Homemade oat milk, and a simple breakfast for when you feel a bit stodgy
I am not vegan (as you may have been able to discern from this blog), but when I am feeling particularly stodgy and not quite at my optimal plumpness, I often switch to a hybrid Vegan Before 6 plan. If you haven’t heard of it, Vegan Before 6 (or VB6) is Mark Bittman’s plan to get his own diet and health under control. The concept is pretty simple; until 6pm (or dinner) you exclusively eat as a vegan would, highlighting fresh fruits and veggies. For dinner, you eat (reasonably) healthy dinners that include all food groups.
I don’t follow his plan exactly. I still eat eggs during the day. I don’t eat meat at all, so most of his dinner recipes don’t work for me. I just make my ordinary vegetarian, occasionally pescatarian, dinners and try to be a little better about my own portion sizes.
I also cut out one additional – though pretty major – thing: I eliminate gluten before 6pm as well (except on the days I bake fresh bread, I mean come on, I’m not a monster). To be clear, this isn’t because I think gluten is bad for my gut or causing some kind of health crisis. I don’t believe that at all. It’s just about my own eating preferences and their associated calories. When I include gluten-based foods in my diet, they often become the center of my diet, because I love gluten and all the miraculous things it makes. When I eliminate gluten and dairy, it’s basically a way for me to easily control the calories I eat without having to count them.
The hardest meal for me on this plan is breakfast. The VB6 cookbook isn’t too much use; lots of the recipes include gluten, and a few are meals you drink (smoothies and such). Those make me hungry again like ten minutes later, as I have discussed before. A few weeks ago, I started on this plan again, and then I pondered on making some kind of granola, knowing it would heavily feature nuts and seeds. My regular every day granola is in fact compliant with this plan, but I find it doesn’t have enough protein when you eat it without yogurt; I get hungry again too soon. But then it occurred to me that I didn’t have to use oats or quinoa (blech) or millet or some other grain to make the base. I could just do the nuts and seeds with fruit as the base.
Put it all together and I just needed some kind of milk. I won’t make or buy almond milk – almonds are too expensive and resource-intensive to use for milk, in my opinion. I don’t like hemp milk. Coconut milk is fine, but I find the flavor can be too coconutty. But here’s what ticks all my milk boxes (i.e., cheap, inoffensive in flavor, kind of a nice texture): oat milk! And after some research and experimenting, turns out it is super easy to make your own, especially if you own a high powered blender.
This recipe is mostly from the VB6 cookbook and from the Minimalist Baker, though I add in one extra step that seems to help reduce the -err- sludginess of the finished product. I KNOW, I know, I’m really selling this. The end result is thicker than regular dairy milk, but I quite like the creaminess. And the pre-soak I include seems to help with the straining after you blend.
Homemade oat milk
- 1 cup regular rolled oats
- 6 cups water, boiled
- 1/2 lemon
If you have a kettle, fill it up and let it boil. Otherwise, boil about 6 cups of water using your preferred method.
Put the rolled oats in a bowl or large 4-cup measuring cup. Pour in about two cups of the boiled water and squeeze the juice of half a lemon into it. Stir and allow this to sit for about ten minutes.
Strain the oats through a fine-mesh sieve, then rinse thoroughly.
Add the strained oats and about 4 cups of the boiled water to your blender; this works a treat in my Vitamix, and I haven't tried in a regular blender, but I expect it would work as well, you just might need to let it go a bit longer.
Blend the oats and water at level 5 of your Vitamix (about half-power) for 30-45 seconds.
Place the fine-mesh strainer over a bowl and carefully strain the oat and water mixture through the strainer. I don't recommend using cheesecloth - I think it is too fine and it gets stuck. You may need to use a rubber spatula or other implement to kind of stir it around to help the liquid separate.
Carefully pour the strained liquid into a jar that is large enough to hold it all, seal it up, and refrigerate for later use.
You can use that oat milk however you like, but, as mentioned above, I use it for a very satisfying breakfast over a bowl of fruit (blueberries and raspberries are divine, also chopped nectarine, peach, or strawberries. Any delicious fruit will work beautifully) mixed with nuts and seeds (my choice? Dry roasted almonds, pepitas, chia seeds, and unsweetened shredded coconut).
Do you make your own milks at home? What do you eat for breakfast that might meet my vegan, no gluten criteria?