I'm not a milk drinker, but Alfie and the kids drink milk every single day of their lives -- in their cereal, in a glass, in Alfie's tea. I also use milk in lots of recipes like mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese and creamy soups. Milk and dairy products are the main reason why we think we'd find it impossible to switch to a vegan lifestyle -- we can do without meat, but we just love milk, eggs and cheese too much!
Recently, however, The Pea, who was previously the most reluctant in the family to give up animal products, has become more health conscious and has begun drinking almond milk. She took it upon herself to ask me to buy some almond milk so she could try it in her cereal. She has really taken to the taste, and now has almond milk instead of our regular 2% cow's milk in her cereal once or twice a week. I'm well aware of the benefits of adding more plant-based foods to one's diet, so I'm only too happy to let her continue.
So the time was definitely right to accept an invitation from Canadian beverage company Earth's Own to try two of their brands, Almond Fresh almond milk and Ryza rice milk. Almond Fresh and Ryza are best sellers in Canada, and they have recently debuted in the US. Here's a bit of information about the two brands:
· Ryza™: The only rice beverage to bear the Whole Grains Council seal, Ryza is also the only rice milk to contain 16 grams of whole grains per one cup serving. Ryza contains no added oils, making it half the fat of the leading competitor.
· Almond Fresh™: Made with nutrient-rich real California almonds, Almond Fresh offers a unique “real nutty taste” that is exclusive to the beverage. In 2011, it received the “Best New Product” award in the Dairy Alternative category as voted by more than 25,000 consumers and featured in Canadian Living magazine.
Earth's Own sent me two coupons for Almond Fresh, so I bought a carton of their unsweetened and chocolate varieties (you can find Almond Fresh and Ryza at Whole Foods). I have to admit, I haven't tasted Almond Fresh by itself -- I told you, I don't drink milk -- so I'm handing this review over to our resident almond milk expert, The Pea. She really likes it. She likes certain brands of almond milk better than others, and Almond Fresh is definitely in the "better" category. She says it's thinner than milk, and not as creamy, but it has a nice nutty taste that goes really well with cereal. She says that the Almond Fresh chocolate variety is practically indistinguishable from low fat chocolate milk when it's served very, very cold.
I may have handed over the product tester badge to The Pea for this review, but I'm still the family cook, and I wanted to see how Almond Fresh compares to milk when used in recipes. I tried the cream of almond and wild mushroom soup from their website:
Almond Fresh Cream of Almond and Wild Mushroom Soup
3 tbsp olive oil or butter
1 cup shallot, finely diced
1 cup leeks, finely sliced
¼ tsp dried red chili flakes
4 cups sliced mixed mushrooms (brown or white button, crimini, portobello, chanterelle or a mix of your favourites)
4 tbsp all-purpose flour
3 cups vegetable stock
2 ½ cups Almond Fresh Unsweetened
sprig fresh rosemary
1 bay leaf
1 tsp fresh thyme
¼ cup cooked black beans
¼ cup diced red potato
salt & ground pepper to taste
2 tsp chopped parsley
1. Heat oil or butter in large pot. Add shallots, leeks and chili flakes, sauté over medium heat until vegetables are translucent.
2. Add mushrooms and cook stirring often until mushrooms have begun to lose their liquid and have started to brown. Stir in flour, coating vegetables.
3. Add the vegetable stock and Almond Fresh stirring constantly to keep lumps from forming. Add rosemary, bay leaf and thyme and bring to a boil.
4. Add the hot Almond Fresh to the roux 1 cup at a time, whisking continuously until very smooth.
5. Season with salt and pepper, garnish with fresh parsley.
This soup is sooooo good. The title says "Wild Mushroom", but I used regular old sliced white mushrooms and it came out fantastic. The soup is creamy and savory, exactly what a good cream of mushroom soup should be. Alfie didn't realize we had used almond milk at all.
So, substituting almond milk for regular milk in recipes has no significant difference in taste or texture -- but it does make a huge difference in nutrition. Just look at the comparison of some key nutrition information for a 1-cup serving of Almond Fresh original versus 2% cow's milk!
Calories: 70 for Almond Fresh original vs. 140 for 2% cow's milk
Fat: 2g for Almond Fresh original vs. 5g for 2% cow's milk
Saturated fat: 0.2g for Almond Fresh original vs. 3g for 2% cow's milk
Calcium: 30% DV* for Almond Fresh original vs. 35% DV for 2% cow's milk
Vitamin D: 45% DV for Almond Fresh original vs. 25% DV for 2% cow's milk
* % DV stands for percent daily value
The 2% cow's milk has slightly more calcium, but in everything else, it's trounced by Almond Fresh. I'm really watching my weight these days, so I eat a lot of soups, but have avoided making creamy, milky soups. Now that I know about Almond Fresh, I no longer have to. I'm giving Almond Fresh my official seal of approval -- what a great alternative to cow's milk!
Win a $40 gift card to Whole Foods
Earth's Own is giving a $40 Whole Foods gift card to one lucky Bonggamom Finds reader!
Leave a comment on this post and tell me which variety of Almond Fresh you would most like to try. This entry must be completed before any extra entries will count.
For extra entries, you can do any or all of the following. Please leave a separate comment for each extra entry with a way to verify the entry (i.e. tweet link, blog post link, Facebook id, Twitter id, etc.).
1) Blog about this giveaway, making sure you include a link to the giveaway in your blog post (1 entry).
2) Write this on the Bonggamom Finds Facebook page (1 entry):
I entered the Almond Fresh giveaway! http://ow.ly/6wCGm
3) Write this on the Almond Fresh Facebook page (1 entry):
Bonggamom sent me-- I'd love to win the $40 Whole Foods giveaway on Bonggamom Finds so I can try some Almond Fresh! http://ow.ly/6wCGm
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6) Follow @bonggafinds on Twitter and tweet this, up to once per day (1 entry per day):
RT @bonggafinds Enter to win a $40 Whole Foods gift card from Earth's Own! Enter at http://ow.ly/6wCGm #giveaways
This giveaway ends at 11:59PM PST on October 7, 2011; I will draw a winner at random on October 8 and post the winner's name after he/she confirms acceptance. Continental US residents only. For additional giveaway rules, click here. Good luck!
Disclosure: I received 2 coupons for a free carton of Almond Fresh. Product information is provided by the featured company/product and is indicated in italics. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.