8 Plant Based Milks

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As promised, after sharing about how milk can make us feel bad, tonight I offer healthy alternatives to cow’s milk. For baking, for pouring over gluten free oatmeal, for drinking, these plant based milks deliver flavor and nutrients without the hormones, antibiotics and lactose.

And, as a bonus, I’ve included a simple to make DIY almond milk recipe.

8 Plant Based Milks

Almond Milk

This is the most popular plant based milk on the market and the easiest to find. Almond milk is made from almonds and water. It has a light, sweet, subtly nutty flavor and among plant based milks, has the lowest calorie count. Almonds contain healthy fats, important minerals and vitamins, including E. Purchase unsweetened almond milk and check labels for carrageenan. This additive causes an inflammatory response in some people.

Drink almond milk or use in coffee and tea, over cereal or oatmeal, in smoothies and for baking.

Almond milk is incredibly easy to make at home. See the DIY recipe at the end of the post.

Cashew Milk

Similar to almond milk, cashew milk is made from cashews and water. It has a rich, creamy texture and a sweet, slightly nutty taste. Cashews contain healthy fats, vitamins and minerals, including zinc. Purchase unsweetened cashew milk, or make your own at home. Unlike almond milk, it doesn’t even need to be strained after blending,

Use in smoothies, for baking or in coffee and tea.

Coconut Milk

In contrast to full fat coconut milk purchased in a can, and used in many Thai and curry recipes, this coconut milk is a diluted version. It’s made from the flesh of coconuts and water. The milk is very creamy with a sweet, subtle coconut flavor. Coconut milk contains healthy fats, minerals such as calcium and iron, and it’s rich with B vitamins. Look for unsweetened coconut milk.

This milk is great for drinking, using in coffee, tea and smoothies, and for baking.

Hemp Milk

Made from hemp seeds and water, hemp milk contains more protein than the nut milks and contains healthy omega-3s. It has a slightly sweet, nutty flavor with a very thin watery texture. Many compare the texture to skim milk, and some don’t care for the unique flavor.

Like almond milk, packaged hemp milk can contain carrageenan, so check labels. This product is not as readily available as other milks.

Use in place of skim milk in coffee and tea.

8 Plant Based Milks

Oat Milk

Relatively new to the market, oat milk is higher in calories and carbohydrates than the other plant based milks. It’s made from oats and water and has a mild, sweet flavor. Oat milk contains more protein than nut milks, and fiber along with important minerals and the B vitamins.

Look for unsweetened varieties, to cut down on calories.

Use oat milk in coffee, tea and smoothies, for baking and to top cereal and oatmeal. This newcomer is currently a very popular option in coffee shops.

Rice Milk

This milk, made from milled brown or white rice and water, has been around for a long time. Compared to plant based milks available now, rice milk doesn’t have the nutritional value that they do. However, rice milk is the least allergenic of all the milks. It is also very mild, taste wise, with a thin, watery texture.

Purchase rice milk unsweetened.

Use this milk in smoothies and for baking.

Quinoa Milk

Another newcomer, quinoa milk is made from this small, gluten free grain and water. Quinoa milk is high in protein and contains all nine of the essential amino acids. The milk has a slightly sweet taste with a distinctive quinoa flavor. However, it mixes well with coffee and tea.

This product can be difficult to find in grocery stores and it is more expensive than the other plant based milks.

Soy Milk

I hesitated in adding this milk. It has long been available, being one of the first plant based milk products on the market. Soy milk is made from soy beans (or soy protein isolate) and water and has a creamy texture and a mild flavor. It is high in proteins and can be substituted for cow’s milk in coffee and tea, for baking or for drinking.

The problem with soy milk is that most of the soy grown in the US is genetically modified so that it can be sprayed with the pesticide Round Up. Genetically modified foods, also called GMO foods, can cause inflammation and health issues. And the pesticide used on soy is passed on to those who drink the milk, creating many more health problems.

If using soy milk, look for an unsweetened, non GMO product.

8 Plant Based Milks

DIY Almond Milk

Almond milk can be made easily at home. I say that, and yet I have never made it before, until tonight. I found the process to be super simple.

Making almond milk actually starts a day or two before blending the ingredients, so keep that in mind. Find a strainer and cheesecloth by clicking these links.

DIY Almond Milk
Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

Almond Milk

Make your own almond milk easily, at home. 
Prep Time15 mins
Chill1 hr
Total Time15 mins
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Author: journeywithhealthyme

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 3 cups water bottled or filtered
  • 2 dates pitted
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Instructions

  • Cover raw almonds with cool water and soak for 24 - 48 hours. Drain and rinse.
  • Combine almonds, 3 cups of water, dates and vanilla in blender. Pulse 5 or 6 times, to break up almonds.
  • Blend on high speed for two minutes, until mixture becomes white and creamy.
  • Line strainer with cheesecloth and place in a bowl. Pour blended almond mixture into strainer and allow milk to drain through cheesecloth, into bowl. Gently squeeze cheesecloth, to extract all the liquid. Store for up to 2 days in refrigerator.

Notes

Vary amount of water, for thicker or thinner milk. Omit dates and vanilla if desired.

Other than remembering to start the soaking process one to two days beforehand, this recipe was so simple. I found it fascinating, actually, to see almonds transformed into a creamy, frothy drink.

I am not a milk drinker, although I occasionally use it for baking. However, I like trying new things. I sampled my freshly made almond milk, and I liked it. I did include the dates and vanilla, for a slightly sweeter taste. Tomorrow, after my almond milk as chilled overnight, I’ll try a small glassful.

Because it contains no preservatives, make small batches of almond milk and use up within two days. Cost wise, making plant based milks at home is not a savings over purchasing ready made milks at the store. For quality assurance, it can’t be beat. I know exactly what’s in this milk…and what’s not in it. I’m looking forward to baking with my homemade milk or adding a splash to a cup of hot herbal tea.

If you have a favorite plant based milk, or DIY milk recipe, I’d love to see it!

DIY Almond Milk

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Easy Hot Soups for Cold Days

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We’ve experienced days and days of cloudy, cold rainy weather here in the Midwest. Most of the ice and snow trekked north of my town. However, I’ve chosen to stay indoors nonetheless, cozy and snug. When cold days pile up, my favorite go to food is hot soup. I keep a pot of freshly made soup ready to reheat in the fridge. A hot bowl of soup warms me and nourishes me as well.

Enjoy these easy hot soups for cold days.

Easy Hot Sou[s for Cold Days

Homemade Vegetable Soup

This wonderful soup has been my mainstay the past week. Easy to make, this combination of veggies delivers an amazing blend of flavors and tons of health benefits. It’s so adaptable too. I call it my whatever I have on hand soup. This is a great way to use up the last few carrots in the fridge or half a can of peas. I can toss in whatever veggies and canned goods I want, double the recipe, or cut it in half.

Vegetable Soup

This richly flavored plant based soup is a great way to use up leftover veggies.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 12
Author: journeywithhealthyme

Ingredients

  • 1 yellow onion chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 celery stalks chopped
  • 3 carrots chopped
  • 4 small potatoes peeled & diced
  • 1 can corn non GMO drained
  • 1 can peas non GMO drained
  • 1 can green beans non GMO drained
  • 1 can lima beans non GMO drained
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups organic vegetable stock
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 2 tbsp olive oil or coconut oil

Instructions

  • In large soup pot, saute onion, garlic, celery and carrots in olive oil, until veggies are softened.
  • Add potatoes, vegetable stock, water, sea salt, black pepper and cumin. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes, or until potatoes are cooked through.
  • Add canned veggies and simmer a few more minutes. Makes 12 servings

Notes

Recipe may be cut in half. Any variety of veggies and canned goods may be used. Additional herbs/spices may be added to suit tastes.

I cook in a big soup pot, like this one, and store the soup in the refrigerator in the same container. This vegetable soup only gets better the next day…and the next…as the flavors continue to blend. Seriously, I can and do eat it every day. This week, when the veggie soup runs out, I create another batch. I vary the ingredients slightly, depending on what I have on hand. I enjoy ladling hot, comforting soup into easy to hold cups, like these classic soup mugs.

Homemade Veggie Soup

Links to More Easy Hot Soups

Here are more of my favorites, all easy to make and just as hearty and nourishing on cold winter days.

Dairy Free Potato Soup

Sweet Potato Black Bean Stew

Carrot Potato Soup

Chunky Red Lentil Stew

I’m always on the watch for a great soup recipe. If you have a favorite, please share in the comments below.

Soup really is Mmmm Mmmm good, especially when it is homemade!

Easy Hot Soups for Cold Days

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Is Milk Making You Feel Bad?

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The average American consumes a whopping 600 pounds of dairy products a year. And no wonder. Generations of children grow up, encouraged to drink their milk. We are taught that milk is good for us.

But…is it? Does milk do a body good?

There are signs and symptoms that indicate whether a dairy, or lactose, intolerance exists. Additionally, there is more to be aware of, whether there is an intolerance or not.

Check out these reasons why cow’s milk can be a health concern.

Is Milk Making You Feel Bad?

Milk Lactose

Lactose is a type of sugar found in the milk of most mammals. The enzyme lactase functions by breaking down lactose. Children usually fare well with milk, although dairy sensitivities seem to be occurring at earlier ages.

However, by adulthood 70% of the population no longer produces enough lactase to properly digest the lactose in milk. Symptoms of lactose intolerance begin to appear, ranging from mild to severe.

Is Milk Making You Feel Bad?

Common Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance

Digestive Disorders – Digestive distress is the most common sign that the body is not tolerating milk. Symptoms include stomach pain and bloating, diarrhea, increased gas, indigestion and, more rarely, constipation.

Digestive problems, due to lactose intolerance, are often material for jokes. (Think of the character Leonard, on Big Bang Theory!) However, the discomfort is no laughing matter.

Abdominal pain and bloating occur when the lactose, that cannot be broken down by lactase, ferments in the gut. As it ferments, the lactose produces fatty acids and gases, creating a host of problems. Those fatty acids increase the amount of water in the gut, which can cause diarrhea.

Other Symptoms – While digestive disorders are the most well known signs of lactose intolerance, dairy can contribute to other health issues as well. These include headaches, fatigue, loss of concentration, muscle and joint pain, mouth ulcers, eczema and an increase in mucus production and/or a thickening of mucus, causing congestion.

How do you know if milk is making you feel bad?

Typically milk related symptoms begin 30 minutes to 2 hours after drinking or eating food with dairy in it. As with testing for gluten intolerance, it helps to keep a daily food diary and note when symptoms occur, to see if there is a connection.

Try removing all dairy products from the diet for at least 10 days, and see if health improves while symptoms abate. It can take 10 to 21 days to eliminate cow milk protein from the body and experience changes. Give it some time.

Is Milk Making You Feel Bad?

Other Dairy Concerns

The symptoms of lactose intolerance are unpleasant. However, there are greater concerns connected with consuming dairy products.

Cow’s milk contains the hormones estrogen and progesterone, which are necessary to keep the cows lactating. These increase the risk of hormone dependent diseases such as ovarian, uterine, breast, testicular and prostate cancers. Casein, the main protein in milk, actually facilitates the growth of cancer.

In addition to hormones, milk contains pathogens such as Salmonella, Listeria and E. coli, pesticides and antibiotics. The high level of antibiotics in cows contributes to antibiotic resistance in humans. Because cows are fed GMO corn and soy, and gluten, those health busters are passed on to people, in the milk. These in turn create heightened allergic responses to allergens.

The fat in milk is hard on the liver, bogging down its functioning, while putting stress on the pancreas. Those who consume dairy products are more likely to develop Type 1 Diabetes and Multiple Sclerosis. That dairy fat feeds inflammation throughout the body, and it is a favorite food source for viruses and bacteria living there. When trying to heal from any major illness or chronic disease, eliminating dairy helps the body to recover.

Cow’s Milk is for Cow Babies

All female mammals, including humans, produce milk for their babies. Each mammal produces a specific milk that is perfectly created for their offspring. It is designed to help the babies grow. Human milk is for human babies. And cow’s milk is for calves, which grow at a more rapid rate than humans.

No other species continues to consume milk past the weaning period, and certainly not from other species, except for humans. It is something to think about, in the quest for better health and well being.

Fortunately, for those who love their dairy products, there are healthy, plant based alternatives.

Watch for my blog post next week, comparing plant based milks that available.

Is Milk Making You Feel Bad?

Check out my Amazon Storefront for herbal tea blends to drink.

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Vegan Blueberry Banana Bread

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I dearly love my afternoon tea time. Therefore, I’m always excited to find and try a new recipe for a healthy treat that can accompany my hot tea. This easy Vegan Blueberry Banana recipe, adapted slightly from one by Anthony William, is perfect.

This beautiful loaf is free from gluten, refined sugar, eggs and diary products.

Vegan Blueberry Banana Bread

Vegan Blueberry Banana Bread

I used gluten free oat flour combined with arrowroot starch, to help hold the loaf together after it cooled. See this guide about other gluten free flours and starches.

Any unsweetened non-dairy milk is acceptable. I like the combo of almond and coconut. Leave off the walnuts if you are watching fats.

Vegan Blueberry Banana Bread

Healthy version of a classic favorite, with the added benefits and taste of wild blueberries.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Cooling30 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Vegan Blueberry Banana Bread
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 cups gluten free oat flour
  • 1/2 cup arrowroot starch
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp aluminum free baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup frozen wild blueberries
  • chopped walnuts, for topping optional

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9x5 loaf pan with parchment paper.
  • Mash bananas in a bowl with fork or potato masher. Add maple syrup, coconut sugar, vanilla extract and almond coconut milk. Mix well.
  • In a separate bowl, combine oat flour, arrowroot starch, sea salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Add wet ingredients and stir gently, until ingredients form a batter. Add frozen blueberries and fold in very gently, stirring just until mixed in.
  • Pour batter into loaf pan. Top with walnuts, if desired, and bake in oven for 40 minutes. Then turn off oven and leave blueberry banana bread in oven for another 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely, on a rack, before slicing.  Serves 4.

Vegan Blueberry Banana BreadUse a potato masher to easily mash up ripe bananas.

Vegan Blueberry Banana BreadReady to bake. I LOVE using parchment paper and line all baking pans and cookie sheets with it. Try this one from If You Care. This parchment baking paper is unbleached, compostable and totally chlorine free.

Vegan Blueberry Banana BreadIsn’t that a gorgeous loaf? It smelled so wonderful as it cooled.

The two main ingredients in the Vegan Blueberry Banana Bread have important health benefits.

Wild Blueberries

These berries contain powerful antioxidants. According to Liver Rescue there’s not just one pigment inside a wild blueberry, there are dozens of pigments. The wild blueberry is to the liver as mother’s milk is to a baby. The pigments in wild blueberries have the ability to penetrate deep into liver cells and cross cell walls and membranes inside the liver, spreading their blue everywhere. Wild blueberries also enhance the intestinal tract, feeding good bacteria there, which benefits the liver greatly.

Bananas

Did you know that the fructose in bananas is the liver’s favorite source of food? It provides quick fuel to the liver and wakes up sleepy cells, increasing their ingenuity and work output. Bananas soothe the lining of the intestinal tract and also calm the nerves attached to the intestinal tract. This fruit is one of the most antibacterial, anti-yeast, antifungal foods available. It’s a great food to combine with other nutrient-rich foods or to take with supplements, because they improve the liver’s ability to absorb nutrients. (from Liver Rescue

Perfect Afternoon Tea

This Vegan Blueberry Banana Bread is great as a breakfast bread or works well as a light after dinner dessert.

I paired a slice with a cup of hot spearmint tea, for the perfect afternoon break. The texture is light and the bread tastes slightly sweet, loaded with bananas and wild blueberries. I topped this first loaf with walnuts. Those can be omitted, if desired.

This recipe definitely goes onto my “make again…often” list. Is tomorrow too soon, to pop another loaf into the oven?

Vegan Blueberry Banana Bread

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