When I think about cinematic scenes that have stuck with me, Ben Stiller pantomiming the milking of a cat’s teeny teats is high among them. “You can milk anything with nipples,” his Meet the Parents character Greg Focker explains.
“I have nipples, Greg,” replies Robert De Niro, father of Focker’s fiancé. “Can you milk me?”
That was 2000. The answer, back then, was no. But today, in 2018 — a year in which the lactose intolerant have a bevy of dairy-free milk alternatives, from hemp to cashew to pea, the punchline might have been different. Nipples, it seems, are no longer a milk-making requirement. All you have to do is soak something (anything, really) overnight in water, strain it, and embrace your inner creativity. These days, milk is the greatest choose-your-own-adventure since Goosebumps let readers pick plot lines mid-read.
Think of the possibilities!
Why Did You Do That?
Good question. When I was young, dumb and had way too much time on my hands, I didn’t understand my mom’s main kitchen requirement that to earn its keep, each item had to serve at least twelve purposes. She uses butter as a burn salve and was a proponent of coconut oil as a cooking agent and cure-all years before it was cool. Apple cider vinegar, to her, is both a sour stomach aid and a cleaning solution. I, meanwhile, was more of the “I’ll just buy ointment and Windex at the drugstore, thanks” mindset.
That was forever ago, though. This is now: In an age where you can milk an oat and supplement your income via online poker, everything needs a side-hustle to remain relevant. I figured that if I were going to “get into” oat milk as beverage, it would have to pull weight outside the culinary world.
Oat Milk as a Beverage
First, I had to like it as a beverage. This is admittedly complicated given that I much prefer my coffee black, rarely eat cereal (adulthood blows), don’t make smoothies at home and have never in my life drunk a glass of milk on its own. I like lattes just fine, though, so I ordered and taste-tested quite a few for quality assurance over the course of a few weeks.
I concluded that I would rather drink an oat milk latte over a soy or almond milk latte. The latter varieties taste like pennies to me. I had no opportunities to try a pea milk latte. Two baristas told me that people with nut allergies are excited about oat milk as an option, so that’s nice; as for price, all lattes seem like too much money to me regardless of milk, so if you’re going to spend on a latte you might as well go fully monty and get the cream of your dreams that won’t cause an allergic reaction.
Oat Milk as a Health-Conscious Decision
I’m “weekday healthy” in that I eat a lot of salads and try to avoid added sugar Monday through Friday, but I also drink Diet Coke and alcohol (not together, but still) on weekends. I’m not a doctor or dietitian, in other words, so take this with a grain of salt: at 19% grams of sugar per cup, oat milk seems like a superfluous addition of sugar to me, given my diet and personal health goals. Everyone is different, of course, and in theme with “choose your own adventure,” I leave it up to you to make your own milk alternative choices. Click here for the nutrition label of the brand I bought, Pacific Organic Oat Beverage.
As for the no-sugar-added DIY-route, making your own oat milk is apparently very easy.
Oat Milk in the Shower
Here’s where the real meat of the story happens. Sorry it’s happening so far down. Because I decided that oat milk, in my life, should have a purpose beyond the occasional collaboration with coffee, I brought it into the shower with me to try it out as moisturizing body wash, a scalp soother and a leave-in conditioner. Why? 1.) When I had chicken pox, I had to take lots of oatmeal baths (something in oatmeal pulls the sting out of the itch), 2. I once read that colloidal oatmeal is a natural cleanser, and 3) Aveeno puts oatmeal in stuff, and I use Aveeno. Those aren’t necessarily true facts with scientific backing; rather, this is how my mind works.
And here’s how the oat milk worked:
Oat Milk as a Body Wash
I poured two cups of oat milk on myself, from face to foot. It felt weirdly luxurious but mostly weird. It also felt pretty moisturizing. My skin has been tight because of the cold and I think my skin thought this was a milkshake — whether that’s good or bad depends on your skin parenting skills. If you’re going to do this, even though I had literally no clue what I was doing, you may still want to wash under your arms with an actual body wash for smell purposes? My own results in the pit department were inconclusive but I’d 100% pour this on my legs after shaving them in the future.
This is scientific.
Oat Milk as a Hair Rinse
My scalp gets itchy and irritated easily. (I actually went through an ACV phase to combat this for a while; it worked but a prescription from my dermatologist worked better. Currently, I use a scrub once a week, which helps.) It’s been particularly irritated recently, so I tried the oat milk as scalp rinse and Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh — it was such a nice feeling, like lotion for my head that didn’t make my hair greasy. I doused my strands from root to tip in oat milk then rinsed and followed up with my usual shampoo and conditioner. My hair has been soft, and so much less staticky than usual. The itchies returned but it was nice to be relieved for a minute. I’d do this again until my dermatologist told me not to. Please consult yours so I don’t get in trouble.
Oat Milk as a Leave-in Conditioner
On a different day — not the hair rinse day — I shampooed and conditioned as usual, then dunked my hair in oat milk after. Everyone’s hair is different and everyone has her own tricks, but for my hirsute situation (thick in volume, super fine hairs, gets oily easily, super long, straight), the dried results weren’t necessarily bad, but they weren’t great, and I felt kind of regretful and eager for my next shower. Next.
Oat Milk as a Foot Bath Wash
I would stick to water and soap here.
In conclusion, you could, in theory, use oat milk for things other than lactose-free lattes if you wanted. Call me when the wellness crowd catches onto this tip; I’ll be waiting in my un-FDA-regulated oat milk jacuzzi. Until then, I hope you walk away from this article thinking about the things you, too, could milk. Never stop dreaming.
Photos by Louisiana Mei Gelpi; Art Direction by Emily Zirimis.