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. 

 

 

 

Recap: Natural Expo West

The Natural Products Expo West is officially over, which means 3 days of samples, amazing product launches and mindful brands have come together to share their take on how consumers should nourish their bodies. As I promised I scoured through the exposition floors in order to seek out the upcoming trends that you need to know. Take a minute and explore my take on the top 8 trends for 2016. 

1. Sustainability

Sustainability has been a buzz word among many industries for the past 5 years as consumers become increasingly aware of our impact on the environment and how to improve. Similarly in the food industry, many restaurants increased their focus on sourcing local, organic ingredients and utilizing every aspect of the ingredient. As a natural progression, food manufacturers are taking note and looking for ways to use every part of their ingredients in order to eliminate waste. 

Kimchi companies such as, Farmhouse Cultures, and Not Your Mother's Kimchi have taken their classic fermented products and created a sustainable new way of offering the same probiotic benefits in a drinkable form. They have bottled the excess probiotic-rich fermenting liquid so that you can drink your way to gut health with one simple shot. 

The sustainable transformations didn’t stop there, Forager Project, traditionally a pressed juice company launched 4 flavors of vegetable tortilla chips. You may be thinking, ‘vegetable chips aren’t new’ but Foragers’ method for utilizing their ingredients stole the show. They have created each of their 4 flavors from the excess vegetable pulp that is created during the cold-pressing process. By utilizing the pulp they have transformed their waste into a delicious, crunchy and nutritious snack. 

2. Algae

No longer scum of the sea, algae is making a debut as a nutritious superfood that adds an earthy, savory flavor to many products hitting the market. Spirulina and chlorella seem to be the buzz worthy algae for manufacturers due to their milder taste and vibrant color. These algae are packed with vitamins, minerals and protein that are easily absorbed by your body. Not only do they work to nourish our bodies they also aid the detoxing process by improving gut health and vitamin absorption. From protein bars, tortilla chips, popcorn and chocolate bars algae brings a new twist to snacking your way to health. 

Find out more about algea such as spirulina and take part in The Fresh Challenge!

3. Spice is still King

Last year companies rolled out exotic spices and flavors to pump up the heat in their products and this year was no different. As the sriracha obsession continues to grow and our curiosity with all things painfully delicious, spice continues to be the focus of natural food companies. From jalepeno, habanero and sriracha EVERYTHING, I hope you have a glass of milk handy (non-dairy of course) because things are about to get hot in here. 

4. Gut Health

From probiotics, prebiotics and fermented food and drinks its all about the gut. Due to decades of consuming highly processed and nutritionally impaired foods the health of the micro biome in our gut has diminished, increasing dietary inflammations, sickness and poor absorption of nutrients. Thankfully natural food companies have taken note and found various ways to add live cultures and healthy bacteria back into our diet. 

Kimchi and sauerkraut still have their moment in the spotlight at this years show, companies such as Wildbrine and Farmhouse Cultures are serving up new flavor combinations and ‘gut’ shots from the fermenting liquid. 

Kombucha is the new pressed juice… walking down the aisles of the expo it was impossible to miss a kombucha company that was launching new flavors or a new formula. As a huge kombucha fan (I kind of live on the stuff) it was exciting yet overwhelming. With so many options how are you supposed to pick the best kombucha brand?! I think for now you have to go with your gut [ ;) ]. The smells and flavor of kombucha can be off putting for some, so switch it up and try different brands to see which one fits your palate. Health-Aid and GT’s are my go to’s all of their flavors are delicious and they have really improved my gut health.

Suja Juice is getting on the probiotic bandwagon with the launch of their new probiotic waters in 4 light and refreshing flavors. Each flavor is made of a blend of vegan probiotic cultures and cold-pressed fruits each flavor was delicious but Ginger Lime gets my vote for best pick. 

Now we have all heard of probiotics in fermented kimchi, kombucha and supplements but I know the sour, feet-smelling can be hard to get on board with.  But don’t worry, YumButter is mixing up the gut health scene with an approachable almond butter protein + probiotic blend. The almond butter is delicious, easy to spread and contains 10g of protein per severing! It is the perfect way to sneak probiotics into your day without the, “you’ll get used to it,” encouragement. 

5. The Super Take-over

For those that know me, you know I’m all about superfoods… pretty obsessed. But apparently I’m not the only one, manufacturers are putting superfoods in just about everything! From power bars, crackers, popcorn, chocolate and beverages, ‘superfood’ was the buzz word of the Natural Expo this year. Now what is a superfood?! It is any whole food that is naturally nutrient dense aka it packs a big nutrient punch in a little package. Adding superfoods to everyday meals or snacks is a simple way to increase your daily vitamin, mineral, protein or omega-3 fix and companies like Larabar, Natives, Activate Living Foods, MamaChia and Hemp Hearts are taking note. Although they are all amazing, the superstars this year were chia seeds, hemp seed, goji berries, maca root, cocao, turmeric and ginger. Not only will these products fill your nutrient voids, they also taste too good to be true. So, get ready for the newest superheros on the block because they are here to stay. 

6. Got (non-dairy) Milk?

Milk is a huge part of our life, whether we believe it or not. Cereal, pastries, cheese, ice cream, coffee, yogurt, sauces, frozen yogurt, batters, butter… ok you get it, without even blinking an eye you easily have 2 servings of dairy at every meal! However, with the overwhelming consumer shift towards sustainable, ethical and nutritional foods there is a need to find a better alternative. Almond milk has been on the rise, gaining popularity for its delicious flavor and ease of conversion as a milk substitute. But this year the focus was on expanding the non-dairy craze with macadamia nuts, hemp, flax, coconut and veggie milk. From the classic drinkable milk to yogurts and frozen desserts non-dairy is the move with companies such as Califia Farms, Milkadamia, Go Veggie Milk, Vixen KitchenNadaMoo and The New Barn you can’t go wrong.

7. Return of the Familiar

Last year exotic flavors and spices from around the world were the push for consumers to expand their spice drawers and become ‘foodies’. But this year the pendulum is starting to swing back to more familiar mediterranean flavors of lemon, rosemary and truffle (but don’t worry there is still plenty of spice to go around!) and I am not complaining. These flavors are bright and comforting and easily paired with your other favorite products. You can see this trend in mixed nuts, popcorn, crackers, chips and protein bars. Rediscover the familiar like never before. 

 

 

 

8. Alternative Proteins

Similar to the non-dairy transformation, sustainable, ethical and nutrition focused consumers have created a shift for meat-less proteins. But I am not talking about faux-meats this time. Crickets are getting the more exposure than the days of Jimmy Cricket’s debut. That’s right. CRICKETS. Cultures around the world have been eating these crunchy protein packed bugs for centuries and it’s our turn test it out. Crickets are an inexpensive and sustainable source of protein containing 65% protein, more iron than spinach and minimal water requirements, crickets may be the food of the future. But don’t freak out… companies like Exo and Bitty Food’s are bringing you the benefits in an approachable way through chips, bars and protein powders. Close your eyes and take a bite, your tastebuds may surprise you.