Plant-Based Milks

Brazil Nut Milk

A favourite plant-based milk of mine is Brazil nut milk. This is an incredibly creamy milk. Unlike many of the other kinds of plant-based milk, you can’t get Brazil nut milk commercially.

To make homemade Brazil nut milk soak one cup of raw Brazil nuts for around three hours and blend them in a high-powered blender like a Vitamix with 3 – 4 cups of filtered water. The amount of water you use depends on how rich you like the milk.

If you want this extra smooth, then strain it using a nut milk bag. Again don’t throw away the Brazil nut pulp as you can use this in raw dessert recipes.  Alternatively just enjoy it with a little more texture.

Oat Milk

Oats are naturally gluten-free. However, there are often processed in places that handle wheat. As a result, they can be susceptible to cross contamination.

If you are living with Celiac disease or have an intolerance to gluten, then always ensure you are purchasing gluten-free oats. These will ensure no cross contamination has occurred.  

Oat milk is a naturally sweet alternative to dairy. After soya milk it is probably one of the most common dairy free milks available. Oat milk is growing in popularity, and certainly where I live most of the supermarkets sell oat milk as an alternative to dairy or goat’s milk. 

It has a blander flavour than the likes of coconut milk and has a thick consistency. It is high in carbohydrates, so I typically opt for nut-based milks over rice or oat milk. 

However, if you have an intolerance to nuts, then it’s certainly a great option.

Coconut Milk

When following my recipes whenever I recommend coconut milk, I am probably referring to the coconut milk which you get in cartons. This is more watery and sweeter than concentrated coconut cream or coconut milk you get in cans.

I tend to use the cartoned milk as a substitute for dairy milk in porridge, smoothies, raw milkshakes and some desserts. However, for stews, curries, ice creams, risotto and more savoury dishes, Iuse either tinned coconut or concentrated coconut cream. If the recipe calls for this, I will specify. Otherwise, I want you to assume I mean the cartoned version.

In the West, we can purchase concentrated coconut cream and coconut milk in tins. Coconut cream just contains less added water. Usually, these contain thickening agents and stabilisers which is why it is important to read the label before buying. I always look for those with 100% pure coconut cream. Simply give it a good shake before using.

Hazelnut Milk

One of the best things about making hazelnut milk is that combined with a little cacao it can make the delicious chocolate flavoured milk.

All you need to do is add soaked hazelnuts to a high-powered blender with filtered water, cacao powder and blitz. Start with 2 cups of water to 1 cup of hazelnuts nuts and slowly add more to reach the desired consistency. 

It so rich and creamy it can transform raw desserts, smoothies and puddings.

Soy Milk

One of the most popular dairy milk substitutes is soy milk. It is one of the best milk for replicating the consistency of dairy milk. I prefer to use hemp milk as many people are intolerant to soy.

Nowadays soy milk is widely available in the shops. They are typically made from soy, oil, water and sweeteners. It is essential you read the labels as not all brands of soy milk are created equal. You will find that many of them are not gluten-free as they contain barley malt. Some will contain polyunsaturated oil which is less than ideal, and the sugar content can vary dramatically. They can also use genetically modified soy beans so always go for organic soy milk which is free from genetically modified ingredients and additional sweeteners, stabilisers and additives.

The main problem with soy milk is that it is made from non-fermented soy. This means it is packed with enzyme inhibitors and anti-nutrients which wreak havoc on our digestive systems. Soya also typically has higher levels of phytic acid than other legumes. This affects your body’s ability to absorb essential nutrients like calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc.

Cashew Nut Milk

Cashew nut milk is rich, delicious and creamy. Again like Brazil nut milk you can’t get cashew nut milk commercially so you need to make it yourself.

If you are using a high-powered blender like a Vitamix, you won’t need to strain it. To make homemade cashew nut milk begin by soaking 1 cup of cashews overnight in filtered water with a pinch of Celtic sea salt at room temperature.

The following morning rinse them thoroughly. Then add them to a blender with 3-4 cups of filtered water and blitz. At this stage, you can either strain your milk using a nut milk bag or just enjoy it as is.

Rice Milk

If you are allergic or intolerant to nuts, dairy and soy then rice milk is a great alternative. Most supermarkets and health foods shops stock rice milk. However, they are almost always fortified with calcium and vitamin D.

This may sound like a good thing, but it often means they have been processed in a way that eliminates many of the nutrients. They also contain carrageenan, polyunsaturated vegetable oils and sweeteners such as rice syrup, barley malt or evaporated cane juice.  When combined with the high carbohydrate and the low protein value of rice it can seriously mess with your blood sugar levels.

I don’t use rice milk very often but if you have intolerances to nuts, soya and dairy it would be a good option. For the best quality milk, I recommend making your own from soaked brown rice. This will be more digestible as it will be free from enzyme inhibitors, using brown rice and avoiding all the unnecessary extras mean it will also have a higher nutrient value and be more digestible.  A better option, however, would be hemp milk.

Hemp Milk

Hemp milk has a lovely creamy consistency. It is also simple to make. All you need to do is combine hemp seeds and filtered water in a high-powered blender.

If you want this extra smooth, then strain it using a nut milk bag. Alternatively just enjoy it as it to get a maximum nutritional benefit.

If you would rather buy your hemp milk than make your own look for those which are organic and free from additives and preservatives. Avoid those using carrageenan as a thickening agent.

The Food Psychologist
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