“It’s all about fat, Rach” explained my brother over the summer, as he whipped up a 1/2 litre batch of Hollondaise which would get him through a week of breakfasts. “Seriously – cheese is good, carbs are bad” he explained. But with the arrival of autumn, he has moved away from the eggs and butter, and onto a spirulina instead.
You see, he’s a professional cricketer, which means that he has access to a nutritionist. And having access to a nutritionist gives him strong opinions on nutrition. Only my approach of “everything in moderation” seems to go against professional nutritional advice. Instead, it swings from cutting something out of a diet altogether only for a new piece of research to pardon its sins, and propel it back onto the plate.
The latest victim is dairy. “It’s no good” said my brother as he sipped a black coffee, watching disapprovingly as I turned mine a milky brown. Now, I could get on board his fat-only regime. But no-dairy was more unsettling. I like milk in tea, in coffee, in porridge, in custard … and I also love a bowl of yoghurt with fruit and granola in the morning.
My brother’s not alone in his anti-dairy stance though. Over the past two years, the non-dairy market has grown 155%, and is now worth upwards of £150million. The Bethnal Green supermarket stocks almond milk, soya milk, coconut milk and rice milk, and apparently 1 in 5 households has a carton of one of these strange cow-milk-substitutes in their fridge door.
While current research may suggest that milk-substitutes are a good thing, I can assure you that a glug of almond milk causes no end of damage to my morning cup of tea tea. And I don’t even know where to start with substituting cow-based yoghurt. But just as I was mourning the fact that my breakfast routine would now be laced with guilt, I got an email from Alpro asking if I’d try their soya yoghurt range.
Over the last couple of years, there has been a boom in ‘free-from’ companies. But Alpro has been plugging away for the last three decades, using soya to create plant-based alternatives to milk, yoghurt and cream. Their longevity in the marketplace shows. The yoghurt definitely tasted like it had come from a cow, rather than a plant. And this level of disguise appeals to me. When I put rice milk in my coffee, it really did taste like I’d put milk squeezed from rice in my coffee, and not in a good way.
Alpro yogurt’s consistency is a far looser than you’d expect from ‘thick and creamy’ dairy versions, but the flavour is bang-on. The strawberry and rhubarb is fruity and delicious, and the ‘simply plain’ is perfect for breakfast. The vanilla had a rich flavour, but was a bit too sweet for my liking. It’d be perfect in bakes – perhaps a yoghurt cake – but then I’m not sure my brother’s nutritionist would approve of that either…