Plant Mylks

I am a huge fan of nut mylk and seed mylk! And yes, I do like to spell it differently because I know the Dairy Council likes to keep the MILK for themselves. So, Imagine my excitement when I was served almond mylk with my granola cereal at the resort (which is delicious by the way). Unsweetened Almond Breeze is a wonderful milk alternative with only 40 calories per 8oz. serving and no added sugar. The vanilla flavor provides just the right touch of sweetness.

When I started my plant mylk journey, I started with soymilk on my cereal and in smoothies at home, but then became experimental with hemp, oat, hazelnut, almond, and rice varieties. For a great reference, Emily posted a link to an article back in 2009 in her post titled, “Milk Variety” (click the link), that shows the differences between these alternatives and how they rate as far as calories, fat and other nutrients.

Plant mylks have the following nutritional benefits:

  • no saturated fat
  • cholesterol-free
  • usually less in calorie content (oat and hemp may be exceptions)
  • many commercial varieties have vitamins and minerals added such as calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B-12, riboflavin
  • oat milk, in particular, is high in fiber since the whole grain is used
  • more variety than cow’s milk

Plant mylk can be used in the following ways:

  • enjoy a stand-alone glass; consider topping w/ cinnamon and/or nutmeg to make it like a “nog”
  • topping for cereal
  • creamer in coffee
  • creamy base for smoothies
  • creamy base for soups
  • creamy base for sauce

Important note: while these products are popular with many adults and children, none should be used to replace breast milk or infant formulas. They are not suitable for use by infants as a main food since they do not resemble breast milk or infant formula in composition.

Once the commercial varieties ran out, I started to experiment at home by making my own using my high power Health Master blender (most blenders are able to handle the nuts and seeds so a special blender is not needed). I had so much fun with these recipes, I’d like to share a few in case you get the itch to experiment as well! One word of caution, if you are relying on plant mylk as a source of calcium, vitamin D, or vitamin B12 which are often added to the commercial varieties, please note that the homemade version will not contain the same amounts as the store-bought brand and you will need to find other food sources to obtain those nutrients.

Making Plant Milks at Home

Basic Tools:

  • blender
  • strainer e.g. nut milk bag, layers of cheesecloth, t-shirt, wire mesh sieve

Basic Formula:

  • soak nuts/seeds for 1 to 2 hours up to overnight – harder nuts and nuts with skins e.g. almonds require longer soak times; discard soak water
  • adjust ratio of fresh water to soaked nuts/seeds to your desired level of creaminess
  • use the sweetener of your choice: e.g. honey, dates, maple syrup
  • add additional flavors as you like: vanilla, chocolate/cacao/carob, strawberry, banana, peanut butter, etc.
  • keep mylk refrigerated and shake before serving

Almond or Walnut Mylk
Makes 6 servings

5 cups filtered water
1 cup soaked raw almonds
3 tablespoons honey or sweetener of choice
1+1/2 tablespoons vanilla flavor
¼ teaspoon salt, preferably sea salt

Combine the water and almonds in a blender, and process until smooth (approx. 2 minutes). Strain, and set aside pulp for another recipe. Rinse out blender jar and pour mylk back into it. Add the remaining ingredients, and process until smooth and creamy.

Nutrition per serving (8 fl. oz): Homemade varieties are hard to calculate nutritional value due to straining the almond pulp, but most commercially bought brands average 70 calories, 2.5g fat and 2g protein.

Beautifying Pumpkin Mylk
Source: Ani’s Raw Food Kitchen by Ani Phyo

½ cup pumpkin seeds
½ cup pitted dates
½ vanilla bean or ½ tablespoon vanilla extract
pinch sea salt
5 cups water

Put the pumpkin seeds, dates ,vanilla bean, salt, and water in blender and blend until smooth. Will keep for four days in the fridge.

Nutrition per serving (8 fl. oz): 80 calories, 5g fat, 1g saturated fat, 1.5mg sodium, 7g carbohydrate, 1.5g fiber, 4.5g sugar, 3g protein

Rice Mylk

Yield: 3 to 4 servings
¼ cup uncooked brown rice
4 cups water
Optional: ½ teaspoon vanilla extract and/or sweetener, to taste

In a large pot, combine rice and water. Bring to a boil, cover, and turn to low heat. Simmer for one hour. Let cool for a few minutes, and pour into a blender. Blend for about one minute or until smooth, adding optional vanilla and sweetener if desired, then strain.

Nutrition per serving (8 fl. oz): Homemade varieties are hard to calculate nutritional value due to straining the rice pulp, but commercial varieties average around 120 calories, 2g fat and 0.5g protein.

What is your favorite milk alternative?
Krista L. Haynes, R.D.