Coffee has become a morning ritual for millions all over the world. It signals the day is off to a roaring start and to get ready for whatever the day has to throw at you. What you might be surprised to hear though, is that we are at our most focused and clear headed for the first 2 hours after we wake up. Basically, having our coffee hit as soon as we wake from our slumber is not the best approach because it really won’t help you out at all. The stress hormone known as cortisol kicks in and our bodies are more awake than ever! The ironic thing is, however, that it may actually dull our senses and make us less receptive to the caffeine hit in the future, which is literally the last thing we want coming into the cooler months.
We thought we might also take this opportunity to get into the ‘nitty gritty’ of the millions (okay, maybe not millions) of milks and milk alternatives that are now on offer down at your local café these days and which ones you should be drinking! Up until a couple of years ago it was full cream or skim. Done. Now it’s almond, soy, rice, lactose free, coconut, oat, and almond milk with vanilla, I’m pretty sure you can even get goat milk these days. Your options are almost endless. If something can be liquefied, they’ll turn it into milk. Here’s a list we’ve put together for you with the pros and cons of each, which will hopefully help make your future decisions a little easier.
Almond milk is probably the most popular milk alternative with its sweet, nutty flavour and fewer calories than normal milk. It’s also a decent source of magnesium, vitamin E and good fats. It’s important to note though, that majority of the almond milks that are on the market are made up of mostly water. In fact, the first ingredient on most cartons is water, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It just means that you’re probably not getting as many nutrients as you think you are and it’s more than likely quite processed.
Soy milk comes pretty close to the top as well with popularity. It’s also up there in terms of the debate of how healthy it is. It is high in protein and cheaper than most other alternatives and actually taste decent in our morning coffee but that all seems to come at the small price of female health. It’s been linked to breast cancer and also mimics the female sex hormone estrogen, which is great if you need a top up but has been connected to endometriosis and infertility. Definitely keep the Soy milk intake to a low.
Coconut milk is the newest guy in town and he’s taking over. High in vitamin B12 and healthy fats that are rich in lauric acid, this bad boy can also be great for cooking as well as your daily coffee. It does, however, have the highest amount of saturated fat than the rest so like we always say; moderation is key.
Oat milk! There are so many health benefits we can get from oats; it’s insane! They’re great for our hearts because they’re full of omega-3 fatty acids, folate and potassium. This fiber-rich superfood can lower levels of bad cholesterol and help keep arteries clear. One of the very few downsides to oat milk is that it is fairly high in sugar and doesn’t have the best consistency (quite watery).
Lastly is Rice milk. It’s not our first choice for milk alternatives but it can be one of the easiest to make yourself, which is always a bonus when you know exactly what’s going in your mouth! It’s surprisingly low in calories, and doesn’t have a high fat content. The not-so-great side is that rice is naturally high in sugar, so it is sweeter than most of the other options which is fine and sometimes even great to kill those cravings, but not for everyday!
All in all, it really comes down to your personal preference. A little bit of extra fat or calories here and there won’t be detrimental to your health unless you’re having more than five or six cups a day…in which case there’s probably some symptoms of caffeine addiction that need to be addressed!
Here’s our recipe of the week which went down a treat with our wonderful clients and members this week!
Healthy Snickers Bar (Vegan, GF)
makes 6 full-size bars or 12 “fun size” bars
For the nougat:
1/2 cup creamy almond butter
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
1 Tablespoon coconut flour
For the caramel filling:
12 soft Medjool dates, pitted (about 3/4 cup packed)
1/3 cup water
scant 1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup chopped peanuts, or other nuts/seeds of choice
For the dark chocolate coating:
1 cup dark chocolate chunks
1 teaspoon coconut oil
To create the nougat layer, combine the almond butter, coconut flour and maple syrup in a medium bowl and mix well to combine. Press the dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and use your hands to create a uniform rectangle shape that is about 1/2-inch thick. Place in the freezer to set.
While the nougat layer is setting in the freezer, prepare the caramel filling.
Combine the pitted dates, salt, vanilla, and coconut oil, and water in a high-speed blender, and blend until completely smooth. Be sure to taste the caramel and adjust the flavor or texture, as necessary.
Remove the nougat layer from the freezer and spread half of the caramel filling evenly over the top.
Sprinkle the 1/4-cup of chopped peanuts, or other chopped nuts of choice, over the top of the caramel layer, and use your hands to gently press the chopped nuts into the caramel filling. Place in the freezer to set for at least 30 minutes.
For the chocolate coating, combine the dark chocolate chunks and coconut oil in a heat-safe bowl and melt in the microwave on 30-second intervals, stirring each time, until completely smooth and melted.
Remove the candy bars from the freezer, and slice into 6 full-size bars. Slice these full-size bars in half, to create a “fun size” version, if you prefer.
– FCF Team
Recipe courtesy of http://detoxinista.com/2013/09/healthy-snickers-bars-vegan/