Dairy-free has become a growing trend for a variety of reasons: lactose intolerance, the likelihood that dairy products are filled with hormones, and the fact that it’s more environmentally-taxing to raise animals for milk and meat than to turn to milk alternatives. Almond, coconut, and soy milks have become as common as whole milk in most coffee shops around the country, but there’s a new-to-the-scene (but not new-to-the-market) milk alternative that’s making big waves—oat milk.
What is oat milk?
Oat milk is simply oats that have blended with water to produce a creamy, slightly sweet, and grassy taste. Baristas are particularly enamored with the drink since it foams well and has a fuller texture than most dairy-free milks.
Is oat milk healthy?
Oat milk is naturally gluten-free (though to be completely sure, gluten-free oats should be used) and offers several nutritional benefits. One cup of oat milk will provide roughly 130 calories, the majority of which comes from carbohydrates. Most brands are fortified with vitamin D and calcium (to rival nutrients that can be absorbed for fortified dairy products). Unlike many dairy-free milks, however, oat milk is generally sugar-free, making it a healthier option. Additionally, oats are extremely high in soluble fiber, which aids in both digestion and satiety.
How can oat milk be used?
Oat milk can be used anywhere you might use dairy or dairy-free milks. Recently it has become a beloved staple of coffee shop lattes—as such, it makes for a delicious treat in golden milk. Or try it in a latte for a creamy taste.
Oat milk can be used anywhere that milk is used. Try using it in recipes for baked goods, like muffins or bread, or to make a light yet creamy soup. Due to its subtly sweet taste, oat milk can even be enjoyed by the glassful.
Is oat milk environmentally responsible or sustainable?
Compared to dairy, oat milk has a small environmental impact, but this remains true compared to staples like almond milk, too. As this article explains, it takes six times as much water to produce almonds than to produce oats and states like California, where much of the U.S.’s supply of almonds are grown, continue to feel the drought.
While buying a glass jug of raw dairy milk at your local farmer’s market or from a neighbor down the road is far superior to purchasing a plastic container of oat milk that has been processed across the country, in general oat milk is a more sustainable choice. Some people are even recognizing the waste that making oat milk can create; to combat this, a few brands are working to deliver the used oat hulls to local farms where they can be used as fertilizers or animal feed, as this article explains.
How can I make oat milk?
Oat milk is easy to make at home. You really only need three basic ingredients: oats, salt, and water! It does take a little time (as do other homemade milks), so plan ahead—the results will be worth it.
Homemade Oat Milk
Homemade oat milk is just as simple as making homemade almond milk.
- 1 cup oats
- 3 cups water plus water used for soaking
- optional: dates or maple syrup, to taste
- To begin, soak 1 cup oats in water for at least one hour, although overnight is better (this step can be skipped if you have a high-powered blender.)
- Drain the oats, discarding the water, and then place in a blender with 3 cups of fresh water. Add a pinch of salt or sweetness, if using.
- Blend on high.
- Using a cheesecloth or other fine-meshed sieve, drain the oat milk.
- Reserve the fresh oat milk and compost the remaining oat fiber.
- Keep in mind that oat milk will separate; simply shake the container before using. Enjoy!
Golden Oat Milk
- 1 cup homemade or store bought oat milk
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- pinch of black pepper
- maple syrup, to taste
- Bring oat milk to a gentle boil, then simmer and add turmeric, ginger and a dash of black pepper.
- Remove from heat and add maple syrup to taste. Enjoy hot!
Have you tried oat milk? What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!