I think I’ve spoken about my childhood milk behaviour before. I wasn’t the most milk-loving child, adding but a few droplets to my cereal and only consuming a glass if it contained half a tin of milo, whirled into a chocolate stream. Milky cocoa pops were a fine holiday treat because it was just like a chocolate milkshake. But I was certainly not a fan of pure milk. I grew up on Rev and the thought of a glass of milk, let alone full-cream milk, made me want to barf. Skinny milk was like water, you know? I was able to deal with it. Just.
Easing into my early twenties, my coffee order was always skim. I’d be horrified if I were presented with a full-fat latte, the creaminess was entirely too much to handle. Needless to say I hated cream, too. Ahhhh to be young and foolish.
I find the way our tastes change to be fascinating. These days I’m nutty about milk, it’s a prime feature in my fridge. I still cannot quite fathom a plain glass but I’ll decorate it with just a touch of raw cacao (exercising such refined adult restraint, my younger milo-mad self would be proud/ashamed) and a banana, maybe some nut butter and cinnamon and call it a smoothie. I adore milk in porridge, there’s nothing more comforting in the morning than a creamy bowl of warm rolled oats and milk. And while I will likely top it with a few fancy embellishments (some things never change), my preference towards the flavour of pure milk and oats is quite new to me. And I’m loving it, I really am. I’m a full-cream girl now.
Let me just explain why…
Alright, there’s a few things to mention along with my full-cream fan girling. It might seem like a big deal over nothing, I mean, it’s milk!! But “what milk do you drink?”, “why do you use butter when you’re a Dietitian?”, “is full-cream dairy better for me?” are questions I receive terribly frequently. And while diet is a very personal, individual thing, I’m going to talk about my choices for a moment in the hope it clarifies a few things about the way I eat.
For me, personally, full-cream milk feels like the right choice. It is a food that sits well with me, I feel energetic and vibrant and nourished drinking it and I source my milk intentionally.
I am proud of the fact that I have a supremely healthy diet and lifestyle. Farm-fresh and organic vegetables make up the bulk of our meals, and we jazz things up with a variety of wholegrains (rolled oats, quinoa, pasta, wild rice, freekeh, millet, the list goes on…) and quality sourdough bread plus lots of extra virgin olive oil (oh, the research in that area is compelling and delicious). I also eat at least a handful of nuts and seeds every day (almond butter, tahini, walnuts, brazil nuts, sunflower seeds…) as well as a little fruit, some dairy with minimal added ingredients, sustainable happy eggs, oily fish (predominately anchovies and sardines, the small and sustainable omega-3 rich beauties) and a little grass-fed meat and organic, free range chicken (where I can, I am not perfect with this endeavour but whenever I buy it I make sure it’s in line with my desire to consume mindfully and sustainably). I’m not perfect, no-one is, but I do generally eat fantastically well and this is something I am proud of. I cannot tell you the last time I ate a pre-packaged highly refined snack, I just dislike them, they makes me feel blah. If I want a doughnut, I make or buy a good one, if I want hot chips I get the best darn hot chips I can find (or duck fat roasted potatoes…). Food and cooking is a hobby to me, so I happily spend time in the kitchen in place of other activities and if I know I’m busy, I meal prep (which is key to consistently eating well). I’m fortunate in the location I live and the fact that I can generally choose my own work hours, but I love my lifestyle so I work hard to keep it a reality. Eating well does not have to cost more money but it might take more time. I am also active with nature walks and yoga, I drink in moderation (Campari or red wine, please), I don’t smoke, I do not suffer a lot of stress and I get 7-8 hours sleep most nights. And I drink full-cream milk.
It’s funny that I need to justify my choice with this self-loving paragraph (I know, I know, I sound like I’m just tooting my own horn and the amount of “I do this” in that paragraph makes me cringe), but I feel it’s important to do so.
You see, I eat butter and drink full-cream milk. And I am also a Dietitian. In my profession, we tread carefully around these foods. The recommendations are to avoid full-fat products after the age of two, however there is research that suggests dairy fats are perhaps not the significant contributor to disease we once thought. Hallelujah, right? Well, yes, but wait a second…before you go loading up your toast with butter you need to be real and answer a few important questions….
Do you eat pre-packaged foods regularly or even semi-regularly? Are packets of highly refined crackers and breads and snack bars and cereals and yoghurts loaded with added sugar and soft drink (diet or otherwise) a part of your diet? If so, your fat and sugar and sodium intake is likely edging higher and therefore I’d encourage you to cut back on processed foods completely before you jump on the full-cream bandwagon. Unfortunately not everyone is willing to give up on these “food-like” substances found in the supermarket, we’ve come to rely on these convenience foods, I get that. But adding butter and full-fat dairy to a diet full of highly processed, pro-inflammatory (disease-encouraging), high sugar, high sodium “food” is likely not the best health move (especially if you’re trying to manage your weight). Get back to real food, use extra virgin olive oil as your preferred fat source (with some good omega 3s) and then we’ll talk about full-cream milk. Some yoga and time in nature might be a more important immediate health switch, though. As I said, everyone is different. Phew.
So, what milk do I choose?
Milk from happy, grass-fed, sustainably raised cows, that’s what! There is just no comparison in the end product and the impact on our environment. Yes, it’s more expensive than Supermarket milk but that’s a choice I make. I skimp on other things and prioritise quality food. I hope I can encourage you to pay a bit more for milk from happy cows (if you’re not already), or find a farmer near you who can provide you with quality milk. Milk is a fundamental part of many people’s diets, so I think it makes sense to ensure your drinking the good stuff. Taste and nutrition is good motivation in itself, without even considering the significant environmental impact you can make by switching your support as a consumer towards sustainable farming practices. Milk from happy cows that aren’t stressed and are eating what they’re born to eat (pasture fed!) is better for us, the environment and the cow. If you aren’t convinced, do a little research and taste the difference.
A brand I favour is Demeter Biodynamics, and you can find good, local-to-you brands via this link. The goal is finding a farm where the cows are sustainably farmed and pasture-fed, with bobby calves raised alongside retired dairy cows (usually in factory farming they’re sent to be slaughtered). Demeter Biodynamics have a range of products (not just dairy), but we usually buy their full-cream homogenised milk and sometimes their organic butter (which isn’t local to us but it’s delicious). If you’re not a full-cream lover, Demeter have a low-fat product as well (see their milk range here and search for stockists near you -their goods are quite widely available). We don’t buy this all the time, in fact, often we are at Ritchies and go for Paul’s organic. But that’s a pretty fine choice at the end of the day too. It’s about small, sustainable steps in the direction of supporting the right people.
Wednesday Breakfast Club.
I’m a few days late for my May addition to My Mindful Kitchen (where I search for sustainable producers to support and devour, one each month for 2014!). These photos were taken last week but I wanted to share it with you for Wednesday Breakfast Club, so I made this smoothie bowl again today. It’s made with Demeter milk, and although it is topped with a few fancy things I believe milk to be the key ingredient, the shining star, the true reason for its greatness. And because this milk is so sweet, you really don’t need additional sweeteners.
It’s better than a chocolate milkshake, that’s for sure.
Milk Loving Smoothie Bowl
1 frozen Banana
1 & 1/2 cups quality Milk
2 heaped teaspoons Maca Powder (optional)
1 heaped tablespoon natural Peanut Butter (or almond butter)
A sprinkle of Bee Pollen (something indulgent I’m playing with), toasted Sunflower Seeds and Pepitas plus a sprinkling of Sea Salt to decorate
Slice the frozen banana (if not already sliced) and puree in a blender with the milk, maca, peanut butter. Taste and adjust as desired (add a little honey if you want it sweeter). Pour into a bowl and top with some bea pollen and toasted seeds and sea salt.
What did you have for breakfast today? and what milk do you drink? Please share any great producers you know of or are supporting. We’re in this together!