La La Leche: Which Milk is Best?

Which Milk is Best?
Me in the milk aisle, terribly confused by all the choices

Do you remember when your only milk options were red cap (whole milk) or blue (low-fat)? Ah yes, the good ole’ days. Well times have changed.  Now you are faced with hundreds of decisions when choosing something as simple as milk: dairy-free? lactose-free? sugar-free? nut-free? organic? It’s easy to see how all of these options could leave your mind spinning. Upon talking with some of my very smart friends I realized there is a lot of milk confusion out there and I am here to help clear it up.

Cow Milk. Humans have been drinking cow milk for over 7,000  years. Cow milk is very nutrient-dense providing 8 grams of protein, 33% of the daily value of calcium, vitamins A and D (Added), fat, and carbohydrates. For years, cow milk was our only choice and we didn’t question it. However, in recent years there have been growing concerns over drinking cow milk.  What about the hormones? Do I need to buy organic? How do they remove the lactose?

milk

If you are concerned about added hormones or antibiotics you should consider buying organic milk. In order to be certified organic the cow must be fed an organic diet which excludes antibiotics and bovine growth hormone (BGH or rBST). BGH allows the cow to produce more milk faster (making the farmer happy; the cow, probably not happy). However, it is worth noting that ALL milk (organic and conventional) is tested for any detectable levels of antibiotics and is thrown out if found to be positive. Additionally, one common concern such as pre-mature puberty in girls has never been linked to milk consumption.

Lactaid milk has the milk sugar lactose already broken down so it is easier to digest. This is a really simple process that is achieved by adding the enzyme lactase to milk. Babies have the enzyme lactase which does this for them, but many children and adults lose this enzyme as they get older and will become lactose intolerant. If you are lactose intolerant Lactaid milk is a good option. Or you can choose from one of the many non-dairy milks discussed below.

One last note on cow milk. Pasteurization is a good thing. Pasteurization is simply the process of heating milk (or any food/liquid) to kill 99% of the bacteria. If you live on a farm and want to drink raw milk, go for it. For the 99% of us that don’t live on farms you will be far safer drinking pasteurized milk. And no, pasteurization does not kill the healthy nutrients in your milk.

Whew, that was ALOT.  Next up – Almond Milk.

Almond Milk

Almond Milk. Almond milk is a good alternative if you want a plant-based source of calcium. It’s great for smoothies, pancakes, coffee-creamer etc. However, it is not nutritionally equivalent to cow milk. Almond milk is low in protein, calories (depending if you get original or sweetened), and fat. If you are looking to reduce your calorie intake this might be the best choice for you. If you are looking to fatten up your children it may not be the best option. Recently, there was an incident where a toddler developed scurvy (vitamin C deficiency) from being given almond milk instead of breast milk or formula. He was given almond milk from the time he was 2 months old (when babies really depend on the fat and protein in milk). Almond milk is not nutritionally complete, please do not give it to infants as their sole source of nutrition!

Another consideration with almond milk is carageenan. Carageenan is a really scary word to some people (thanks for the fear mongering, Food Babe). Carageenan is a polysaccharide (a type of carbohydrate) that is extracted from seaweed. There are two types of carrageenan, degraded carrageenan and undegraded. In 2001 one study showed that rats fed degraded carrageenan developed ulcers and intestinal damage. However, it is important to keep in mind that undegraded carrageenan is used in our food supply (not the type tested in this study). Undegraded carageenan has been used as a thickener and stabilizer in food since the 1930’s and it is approved as safe by the FDA and the World Health Organization.

If you are still questioning the safety of carrageenan, I have great news! Many nut milks have removed it from their product. Both Silk and Almond Breeze are no longer using carrageenan. Yep, go check the ingredient list on your almond milk, I bet you won’t find carrageenan (actually I’m only making this claim for the U.S., for my Canadian and Aussie readers I’m not promising you anything). Instead of carrageenan many milk companies are using gellan gum as a stabilizer, there is currently no controversy (to my knowledge) over gellan gum.

Alright friends, we just barely scraped the surface of plant-based milk. Tomorrow look for round two featuring soy milk, the ever popular coconut milk, rice milk and more!

Refereces:

Is Organice Better for Your Health?

Almond Milk and Carrageenan: Stop the Panic!

Cream of Broccoli Soup

Cream of Broccoli Vegan Soup

One day when I was in Panama I went to the Boquete Sandwich shop and ordered french toast and cream of broccoli soup. (Yes I realize that is a weird combo) But it was the best lunch. It was the best soup. All was perfect, until I got the bill. And I realize “no tengo dinero!!” (I don’t have money). I start panicking a little bit, thinking surely I’m doomed for a day in a Panamanian jail, or at the very least scrubbing dishes. In the end, I just tell them I don’t have money and walk to the nearest bank to fetch some Balboas. Crises averted.

That soup stayed with me though. I knew that as soon as I got home I had to remake this creamy dreamy broccoli soup. When Blue Diamond asked me to use their cashew milk blend in a recipe I thought this soup would be perfect. All of the creamy broccoli flavor, without all those calories that come from full fat cream or half-n-half. Unsweetened Cashew Milk Blends only has 25 calories per cup, hollaaa!!

Cream of Broccoli Vegan Soup

 

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Let’s talk about nutritional yeast. Sorry, I know that was abrupt, but I don’t think there is a smooth transition into yeast. I have seen nutritional yeast in other recipes, I’ve read about its amazing health benefits, (hellooo B12, protein and fiber) but I’ve never tried it. The name alone is a little off putting to me. However, I broke my rules for this soup, Ina Garten recommended it, and I have a hunch she knows what she is talkin’ about. It’s true, I tried the soup pre-nutritional yeast, it was good, but lacking just a little something. Then I added those yeasty yellow flakes, and bam!! Total flavor transformation. It was savory, cheesy, and broccoli-ey. Everything that vegan broccoli cheese-less soup should be!

Cream of Broccoli Vegan Soup

If you are a newcomer to nutritional yeast like myself, you can buy it at any health food store. I got mine at Sprouts! It looks like little yellow flakes. It’s pictured in the tablespoon in the photo above.

This post is sponsored by Almond Breeze Almondmilk. Enter for a chance to win the Ultimate Kitchen Prize Pack, get great savings and ideas for delicious Blendabilities at AlmondBreezeBlendabilities.com

5.0 from 1 reviews
Vegan Cream of Broccoli Soup
 
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Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 stocks celery, chopped
  • 2 tsp Kosher Salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups broccoli florets
  • 4 cups water or vegetable broth
  • 3 small white potatoes, peeled and diced
  • ¾ cup unsweetened Blue Diamond Almondmilk Cashewmilk
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • red pepper flakes for topping (optional)
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and ½ teaspoon salt and cook until light brown, about 7 minutes.
  2. Add the celery, garlic and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the potatoes, 4 cups water and ½ teaspoon salt, raise the heat to high and bring to a boil. Return the heat to medium, cover and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.
  4. Add the broccoli, cover and cook until the broccoli is bright green, about 5 minutes.
  5. Transfer the soup to a blender; add the cashew milk and puree until smooth, leaving the filler cap slightly open to let steam escape (or puree the soup in the pot with an immersion blender, this is what I did).
  6. Return the soup to the saucepan and bring to a simmer; stir in the nutritional yeast and nutmeg. Add water if needed to adjust consistency and add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Top with red pepper flakes, nutritional yeast, or cheese if you are not vegan 🙂
  8. Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/vegan-cream-of-broccoli-soup.html?oc=linkback
Notes
If you can't find cashew milk, almond milk works well too.
label (1)Look ^^ I included the nutritional facts! Let me know if you care! If you don’t care, that’s totally fine, then I won’t have to do that extra step.

Cherry Vanilla Quinoa Breakfast Bowl

Cherry vanilla quinoa www.nuttynutritionandfitness.com

Quinoa’s popularity definitely peaked about three years ago. Had I written this blog post circa 2012 I would have gone on and on about quinoa’s high protein content, it’s nutty flavor, and the correct pronunciation. By this point, I’m fairly certain, that you, the intelligent food blog reader, already know ALL about quinoa. But, have you ever had quinoa for breakfast? Total Game Changer.

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Note, the pistachios in this picture is a food blogger fail. It should have been almonds. (although pistachios taste fabulous too).

I first had “breakfast quinoa” when hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru. Every morning we were coaxed out of our warm tents into the blustering cold with a bowl of piping hot, cinnamony quinoa. Aside from the beautiful scenery and coming face to face with llamas and el pacas, this quinoa was one of my favorite parts of the hike. It is THAT good. The vanilla and cinnamon combined with the slightly sweetened, nutty quinoa make for the perfect breakfast delight. Throw in some fresh fruit, and bam, you have a well-balanced meal. Bonus, it will give you all the nutrients (both carbs and protein) to stay strong and hike for 4 hours if need be. If you’re not going for a hike, it can help keep you full in order to ward off those pesky break room snacks.

quinoa

Cherry vanilla quinoa

When cooking quinoa I like to give it a little dry toast first. This helps get rid of the saponin which can taste slightly bitter. You can also rinse it using a fine mesh strainer, but I don’t have one, so I choose option one. Another note on cooking it, most recipes recommend a 2:1 ratio of liquid to grain, it turns out less liquid is better. Your quinoa will be more fluffy and you won’t have to worry about over cooking it. I find the ratio of 1.5 cups liquid to 1 cup grain is best.

This post is sponsored by Almond Breeze Almond Milk.

Cherry vanilla quinoa
Add as much almond milk on top as you like. I like it super milky, almost like cereal.
cherry vanilla breakfast quinoa
Enjoy it hot or cold! If it’s cold out, I definitely recommend serving it warm!
Cherry Vanilla Quinoa Breakfast Bowl
 
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Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 1.5 cups Almond Breeze Almond Milk Hint of Honey Vanilla
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • fresh cherries, pitted
  • sliced almonds for topping
  • 1-2 tsp honey or maple syrup (optional, sweeten to taste)
Instructions
  1. Dry toast quinoa in a large sauce pan for 2 minutes over medium heat.
  2. Add almond milk to pan. Bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat to a simmer and add cinnamon and vanilla. Stir to combine.
  4. Cover pan and simmer for 15-20 minutes until all liquid is absorbed.
  5. Add pitted cherries, almonds, additional almond milk and sweetener of choice.
  6. To serve warm heat in the microwave or over stove.
 

Chocolate Almond Milk Pancakes

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I have this chocolate almond milk in my fridge which I bought to use as coffee creamer. It works great as coffee creamer and is much healthier than standard coffee mate. The problem is I’m only using a tablespoon or two at a time and I’m never going to finish the carton before it goes bad. So I thought to myself, what can I make with chocolate almond milk? The obvious would be a smoothie or shake. But I’m not feeling smoothies for the winter time. It’s cold when I wake up, I don’t want to drink a cold smoothie also. You know what is hot and fluffy and delicious though? Pancakes! Chocolate Almond Milk Pancakes to be exact.

I woke up this morning, not feeling so good. Lethargic, stuffy nose, burning throat, perfect way to start off my three day snowboarding trip. My cabin mates are going to love me. Maybe at least this time I can sleep in the closet instead of with the snorer. I really didn’t want to cook or blog this morning, all I wanted to do was sleep. One of my goals is three blog posts per week, so i just forced myself to function and I busted out these babies in about ten minutes, right before I had to leave for my ski trip. It was totally worth it! There is something about the almond milk that makes theses pancakes even more fluffy than just using regular milk. I don’t know what it is, but it is good. I happened to have some leftover berries in my fridge so I topped them with a dusting of powdered sugar and berries. Feel free to use any fruit you have on hand, cinnamon spiced apples, bananas or berries! But do make sure that you include some type of fruit when you eat these pancakes, it will make me feel better. Chocolate Almond Milk PancakesGiven that I still have to pack and I need to leave in thirty minutes, I’m just going to list the ingredients. You know how to make pancakes, right?

Chocolate Almond Milk Pancakes

  • 1 cup bisquick
  • 3/4 cup chocolate almond milk
  • 1 organic egg
  • 1 Tbsp. peanutbutter (optional)
  • top with fresh berries or seasonal fruit

Serves 2 hungry people, or 3 not-so hungry people.