Using plant-based beverages in the kitchen

soy milk recipe foodservice

From WhiteWave Away From Home.

Plant-based beverages, such as soymilk and almondmilk, aren’t just for drinking or use with cereal—and they’re not just for vegans or health-conscious consumers.

In fact, a growing number of consumers enjoy non-dairy milks for their own flavor and nutritional characteristics. “A lot of students actually prefer chocolate soymilk to regular chocolate milk,” says Ken Cardone, associate director and executive chef at Bowdoin College, in Brunswick, Maine, which consistently ranks among the top five colleges in the country for food quality in The Princeton Review.

“Nondairy milks have really caught on here at Bowdoin,” adds Cardone, “especially with the increase in special diets and food allergies in recent years.” With two dining halls, plus The Café, Jack McGee’s Pub & Grill, and the Bowdoin Express convenience store, the dining service department stocks from eight to 10 different plant-based beverages, including soy, rice, almond and oat milks in both plain and flavored varieties. These products are housed in special refrigerated units, where students can also grab other “free-from” products, including nut- and gluten-free items.

“We try to make it as easy and convenient as possible for students to find what they need,” Cardone explains. “Some of these special diets are very difficult to follow, especially when you’re 18 years old and possibly away from home for the first time in your life.” Fortunately, the variety of options available is keeping pace with growing demand and consumption.

These plant-based beverages are also ideal for specialty coffee drinks and smoothies—in many cases, says Cardone, almondmilk is preferred for smoothies because it’s lower in fat.

“We use a lot of soymilk in baking,” he adds, “including vegan cakes and cupcakes, as well as French toast, pancakes and even waffles. And with a good egg replacement, the results are just as delicious as traditional recipes. We also use soymilk for a vegan cornbread that’s very popular.”

Cardone and his staff have found that with a little research and a bit of judicious tweaking, almost any recipe using dairy milk can be made with soymilk instead. He likes to start with an existing recipe, then adapt it as necessary. “Because soy and other non-dairy milks are low-fat, they can be treated just like any low-fat milk in cooking, and they’ll act the same way.”

A five-ingredient Lemon Chia Pudding is a consistent favorite at Bowdoin, made with lemon, chia seeds, soymilk, maple syrup and just a bit of oil. “It’s vegan, but it appeals to non-vegans as well,” says Cardone. “In fact, when we test these items, many of our tasters can’t even tell the difference.”

In savory applications, plant-based beverages are used in items such as the popular vegan shepherd’s pie, made with lentils instead of ground meat and soymilk in the mashed potato topping. And Cardone has found that pureeing soft tofu can provide the same rich creamy texture and luxurious mouthfeel that cream would in a butternut squash soup.

“It’s all a matter of tinkering to get the right results,” he explains. In fact, like all new menu items, vegan adaptations must pass a strict gateway: If less than 25 percent of the item sells in a given dining period, back to the drawing board it goes. “It has to be palatable enough for the general population, not just vegans and the dairy averse.”

Want more ideas for cooking with plant-based beverages? The Wellness Beverage Experts™ at WhiteWave Away From Home have created a selection of delicious, dairy-free Silk® recipes for all dayparts. Find recipes now.

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

Howard County Public School System in Ellicott City, Md., will be offering free lunch to students for two days during winter break, The Baltimore Sun reports.

This is the first time the district will be providing meals over winter break. The lunch will be served on Dec. 27 and 28 at two sites in the community.

About 22.2% of the district’s students are enrolled for free or reduced-price meals. The district served 66,276 meals last summer during its summer meal program .

Read the full story via baltimoresun.com .

Industry News & Opinion

Cranston School District in Cranston, R.I., has hired a collection agency to help reduce its lunch debt , NBC 10 reports.

The district’s chief operating officer sent a letter to parents saying that the district would be using a collection agency next year to collect outstanding lunch balances after other collection methods have failed. Parents who owe $20 or more and haven’t paid in the last 60 days will receive a letter from the agency starting Jan. 2, 2019.

Cranston accumulated $95,508 in unpaid lunch balances between Sept. 1, 2016 and June 30, 2018. The district’s meal...

Ideas and Innovation
hot school lunch

As lunch shaming remains in the national spotlight, many school districts have turned away from providing alternate meals, such as a cheese sandwich, to students who can’t pay for lunch. While this ensures that students are provided a full meal and aren’t stigmatized, it has caused some districts to quickly accumulate lunch debt . In order to keep funds under control, school districts throughout the country are now relying on assistance from their communities to defray the cost of some meals.

1. School lunch fairies

Students at Apollo-Ridge School District in Spring Church, Pa.,...

Industry News & Opinion

When looking for a way to get more use out of its Canyon Cafe, open during the weekends only, California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, Calif., tried something new: free cooking classes.

Classes are open to students, as well as faculty and staff, and are taught by Campus Dining Executive Chef Michael Albright, according to Mustang News .

The weekday classes, which are capped at 14 participants, have taught attendees how to make items such as probiotic overnight oats and “the perfect turkey.” Interested parties can sign up online via the school’s dining...

FSD Resources