Trendy, Healthy + Cheap AF: Oat Milk

Alternative ‘milks’ have been dominating the dairy aisles for the past few years and are not stopping anytime soon. It is clear consumers are looking for ways to reduce their intake of animal-based dairy and integrate it into their daily routine - from milk, yogurt and ice cream. In fact, non-dairy dairy products now represent 13% of the global dairy market, compared to only 5% 3 years ago!

Obviously, almond milk has held the floor as the leader in the alternative milk space but in the past two years has had to fight for their spot on the shelf with the introduction of various nut milks, vegetable milks of course the new rising star… oat milk. (Personally, I love them all for various purposes but today we are exploring oat milk and how you can get it cheap AF. )

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Oat milk’s popularity seems to be powered by its likeness to dairy milk. It is creamier than nut based alternatives and has a more mild flavor profile, which makes it an easy transition for those trying alternative milks for the first time! In the next 6 months, you are going to start noticing oat milk and oat products pretty much everywhere. It is already in coffee shops and restaurants and that space will expand as the product will quickly move into ice cream, yogurts and more.

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Sooo what is oat milk? What are the benefits? How can you make it?

Oat milk is simply rolled oats blended with water and strained (same processes as a nut milk!). The creamy consistency comes from the oats themselves as they break down in the water. For example, when making hot oatmeal in the morning, adding water to dry oats takes only minutes for them to become thick and creamy… same thing happens when making oat milk! Since oats are easily broken down with water, oat milks tend to be higher in healthy carbohydrates, fiber (slightly), protein, and Vitamin B12. Oat milk is higher in calories than some nut milks available however that is a reflection of the quality of the milk. Some nut milks that promise 30 or less calories do not in fact have a high quantity of almonds present in the mix. Instead they rely on water, fillers and emulsifiers to create a delicious product for less calories. While, oat milks primarily contain oats!

That being said not all oat milks are created equal. In order to create a product that appeals to the masses alternative milk companies rely on emulsifiers, fillers, sweeteners and flavorings to boost their shelf appeal and oat milk is no different. So start reading ingredient labels, get familiar with the fillers you do not want to be consuming and look for brands with the least amount of ingredients. In addition to emulsifiers, many companies are adding fiber to their oat milks to increase their fiber quantities per serving (not harmful! But some dietary fibers can cause bloating and digestive problems. So be aware and test what works for your body!)

Now that I’ve scared you about fillers… I have good news. Oat milk is EXTREMELY easy to make at home and CHEAP AF. Oat milks on the market now can run you $4-$6 for a liter! Although I love the stuff in lattes and smoothies a price tag like that makes it a little difficult to swallow when other alternative options hover around $2-3 a liter.

So lets break down how easy it is to make….

Oat Milk

makes about 20 oz

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup Rolled Oats

  • 4 cups water (add more if a thinner milk is desired)

  • Flavorings are optional but I like: 1/2 tsp salt , vanilla, dates, cacao, hemp seeds, cinnamon, coconut flakes.

Instructions

  1. Soak oats for 10-20 minutes in water.

  2. Drain and rinse, add oats to a blender.

  3. Add in water (and flavors) and blend until smooth.

  4. Strain using a nut milk bag or cheese cloth. Squeeze out as much liquid as you can.

  5. That is it! Store your milk in the fridge for up to 5 days and pour it over everything.

  • Most importantly do not get nervous if your milk separates while in the fridge! Because we didn’t use any emulsifiers you will need to shake your milk before using!

Our oat milk costs us : $0.50 for 20 oz of milk! That is about a $3 savings for all natural oat milk.

  • 1 cup rolled oats $0.50

  • Water $0


If making oat and nut milks is something you are loving and looking for a more mess free method (aka no straining) I highly suggest the Almond Cow. It is a simple machine no bigger than an electric kettle that easily and quickly prepares alternative milks without the added hassle of straining. I just purchased one myself and I truly don’t think I will purchased prepared milk alternatives again.

The Fresh Challenge : Hemp

For this month's Fresh Challenge sit back, grab a spot on the couch and pack a bowl... of HEMP seeds! 

Hemp is a all around plant- based power house of nutrients that can be added to smoothies, salads, baked goods and well... just about anything! 

Protein Hit - Hemp hearts contain 10 grams of protein per 3 tablespoon serving. The protein found in hemp is a complete protein and easily digestible! 

Fiber Fire - Add more fire to your belly. These little seeds are full of fiber to aid your gut health and digestion. The standard diet is lacking in this nutrient as we chips in snacks instead of fruits and vegetables, but hemp can help swing the pendulum in a better direction. 

Omega-3 Good-Good - Protect your heart and improve your brain function with a daily dose of Omega- 3 fatty acids. Adding omega- 3's to your day helps reduce inflammation, reduce your risk of heart disease and lower cholesterol levels. 

The best part about this challenge? Hemp is easy to find anywhere these days from raw hemp hearts to milks you can take the challenge out of this Fresh Challenge. Just in case you need more direction when the munchies kick in, here are a few of my blazin picks. 

 

 

 

The Fresh Challenge : Maca

It’s that time of month again… to add something new to your diet and rev-up your healthy 2016. Just in time for Valentine’s Day we are showcasing Maca for its vitamin-packed, libido enhancing and energy boosting qualities.

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Maca is a root native to Peru, also known as “Peruvian Ginseng”. Maca is most commonly found as a powder in grocery stores and health food stores, making it an easy addition to your daily routine. It is important to buy organic maca powder to avoid fillers or imposters - my go-to brands are Sunfood, Navitas and Vega.

Now let’s talk about the benefits of Maca…

  1. It’s potent in vitamin B, C and E, calcium, zinc, iron and magnesium. All of which are essential minerals if you follow a plant-based diet.

  2. A natural love potion, maca has been found to increase libido and endurance, especially in men. While maintaining an even hormone balance and improving fertility in women.

  3. This superfood can improve energy and stamina levels throughout the day.

  4. It improves mental clarity and focus as it reduces mood imbalances such as depression, anxiety or mood swings.

  5. So long to PMS! Maca can reduce irritability, cramps and hot flashes caused by menstruation and menopause.

Added Bonus: The hormone balancing properties found in maca have shown a positive effect on reducing hormonal acne and improving skin tone! How about that for positive vibes?!

Need some ideas about how to incorporate maca into your day? From energy bars to smoothies to ice cream - there’s no shortage of ways to fit this into your daily diet. 

In the spirit of Valentine's Day I have an easy recipe that is perfect as a dessert to share or to show yourself a little love.

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Maca Dark Chocolate Bark:

12 oz dark chocolate       1/3 cup dried cherries

1 tbsp coconut oil            1/4 cup toasted coconut flakes

1 tbsp maca powder        1/4 cups cocoa nibs

1/2 cup toasted almonds, chopped    

1 tsp sea salt

  1. Over a double boiler melt 8 oz of the chocolate. < If using a microwave melt in 30 second increments, stirring between each until melted >

  2. Once melted, add in remaining chocolate, coconut oil and maca powder. Stir until fully melted and smooth. 

  3. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment or a silpat

  4. Pour the chocolate onto the prepared surface and spread into an even layer using a spatula. You want your bark about 1/4 inch thick. 

  5. Top with the dried cherries, almonds, coconut, cocoa nibs and salt to evenly cover the surface. Let on the counter to harden but if you just can't wait to take a bite, pop it in the fridge for 15- 20 minutes. 

  6. Once the chocolate has set, break it apart and enjoy! 

NOTE: Too much maca can add a slightly chalky taste to your food so take it easy. A little goes a long way with this superfood, only one tablespoon a day is recommended. IN FACT, it is important to build up your tolerance of Maca due to its potency. If you are new to the product start with ½  a teaspoon and work your way up to a full tablespoon over time.

 

Monthly Myth Buster

Welcome to The Fresh Slice’s Monthly Myth Buster series where each month we will highlight a food related myth that has been plaguing our plates and cook up an understandable solution to the problem. This is a place for you to finally get the truth about what you are eating.

What food questions do you want answered once and for all? Share with me in the comments below or submit your question HERE. Soon enough, you’ll see your question answered in a future Myth Bust post!

VEGAN MISCONCEPTIONS: Part 1

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I’ve heard it all… “I could never be vegan.” “How do you live without cheese?!” “NO animal protein, NO WAY!”

Trust me I get it, removing two large food groups from your diet is no easy feat. BUT it’s also not as painful, famishing, cult-like or tasteless as many assume. In fact, it’s quite the opposite, which is why I am here to expose the biggest vegan misconceptions.

 

#1. “All vegans are apart of an EXCLUSIVE environmental, animal- loving, hippie cult.”

Vegans get a bad rap for being environmental extremists who judge everyone who consumes meat. Although it is true we love the environment and animals (let’s be honest… who doesn’t?), there is not a vegan pledge of allegiance that forces us to shun and shame those who choose a different diet. People decide to become vegan for various reasons such as, health, allergies, intolerances, toxic imbalances or environmental concerns.

Let’s turn the table… have you ever been out to eat with family, friends or strangers and been questioned for an hour about your decision to order a turkey club sandwich or 20 oz steak? Well, ordering a salad without cheese or veggie burger will have your guests asking questions like; “where is your protein?,  aren’t you hungry?,  you know, not eating meat won’t stop the industry.” To be vegan should not be a political check box or a stereotype created to shame people for reading a nutrition label before purchasing a product. The vegan community is about creating and sharing delicious, health-supportive food that will benefit you as well as the environmental community around you.  

So drop your forks and eliminate the stereotype that all vegans are drinking the same (unrefined sugar-free) kool-aid. No judgment, just food and awareness.  


#2. “So you only eat salad?”

Bowls full of fresh greens, veggies and nut cheeses? I don’t see the problem but for those of you who can’t stand the thought of eating salads daily don’t worry, following a vegan diet doesn’t mean you need to trade in your slice of pizza and Chinese take out.

Stop focusing on what you CAN’T eat and focus on the what you CAN eat. Luckily, there are still four more food groups you can enjoy including grains, beans and legumes, fruits and vegetables. Due to the endless ways to cook and enjoy these basic food groups I am going to start from the beginning and offer suggestions for a typical day + my grocery picks when I need to get out of the kitchen.

Breakfast Options

Lunch Options

  • Vegetable Chili
  • Hummus and grilled vegetable sandwich
  • Vegetable sushi (Whole Foods Market and Trader Joe’s always have great options)
  • Bean burrito with guacamole (vegan burritos or burrito bowls at Chipotle are always delicious)

Dinner Options

  • Vegetable and tofu stir-fry
  • Spaghetti with tomato sauce ( Get more out of your pasta with Tolerant Foods bean based vegan, gluten free noodles)
  • Veggie burger with all the fixings (My go to patty choices? Hot Dang, Dr. Praegers) 

Dessert Options

Snack Options

 

Not drooling? Check out my Pinterest feed for more inspiration and try something new, you may surprise yourself.

Look out for next month’s Myth Buster, I’ll be diving into the misconception of protein in our diets and more.