More and more people are deciding to give up dairy products. There are plenty of reasons to do so, ranging from milk allergies and lactose intolerance to ethical principles.
There are even choices about what to call milk that doesn't come from cows - or any other animal. The Food and Drug Administration defines milk as having come from cows, and the dairy industry industry says using "milk" for nondairy products is misleading to the public and harmful to industry.
They, and others, advocate for spelling nondairy milk with a "y," as in "mylk." Legislative action is pending, but for now, most nondairy products use the traditional "milk" spellling, so for the purposes of this article, we'll do that as well.
There are some wonderful alternative milks to replace dairy. My favorites are coconut milk and almond milk. I am also beginning to make individual servings of hempseed milk for use on cereal in the morning.
Other choices you may want to try are oat, cashew and soy milk.
Although coconut water has become very popular as a sports drink to replenish electrolytes, coconut milk is not coconut water. Coconut water is the clear liquid that develops naturally inside the coconut. True coconut milk is a manufactured product made from the flesh of the coconut. It is prepared by mixing water with grated coconut, squeezing and extracting the pulp, leaving only the liquid. Coconut milk contains between 17 and 24 percent fat.
The water that fills the cavity inside the coconut is colorless but slightly cloudy and sweet tasting. Coconut milk, on the other hand, is pure white, resembling cow’s milk, and is not sweet unless sugar is added. It is a good source of nutrients including magnesium, iron and potassium. Coconut milk also contains lauric acid, a rare medium-chain fatty acid that is easily absorbed by the body and used for energy.
Canned coconut milk is available in many grocery and health food stores and can be used as a replacement for cow’s milk in a wide variety of dishes.
You can drink it by the glass as well as use it in recipes in place of dairy. I have recommended coconut milk in many of the recipes I have shared in this column. It is an easy replacement for dairy and has a similar consistency.
When buying coconut milk, look for pure, organic milk, which is commonly sold in a can.
Almond milk is a mixture of finely ground almonds and water. It has anti-inflammatory properties and is the only nut that is not acidic and is easy to digest. Buy plain, organic almond milk.
If you are not avoiding grains, Oat milk is also a good alternative. Since oats are high in fiber, this milk alternative fills you up quickly. It is thick and creamy like coconut milk.
Sometimes oats are included on the “beware of gluten” list. They are often contaminated by grains that have gluten during storage or processing, and contain another protein called avenin. This protein can induce symptoms similar to those caused by gluten intolerance. People with gluten sensitivity should be cautious when choosing oat milk.
Soy milk is a popular replacement for dairy. This milk substitute is also a good source of protein and essential fatty acids. Nevertheless, soy milk faces plenty of criticism. It contains isoflavones, which have a chemical structure similar to that of the hormone estrogen, which our body produces. As a result, drinking soy milk can influence the effect of estrogen in our body – in both a positive and negative way. Don’t overdo it with this milk alternative, and never give soy products to infants or toddlers without consulting a physician.
Making homemade milk alternatives eliminates the unnecessary additives, sweeteners, thickeners, and preservatives that are often in boxed or refrigerated store brands. Remember to always read the list of ingredients before you purchase milk alternatives.
Homemade always wins!
The three simple recipes in today’s article make it easy to have fresh alternative milk in a few minutes.
The Green Curry Jackfruit recipe is one of my favorites using coconut milk. Native Forest SIMPLE brand is a full fat coconut milk with no guar gum. Guar gum is a stabilizer and thickener used in most coconut milk. Thrive online market carries this brand. (thrivemarket.com)
Green Curry Jackfruit
Recipe by Chef Elaina Love
The jackfruit, also known as jack tree, is a species of tree in the fig, mulberry, and breadfruit family. Its origin is the region between the Western Ghats of Southern India and the rainforests of Malaysia. The jackfruit is a multiple fruit composed of hundreds of individual flowers, and the fleshy petals of the unripe fruit are eaten. The immature fruit (unripe, commercially labeled as young jackfruit) has a mild taste and meat like texture that lends itself to being a meat-substitute for vegetarians and vegans. Buy organic and canned for quality and easiest use.
Recipe services 4
1 can young green jackfruit
1 can full fat coconut milk
½ cup water or veggie broth
1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil
½ onion, diced
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 zucchini, cut in quarter moons
1 head broccoli or romanesco, chopped
2 cups crimini or shitake mushrooms, cut in half
1 small jar green curry paste (Note: look for Thai Kitchen Green Curry. If using the entire bottle with the recipe as indicated, it will be a strong curry flavor. I normally use 1/3 of the bottle, which will yield a milder flavor.)
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon coconut aminos
1 teaspoon mineral salt or to taste
6-8 fresh mint leaves, chopped and stirred in at the end
1 cup snow peas, trimmed
Open jackfruit, drain, and break up pieces with your hands until you have bite size shredded pieces.
Heat 1 tablespoon coconut oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion and saute for 5 minutes.
Add the remaining ingredients, except snow peas and simmer for another 10-15 minutes, covered, or until sauce is thick and veggies are ready.
Toss in snow peas at the end and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
Garnish with cilantro and mint as desired.
Notes: Top with avocado chunks to add more texture and good fat.
Recipe from "Eat Fat, Get Thin" by Dr. Mark Hyman
Yields 1 quart
1 can full-fat coconut milk
2 ¼ cups filtered water
Place the coconut milk and water in a glass container with a tight fitting lid. Shake or stir until well blended.
Refrigerate and use within 4 to 5 days.
Recipe from "Eat Fat, Get Thin" by Dr. Mark Hyman
Yield: 1 ¼ quarts (unstrained) Prep: Overnight for soaking, plus 2 minutes to blend
1 cup raw almonds
4 cups filtered water, plus water for soaking
Soak the almonds overnight to soften them, making them easier to blend into milk. Soaking also unlocks nutrients, making them easier to absorb and digest.
Place the almonds in a glass container overnight and add enough filtered water to cover the almonds by about 2 inches. Cover and refrigerate overnight or about 12 hours.
Drain almonds and rinse. Plalce almonds and 4 cups of filtered water in a blender. Begin blending on low, slowly increasing the speed to high. Continue to blend on high speed for 60 to 90 seconds.
For smoother, finer almond milk, pour the pureed milk through a nut-milk bag (found at most natural food and health stores or online) into a large bowl or back into a clean container.
Squeeze the bag to get as much milk from the almond pulp as possible.
Cover and refrigerate the milk and use within 3 days. Stir well or shake before using.
Recipe by Elaina Love
Yields 3 cups
1 cup hulled hemp seeds (hemp hearts)
2-3 cups filtered water
Place the filtered water and hemp seeds in a blender.
Blend on low for 30 seconds.
Pour into a glass jar. There is no need for straining with hemp seeds.
Use within 3 days. Shake well in jar before using each time.