MLK…..Milk Minus the Moo.

MLK - Milk minus the Moo

MLK – Milk minus the Mo

I honestly can’t remember the last time I tasted something so unexpectedly delicious!

Now don’t get me wrong, I LOVE almond milk, but apart from the really processed ones, aren’t they all pretty similar? No! These ones from The Good Little Cook are without question the best I’ve ever tasted, and more importantly, they get a big thumbs up from my Little Love.

These are made from pure filtered water and 20% raw activated almonds – a hell of a lot more than you’ll find in some big name brands. You won’t find any hidden nasties here either. There are absolutely no refined sugar, preservatives, emulsifiers or stabilisers. Granted they don’t have as long a shelf life but I don’t know about you, I like my food fresh so don’t consider this an issue.

The original comes in 3 sizes: 1 litre (€5.50), 500ml (€4.50) and 250ml (€3.00), and Beetroot, Carob come in 250ml (€3.50).

As I’m sure you know, these can be used exactly like “normal” milk….think tea/coffee, cereal, smoothies, ice cream etc. The flavoured ones (pictured) are a fantastic stand-alone product. My Little Love can expect them to make an appearance in her school bag and her Sunday dinner wine glass!! I bought these at Sonas Health Foods in Newcastle West and they are also available at Mahon Point Farmers Market on Thursdays. Did I mention that they are local? Proudly made in County Limerick…..another reason to love them for sure!

So where do I stand personally on the dairy issue?

While I don’t subscribe to a “one-size-sits-all” mentality when it comes to diet and lifestyle, I do believe that there are a lot of benefits to eliminating dairy. Many people have a sensitivity to lactose, the natural sugar in milk, because they don’t have the enzyme (lactase) needed to break it down. It is present in raw milk, but unfortunately the pasteurisation process kills it off. We have been brought up to believe that dairy is an essential source of calcium, but there is a large body of research emerging, that questions it’s bioavailability in the human body. We need to acknowledge the use of pesticides, antibiotics and growth hormones in agriculture, all of which can potentially end up in the finished products. And what of the animal welfare and environmental issues?

Clearly there is a lot to be considered and I think it is definitely worth experimenting. After all you won’t be required to take the dairy free equivalent of a pioneer pledge! And who knows you might be pleasantly surprised if digestive disorders and skin complaints start to clear up.

MLK from The Good Little Cook is a great place to start your dairy free adventures. Go get some today!

Drink Up! Birch Tree Water

Move over Coconut Water, there’s a new kid in town!

Sealand Birk Organic Birch Tree Juice

Sealand Birk Organic Birch Tree Juice

Like many industries, trends in Health & Wellness move fast. Just as coconut water has become a household name, with everyone from your yoga teacher to your Granny singing its praises, it would seem that it’s about to have some tough competition in the form of Birch Tree Water.

So what exactly is it?

Birch water is the sap that flows through the tree every spring, awakening new growth, and it is said by many to be a health elixir. While people in the Tropics have been drinking coconut water for many years, it would seem that our neighbours in Northern & Eastern Europe have been enjoying birch water.  It can be tapped directly from the trees, in much the same way as maple is collected. Tapping does not harm the health of the tree, but the tapping season itself is relatively short. Harvesting only takes place for one month each year, usually March to April, before the first green leaves have appeared. Birch water is highly perishable, lasting only between 2 -5 days. So unless you’re lucky enough to have a tree in your garden, all birch water that you buy will be treated in some way, pasteurisation being the most likely.

Why should I be drinking it?

Birch water has a similar chemical profile to coconut water, think natural energy and rehydration, but it does have some extra benefits. As well as some protein, enzymes and electrolytes, it also has saponins which are thought to be anti-inflammatory and may help lower cholesterol. Birch Water has xylose-derived xylitol, which may strengthen enamel and reduce dental decay. It is a powerful diuretic and has been used historically to treat many disorders including fluid retention, obesity, cellulite, high blood pressure and arthritis to name but a few. It’s beauty-boosting credentials come from vitamin C (antioxidant), zinc (necessary for growth and repair of cells) and copper (thought to be anti-aging).

What else should I know?

Even though I’m not one for counting calories personally, for those of you that are interested, birch tree water has approximately 18 calories per 100ml and 4g of naturally occurring sugars. I bought the one pictured (Sealand Birk Blueberry) in TK Maxx and paid €2.99 for 330ml. I loved the taste. It was akin to a very lightly flavoured spring water. It would have been great to try the natural flavour but alas, they didn’t have it. I’ve read that it has a slight sweetness with some reporting a “woody” or “pine” after taste. Although I’ve known about it for some time, this is the first time I’ve seen it for sale. I would expect this to change as it’s popularity grows. Overall, I feel that birch tree water is a great alternative for those times when you want something more than plain water. Oh! and it gets the kid seal of approval too!

Have you tried it? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.