A couple of years ago, I gave up dairy milk. Cold turkey. I had never thought much about milk and always assumed that it was healthy, full of calcium, good for your bones, etc., etc. After all, I did grow up with the powerful marketing funded by the cow’s milk cartel. However, the more I read about nutrition and food and farming, the more convinced I became that cow’s milk—especially conventionally produced milk—is not as healthy as I had previously believed. I know that for every argument against milk, you could probably find a counter argument in favor of milk, and that, ultimately, people have to choose their own path. I don’t judge people who drink milk, and I don’t freak out if my kids use half and half in their oatmeal while traveling—heck, I use half and half in my coffee when traveling.
For most things—cereal, cooking, baking—I use almond milk. I also use vanilla soy milk in smoothies. It seems that non-dairy milk has become ubiquitous in major grocery stores; there are lots of options. However, my general suspicion (paranoia) of Big Ag and food processing makes me question whether these non-dairy milks are that much better than cow’s milk. Have you ever looked at the ingredients? Carrageenan? I don’t know what that is, but it doesn’t sound good. Maltodextrin? Yeah, anything with “dex” in it usually means corn, and corn has been turned into all sorts of questionable additives. Tricalcium phosphate?
I’ve really got to stop reading labels.
Since I’m a food blog junkie, I’ve seen numerous posts on making your own non-dairy milk from simple ingredients. Last week I decided to give milk making a try. I started with brown rice milk. It took two hours and tasted absolutely horrendous. This week, I’ve had much more success with cashew oat milk. It takes about two minutes in the Vitamix once you’ve soaked the cashews. It doesn’t have to be squeezed through a nut milk bag. Just saying “nut milk bag” makes me feel insane. You can sweeten it to your liking with things like dates, agave syrup, maple syrup, honey, plain white sugar, whatever. Even with added sweetener, I’m sure it has a much lower sugar content than the vanilla soy milk that my kids love. It’s cheap. It’s easy.
But, what does it taste like? It’s definitely not as perfectly smooth as store bought non-dairy milk. You can taste a distinct cashew flavor. It’s thick and rich (thick enough to use as coffee creamer). Will your kids go for it in cereal? I’m not sure. I’ve seen lots of recipes that suggest adding cinnamon to homemade blended milks, but I think the milk is more versatile if you leave the flavor neutral. I made my first batch with cinnamon and loved it in coffee and certain smoothies, but I wouldn’t use it in soups. I’m still experimenting, but I’m pretty happy with this non-dairy milk concoction:
Cashew Oat Milk
- 1-1/2 cups raw cashews, soaked in water overnight
- 1/2 cup quick cooking steel cut oats, soaked in water for 1 hour (I’m sure you could also use plain rolled oats—I just didn’t have any at the time)
- 7 cups of filtered water
- 4 medjool dates
- 3 tablespoons agave syrup
Begin by rinsing the cashews well and draining. Rinse and drain the oats. Add the cashews, oats, dates and agave syrup to a super-powered blender. Pour in 4 cups of water and blend until smooth. You now have really thick milk. Pour this into a container and stir in three more cups of water. The finished milk has a similar thickness/consistency to whole dairy milk. Store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Shake before using, as the milk has no stabilizers and will separate. Let yourself be amazed that you have produced milk without going through all the hassle of giving birth to a child.