Milk, mylks and their myths

So you've ordered that delicious, frothy and sweet latte. It tastes soooo nice, with a delicate texture. You love to sprinkle some chocolate powder on the top, perhaps some cinnamon if you're trying to be good. Suddenly, right after the third sip, your belly starts to make funny noises. You joke about it with the person next to you: 'Happy tummy'. Then you bloat a bit. Then a bit more. The you run to the loo.

It has happened again. You know milk is not exactly great for your tummy but you love your milky coffees so much that you can't avoid it. Same applies to your morning porridge and banana smoothies. Nothing tastes like milk. Actually, nothing can substitute milk, can it?

No and yes.

I am not going to convince you to stop drinking milk because of cows, the unquenchable dairy industry or tell you you're lactose intolerant just because you get bloated after drinking milk - perhaps you have soft cheese or yogurt every now and then and that is totally fine. I am also not going to tell you about how hard it is for a grown up to digest lactose (sugar) and casein (protein). I am not a doctor and I understand calcium is a big deal for your bones and that the nutritious protein found in milk is one of the most complete forms of amino acids for the human body.

However, there is something I need to tell you. I don't drink milk. I haven't been drinking it for nearly 7 years now. And if you love velvety drinks as much as I do but always get bloated or sick afterwards, perhaps you should see a doctor. Or think about exploring dairy-free milk alternatives and see the differences for yourself.

Let's talk about mylks. What are they? They are plant-based, dairy-free alternatives to cow's milk made out of nuts (almonds, cashews, macadamias, walnuts, hazelnuts and even Brazil nuts), cereal (oats, rice), seeds (hemp) or coconuts, just to name a few. In a nutshell, anything that has some good fatties in it and becomes smooth (and white) when blended with water.

As with everything that is on trend these days, you can find loads of options at the supermarket, from mainstream brands to more expensive and nish products. Tasty, healthy, organic, with added vitamins (think of B12 if you are 100% vegan) and minerals should be a good starting point. But watch out, some brands and products also have added sugars, salt and preservatives. And we don't want that in our tummies, do we? First tip? Learn to read the labels of what you eat. Then try different brands and see how you find it.

Here are my 3 top brands for milk alternatives

1. OATLY/ oatly.com

I love everything about them, from brand to products. I used to buy the organic mylk that only has oats, water and a bit of salt, literally. Now I also buy blue pack. It has a bit of rapeseed oil and added vitamins (D2, riboflavin and B12) which is not too bad if you're veggie like me. Not a vegan, yet.

2. BONSOY/ bonsoy.com

I have mixed feelings about soy. We've all heard about the baddie hormones. In case you have it, please go for the good quality, tasty type. Bonsoy milk looks decent and makes the best coffees when blended at the right temperature - the perks of once having worked has a barista at a posh coffee shop. Yum.

3. RUDE HEALTH/ rudehealth.com

Plenty of options here from organic to not so much, almond, coconut, cashew, you name it. It's a bit pricier than some other brands but you can find them at Sainsbury starting from £2 (London) or 3 euros in Lisbon - sorry. It's surely cheaper than seeing a doctor. These taste delicious in smoothies and porridges. Personally I really like the taste of the almond mylk.

4. ALPRO alpro.com

Tricky one, this one. When I stopped drinking milk I only knew about soya mylk and I drank it for a good few years. I was living in Africa and as you may imagine there were other priorities going on there. Then I moved to London and I discovered a whole new world of possibilities. I was also broke so I couldn't explore it too much but I was buying Alpo Almond mylk every now and then as a treat. Now I either do it myself or buy own label - more on that shorty. I know how starting a plant-based diet can feel overwhelming. And expensive.

5. Own Labels

Try Pingo Doce, Jumbo/Pão de Açucar and Aldi - maybe Lidle has its own but unfortunately I don't one near by. They are slightly cheaper, maybe less than 1,50 euros and you can get good three-ingredients options: nut, water and sea salt.

​​6. Other options you can get at Celeiro and Go Natural

Isola Bio e Provamel. I usually get products from these two brands. How do I choose it? Less ingredients and what's on offer - starting from 1,70 euros. That way I make sure I don't have the same blend all the time (um bocadinho de todos os males). Lately, I am addicted to the rice and coconut variant. It does great turmeric lattes - recipe on the previous post. YUM.

My advise? Learn to read the labels and see how your tummy behaves with some thickeners they may add to the formulation. Also be mindful with the added sugars. If you're like me and eat loads of fruits and veggies, you might not need all that extra sugars, specially added (vs natural occurring).

Oh, and last but not least, learn to make your own plant-based mylk. I promise it is much easier that what it looks, specially if you prepare oat milk. Super quick recipe: 1 cup of oats, 3 and 1/3 cups of water and sea salt - for extra sweetness, add 1 medjol date or vanilla powder. Blend till smooth - no need to strain, unless you really want. Store for 3/4 days in the fridge. Add to your smoothies and porridges.

I hope this helps and inspires you to find alternatives to what you are already doing. I know the Mediterranean diet is lovely but I also know that we don't have exactly the same lifestyle as our grandparents had, neither all cows eat grass these days.

Have a lovely week, my dears.

Namastebreve,

sara

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