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If you think you’ve seen it all when it comes to whole grain options, you might want to think again. Consumers turn to whole grains for their complex ﬂavors, their variety of textures, and their versatility in products ranging from granola bars to breads, cereals to tortillas. But we don’t often think of whole grains as something we might drink. Elmhurst’s new whole grain Milked Oats and Milked Rice plant-based milk alternatives are marching their way onto grocery shelves this month, bringing consumers yet another delicious way to take in the goodness of whole grains.
Interestingly, Elmhurst’s story began with cattle rather than grains. In the 1920s the Elmhurst Dairy delivered fresh milk to the NYC boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens and over the course of the 20th century, it grew into a large dairy operation supplying a huge metropolitan area. But consumer trends around dairy have shifted signiﬁcantly over the past several decades and milk consumption has steadily declined. A few years ago, Elmhurst decided it was time to make a dramatic shift. The dairy operation was closed and the company reopened its doors as a manufacturer of plant-based milks.
The company started oﬀ launching several nut-based milks using almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, walnuts, and even peanuts (for the ﬁrst time in US markets). But knowing that many people live with nut allergies, they decided to branch out into grains as well, beginning with oats and rice.
Elmhurst uses a production process that they call “cold-milking,” which maintains all parts of the grain (or nut) and eliminates the need for stabilizers, emulsiﬁers or gums. This process transforms oats into a creamy, decadent beverage with very minimal processing. Their milked brown rice makes for a lighter option that has a more delicate, subtle ﬂavor. Both of Elmhurst’s grain-based milks pack in a full 20g of whole grain per serving.
At the Whole Grains Council, we always have our eyes peeled for new developments in the world of whole grains. We are excited about these products because drinkable whole grains open up new possibilities for consumers to include more whole grains in their diet. We’ve written in the past about the sustainability advantages that whole grains oﬀer in comparison to other foods. Concerns about the environment are one of the factors – along with health – that is fueling a global trend toward more plant-centric diets. Grain-based milks and other plant-based-alternative products help enable and encourage the movement toward more grains, fruits and vegetables, which ends up being healthier for our bodies and for our environment.
Whether you’re interested in boosting the whole grain content of your favorite pancake batter, or you’re looking to add an extra whole grain kick to chowders and “creamed” soups, these grain milks function extremely well in a wide array of culinary applications. Simply let your imagination run wild!
And if you’re interested in learning about another new oat-based, plant-focused food trend, check out this article about a plant-based protein product called “pulled oats” that’s making quite a splash in Finland. (Caroline)