21 April 2012

Metamorphosis of a milk junkie

BBQ pork in my handEver since I can remember up until not long ago, I used to drink two cups of cow milk every morning for breakfast. Besides that baseline of half a liter a day, I used about one to two additional liters a week for cooking (porridge, for instance) and baking. That was so much milk, that I'd instantly identify with a T-Shirt a friend once found for me and that read "milk junkie" in big letters. (“Milch” is German for milk).
Several years ago I discovered soy milk as an alternative option and I started to replace some of my cow milk consumption by soy milk, since I thought that it must generally be healthier to eat and drink a variety of stuffs instead of just the same every day. When I started to be interested in vegetarianism and veganism I increased the amount of soy milk (and rice milk and other plant milks) and had proportionally less cow milk. Until one day about a year ago, I realized that I didn't want to have any animal milk or dairy product any more and completely stopped drinking cow milk at all. (I didn't completely go vegan at that point, in fact, I am still not vegan now, since I occasionally eat products that contain dairy when I eat out. I find it's just not worth it to avoid all this stuff just to be 100% vegan.)

But that's not the end of my personal milk story. After getting rid of cow milk, I quickly got bored of the plant milks and wouldn't regularly drink my two cups each morning. Sometimes I instead just had tea or plain water or more recently I have a big home-made smoothie about every other day. To me, one big advantage of soy milk was that I could cook or bake any non-vegan recipe and make it vegan just by replacing animal milk with soy milk. (Also easy to replace the eggs, but even easier to simply google for vegan recipes so you don't bother about replacements.)
I made one liter of soy milk and kept it warm in the thermos while putting about a third of the side-produced okara into my chocolate-whole-grain-porridge.
Now, two weeks ago, I purchased my personal soy milk making machine and that has brought a surprising insight and further change to my milky habits. When making four cups of soy milk, there's about one cup of okara left-over from the beans and I am trying to use all of it. I really like the idea of not wasting anything edible and nutritious and it also fits great with the nutritarian principle of eating whole foods instead of refined foods. Soy milk is clearly a refined food, because the okara is thrown away. Now, by eating the okara (even if it's in another dish), I do in fact consume the entire soy bean. That really seems like a good idea to me!

Still all that much soy consumption gives me the feeling that my diet gets a bit monotonous. To mitigate this I am occasionally making some almond milk with my machine. But a really surprising change occurred to me just today: a very simple way to use all the okara (and produce less okara at the same time!) is to use okara as a milk replacement in recipes! Since I am making soy milk at home I prefer to drink it directly when it's still hot, instead of cooling it, keeping it, and putting it in recipes. Smoothies and porridge also taste fine with water in place of soymilk. (Note that I always have my porridge with a big fruit salad that gives much of the taste!) And what's even better is that porridge cooked with water instead of milk is much less prone to boiling out of the pot or stick to the bottom of the pot! Now, my latest trick is to use okara in all those places! Add a bit to the smoothie. Add a bit to the porridge (after cooking, since okara is already cooked). Put it into cakes. Put it into casseroles (soufflés). I really like this a lot! Since I don't need to use soy milk any more for those purposes, I am eating less monotonous, and since I put in the okara that comes with the soy milk, I am eating much more whole. Killed two birds with one stone!

“crazy monkey cake” named thus for the three mashed bananas it contains.
“ok carrot cake” named thus for the okara and the simplicity of the made-up recipe.

Welcome new whole foods, plant-based, highly diverse diet!


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