I was delighted to discover cashew nut milk as an alternative to cows milk. One of the benefits of lockdown here in Italy was that I had time to explore alternatives. I wrote a block about broader lockdown lesson on ‘eating well for less‘ where I mentioned the alternative milk trial. This is how I got on.
Cashew Nut Milk As An Alternative To Cow’s Milk
I wanted to find an alternative to cow’s milk for my coffee. I love my coffee. I drink very strong Italian coffee that I make fresh with my own machine. It is thick and creamy and wonderful. And cows milk added either heated and frothed to make a cappuccino or just splashed in just adds to that creamy experience. I used lactose free semi-skimmed milk. So any alternative milk that I used had to come up to scratch!
Just to complicate matters, I have a little collection of auto-immune diseases plus irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). I have a number of allergies and intolerances to food items that had to be taken account of. I always roll my eyes at recipes that say they are good for allergy sufferers. Each person has different issues so one person’s allergy is safe for someone else. For example, I have no problem with peanuts and yet a swollen mouth and tongue if I eat almonds. I get migraines if I eat hazelnuts.
I had to plan this carefully because of my reactions to things. I was careful to ensure that if I was testing a milk alternative I had not changed my diet in the days before the test and if I had any type of reaction I allowed five days before trying something else. The overall trial took over a month to complete allowing for the rest days.
Below I mention the ones I tried and the popular ones that I didn’t try with the reasons why.
A complete non-starter owning to my intolerance to almonds. I have always hated the smell, but I have several almond trees and have tried to eat them over the years. But as my intolerance to them grew so has the reaction. So I haven’t dared to even try almond milk. My Mum loves it, and I had a friend who always had her cappuccino made with almond milk. It is low calorie and low fat and contains vitamin E. Apparently you have to watch out for the sugar content in the sweetened varieties.
Rice milk has B vitamins and magnesium but is quite starchy. It didn’t look hopeful as it is quite watery and indeed it made a pretty dismal coffee drink. The taste was okay-ish but not what I was looking for in either flavor or texture. I used it up in cooking though and it was fine. I can’t say I would recommend it for coffee!
Another non-starter for me owing to an intolerance to coconut – swollen, sore throat with this one. It is full of good stuff (though a bit high in calories). Unfortunately, or fortunately if you can tolerate it, it is one of the ingredients alongside coconut oil that gets put into vegan ice cream or vegan cheese. So I can’t eat them either! From what I have seen of coconut milk it is quite thick so maybe works well as a cream substitute.
This one seemed hopeful as it is rich in calcium and minerals. I use chestnut flour in cooking cakes and cookies so I know that I have no problems with it. It is naturally sweet and low in fat. But I found the chestnut milk a bit ‘floury’ in texture and it was too sweet for my tastes. I don’t take sugar in my coffee so the sweetness was off putting.
I love walnuts! I eat a lot of them and they are very good for you. I was excited to find walnut milk available and added it to my list to try. The first thing to say is that the walnut milk itself is delicious, really thick and quite a strong taste. Unfortunately, that taste did not translate well into my coffee as the taste was too strong. I want to enhance the coffee flavor and aroma, not drown it. I would use it again in cooking though.
Well, I have problems with soya. It is quite a common allergen. If I eat something made with soya, a few hours later I will spend quite a while in the bathroom. So I have been reluctant to try soya milk as an alternative, though it is the one that the bars and coffee shops push the hardest. Anyway, never say I didn’t try it. And I hated it. The texture was fine but it had a strong taste that overwhelmed the coffee. But I did get to plan the redecoration of the bathroom while I was in there…
This was another ‘hesitation’ for me. I am not good with oats (see my point above about the bathroom). But lots of people were raving about oat milk and how great it was as a cappuccino. So I found an oat milk that was made specifically with ‘barista style cappuccino’ in mind and gave it a go. And it was really nice. It behaved like cows milk, and has a similar amount of calories. It did change the flavor of the coffee but I quite liked it. It reminded me of the malty drinks we used to have as kids. Unfortunately after yet another bathroom session I had to give up on it! It is a good one if you are okay with oats.
Cashew Nut Milk
I read an article about cashew nut milk as an alternative to cows milk. It is low in fat and calories and the texture is close to dairy milk. Unfortunately I could not find cashew nut milk locally. I really wanted to try it though so I found out how to make my own. It just involved soaking a cup of cashew nuts overnight, draining and rinsing and then liquidizing the nuts with three cups of water. Even using a high speed blender I found there was a bit of pulp so I strained it before putting it into the refrigerator. Then I tried it – wonderful! Just what I was looking for and perfect in my coffee.
I managed to find a source of cashew nut milk and now enjoy that in my coffee every morning. It also makes a fabulous vegan type of iced desert using my ice cream maker. Two cups of cashew nut milk, half a cup of maple syrup and a long squirt of vegan caramel sauce. Liquidize, put in the ice cream maker for half an hour and it ends up with a flavor reminiscent of caramel ice cream. A lot softer in texture though!
It took me a while to work through the alternative milks I tried, but hey, lockdown gave me the time to do it. I found some great new milks to try in cooking but, for my personal taste, cashew nut milk as an alternative to cows milk was a triumph.
Before you go
My name is Dorothy Berry-Lound an artist and writer. You can find out more about my art and writing at https://dorothyberryloundart.com.
Thank you for reading!