Christmas is a fun time of year, yet 2018 has been marked by serious food sustainability and climate change concerns. The world’s nations have finally reached an agreement at COP24. It is hard to make much of an impression as an individual. We are all urged to contribute by changing our diet away from beef and dairy products.
The British diet has changed dramatically in my lifetime. We are much more adventurous than we used to be. This blog is based on past experience of different milks due to a family history of dairy and soya allergies/intolerances. Christmas is often a time when you have to cater for family and friends on a wide variety of different diets.
A Matter of Taste
Rice milk is always rejected as watery. Coconut milk only really works for desserts. Lately, I’ve discovered three plant milks that I am happy to use on my own morning cereal. I prefer the fresh as opposed to the long-life versions. If you don’t like a particular plant milk, it is worth experimenting with alternative brands. Some have an aftertaste that others do not have. I always opt for the unsweetened as opposed to the sweetened versions.
My Top 3 Plant Milks
My top 2 are almond and hazelnut milk. They feel pretty interchangeable. Almond milk is normally found more readily in stores than hazelnut milk. Plant milks are not advised for young children, but they do have dietary and health advantages for adults. An allergy to peanuts does not presuppose an allergy to almonds or hazelnuts. Peanuts are legumes, whereas almonds and hazelnuts are tree nuts. Adults are more likely to be allergic to tree nuts than children according to the Anaphylaxis Campaign (via Venter and Arshad 2011).
Almond milk is made from roasted almonds with filtered water and fortified with calcium and vitamins B2, B12, D and E. Of our 3 plant milks, it has the lowest in calories. The mild taste is not immediately recognisable as that of almonds. The huge advantage is that it is lactose-free and therefore easy to digest. Approximately, 65% of the world’s population is lactose-intolerant after infancy. This percentage can rise to 90% in countries like India. The milk is naturally low in fat and good for those watching their cholesterol levels.
Almonds are the seeds of Prunus dulcis, the Almond Tree. The almonds in this particular brand are sourced from the Mediterranean. Spain is the world’s leading producer of almonds after the U.S.A.
Hazelnuts are the fruit of Corylus avellana, the Common Hazel. Hazelnut milk is made from hazelnuts with filtered water and fortified with calcium and vitamins B2, B12, D and E. It is naturally low in saturated fat and lactose-free.
Hazelnut milk froths more readily than almond milk. It has the more recognisably nutty taste. If you like the taste of hazelnuts generally that will not be an issue. It has the darkest colour. You can find recipes online to make your own hazelnut milk and flavoured smoothies.
Turkey is the world’s largest producer of hazelnuts followed by Italy. There is archaeological evidence of mass production of hazelnuts in Mesolithic times in Scotland. UK-sourced hazelnuts are therefore more likely as a future, sustainable food source than almonds.
Unsweetened Oat Milk
Oats come from the seeds of the cereal crop, Avena sativa, the Common Oat. Oat milk is a recent discovery in a local store. The unsweetened, fresh version seems to be very new to the supermarket shelves. It feels more creamy in the mouth, but remains quite sweet by contrast with the tree nut milks. The oat milk is a low-fat, high-fibre option fortified with calcium and vitamins B2, B12 and D. There is no mention of vitamin E (found in the almond and hazelnut milks). Again, oat milk is lactose-free. It is higher in calories than both the almond and hazelnut milks:
- Oat Milk: 100ml 166kJ 40 kCal
- Hazelnut Milk: 100ml 121kJ 29 kCal
- Almond Milk: 100ml 53 kJ 13 kCal
Oats are regularly recommended as a high-fibre breakfast to start the day by doctors and nutritionists. They have a low glycaemic index, meaning that they release their energy slowly. As a result, you are less likely to feel hungry before lunchtime and snack. Oats also help to lower cholesterol, prevent heart disease and boost serotonin levels.
Most people with coeliac disease can tolerate oats as they do not contain gluten according to Coeliac UK. They contain avenin instead, which unfortunately some coeliacs cannot tolerate either. The problem is sometimes contamination with gluten during the production process.
Adding almond or hazelnut milk to an oat cereal with a handful of fruit offers an ideal start to any day, leading to better health and weight loss. Do experiment with plant milks. They may leave a little room for a few Christmas and New Year indulgences.
© Karen Netto (Andrews)
These pages illustrate my love of plants, botany, biodiversity, gardens and creative expression. There is always so much to learn about plant diversity. I love sharing. This blog is a showcase for my own photography, commentary on plants and wildlife, gardens and other places visited, horticulture and related topics.
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