Have you tried the new non-dairy milk on the block, oat milk? I have, and boy is it delicious. I can remember the days when the only non-dairy alternative was watery soy milk, or soy milk filled with added sugars. Then came almond milk, coconut milk, cashew milk, and now the shelves at the supermarket are teeming with alternatives like macadamia, hazelnut, hemp, blends, chocolate milk and more.
So what’s different and appealing about oat milk?
It tastes delicious without added sweeteners. Oats are naturally high in carbohydrates and thus oat milk tastes quite sweet on its own without any added sugar, which makes it really nice in a matcha latte (my favorite milk of choice), chia pudding, or anywhere where a bit of added sweetness is nice. I probably wouldn’t use it in savory recipes, soups, a cream sauce, etc. But I find if I use vanilla oat milk in a pudding, I can cut the added maple syrup or coconut sugar and if I’m out of vanilla, no worries! So if you do try to switch to oat milk in your coffee, you may be able to leave the sugar behind!
It’s high in fiber. Oat milk boasts more fiber than cow’s milk or soy milk. It also has zero grams of saturated fat and can help increase good cholesterol. Even though it is higher in carbohydrates than some alternative milks, the fiber helps balance that out by slowing digestion, decreasing glycemic load, and making you feel full longer.
It’s sustainable. Oat milk requires six times less water to grow and produce than almond milk, and has a relatively small carbon footprint. And growing practices for soybeans that become soy milk can also damage the environment through monoculture and deforestation, so while soy may be environmentally more friendly than beef for example, it still carries some concern. It’s important to look for oat milk that is grown without harmful pesticides or GMOs. Companies like Oatly and Pacific Foods offer great options.
It’s (mostly) allergen-free. For folks looking to avoid lactose, milk protein, dairy in general, nuts, and soy, oat milk is a fabulous alternative. If you are gluten-free or have celiac or gluten-intolerance, you want to be very careful that the oat milk you are getting is certified gluten-free. While oats themselves do not contain gluten, there may be cross-contamination in harvesting and processing practices that can present a problem if you are sensitive to gluten, as well as some in vitro cross-reactivity that may or may not be significant if you consume a small amount of oats (see link above).
You can also make it yourself. Unlike soy milk or coconut milk which isn’t that easy to make at home (almond milk or cashew milk is actually quite easy to make at home with a blender and mesh nut bag!), oat milk can be made at home cheaply and easily. Here’s a really simple recipe that only requires two ingredients: oats and water! I’ll have to make some and report back. My current favorite brand is Pacific Foods Vanilla but if I could find Oatly more easily, I would definitely buy it!
So, give oat milk a try and report back! I would love to hear what you think…