweetened version to avoid sugars.
You might have noticed that I did not mention SOY MILK at all. Soybeans, even organically grown soybeans, naturally contain “antinutrients” such as saponins, soyatoxin, phytates, trypsin inhibitors, goitrogens and phytoestrogens that can cause serious health problems. Traditional fermentation destroys these antinutrients (fermented soy products are tempeh, miso or traditional soy sauce), which allows your body to enjoy soy’s nutritional benefits. However, most Westerners do not consume fermented soy, but rather unfermented soy, mostly in the form of soymilk, tofu, TVP, and soy infant formula. We therefore cut out soy milk from our diet and reduced our consumption of tofu. Contrary to what one might think, Asians only consume very small amounts of soy and it is typically the fermented type of soy. The only time I drink soy milk is when I order coffee at a cafe that does not serve any other milk alternative.
My suggestion is to try all of the different varieties of plant-based milks to find out which ones you and your family like best. Our daughter is a big fan of brown rice milk, our son loves almond milk, my husband is a macademia nut milk person and I prefer hemp or flax seed milk. For baking I tend to use almond or oat milk, to stir fries I add coconut milk. I find that in savory dishes brown rice milk works really well.
You might imagine now how my pantry looks like- filled to the brim with plant-based milks.
Hope you’ll be trying out some of these delicious dairy alternatives.