Going nuts over dairy alternatives: Here’s a lowdown on plant-based milk
Whether you are a vegan, or allergic to dairy, plant-based milk offers a one-stop solution as a milk substitute.Updated: Jul 06, 2020 18:51 IST
Plant-based milk is ideal for those following a vegan lifestyle, as well as for those who suffer from lactose intolerance and dairy allergies. Nuts including soy, almond, coconut, cashews and walnuts, and grains including oats and rice offer substitutes that can be extracted at home, or brought from grocery stores.
“Plant-based protein has impeccable health benefits. The milk is low in fat and cuts the risk of high cholesterol. Plant milk also reduces the burden on the planet,” says chef Nishant Choubey. The plant milk that compares closest to cow milk is soy milk. “It is higher in protein than any other commercially available milk, at around 8g per glass,” says nutritionist Kavita Devgan. She offers a word of caution before one ventures into plant milk: “Low-fat dairy is a key component in a balanced diet. It is important to note that plant-based milks are lower in protein and certain nutrients than cow milk.”
Storage and extraction of plant milk is a very easy process. Experts advise storing the nuts in deep freezer and blitzing the nuts for freshly squeezed milk every day. “Shelf life of plant-based dairy is better than milk if handled well. They last up to a week if they are kept at a temperature between three-five degrees centigrade,” says Choubey.
All dairy substitutes, however, do not cover Indian cooking, and it is all about their application. For instance, cashew milk is thicker than regular milk. “These variants look, taste and behave different from milk. Cashew milk will thicken faster than regular milk when you heat it,” says chef Kunal Kapur. With brands offering a range of milk and milk powders, the field is wide open for experimenting with different types and varieties. “Over time, I have experimented with many different brands of soy milk and have noticed that their taste and quality has improved significantly. There is also a rise in almond and cashew milk as healthier substitutes,” he adds.
The challenge still remains in shifting palettes so used to cow or buffalo milk that plant milk is bracketed as ‘acquired taste’. “Milk is the first meal we are given. We are so used to having milk, believing that isse bones strong hote hain, calcium milta hai (it makes bones strong, gives calcium). But if we inculcate this habit in kids early on, then they won’t be as rigid in adapting to different tastes. There has to be this acceptance that you are eating healthy,” suggests Kapur.
Soy milk: Good source of minerals, low in saturated fat. Use in uttapams, pancakes and yogurt.
Coconut milk: Rich in saturated fat, lactose-free, high in lauric acid. Use in smoothies, curries and cereal.
Rice milk: High in carbohydrates, sweeter in taste. Use in ice-creams, porridge, pudding and coffee.
Oats milk: High in proteins, high in soluble fibre, low in calories. Use in soups and stews, and protein shakes.
Hemp milk: High in all proteins (amino acids), rich source of iron. Use in fruit salads and lattes.
Flaxseed milk: Low in protein, low in calories, high amount of calcium. Use in baked goods and as base for smoothies.
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