By Carlene Thomas, RDN
As someone who loves efficiency, if I can find a product that works fabulously as a culinary ingredient and a stellar source of nutrition, it’s love at first sight. As the first peanut milk ever to hit the market, Elmhurst’s Milked Peanuts is a powerful plant-based beverage that serves up six grams of protein per cup, with a peanut lover’s dream taste.
Peanut milk is a complete innovation for the world of peanuts that was years in the making. With a very intentional peanut flavor and 31 peanuts per glass, the first thing that comes to mind for me is the vast culinary potential with this stabilizer free, creamy product.
Peanut milk has only five ingredients, none of which are industrial stabilizers, emulsifiers or gums. It’s simply filtered water, peanuts, cane sugar, natural flavors and salt. Made with whole, raw peanuts from Georgia, the peanut rich taste is delightful and rich but not overwhelming. From a mouthfeel perspective, peanut milk is smooth and thick- a complete opposite of thin, sometimes watered-down tasting milk alternatives. Because there are no industrial gums or stabilizers, you can use it as you would other milks and alternatives without worrying about unusual interactions. Peanut milk can also be reduced over heat to provide an even thicker mouthfeel that allows it to be used as a healthier alternative to ingredients like heavy cream.
Since peanut milk can stay unopened on the shelf for about six months (check the printed date on your specific package), it’s a great product to have on hand for a variety of cooking needs. From cocktails and cake, to overnight oats and smoothies, French toast and coffee drinks (and so good with iced coffee), peanut milk is incredibly versatile in the kitchen. You can bet you’ll see soups finished with peanut milk or curries in the world of savory dishes popping up on blogs and nationalpeanutboard.org soon.
Peanuts are the most sustainable nut as they use the least amount of water per ounce, while also giving back to the soil. Because they are “nitrogen fixing”, they can take nitrogen from the air while producing their own nitrogen in the ground, which benefits other crops. As drought concerns become more prevalent, peanuts, which use less than five gallons of water for an ounce of peanuts (in comparison to other nuts like almonds, which use 80 gallons per ounce), will become a focus in the sustainable marketplace.
In the world of plant based milk alternatives, peanut milk boasts six grams of protein and 31 peanuts in every glass. At 130 calories per serving, peanut milk also contains good, monounsaturated fats (of the 11 grams of fat, 1.5 grams are saturated fat). At first glance, you may view the “high-calorie” nature of peanut milk as a reason to limit yourself to special occasions. However, peanut milk’s high calorie content doesn’t mean it can’t be consistent part of a “healthy” diet. Those 31 peanuts per glass form a nutrient-dense drink, providing essential nutrients like good fats. Plus, it’s a higher- protein option than other beverages on the market.
While peanut milk is not fortified to contain calcium and vitamin D, which you find in cow’s milk, there are several other calcium and vitamin D sources to choose from. Not all foods and beverages need to be fortified -- the beauty of a diverse diet is the array of whole food options available.
When it comes to milk and milk alternatives, it’s always important to consider ingredients and quality. Since Elmhurst uses a process that separates raw peanuts into all of the nutritional components and then reassembles them into a creamy liquid, the product does not rely on thickeners. Some other products are created by starting with water and thickeners to create a desired mouthfeel, then adding in a small amount of nut butter and paste. For those desiring ‘clean labels’, this first peanut milk to hit the market seems as close to home made as you could get.
I’m personally thrilled to see such innovation enter the marketplace. As someone who works a lot with a variety of flavors and milks, having something new to add to my recipes is incredibly exciting.