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Many people are choosing non-dairy milks like soy, almond and coconut milk these days either because they are sensitive to dairy products or they are concerned about the effect of industrial dairy production on the health of cows and the environment.
But not all non-dairy milks are healthy or sustainable.
Problems with non-dairy alternatives to milk include:
- Some are made with GMO ingredients or industrial monocultures (especially soy milk);
- Some require vast, unsustainable quantities of water and generate tons of waste to produce. (almond milk, rice milk);
- Some are shipped from fragile, tropical ecosystems thousands of miles away (coconut milk);
- Some are sorely lacking in taste, nutrition and cooking function (rice milk);
- Most contain questionable or unhealthy additives like sugar, carrageenan and guar gum.
But there is a non-dairy milk that tastes phenomenal, uses 6 times less water than almond milk, is affordable to produce, and can actually improve incomes for small and mid-size farmers: Oat milk.
What is Oat Milk?
Oat milk has been used for decades in Europe, but is just now becoming popular in other parts of the world. It’s very simple to make, costing just pennies compared to homemade almond or coconut milk.
Oat milk is also better for you than most non-dairy milk alternatives. Oats contain 10 minerals and 15 vitamins as well as a good amount of calcium and iron. Just make sure you soak your oats before using them to remove the phytic acid they contain so it doesn’t keep those minerals from being properly absorbed by your body.
Oat milk is nut-free, dairy-free, soy-free, gluten-free (as long as the oats are processed in a certified gluten-free facility), and vegan, so it fits most people’s dietary restrictions. It also has an alkaline creaminess that makes it arguably the best-tasting non-dairy creamer available.
Here’s how to make homemade oat milk.
- Cover oats with 2 inches of purified water and soak for at least 30 minutes, or up to 12 hours. (Longer soaking helps remove the phytic acid that inhibits proper digestion, but it does make the oats harder to rinse and a bit slimey.)
- After soaking, drain and rinse the oats well. You want to rinse the oats thoroughly so that your oat milk is not gooey like oatmeal. Discard or compost the rinse water.
- Put soaked, rinsed, drained oats into a blender, add 3 cups of purified water, sea salt, and spices or sweetener, if using. Blend for about 10 seconds, unless you are using dates as a sweetener. If using dates, blend for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until dates are fully incorporated.
- Strain out pulp in a cheesecloth or nut milk bag. Add more purified water to the strained oat milk, as needed. Use excess pulp as fiber for smoothies or to make muffins, cookies, pancakes or other treats.
- Store in a jar in the refrigerator and use within 3-5 days. Shake well before using.