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The New Milks | Dina Cheney

The New Milks | Dina Cheney

The New Milks: 100-Plus Dairy-Free Recipes for Making and Cooking
with Soy, Nut, Seed, Grain, and Coconut Milks
By Dina Cheney

Suzy Chase:                  Welcome to the Cookery by the Book podcast with me, Suzy Chase.

Dina Cheney:                  Hi, I'm Dina Cheney and my new book is "The New Milks: 100-Plus Dairy-Free Recipes for Making and Cooking with Soy, Nut, Seed, Grain and Coconut Milks".

Suzy Chase:                  The New Milks is the first comprehensive guide to non-dairy milks. I've heard for years that dairy milk isn't necessarily for humans. Why not?

Dina Cheney:                  Right. Well, first of all, according to the NIH, 65% of people older than two or three are lactose intolerant. So that's a really shocking, whopping statistic. So, most of us really don't tolerate lactose well and it's particularly in some communities, Asian communities, African, certain groups, certain demographics have even less tolerance for lactose and furthermore we can get calcium and protein from other foods and drinks like dark greens and salmon and nuts and that kind of thing. So, we really don't need to get calcium and protein from dairy milk.

Suzy Chase:                  What are plant-based milks and why are they healthier for us?

Dina Cheney:                  Well, first of all, it's amazing. There are so many different kinds of plant-based milks. You can make plant-based milk from nuts, seeds, legumes, tubers, coconut, grains, so many different sources, the sky is the limit. And basically you just combine them with water. So, in essence, they're just a solid ingredient in water. They're very elemental and clean and they're good for you because first of all, all plant-based milks have no cholesterol, no hormones, and a lot less sugar than dairy milk. The sugar is actually the lactose, that's the milk sugar that a lot of people don't tolerate well. So, when you make plant-based milk or you buy it unsweetened, you're getting very, very little sugar. So, that's really why it's healthier for you.

Suzy Chase:                  I've seen a new thing about pea milk recently.

Dina Cheney:                  Mm-hmm (affirmative)- Well, it's a legume milk so, like I said, you can make milk from any legume and the most popular one is soy milk and this pea milk is sort of a new invention and what's great about it is it's got a lot of protein. The truth of the matter is that soy milk, peanut milk, which is another option, and pea milk all have about the same protein, which is around eight grams per cup, which is the same as cow's milk. So, if you consume one of those types of plant-based milk, you are getting the equivalent amount of protein as you would from dairy milk and the company that makes the pea milk what they do is they neutralize the flavor so you don't actually taste peas. And I haven't tried it yet but supposedly it's very creamy and it's neutral in flavor and so it's sort of a great way to get the protein into your diet.

Suzy Chase:                  Yeah, I was worried about the flavor a little bit.

Dina Cheney:                  Exactly. Supposedly they neutralized ... It's kind of a high tech approach to plant-based milk. Personally, I make soy milk a lot and it's very easy to make at home and you get the same protein from soy milk but it's another option.

Suzy Chase:                  This cookbook is much more than drink recipes. You show us how to cook with the new milks in 113 recipes. Talk a little bit about that.

Dina Cheney:                  Well, basically anywhere you would use cow's milk, you know it's great to use plant-based milk and so the recipes, there are 113 recipes in this book in addition to the methods for making the milks themselves and there are a lot of desserts, there are lot of drinks, which is what you would typically think about but I also have entrees, starters, things like soups. So, just different ways to use the plant-based milks in sweet and savory ways.

Suzy Chase:                  Let's talk about the word, milk. I always thought the pleural of milk was milk without an "s" but in the title of your book, it's milks, with an "s".

Dina Cheney:                  Well, you're right and I think the reason I did that was because there are so many ... With cow's milk it is what it is. Right? You know, cow's milk is cow's milk is cow's milk. But with plant-based milk, there are so many different types, that's why I pluralized it. Because, you know, and they're all so different. So, like I said, you could have your nut milk, you could have seed milk, tuber milk, legume milk, coconut milk, grain milk. There's just so much variety in terms of the source material, the consistency, the flavor, the color and so forth, even the nutrients. That's why I wanted to pluralize it because really, there's just so much variety.

Suzy Chase:                  What's the difference between store-bought milk and the version we make at home?

Dina Cheney:                  So, that's a really great question and there are a lot of differences. I would say the number one difference is that the plant-based milks that you buy at the store aren't gonna separate. They have preservatives and they have additive emulsifiers. It's good to shake it first but you don't need to. Right? The ingredients won't separate whereas homemade milks, they will separate, so you often want to give them a shake because the homemade milks aren't gonna have stabilizers, emulsifiers. The homemade milks tend to have a shorter shelf-life. So, when you make your own milk at home, it tends to last three to four days in the fridge whereas the ones that your purchase at the store have a really long shelf-life. So, they're very, very convenient. Another difference is that when you make the milks at home, you have complete control over the contents. Right? So, when I make my own, I tend to just use water and the source material so I know exactly what's going in my milk and I can keep it versatile, healthy, and clean. The store-bought milks are gonna have more ingredients.

                                                      And the last thing is that when I make them at home, I tend to use a higher ratio of the solid ingredient to water. So, for instance, my typical cashew milk that I make, I use two cups of cashews and five cups of water. So, that's a really high ratio of solids to water, meaning that my homemade cashew milk as a lot of flavor, it's got a lot of creaminess and richness and it's got a lot of nutrients in it whereas the packaged milks, they tend to use more water. So, you're getting mostly water and you're getting fewer of the sort of the contents of the base ingredients.

Suzy Chase:                  Speaking of ratio, what are your thoughts on the Almond Breeze lawsuit situation?

Dina Cheney:                  Oh, you mean about ... Actually, Suzy, I'm not even sure. You mean about carrageenan or the fact that it doesn't contain many almonds?

Suzy Chase:                  Yes.

Dina Cheney:                  That's what you're talking about, right?

Suzy Chase:                  They say it only contains two percent of actual almonds in every carton.

Dina Cheney:                  Well, I mean that's a common thing with a lot of the plant-based milks and it's interesting. It's really hard, it's very mysterious and it's hard to tell exactly what ratio different companies are using and so that is another reason why it's good to make them because you know you're putting a lot of nuts in your milks. But that's a common practice, I would say, for most of the brands, water is definitely the main ingredient. But actually, I want to point out, cow's milk is also mostly water, which is really interesting. I forget the exact percentage but I think cow's milk is something like 85% water.

Suzy Chase:                  Wow.

Dina Cheney:                  Yeah. So even cow's milk is mostly water. I think it's okay that it's mostly water. It still is almond so, I don't think it's deceptive. It is still, you know it's not a high ratio but I don't think that they're ... Yeah, I don't they're being dishonest if you think of it that way.

Suzy Chase:                  I don't know. Someone has a lawsuit against them about that. It'll be interesting to watch that.

Dina Cheney:                  It will be but then again, there are lawsuits about so many things. People get coffee at McDonald's and it's too hot and they sue. So, I feel like [crosstalk 00:07:25][inaudible 00:07:25] with so many lawsuits.

Suzy Chase:                  Add to the list.

Dina Cheney:                  Right? Anyway.

Suzy Chase:                  So, when making our milk at home, what are some different ways to sweeten and flavor it.

Dina Cheney:                  Ooh, that's so much fun. That's a great question. There's so many ways to do that and you could be so creative and you could have so much fun. I generally, like I said, keep mine unsweetened because I like them to be versatile. But let me give you some ideas. So, the first way is you can use dates, right? You take the pits out of the dates and then you actually blend the whole dates with the nuts or the rice or the tiger nuts or whatever you're using before straining. So, that's one way to sweeten. Another way is you make your milk and then you can add honey or agave nectar or maple syrup or sugar or whatever you wanted to use. So, that's sweetening it. In terms of flavoring it, oh my gosh, you can have so much fun. You could be so creative. I actually have some recipes in my book for flavored milk. Like I have a macha milk. I have a spiced chocolate milk. I think I have like a blueberry milk, a raspberry rose milk.

                                                      So, you can have a lot of fun. Really, whatever you want to use. You can use tea, you can use lemon zest, you can use orange flower water, you can use cinnamon. So, actually the introduction of my book I actually list sort of, pretty much every ingredient I could possibly come up with for flavoring your milks and again, the sky is the limit there, too, with whatever you want to do.

Suzy Chase:                  If someone wants to transition from dairy milk, what non-dairy option do you suggest to get them going?

Dina Cheney:                  So, that's a really good question. It depends on so many things. First of all, do they have any food allergies? Some people are allergic to nuts or soy, so those things they wouldn't be able to have. So, first figure out what are your, do you have any food allergies. If you don't have any food allergies, you can have anything. You know, soy milk is really the most similar to cow's milk and I've heard the new pea milk is also very similar because, like I said earlier, it's got the same amount of protein. It also has a ton of calcium and it has a very creamy consistency so it really gives you a similar kind of mouth feel and texture as cow's milk would. So, that's one option. I think it generally comes the closest to cow's milk. Another ... I would also ... I actually love all of them so, I would say, if I were really experimenting for the first time, I would really try them all.

                                                      Even at the store, you could even just start there. There are around maybe 10 types of plant-based milk that you could buy. You could even do that first, see what you like and then do a combination of making it yourself and buying it. I like cashew milk, that's a really good one. Cashew milk is very versatile. It works well for sweet and savory recipes. It's got enough fat, the cashew nut, that the milk has some creaminess and it's really good in cooking. So, that's another good one. I'm excited by some of the new ones coming to store shelves. So, we talked about pea milk but macadamia nut milk is another one that's gonna be coming to store shelves across the country and it's just so delicious and creamy and I just think most people would love it.

Suzy Chase:                  For breakfast every morning, I have an organic sprouted chocolate almond milk from my local CSA. It's so good. What does sprouted mean?

Dina Cheney:                  Okay, so sprouting is similar soaking. You just kind of leave the, you leave the ingredient for longer so that it will begin to sprout. It's sort of like you soak it for a while and you rinse it. It's basically, to make any plant-based milk you start, in most cases, you start by soaking the ingredients. You soak it usually for several hours, so overnight. And so sprouting ... And then you rinse and drain and puree it with fresh water and with the sprouting, you're just taking it a step further and you're soaking it longer until it actually sprouts and some people believe that you get more nutrients that way. But it's a little controversial. It's hard to prove that.

Suzy Chase:                  Yesterday, I made your recipe for cashew milk. The only thing is the consistency was a little crunchy. I don't think I put enough water in it. What do you think?

Dina Cheney:                  Well, what was the ratio that you used?

Suzy Chase:                  I used two cups of cashews with four cups of water.

Dina Cheney:                  Ah, interesting. Okay, so I usually would use five for milk. And the thing is, it's good to use a high speed blender if you have one and basically just blend it for a while. I have a Breville, they're pretty powerful. I have Breville Boss. It's a lot like the Vita Mix and for me it takes about a minute. But you might want to do two minutes and blend it for longer.

Suzy Chase:                  But I did it in my Cuisinart.

Dina Cheney:                  Okay. Oh, you made the nut ... You made it in your Cuisinart instead of in a blender?

Suzy Chase:                  Yes.

Dina Cheney:                  Ah. That's all I need to know. Yeah, definitely do it in your blender. That's what happened. Yeah. Definitely I would recommend ... Definitely make the nut milk in the blender. For ratio use, I like two to five or two to six if it fits in your blender. For me, I can't fit in it more than two cups of nuts and five cups of water or it will overflow. So, that's the ratio I like. Make sure you do it for a minute or two, two if you have a less high speed blender and then definitely strain it and then you will get a really nice, creamy milk with no solids in it whatsoever.

Suzy Chase:                  And the dark chocolate really gave it a nice kick, too.

Dina Cheney:                  It's a wonderful ... You basically made a really sophisticated Mexican cashew milk. It sounds phenomenal.

Suzy Chase:                  Look at me.

Dina Cheney:                  It sounds delicious. You gave me a good idea, Suzy, 'cause I've never put chilies, I've never, I don't think I've ever ... I never put chilies in my milk and I didn't even add that in my introduction but that's a really good idea to add chilies.

Suzy Chase:                  Great. So, where can we find you on the web?

Dina Cheney:                  Well, so I have a website called thenewmilks.com. It's a basically a dairy-free resource site, plant-based milk resource site with recipes. I do a lot of giveaways. You can find out about that. So, that's my main site and you can follow me on Twitter @dinacheney, D-i-n-a C-h-e-n-e-y and on Instagram on @thenewmilks.

Suzy Chase:                  The New Milks is innovative and right on time. Thank you, Dina, for coming on Cookery by the Book podcast.

Dina Cheney:                  Thanks for having me.

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