Oat Milk, My Oat Milk

Never in my pushing-40 years have I desired an alternative to cow’s milk. Ever. Writing this post is the biggest surprise to my former future self. Past Zoe is questioning my life choices.

But as I’ve gotten older and have begun choosing healthier options when it comes to nutrition and self-care, I have started doing things such as consciously eating less meat. Some days are wholly vegetarian but I consider it a good day if only one of my meals out of three has meat in it. Same goes with dairy. While you’ll have to pry cheese from my cold dead hands, milk has slowly been less of a priority on my grocery list. In my household, it’s used far more for cooking than consuming as a drink or even putting on cereal. And the longer I go without drinking it, the more I notice its nefarious side effects on my digestive system. Cookies and milk, a rare treat but didn’t used to be in my younger years, is now a loaded decision. Do I risk the effects of all the refined sugar, fat, calories, and effects of the milk?

I’m unsure where the idea germinated but I know I read an article, likely from Twitter, about oat milk’s prevalence (really, a comeback). It was specifically about Oatly! (more on that in a bit) but the result was a kernel–or oat, if you will–lodged itself in my brain until I succumbed to the temptation to experiment with oat milk to see if it could be a true alternative to cow’s milk.

Being the researcher that I am, I looked up articles and reviews on the available brands of oat milk out there and which ones were getting rated as best tasting. Three brands rose to the top of most people’s lists (including general availability): Pacific Foods, Califia Farms, and Oatly!, the exclamation point of which is part of their branding.

Initially, I couldn’t find Pacific Foods or Oatly! but I did find Califia Farms. I found their unsweetened oat milk at Meijer and bought myself a bottle. It was in the regular refrigerated milk area. I’ve since learned that Pacific Foods is unrefrigerated and not sold in the milk fridges.

Thoughts on Califia Farms: the color of it looks a bit bluish gray, similar to skim milk, which I’ve always abhorred. While unsweetened, it does have a sweeter, distinctive oat flavor, similar to what you would find if you had eaten a bowl of Cheerios and you’re down to the remaining milk in the bowl. All told, I preferred using this milk in smoothies but not on its own and not in coffee. Still, if it’s the only kind I could find, it would be just fine as an alternative milk.

Eventually, I did manage to find Oatly! sold at my local Target, both the ‘regular’ kind of unsweetened milk and the Barista version. The Barista version has a couple extra grams of fat but is otherwise identical to regular Oatly. At first, I could only found a quart of the Barista version and tried that at home, and found it had a nice neutral flavor and color. It didn’t taste as nutty or oaty as Califia Farms and isn’t as gray in color. Note: the barista version of any of these oat milks foams similarly to regular milk, which is why it’s been so popular with coffee shops.

At home, I quickly went through the quart of the Barista version and when I returned to Target, I found the half gallons of the regular unsweetened milk, which has 5g of fat per serving. All of the oat milks I tried have similar grams of carbs and sugars. I believe it averages out to 16-17g of carbs per glass of oat milk, which is a bit high (compared to 11g of whole milk), so I try to reserve consumption to coffee, smoothies, etc, with the occasional exception for drinking.

The winner overall in my book is Oatly! original unsweetened milk. It mimics cow’s milk so well that I ventured to try a small glass of it to drink when we had chili a couple of weeks ago, and it tasted exactly like having an ice cold glass of cow’s milk while having something rich to eat. It was seriously delicious! The bonus was not having any G.I. distress afterwards. Oatly also claims to be the OG oat milk from the 1990s. Maybe they’ve just perfected it and that’s why it’s so dang good. There was even a shortage in 2018, which caused some brief panic, but they seem to be back on track now.

Since getting onto this bandwagon, at least two of the local coffee shops in my area have begun offering oat milk for lattes. I have had two oat milk lattes since (made with Pacific Foods oat milk, so I’ve officially tried it) and they were both excellent. What I noticed was that because oat milk is generally thinner, even when having a similar fat content, the espresso flavor from the latte punches through a bit more. That’s only a bad thing if you really can’t stand the bitterness or flavor of good coffee. I liked knowing I wasn’t filling up on bloating milk with my breakfast, nor watering down the flavor of my latte. I plan to keep trying oat milk lattes where and when I can find them. I recommend you see if your shop/s have them, as well! It’s a great place to start if you’ve been thinking of trying an alternative to cow’s milk but can’t stand soy or almond milk, which was the case for me.

Are you an oat milk convert as I am? Let me know in the comments!

*Miniature soap box moment: it should be mentioned that consuming a lot of dairy and meat not only has effects on one’s health but the meat and dairy industries contribute to the current climate crisis.  If all of us meat/dairy consumers reduced our intake, even a little, it could save areas of the planet suffering from deforestation to make room for farm animals (especially cattle). While I have not gone full vegetarian by any means, I am taking more responsibility for being mindful about my meat and dairy consumption. It does make a difference, both in health effects and our ecosystem. I know this could be considered a controversial take but…it is my blog, so that’s my full opinion on the matter.

Does Force of Nature Really Work?

About a month ago, I succumbed to a powerfully targeted Facebook “infomercial” and bought the cleaning system Force of Nature.

I was intrigued because anything that reduces waste, is completely non-toxic, and boasts powerful cleaning and deodorizing power from three ingredients will pull me in.

I bought a starter kit when Force of Nature was offering a promotion that seemed like a good deal. In my opinion, spending about $60 is about right for what you receive. Additionally, they offer a 30-day money-back guarantee.

The TL;DR version is that we are really enjoying using it. All the recommendation details are below! 

The premise behind Force of Nature is this, pulled directly from their site:

Force of Nature miniaturizes the electrolyzed water technology from the industrial space. It uses electricity to transform salt, water & vinegar into 2 non-toxic cleaning ingredients:

  • Hypochlorous acid: The active ingredient. Cleans & deodorizes as effectively as bleach yet non toxic.
  • Sodium hydroxide: a detergent but without bubbles. Contains a non toxic concentration of .0000003%, yet cleans as well as major brands.

So, what’s in the starter kit? You get the electrolyzer charger doo-dad, the bottle in which you do the electrolyzing, a spray bottle, and five “activator capsules” that contain the ratio of water, vinegar, and sodium. Concentrated cleaning magic. (I am a vinegar convert.)

Part of the appeal for me with this product, aside from the more natural cleaning product, is the reduction in plastic consumption. Our planet is choking on plastic and I am actively working to do my part to lessen its dominance in my life, especially one-use items that can’t be recycled.

The activator capsules come packaged in a semi-soft plastic but I was relieved to find out these are recyclable (#5). I like knowing my dependency on buying larger plastic cleaning bottles that have unknown and toxic chemicals in them will decrease significantly.

Before I dive into other nitty gritty details, here is the end result: this stuff WORKS. I have to admit, my expectations were pretty low. I’ve bought similar items from the interwebs before, including products from infomercials back in the day, and the excitement over the product usually wanes pretty quickly after purchase.

However, Force of Nature is proving itself to be a staple around my house. Even my husband admits to liking using it, which is a Big Deal for him. (See below for less-than-stellar video of my making a bottle of FON.)

So, what can you use this stuff on?

We haven’t discovered much it doesn’t do well with! Because it’s mostly water, there is no drying agent in the mixture. I never thought about this before with other cleaners, but that “no streak” factor that I like from some of my favorite cleaning products is somewhat due to the drying agent. Keep this in mind for surfaces like glass or countertops, as it’s not 100% streak-proof. Note: do not use on an unsealed counter top; sealed or non-porous counter tops only. We have quartz counters in our kitchen, which are non-porous, so it’s safe to use on them.

As for smell, it has a less-offensive chlorine scent, and even for a Super Smeller like I am, I don’t find it bothersome. When it dries, the area just smells clean. Force of Nature is more reminiscent of a pool than something as strong as chlorine bleach. My lungs don’t hurt if I take a breath around it the way bleach can hurt eyes and lungs. And lingers. Boy, does bleach linger. But not Force of Nature! It is safe to use around pets and babies and you don’t have to wear gloves to protect yourself from it if you don’t want to. Nor do you have to turn on every fan in your home after you’ve used it.

Effectiveness: in my opinion, Force of Nature is the best de-greaser I have found. I don’t say that lightly. It pulverizes grease, instantly dissolving it. Plus, it gets rid of odors. One of our favorite surfaces we love to use Force of Nature on is our butcher block in our kitchen. I like to spray it down, wipe it up with a paper towel, and then lightly spray on some more to let it air dry. After drying, the butcher block is completely deodorized and food-safe once again. I have always hated how chopping onions leaves a lingering odor no matter what we do, but this stuff gets it right out. Color me seriously impressed.

This stuff is a rockstar for cleaning bathrooms. I know it’s at least half psychological but I just don’t feel as “ucky” when I clean the bathroom with FON as I do with other cleaning agents.

Flooring: we have a large expanse of hardwood floor in our family room and in the natural sunlight, I can see every drip or paw print that has ever left an impression of any kind. Force of Nature gets it clean with no smudges. I wish I could make a whole bucket of it for mopping.

Because of the de-greasing power, I decided to try this on the inside of our oven door after my husband had tackled it with Barkeeper’s Friend. There was still some semi-permanent baked-on crud in there. I saturated the door and let it sit for a minute before I wiped it up. It got more up but didn’t get everything. That said, I love having something non-toxic to use on the inside of the oven. I would venture to say the majority of oven-cleaning products are overtly toxic.

We have not yet tried FON on carpets or drapes with any kind of stains. I would be interested to see how it does with pet stains. We have one of those small wet-vacuum carpet cleaners where you put the formula in one end and it sucks up the dirty water in another. At some point, I’ll test out this theory. Force of Nature does ask you to test out a small patch of carpet or other upholstery before saturating. They also have a comprehensive FAQ on their website about what you can/cannot/should do for different odors, stains, and surfaces.

The only surface I have tried this on that I won’t regularly use it on is brushed stainless, like our refrigerator. It left some obvious streaks and I prefer to use a traditional cleaner with a drying agent before hitting it with the special stainless goop we have on hand. Yet, just before writing this post, I used FON to clean the stainless steel sink drains and strainers in the kitchen. They came out sparkling clean with minimal elbow grease involved. If you’re remotely OCD when you clean, you’ll be happy with this product.

Other items of note: the electric charger base thingy has a counter on it with a very bright blue readout. My eyes are incredibly sensitive to blue light, so I do not keep the charger/base plugged in after I’ve made a bottle. If it doesn’t bother you, you can keep it plugged in and it will count down how many days remain of the 14 you get with each bottle. But if you’re like me, you’ll go through a bottle in under a week cleaning every surface and deodorizing all the things, so you won’t need to keep track of the days. You also have to keep it out of direct sunlight. We stash ours under the kitchen sink.

Refill packs are 25 for $19.99, $1 less if you are a subscriber. Pretty solid deal, if you ask me. The only other product they offer besides the starter kit and refills are travel bottles already made up for you. These would be great for road trips and/or traveling with little ones.

Last but certainly not least, each purchaser gets a referrer link. Here’s mine, if I’ve convinced you to try it. I hope I have! You’ll save $35 on your starter kit if you’re a new customer. (I will earn free refill packets.) Otherwise, there is no gimmick or sales pitch involved. It’s win-win, considering the money-back guarantee.

Force of Nature is definitely a Zoe Recommends product. If you’ve tried it yourself, I’d love to hear from you!

Thx but no thx

Internet slang and acronyms are not new concepts. Even I succumbed to typing “OMG,” though I resisted for the longest time. Over the course of time, internet acronyms such as DIAF, GTFO, IDGAF, FML, and other acronyms made their way into my regular chat and texting life, too. (I still don’t use IDK, bae, fleek snatched, fam, […]

[Continue reading...]

The Vinegar Trick and Some Magic

Hi, folks. Been a while! I decided to update this thing because I have discovered a really cool trick to help keep dishwashers (and your dishes) from smelling funky, and it’s too good not to share with the tens of readers who follow this blog. (And just a quick note, everything here is solely my personal opinion […]

[Continue reading...]

Forget the water cooler–it’s all about the headache medicine.

Photo courtesy of Witty nickname on Flickr   An interesting phenomenon has been occurring in my office over the past couple of years, though it took place so slowly I hardly noticed it. I keep a desk drawer full of personal items at work. I presume most people, especially women, have at least one. All […]

[Continue reading...]

Pastel Mania

It being Spring means my love for pastels can blossom for a month or two before it has to shrivel away again for ten months. Most people associate pastels only with babies. I get that. Should I ever have children, I will have an incredibly difficult time narrowing down colors for the baby’s room. (Official […]

[Continue reading...]

The Angst of Buying a Blender

Daily married life, thus far, hasn’t proved to be an entirely different experience than when my husband and I were just “boyfriend-girlfriend.” I take comfort in that. However, one subtle shift has taken place: buying things for the home. Unless I purchase something completely personal to me that doesn’t wipe out our savings, everything else […]

[Continue reading...]

On Making and Selling

Well hello, friends! It’s been a little while. Here are some thoughts I jotted down about being an artist and making money at it. — While there are some questionable “arts” out there, generally speaking, I think it’s safe to say that most people who create can be termed an artist of some kind. Not […]

[Continue reading...]