the dark side of the moo

oat milk

Hello & Gelukkig Nieuwjaar (Happy New Year) from the Netherlands! Sorry, I have neglected my blog over the past month due to the big move overseas and Christmas…but don’t fret, I am now here to write on a regular basis. It’s been an adventure so far and I can’t wait to share all my new Euro food discoveries with you!

the dark side of the moo

Dairy allergies, sensitivities and lactose intolerances are becoming increasingly common. In the western diet, dairy is often consumed at 3 meals a day, 7 days a week, similar to what’s happening with gluten. Many people are turning to substitutes, whether allergic or not, just to get a little variety in their diets…or perhaps their holistic nutritionist recommended it. Another reason for using milk substitutes is that dairy can be congesting to the gut, mucous forming (avoid when sick), and constipating (especially cheese).

The dairy industry has done an excellent job making us believe milk is THE ONLY source of calcium in our diets. Well, this couldn’t be further from the truth! There are lots of fantastic sources of calcium, my favorites include sesame seed, dark leafy greens and seaweeds. Not to mention, there have now been numerous studies showing dairy consumption does not protect against osteoporosis. In fact, there is higher incidence of osteoporosis in countries where dairy consumption is higher, and likewise less osteoporosis where dairy is consumed less. To top it off, dairy may also increase our risks of ovarian and prostate cancers.

Click to enlarge: By John Robbins (Author of Diet for a New America), 2002.

That being said, total avoidance is not always necessary, as long as you dont have any allergies and are choosing high quality, organic dairy products. Just ease up a bit on your consumption.

the solution: make your own nut, seed or oat milk

This recipe is incredibly easy, and versatile! If you don’t like oat milk, use any nut or seed or a combination.

nut/seed/oat milk

  • 1 cup – nuts/seeds/whole oat groats/steel cut oats/old fashioned rolled oats of choice (try almonds, cashews, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seed, Brazil nut or any combinations)
  • 4 cups – filtered or spring water

Soak nuts/seeds/oats overnight in a bowl with water & 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice (or anything acidic – like apple cider vinegar) to break down enzyme inhibitors and make your milk easier to digest.

In the morning discard the soak water and rinse the nuts/seeds/oats. Place in a blender with just enough water to cover them so that the nuts are close to the blades, blend until creamy. Add the rest of the water (in general it’s 4:1 nuts:water) and continue to blend for a few minutes. Strain the mixture with a nut milk bag (you can buy one here) then add a little sweetener (optional) like unpasteurized honey, stevia or dates. Add vanilla if desired, or raw cacao powder for chocolate milk.

To make nut cream, use 2 cups of water instead of 4. This will have a thicker consistency and is great for nut milk tea lattes.

To make brown rice milk or quinoa milk, soak then cook the grains, then blend 1 cup cooked grain to 4 cups of water.

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  1. While you’re on the topic of Milk – can you tell me about Soy Milk? What are your thoughts on it? Personally I prefer Almond Milk, but why is Nut, Seed or Oat milk better then say…Soy? Thanks!

    • Great question! I am not totally “anti-soy” like some, but soy can disrupt hormone balance (because of it’s phytoestrogens). It is also a common allergen. I prefer to use soy in small quantities, or only fermented, like miso and tempeh (vs. soy milk, tofu, edamame). Plus, variety is always good, so rotating milks is recommended. Also soy is often genetically modified, so you have to get it organic!!!

  2. Ok so we’ve had this chat about my daughter developing a milk intolerance and my journey to find and adequate replacement. At the end of the day I went with a organic fortified soy, rice, hemp milk blend. My challenges were in avoiding phytoestrogens, and getting adequate fats and vitamins specifically B’s, iron, folate. All concluded after some major Googling.

    The above was the choice because these milks are commercially available and easy to find. But if I were making my own milks I would have more choice. So Sam, here is the question… what is the ideal baby non-dairy milk blend?

    I have the strainer bag… so I am ready!

    • Hey Liz!! Glad you are ready to start making your own milks! Your babe will love it. Just a note on making sure she receives enough vitamins, vitamins and minerals are best absorbed through raw, whole food sources (where they come complete with co-factors), so making your own milks will be far superior to fortified milks (often using synthetic sources of nutrients). I don’t believe there is one “best” blend, but rather mixing it up every day or week and alternating dairy free milks. The general rule is 4 cups water to 1 cup nut/seed/grain (see “the dark side of the moo” for full recipe. Since your baby is older than 1 year (prior to I would say breast is best), I believe she is ready to try the following milks. Always introduce new foods one at a time and wait 4 days in case there is a reaction (I know you have already tested many, so feel free to rotate sooner). Once you have tested all of these milks individually rotate through them once you are done your batch. Start with hemp seed milk (hemp, water, blend, strain), then try oat milk (same procedure), brown rice milk (use cooked brown rice, water, blend, strain), cooked quinoa, pumpkin seed…etc. You can really do anything that she is not allergic to (try seeds and grains before nuts) and the more variety the better. I have often seen homemade baby formulas with a little spirulina in them, so if you are adventurous (and don’t mind a bit of green spit up) try it for extra nutrition. I hope that this helps and your little one thrives on your homemade milks!

      • I meant to explain that rotation is better than the combination daily as to avoid future potential allergens. Often times we can become sensitive to foods we are having every single day, rotating keeps the nutrients varied and avoids the possibility of “over-doing it” with the same food (hence all the gluten and dairy allergies in the western world).

        • And again one more thing! Throw organic goat milk into the mix. Babies usually tolerate it better than cows milk and is better for human consumption anyway (easier to digest, better calcium to phosphorus ratio). Plus it is super nutritious!!

          • Thanks for the advice Sam, I am going to get started on this now and get even better at it once I am off work again. And also I am looking forward to stealing a little breast milk from my #2 and sharing with my #1. Especially for the anitbodies.

            I recently discussed Isla’s (14 months) likely intolerances with her Dr. and he told me to go get some children’s allergy medicine and give her a small 2ml dose. He said if it works she has an allergy. That’s all he had advice on! Oh great, thanks for nothing Dr!

            I will start to give her milks one at a time because as her congestion continued I suspected soy might be a culprit also. I have removed that and so far so good. Now what I feel is missing mostly is protien.

            So another question would out of the nuts/seeds/grains be what is a good source of protien for her?

            Based on what I have read, protien, fats and B vitamins are all very important among the other vitamins such as iron, folate etc. But iron for example she gets in her morning rice cereal.


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