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Welcome to WFAEats — a fun adventure where we explore all things tasty and interesting in the Charlotte food scene. We want to share stories, recipes and culinary escapades and hear about yours!

Got 'Milks?' New Book Goes Non-Dairy

Sabra Crock

When Dina Cheney discovered she was lactose-intolerant, she did what any resourceful food-lover would do: 

She grabbed a hammer and a screwdriver and started busting open coconuts for their milk. But then she took it further -- much further. She crushed cashews and pulverized pistachios. She soaked and cooked and blended all sorts of nuts and seeds and grains. She enhanced the flavors of the resulting liquids with everything from cocoa to curry.  

And then she wrote a book about it, The New Milks: 100-Plus Dairy-Free Recipes for Making and Cooking with Soy, Nut, Seed, Grain, and Coconut Milks. It contains detailed instructions for making your own plant-based milks at home, plus recipes for using them deliciously in main dishes, side dishes, desserts, and beverages. 

We reached out to Cheney, hoping to milk a little more insight from the author. She replied, "I wanted to share what I’d learned with the public, especially since 65 percent of people older than two or three are lactose-intolerant (according to the National Institutes of Health). There wasn’t an authoritative source on plant-based, vegan, or alt milks. So, I conducted a ton of research and spent a lot of time in the kitchen experimenting."

All of the milks are dairy-free and kosher. Most are vegan; plenty are paleo-approved and gluten-free. A helpful chart explains which are naturally more sweet (almond, hazelnut); neutral (hemp, soy); or savory (buckwheat, sunflower).

Not everyone wants to take the time or purchase the gear to make their own milk. That's perfectly fine because Cheney offers lots of tips for using and adapting store-bought products in recipes. Our favorite: "In general, I recommend cooking with store-bought milks, since they're so convenient and, more importantly, contain stabilizers that prevent separation (much more attractive in finished dishes)." 

There's more to the many manifestations of these miraculous milks than anyone can squeeze into a single book. Cheney recently discussed her work on The Splendid Table (you can listen to the interview here). The author also lectures and teaches classes frequently.

A simple recipe is the perfect way to start learning to love dairy-free milks. Try the one Cheney has shared for Spiced Chocolate Milk. It's guaranteed to please kids and adults. We promise you'll never miss the "moo."

Copyright © 2016 by Dina Cheney from THE NEW MILKS: 100-Plus Dairy-Free Recipes for Making and Cooking with Soy, Nut, Seed, Grain, and Coconut Milks, published by Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.