Strawberry Oat Milk | VeganMoFo 2018 Day Nine

Week Two: Dietary & Lifestyle Restrictions
We love eating all the vegan food we can, but it’s good to learn how to cook for those who may have allergies or intolerances — and challenge ourselves in the process.

This week’s theme is near and dear to my heart. My sister is terribly allergic to most nuts (except almonds), so I’ve become quite attuned to their presence in everything I eat! Watching her have to whip out the Benadryl or her EpiPen — and visiting her in the emergency room on one scary occasion — has made me hyper-aware of how sneakily pervasive nuts can be. She can also be sensitive to cross-contamination, so I’m pretty careful to stow the peanut butter and the cashews (a particularly bad trigger) whenever she comes to town.

So this week, my eats will be nut-free — and occasionally gluten-free, too. I know (and have baked for!) a few celiacs, and it can be tough! But it’s also totally doable with a little research and a few key ingredients.

During most of this week, I’m going to be focusing on one superstar nut-free, gluten-free ingredient: oats! Just be sure to purchase certified gluten-free oats if you’re cooking for someone with severe celiac disease so you don’t make them sick due to cross-contamination.

So let’s start the week with something fun: strawberry milk! Oat milk is one of the cheapest and easiest non-dairy milks to make, and it’s especially great for baking. (There’s a whole section in the America’s Test Kitchen vegan cookbook about why; basically, the extra sugars in oat milk (compared to nut milks) help baked good brown.) And its creamy, almost sweet flavor makes it a great base for a super-simple, visually pleasing pale pink drink. (Mine is very pale, simply because I didn’t have a ton of strawberries on hand! I’ll likely make it again with more strawberries and get a much more vibrant pink drink.

The method couldn’t be simpler; you just blend oats, water, a couple dates (for sweetness), a little vanilla, and a pinch of salt together, then strain out any remaining solids using a nut milk bag or cheesecloth. I also recommend briefly soaking and then washing your oats before making the milk. I know it sounds finicky, but giving them a few baths and swirling and draining the water until it runs almost clear helps to reduce the one occasional unpleasant aspect of oat milk: a bit of sliminess. Moving on!

So, why strawberries? I just happened to have them in the fridge. :) I made strawberry shortcakes for a crazy-amazing vegan wing night (!) and had some berries leftover, and I figured they’d make a fun addition.

Strawberry Oat Milk

  • 1 cup rolled oats, soaked for 15 minutes and then rinsed
  • 2 Medjool dates, pitted and soaked for 15 minutes (you can soak them with the oats)
  • 4 cups water
  • 10 strawberries, tops removed (Try giving them to your pup as a treat!)
  • 1 tsp vanilla (optional; or use seeds from 1/2 a vanilla bean)
  • Pinch salt (optional)

Blend all ingredients for 2-3 minutes on high (ideally in a high-powered blender), then strain using a nut milk bag. Chill and enjoy… or save to use in a baking recipe for an infusion of strawberry flavor!

* Keep in mind that oat milk tends to separate in the fridge no matter how vigorously you blend and strain it, so give it a shake before drinking or using!
* Also note that this is more a method than a recipe! The proportions don’t really matter. Less water will make a creamier milk (or even a coffee creamer!); more strawberries will make it pinker and more strongly flavored. This recipe isn’t terribly sweet, so you may want to add a little agave nectar or maple syrup if you like things sweeter. Just don’t do what I once did and accidentally leave in your date pits, or you’ll get a bitter-tasting surprise!

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Sweet Iced Oat Milk

VeganMoFo 2015 banner

Day 7: Make/eat something inspired by a book or film.

Today’s prompt is terrifyingly broad! On this hot Labor Day Monday, when I’m still tired out from last night’s fundraiser and post-fundraiser friend times, all I want is to drink ice-cold water and snack on healthy foods. As I perused the internet looking for inspiration, I came across this quote from A Game of Thrones:

“…Wine no longer agrees with my digestion, I fear, but I can offer you a cup of iced milk, sweetened with honey. I find it most refreshing in this heat.” (Grand Maester Pycelle to Ned Stark, p. 250)

As a fan of the book series, the idea of making something super-simple yet inspired by a King’s Landing drink appealed to me. Ned describes the milk as “oversweet to his taste,” so I made sure not to go overboard with the sweetener in my version. I think this one would be Eddard-approved!

Sweet Iced Oat Milk

Sweet Iced Oat Milk
Serves 2-3

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 3 cups filtered water
  • 2 1/2 T pure maple syrup
  • Dash cinnamon

Add the dry oats to the blender and pulse for 20-30 seconds, or until they’re in small pieces. Add the water and let soak for about 10 minutes, giving the oats a stir now and then if you think of it. Blend for 2-3 minutes, or until you don’t see any pieces. (Give your blender a little rest in between minutes if it’s not particularly strong.)

Place a nut milk bag over a large measuring bowl or mason jar and pour the oat milk through the bag. Use your hands to gently squeeze out the milk, but most of it should strain very quickly. Set the bag aside. Pour the milk back into the blender and add the maple syrup and a dash of cinnamon. Blend for 10-15 seconds, then return to a jar for storing.

If you have time, freeze a few ice cubes made of the oat milk. To serve, add 2-3 cubes to a frosty glass, then pour in the milk. If you’re short on time, you can place the entire container of milk in the freezer for about 15 minutes so it gets very cold, and forgo the ice cubes. No matter which way you serve it, be sure to give it a quick whisk or stir to recombine any separated ingredients.

Oat milk should last for about a week in your fridge.

Sweet Iced Oat Milk

Simple Vanilla Oat Milk

As someone who’s slouching towards minimalism, the holidays pose a unique stress in my life. What to do with so many gifts? As much as I might want to request only experiences or (dare I say it?) cash as gifts, there’s a certain joy in the giving and receiving of tangible things, carefully chosen by a loved one. So I try to pre-empt the discomfort of bringing less-than-necessary new objects into my life by making my needs and occasional wants known. Case in point: last Christmas, I asked for nut milk bags and/or cheesecloths (#stereotypicalvegan) for my vegan cheese-making adventures.

Ask and ye shall receive. Receive I did — not just one, not two, but three varieties of cheesecloth and nut milk bags. Happily, they were all different, serving unique purposes in my kitchen. Did you know that you can use cheesecloth to strain cold-brew coffee? You can! We did! But while the cheesecloth was in regular kitchen rotation, my poor nut milk bag remained neglected. Honestly, I was a little apprehensive about making my own milks. I don’t have a fancy Vitamix or Blendtec; my run-of-the-mill blender has been known to require gentle coaching to perform the simplest of tasks. Even making smoothies with frozen bananas is an adventure! I expected the worst if I tried to blend something more resistant.

Vanilla Oat Milk

But then a friend mentioned how much she loves being able to whip up a batch of cashew milk whenever she’s running low. Sure, she has a Vitamix, but still! And then Steven received Miyoko Schinner’s The Homemade Vegan Pantry for his birthday, and my desire to start making my own staples finally transformed into action.

So, today, I’m sharing the easiest of easy homemade non-dairy milk recipes. To make oat milk, the only equipment you need is a blender and a nut milk bag. Unlike nuts, oats require very little soaking, so you can make a batch in nearly no time. And if you, like me, lack a fancy-pants blender, you’ll still be able to have creamy, delicious non-dairy milk without a trip to the grocery store.

Vanilla Oat Milk

Vanilla Oat Milk
Makes two cups

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • Seeds scraped from 1/2 a vanilla bean

Add the dry oats to the blender and pulse for 20-30 seconds, or until they’re in small pieces. Add the water and let soak for about 10 minutes, giving the oats a stir now and then if you think of it. Blend for 2-3 minutes, or until you don’t see any pieces. (Give your blender a little rest in between minutes if it’s not particularly strong.)

Place a nut milk bag over a large measuring bowl or mason jar and pour the oat milk through the bag. Use your hands to gently squeeze out the milk, but most of it should strain very quickly. Set the bag aside. Pour the milk back into the blender and add the maple syrup and vanilla. Blend for 10-15 seconds, pour back into jar, and refrigerate.

Oat milk will last about a week in your fridge.

Note: You can use vanilla extract instead of vanilla beans if you don’t have them or don’t want the visual effect of the seeds in your milk; I just didn’t want to add alcohol to mine.

Vanilla Oat Milk