Sugar Free Flavoured Milks

Kind Milk-6 Strawberry Milk_LR

A few decades ago, the low fat message for heart health was born and has since been adopted as the golden rule of nutrition – but have we got it all wrong? Actually – as you may have noticed – this is a hot topic in the media at the moment and there is a lot of hotly debated research for both camps going on.

What we do know, however, is that with the message of low fat, came a whole heap of added sugars.

Take a look down your supermarket isle, and I’m sure you’ll see many a product proudly labeled ‘low-fat’ and ‘fat-free’.

The makers of these products were faced with a dilemma when these new guidelines came out – fat tastes good – and if they removed most or all of the fat from their products – what were they to put in its place? The answer of course, is sugar. Cheap, readily available, and highly refined. This rise in added sugars is perhaps the single biggest health trap we have fallen down, and with serious consequence.

Sugars are thus hidden in many processed foods (cereals, snack bars, yoghurts, ice creams, frozen meals, pizzas…), and today I’m using flavoured milks as just one example. Typically, a small carton of chocolate milk can contain as much sugar as a can of soft drink! Sneaky!

A small can of coke (355ml) contains about 10 teaspoons of sugar (38g) and a smaller 250ml carton of Nippy’s flavoured milk contains around 7 teaspoons (28g).

The World Health Organisation currently recommends that not more than 10% of your daily calories come from free sugars (added sugars) – this would equal about 12 level teaspoons for an average adult, though they have recently been reviewing this and pushing for a new limit of just half that amount – to below 5%.

Whilst we need quality carbohydrates in our diets (think whole grains), we don’t actually need any free sugar, and excess consumption is linked to a range of health problems such as obesity, Type-2 Diabetes and tooth decay. Tooth decay by the way is the most prevalent non-communicable disease (non-infectious or not spread from person to person) globally – and it is preventable. Finally sugar is also incredibly inflammatory and just outright bad news for any of us with auto-immune conditions.

In general – if you are going to buy something in a packet – and it says ‘low-fat’ – think to yourself – so what’s in its place? Turn it over and read the label. Look at the sugars listed under the carbohydrates. If its under 5g per 100g then it is considered low sugar, but if its low fat or fat free, this is where all added sugar is revealed. Out sneak them. Make it at home from scratch, or choose products with no added sweeteners.

In all honesty, there is not a single product or recipe out there that you can’t recreate at home using whole foods and natural sweeteners that come packaged up with other goodies like vitamins, minerals and fibre (will this statement come back to bite me?! I’m up for the healthy food make over challenge!).

So have a read of all these super easy alternatives to making yummy flavoured milks at home (also note, you may have noticed I’m not a fan of dairy, so I’ve firstly included a basic nut milk recipe):

 Kind MilkKind Milk-5Kind Milk-3

 First, make a yummy nut milk:

  1. Soak 1 cup of nuts or seeds (cashews, almonds, walnuts, pistachios, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds – if you use sesame or hemp seeds however they don’t need soaking).
  2. Add to a blender with 1 cup of shredded coconut (optional, but this makes it far creamier) and 4 cups of water, blend well.
  3. Drain the milk through a nut milk bag or cheesecloth, discard the pulp.
  4. Blend again with a small pinch of pink Himalayan Rock Salt and a little vanilla.

Boom. Dairy free milk.

To sweeten, use a little of any of these:

  • Medjool date
  • Maple syrup / honey (small amounts)
  • Coconut nectar
  • A dash of rice malt syrup
  • A teaspoon of xylitol (totally sugar free sweetener derived from the Birch tree)

Then flavour it naturally with these:

Strawberry:

  • Fresh or frozen berries
  • Pomegranate seeds
  • A whole vanilla bean

Chocolate:

  • Raw cacao powder
  • Carob powder

Caramel:

  • A teaspoon of mesquite powder
  • A teaspoon of lucuma powder
  • Medjool date as the sweetener (they naturally have a caramel-esque taste – yummo)
  • Pinch of turmeric (just for colour)

Banana:

  • Half a banana
  • Teaspoon of lucuma powder
  • Teaspoon of bee pollen
  • A whole vanilla bean

Mocha:

  • Raw cacao powder
  • Carob powder
  • A teaspoon of instant coffee dissolved in hot water, or, if you are avoiding caffeine (yes! Go you!), try using a dandelion / chicory based herbal coffee instead

Chai:

  • A teaspoon of cinnamon powder
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Tiny pinch of cardamom
  • A whole vanilla bean
  • Tiny pinch of Himalayan sea salt
  • Bonus – try making the milk with pistachios

Chocolate Mint:

  • A handful of freshly picked mint
  • Half a teaspoon of spirulina or barley grass powder (for extra added colour)

L.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lauren Glucina is a plant-based whole foods Nutritionist, Naturopath and Medical Herbalist. She is a passionate advocate for food as medicine. Lauren has also formally trained as a Raw Foods Chef and has a soft spot for raw treats. 

Lauren is available for Natural & Nutritional Medicine consultations here.