By Eve Persak MS RD CNSC CSSD
Dairy doesn’t agree with your sensitive system?
Prefer your palate ‘sans animals’?
Just like a bit of variety on the beverage shelf of your refrigerator?
A shift from milk (from cow, goat or another mammal) to mylk (from nuts, seeds, beans or grains) might make better sense for you. However, if you hope to get the most from your creamy beverage, you might consider MYOM (making-your-own-mylk) as your next moooo-ve (sorry we had to). Prepping homemade from your kitchen – rather than relying on store-bought – offers incomparable advantages – for your body, your wallet, and the planet.
WHY HOMEMADE IS BETTER
A blast from your home blender leaves a much smaller carbon footprint than the manufacturing, packaging, and shipping of processed varieties.
Likewise, whether full-time or part-time, plant-based options also alleviate the pressure on our natural resources (fresh water and soil) and the workload for our milk-producing four-legged friends.
Storing your homemade mylk in a reusable jars or bottles also reduces waste from UHT, cardboard or plastic containers or the energy required to recycle them.
Convenience is usually a main motivator behind premade purchases. The manufacturers do the work, so we don’t have to. Much like a fee-for-service arrangement, you might not mind the idea of paying more to save your own valuable time with set-up, prep, and clean-up. However, companies inflate their price tags to offset their expenses on pretty packaging, branding, manpower – as well as a hefty profit margin. On the contrary, a basic homemade mylk might cost as much as a handful of nuts, a glass or two of water and a few extra minutes.
The fewer the steps between Mother Nature and your mouth, the more nutritious your beverage is likely to be. Many of the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory plant sterols, phytochemicals, and micronutrients in nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes are fragile. With light, heat, oxygen and time, they degrade. Blanching, heat pasteurization, high-pressure processing and just spent en route to the market and sitting in storage can reduce the concentration and potency of the nutrients that make it into your cup.
When you MYOM, the ingredient list is under your control. Even if the stabilizers, preservatives, or flavorings listed on the label are deemed ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ (a best case scenario), you didn’t decide to include them and they may not match the freshness or quality of the additions lining your pantry shelves.
With customization, your creativity is your own limitation – and XPT doesn’t really believe in limits. So, go big. Homemade allows you to build the recipe that suits your nutrition priorities or your palate. The combinations are endless. Use a different nut or seed for each batch or mix them together. Play with spices that are both flavorful and therapeutic. Add a nature-made (rather than refined) sweetener and add just enough to hit the ‘sweet spot’ without over-doing it.
HOW TO DO IT BEST
To get you started, here are a handful of tips and reminders…
All you really need is a blender. However a strainer and re-usable storage containers can be helpful, too. We’ll describe in detail below.
Choose your ‘base’ ingredient(s), such as:
Seeds – sunflower, pumpkin, hemp, flax.
Grains – whole oats, quinoa, rice (brown, red, black)
Note: To keep enzymes and antioxidants intact, opt for raw rather than roasted or baked.
Choose your flavoring: vanilla, raw cacao, cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, clove, nutmeg, chili pepper, sea salt
Choose a natural sweetener (optional): raw maple syrup, raw Manuka honey, lucuma powder, dried fruit (dates, pineapple)
Soaking – overnight or just a few hours – will soften your base ingredient. This shortens blending time, helps release the nutrients, and yields a creamier finished product.
The amount of time required to evenly blend will depend on your base ingredient. To get a smooth consistency high speeds and longer mixing may be required. Be sure to clean well after ever use – removing and scrubbing all parts (blades, lid, and exterior). Allow to air dry completely before re-assembling.
Depending on your base ingredient and your thickness-preference, this step can be optional. Some nuts and seeds (when soaked) have a smooth finish without straining. Legumes, grains and certain nuts and seeds – like almond or hemp – have skins or rougher textures that produce a granular mouth-feel if left unstrained. Nut milk strainers are sold in many health food stores, but a nylon stocking can also do the trick. You can also reserve the strained fibers (which offer digestive amongst other benefits – and add to smoothies, porridge or baked goods.
Most mylks in the refrigerator for up to 48-72 hours. To ensure freshness, store in air-tight glass jars with as little space at the top as possible. Seal tightly. Refrigerate immediately after preparing and keep frig temperature settings below 100 degrees F (or 40 degrees C).