When you think of almond, cashew and other nut milks, chances are words like decadent, detoxifying and ultra-nourishing don’t immediately come to mind. But that’s all about to change, thanks to a host of innovative companies, from Hong Kong to London, offering their own uniquely delicious spin on dairy-free beverages.
A staple of any juice detox programme, plant milks were once relegated to the background, humbly lingering in the shadows of the vibrant star of the show: the green juice. But despite a modest beige hue and unassuming list of ingredients, plant milks are no less a nutritional powerhouse. In fact, they’re bursting with antioxidants, nutrients and healthy fats.
THE HEALTH BENEFITS
So what exactly are plant milks? Also referred to as nut milks, plant milks all follow the same basic formula: a chosen variety of nut (typically almond or cashew, but seeds like sunflower and hemp can also be used) is blended with water and strained through a mesh bag. They offer an impressive list of benefits: almond milk, for example, is brimming with calcium and skin-loving vitamin E, contains less than half the calories of cow’s milk and has no cholesterol or saturated fat. Almonds also contain high amounts of vitamin D, which helps maintain strong bones and boosts the immune system.
Nut milks are fantastic for gut health, because they’re very easy for the body to digest. Most varieties of nut naturally contain omega-3 fatty acids, helping to reduce inflammation and making nut milks a great option for those who suffer from bloating. Nuts are also a strong source of fiber, which further promotes a healthy digestive system. With such a notable list of benefits, it’s not hard to see why brands around the globe are picking up on the trend.
ASIA’S CREAM OF THE CROP
Hong Kong residents have embraced juice detoxes as a remedy to the city’s notoriously fast-paced lifestyle since 2010. With a growing number of cleanse companies launching (and thriving) each year, it’s safe to say that the city has a strong interest in cleaner ways of living and eating. With shops in Melbourne and Hong Kong, Pressed Juices offers a tantalising menu of almond milks, including Espresso Almond Mylk – perfect for health-conscious caffeine lovers. Thinking of ditching that sugar-laden morning latte but not so keen on losing the coffee buzz? With 1.5 shots of coffee, this milk offers the perfect solution, boosting energy levels and loaded with antioxidants. It makes for a satisfying, guilt-free treat and is a refreshing way to start each morning.
Although almond and cashew milks are the most readily available plant milks, there’s another type that’s seriously nutritious and exceptionally tasty: the brazil nut. Packed with vitamins and nutrients, including significant amounts of selenium (an essential mineral for immune and thyroid health), and boasting one of the highest levels of plant-based magnesium (integral to a healthy heart and bones), brazil nuts are a remarkable superfood. Hong Kong-based Mr Green Juice took notice of this unsung hero and created their innovative Brazil Nut Boost. A great option for when skin is dry or has lost its glow, this distinctive drink will also appeal to those with a penchant for exotic flavours and rich, creamy textures. The company recommends adding some of its antioxidant-goodness to coffee and cereals, and taking a sip whenever your immune system could use a powerful boost.
Bangkok is another bustling Asian metropolis embracing the restorative benefits of juice detoxes and plant milks. The creative entrepreneurs at Me Juice Press have invented one clever concoction: a hybrid green juice-almond milk. Combining almonds, vanilla, honey, kale and wheatgrass, their Green Milk marries the nutritional benefits of green leafy vegetables with the deliciously creamy texture of nuts. A perfect option for those craving an easy extra dose of greens in their diet, or for when you’re craving a green drink that’s a touch more filling.
THE BEST OF BRITISH
Innovation in the world of dairy-free milk isn’t just emerging from Asia – it’s happening on a global scale. Nowhere is this better demonstrated than in London, a city which in recent years has wholeheartedly embraced its dozens of flourishing detox and juice cleanse companies. The Pressery was founded by Natali Stajcic and Chi-San Wan, two friends with a passion for wholefoods and healthy eating. The pair began creating their own almond milk when they discovered just how processed many readily available varieties can be, typically containing only one per cent almond. Their range is comprised of four milks, all made with organic, cold-pressed Spanish almonds: Original, Cacao, Turmeric and Berry. The latter two varieties are stand-outs: Turmeric combines the vibrant spice with cayenne and a hint of honey, while Berry is infused with a refreshing blend of raspberries and blueberries. They’re perfect on-the-go snacks or post-yoga treats, leaving you satisfied and energised.
Another London company getting their creative juices flowing is Botanic Lab, who recently launched an indulgent trio of plant-based milks. Plant Milk 1: Metabolic features all the ingredients of traditional almond milk, with the extra addition of coconut oil and raw honey. The result? A creamy drink reminiscent of a vanilla milkshake. Plant Milk 2: Awaken has been lauded as chocolate milk for grown-ups, with antioxidant-rich cacao and energy-boosting yerba maté. Matcha is the star of the sumptuously jade-tinged Plant Milk 3: Thermogenic, which, while not strictly a nut milk (its base is coconut water), has all the tempting trappings of a milky green tea ice cream.
Article first published on Asia Spa