These days, a lot more people are paying serious attention to nutrition and looking for alternatives to what the grocery store might suggest is a healthy alternative. Likewise, people are seeking to avoid animal products, or simply seeking natural options in an effort to live a healthier lifestyle.
Whatever your reasons for not drinking cow’s milk or purchasing an alternative at the grocery store, making your own rice milk at home can be a simple, cost effective solution.
Rice milk contains more carbohydrates than cow’s milk. However, unlike cow’s milk, rice milk doesn’t contain lactose or cholesterol. This makes it healthy for your heart as well as safe for those who are lactose intolerant.
Rice milk is lighter in nature and less oily than cow’s milk but you may find that any commercially produced rice milk is “enhanced” and “enriched” with additives. Plus, while the label may read “natural flavors” they’re really not all that natural. Natural flavors can help poor quality processed foods taste good, but there’s no real nutritional value, plus you’re consuming chemicals, not food. Just remember that “natural” flavors aren’t always nutritional or wholesome.
Replacing cow’s milk with rice milk means that you’re losing a source of calcium. You’ll need to find another source. As noted above, commercially produced rice milk may be fortified with calcium. You can also find it fortified with niacin, vitamin B12, vitamin A, vitamin D and iron. Just keep in mind; those aren’t always “natural” alternatives.
If you’re counting calories, there are about 140 calories in a cup of rice milk versus 185 calories in a cup of whole cow’s milk. Rice milk has about three grams of fat per cup. Whole milk has about 11 grams per cup. Keep in mind, though, that rice milk has more fat than skimmed cow’s milk.
You can make your own rice milk right in your own kitchen. If you’ve got the skills to boil water and use your blender, then you can make your own rice milk.
Here’s all you need to make about two liters of rice milk:
- 1/2 cup brown rice
- 4 cups water (to begin with)
- Unrefined sweetener
Follow these simple steps.
Put the rice and water in a container with a loose lid. Allow it to stand on your kitchen counter for about 10-12 hours. Don’t leave it longer than that because it may begin to ferment. Allowing the rice to soak softens up the rice. That enables the nutrients to be more easily extracted.
When you’re ready, empty the container with the rice and water into a pot. Cover with a lid and heat until the liquid is simmering. Allow it to simmer for around an hour. Adding more water if needed for the right consistency.
Blend the mixture until it is smooth and white. You can thin it out in the blender by adding more water. But if it’s too thin, you’ll need to return it to the stove.
Filter the mixture so that your rice milk has a nice smooth texture. You can use cheesecloth or a tea strainer.
If the plain rice milk is too bitter for your taste, you can add some unrefined sweetener like honey, brown sugar or molasses.
The rice milk should last about a week if you keep it sealed and in your refrigerator. Give it a good shake before you use it in case the rice has begun to settle.
Some recipes call for salt or other flavorings. That’s a matter of personal taste.
What are some reasons rice milk may not be the best for you?
Rice is highly starchy, which means rice milk will be as well. If you’re a diabetic, consuming rice milk may cause a sudden sugar overload. Other milks such as cow, soy or almond may be better choices. In addition to not being a good source of calcium, rice milk is also low in protein.
Rice milk does, however, contain powerful antioxidants such as manganese and selenium which help fight infections and cancers. Rice milk can also be a boost to your immune system.