I haven’t found it difficult to give up milk. There are so many alternatives out there (soya, cashew, almond, coconut…), it really isn’t hard. None of them taste exactly like cows milk, but most taste pretty good. They don’t behave exactly like cows milk either, so I’m learning which kinds work best for different uses.
The drawback with these plant-based milks is that they can be a bit pricey, often up to 50% more than the dairy equivalent. That said, I did spot soya and almond varieties in Aldi which seemed really good value. However, I’ve discovered that making your own plant milk is easy. If you’re using nuts you probably won’t see any savings, but oats are really cheap. The other advantage of oat milk (for me at least) is that it has lower food miles than coconuts, soya or nuts.
The only ingredients I used were oats, water and a tiny bit of vanilla essence. From 100g of oats I got nearly a litre of milk. The oats were £1.10 for 1kg at Tesco, meaning my 1 litre of oat milk cost about 11p.
How to make it
Easy. I took 100g oats and soaked them for half an hour. Longer might have been better, but it still worked. I then drained the water off and rinsed them a bit. I put them in a blender and added 750ml of water and about 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla essence. I blended it on high power for about a minute.
After that I poured it through a sieve several times to remove the coarsest bits of grist. Finally I put it through a nut milk bag to get it as smooth as possible. It was still a bit thick so I added some more water to get it to the right consistency.
It looks really good (ya know, like milk!). I like the flavour too. It’s not the same as cow’s milk, but it does have a pleasant creamy flavour. I had some in my coffee this morning and it worked really nicely, and I imagine it would be good on cereal.
The drawback of course is that its a bit of a hassle to make. Not a massive hassle (it probably only took me 20 minutes once the oats had soaked) but enough of a hassle to mean this will probably be something I make from time-to-time rather than every week. But who can argue with the price? – 11p!!!!
As you might expect, the nutrition is quite different to that of cow’s milk. Given that we’re making it from a carbohydrate-rich food, the oat milk is higher in calories. However, only a tiny proportion of the carbohydrate comes from sugar. The energy we’re going to get from a serving of oat milk on our cereal at breakfast time is going to provide just the slow-release energy needed to keep us going during the morning. It also has more protein than cows milk (“BUT WHERE WILL YOU GET YOUR PROTEIN!?!?!!?”), and provides a source of fibre. The front of the packet says it contains a source of beta-glucans which can help lower cholesterol. I don’t really know what beta-glucans are, but it sounds like they are a good thing! Just like home-made oat milk.