Feelin’ your oats? Sowing your oats? Or maybe you’re eating your oats. (Yes! They’re good for you!) But what about drinking your oats? That’s right! With just oats and water, you can make your own lactose-free, easy, creamy, DIY oat milk!
“Oat milk”* joins any number of plant-based beverages as part of a trend that’s gone mainstream. Even conventional supermarkets now offer a wide variety of plant “milks*”: soy, rice, almond, hazelnut, flax, hemp, cashew, coconut, even black bean and pea. If you haven’t tried oat milk with your cereal, I encourage you to try it!
If you don’t like oats, stop here.
Why would you want to drink your oats?
- Folks with lactose-intolerance, vegans, or people who don’t like the taste of dairy milk may be looking for a milk alternative. Oat milk has no dairy.
- Oats can lower cholesterol and blood glucose levels and a good substitute beverage for people with gluten-intolerance (Check labels for gluten-free oats. Oats themselves don’t contain gluten, but may be processed in facilities that also process wheat.) Very few people have oat allergies or trouble digesting them (unlike nuts).
- Oat milk is thick and creamy and won’t curdle when added to hot coffee, tea, or sauces. (Note: It doesn’t froth like dairy milks.)
- Because growing oats requires much less water, land, and other resources than dairy milk (and many other plant-based beverages), it’s perceived as more ecologically sound and sustainable. The concept is: drink directly from oats instead of first feeding oats to a cow and letting the cow process them into milk. One brand, Oatly, said oat milk “generates 80% lower greenhouse emissions than cow’s milk. Land use is also about 80% lower.”
- It’s super-fast and easy to make; useful if you run out of dairy milk. Whenever you would use dairy milk, oat milk can be used exactly the same amounts.
- Oat milk is delicious. Of couse, if you do NOT like oats, you probably won’t like oat milk.
Oat Drink and Health
If you are lactose-intolerant, are you still getting the health of dairy milk? It depends what you’re seeking. See chart below.
Oat milk does not provide the same level of protein, calcium, protein, and Vitamins A and D you’d get from dairy milk.
So, many oat milk beverages are enriched with more vitamins (D, riboflavin, B12) and calcium. Oat milk provides a nice balance of protein, carbs, fiber, and healthy fats.
Oat milk contains less sugar, less unhealthy unsaturated fats, and fewer calories that cow’s milk.
However, not all commercial oat milk products are the same; check to see if new brands have sweeteners, saturated vegetable oil, thickeners, flavorings (vanilla), stabilizers, or preservatives. Look for oatmilks that have no added sugars. The oats have natural sweetness. Also, be sure any oils added are minimal and are high in unsaturated fat (eq, 1.5% rapeseed).
If you want to make your own oat milk, it’s easy. Read on.
Basic Recipe for Oat Milk
- Combine one part dry (not cooked) old-fashioned oatmeal or oat groats with 2 parts water.
- Cover and let stand overnight.
- Strain through a fine sieve or cheesecloth to remove as much liquid as possible.
- Refrigerate and use within a few days.
Oat milk may separate in the refrigerator. Just shake it up well before using.
Don’t waste the solids left behind. Incorporate them into breads, cookies, pancakes, meatloaves, casseroles—anywhere you’d use rolled oats as an ingredient.
Use this version if you run out of milk and need some right away
- Combine oats and water as above. Let sit for 20-30 minutes.
- Blend at high speed for two or three minutes.
- Strain well and refrigerate liquid or use right away.
Oat Milk Uses
Oat milk has a neutral, slightly oat-y flavor. Many children and adults like to drink it as is. But you can also:
- Pour it over cereal.
- Make it with strong, cold coffee or espresso instead of water for a summer drink.
- Lighten coffee or tea. Add it to hot coffee, tea, or chai, but be forewarned: heating oat milk itself will turn it thick and slimy (see #3 below).
- Thicken gravies and sauces. Add it a little at a time until you find the right consistency.
- Make chocolate “milk” by adding cocoa powder, a few drops of vanilla, and a touch of sweetener.
- Use it to make smoothies.
- se it as a substitute for milk in baked goods, casseroles, custards, pie fillings, and quiches.
You can find recipes online that use oat milk to make yogurt, kefir, and even…that’s right, ice cream. Bon appetit!
*Pushback from the dairy industry has created a still-unsettled legal matter (currently resting with the federal Food & Drug Administration) over whether plant-based beverages may label themselves “milk.” (Many oat milk brands call themselves “Oat Drink” or “Oat Beverage” anyways.)