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Monday, December 14, 2009

Product Review: So Delicious Coconut Milk products

Dairy and I have had a long standing love-hate relationship that has been on and off for about the last 5 or 6 years. I’m not really bothered by yogurt or ice cream or cheese (and boy do I love all those things), but milk and cream in its pure form consistently make my tummy unhappy (to put it politely). Like some bad news ex-boyfriend, I had a hard time cutting the chord completely due to two items: cereal and coffee. Now, I am not the type to drink milk by the glass, but it turns out I have been pretty hard wired from decades of nice white creamy milk in my cereal. So began the hunt for a good quality milk substitute to use with cereal and coffee. While brands of milk taste fairly homogenous across the board, I’ve found that the taste of soymilk varies greatly depending on the brand and type (sweetened, flavored or unsweetened). For a comparable milk substitute, I stick to unsweetened soymilk, and I am happy to report that I stopped purchasing cow’s milk altogether about 4 years ago.

Nowadays, the door on my refrigerator could stand in for a Silk commercial with neatly lined rows of plain soymilk (for cereal), vanilla soymilk (for baking), chocolate soymilk (for dessert), and eggnog soymilk (for holidays). As soymilk became a household staple (among many other soy-based products I consume), I realize just how much of my money goes to the ever-booming soy industry.

The problem with soymilk is that it lacks the creaminess and white appearance of moo milk (and if you don’t realize how important color associations are in food, try out some green ketchup). Also, many people have soy allergies or don't want to consume too much soy, so it's great to have another alternative.

That’s why I was really excited to try out the newest coconut milk product line from the exceptionally generous people at Turtle Mountain. Chances are, you’ve probably come across their Soy Delicious or Purely Decadent products by way of soymilk-based vegan ice cream.

Coconut Milk Creamer—Original, French Vanilla and Hazelnut
Price: $2.00 (on sale at Whole Foods)
Size: 1 quart
Notes: I tried them all. I loved them all. The original is the most versatile; the flavored creamers are a bit intense, which is good if you love the flavor of vanilla or hazelnut. I had long ago abandoned coffee-mate creamer due to its hydrogenated ingredients, so I am especially happy to have found a fantastic alternative. Also, I don't know how it's possible, but this creamer is fat free. YES! It is my favorite product of the whole line, and I will continue to purchase it.

Coconut Milk Beverage: Unsweetened
Price: $3.49 (on sale at Whole Foods)
Size: Half Gallon
Notes: It is a pretty good milk susbtitute--very white in color and creamy with only a faint whisper of coconut in the background, but I still didn't really like it in my cereal. However, it is very versatile for cooking and baking: I used it as I would milk to make oatmeal, corn chowder, and even to make a roux for japanese croquettes (korokke).

Cultured Coconut Milk: Passionate Mango
Price: $1.50 (on sale at Whole Foods)
Size: 6 oz.
Notes: I didn't care for this flavor, but I imagine it could add a nice tart touch to a mango smoothie, perhaps with a splash of lime juice. However, the 6 grams of fat (all 6 of which are saturated due to the coconut milk) is a bit prohibitive for a yogurt.

Soy Delicious Yogurt: Blueberry
Price: $1.49 (on sale at Whole Foods)
Size: 6 oz.
Notes: The blueberry flavor was dissapointingly artificial in this yogurt. I think soy yogurt products still have a ways to go to really provide the creamy texture of milk-based yogurt.

Coconut Milk Fudge Bar Minis
Price: $3.49 (on sale at Whole Foods)
Size: 6 bars
Notes: These little fudge bars are a perfect little snack when you just want a little sweet something. Unfortunately, I detected a hint of freezer burn so it was difficult to focus on the chocolate flavor. Next time, I would like to try the vanilla ice cream bars covered in chocolate and covered with almonds.

Coconut Milk-based Ice Cream: Mocha Almond Fudge
Price: $5.29 (on sale at Whole Foods)
Size: 1 pint
Notes: I was really pleased with this ice cream. The hint of coconut made it literally tasted like almond joy ice cream. It seemed a little on the lighter side and not quite as rich and creamy as I was hoping for, but the flavor is excellent. I wish I had also purchased the cookie dough flavor.

Soy-based Ice Cream: Chocolate Peanut Butter
Price: $4.99 (on sale at Whole Foods)
Size: 1 quart
Notes: This is a soymilk-based ice cream. I didn't really like this ice cream because the chocolate didn't taste like chocolate and the peanut butter tasted artificial. However, at 4.5 grams of fat per serving, I'd be willing to try another flavor in the future.

Overall, I think Turtle Mountain is doing excellent work in providing dairy-free products. Keep up the good work!


Jason said...

I'm of the opinion that coconut milk can improve just about anything!

Anonymous said...

They should get into the curry market.

Anonymous said...

That company's creamers are my favorite. Really nice morning treat...

Elaine said...

Too bad you didn't try the Original or Vanilla coconut milk beverage. You would have loved them with you cereal! Their strawberry coconut milk kefir is fabulous, and their Purely Decadent coconut milk ice cream vanilla flavor is sublime.

Morgan Lee said...

Elaine--Do you know how the Original cocnut milk beverage is different from unsweetened (ie: is is just a little sweeter but still flavorless)? I will give it a try because I found it to be a fantastic substitute for cooking. I also really wanted to try the kefir, but my Whole Foods was not carrying that item. Maybe next time! Also, in the vanilla ice cream, can you detect the coconut flavor at all--I was wondering about that!

Anonymous said...

Wow! Thank you! I always wanted to write in my site something like that. Can I take part of your post to my blog?

Morgan Lee said...

Thanks! What is your blog? I am generally okay with shared content that is linked back to its original source.