40-calorie SWEETENED Chocolate Plant-Based Milk -- Here's How!
We like plant-based milks. We also like chocolate. However, what we don't like are the choices available for chocolate plant-based milks! The calorie counts are super high, and/or or the sweetness is just too much. Additionally, in nearly all cases, any sweetness comes from added sugar. We seek to limit added sugars and strategically employ sugar substitutes such as stevia, monkfruit and even sucralose (Splenda).
So after some trial and error, we arrived at a solution. We "make" our own chocolate "milk." And it's so EASY. Our super quick food hack puts YOU in charge and works as long as you don't eschew monkfruit, stevia, or other sugar substitutes. PYO -- Pick Your Own sweetener is the name of our chocolate plant-based milk game.
Why do we bother? Just look at the images below. Varieties of already sweetened chocolate plant-based milks are sugar and calorie bombs. We think Ripple is a wonderful brand, but its chocolate plant-based milk is just too much for us....15g added sugar and 140 calories for 8 oz. No thanks. Take Two Foods has a barley version. Again, hooray for the 8g of protein in each of these, but no thanks to the added sugars.
Silk has its version too...even MORE sugar....17g of added sugar for the chocolate almond milk. At least Ripple and Take Two can boast about their 8g protein. Oatly comes in at 150 calories and 16g added sugar.
A newer brand to us is Seeds of Wellness and its Chia Chocolate Milk. The calorie count is much friendlier at 70 calories per serving, but not the sugars, 11.5g added! Hope Sesame's chocolate milk packs 160 calories and 17g sugar. Whoa. We'd rather have a big scoop of ice cream for that "load."
The list goes on...There's chocolate hazelnut milk from Pacific Foods (16g added sugars), Almond Breeze's sweetened almond chocolate milk has 100 calories per serving and 18g added sugar, and there are likely others that we've missed. Again, lots of calories and sugars. However, there are three "milks" out there that have chocolate in their name and either have ZERO sugar or little sugar.
Hooray for these three!
Almond Breeze's Unsweetened Chocolate almond milk has a scant 40 calories per serving and no sugar; Elmhurst's Milked Oats in Chocolate has 110 calories per serving and 4g added sugar, 3g protein and 3g fiber!. Mooala's Chocolaty Chip Keto Mylk has 70 calories and zero sugar, but Mooala uses stevia to add mild sweetness. We've tried all three of these and here's where we end up:
- The big WIN goes to Almond Breeze. It costs about $2 per 32 oz shelf-stable carton. That's a DEAL! There are ZERO grams of sugar and the flavor is more chocolatey than Mooala and it has a better "mouth feel" and look in terms of "milkiness" versus Elmhurst's version. PLUS, we want to choose how much sweetness to add using one or more of our "sweeteners of choice". That's when the magic happens. Almond Breeze 40 calorie chocolate almond milk + sugar substitute sweetener = YUM!
- Mooala's Keto Mylk runs a close second. The sweetness (via stevia) is fairly tame, so we added a little monkfruit to perk it up. The chocolate flavor is mild and appealing. And 70 calories per serving versus 40 really isn't much. But the price point at about $5 per carton is high, and we go through a carton every 2-3 days!
- We love that there is another option with oats, but at $6+ per carton, the price of Elmhurst's Milked Oats is nearly a non-starter. But given the nutrition profile of 110 calories, 3g fiber, 3g protein and ONLY 4g added sugar, we were compelled to try it. There is a nice chocolate flavor that is not too sweet, but sweet enough to enjoy on its own. It feels a little watery given the calorie load. We expected more creaminess. We ended up using the milk for smoothies. It's worth trying if you can stomach the cost.
Now adding more chocolate & sweetness
At the outset we mentioned sweeteners. We also give our milk a boost with chocolate flavoring. After experimenting with various chocolate extracts, we landed on a flavoring instead. Extracts yielded an alcohol taste that doesn't disappear like it would in a cooking or baking. The flavor note stuck. Luckily the flavoring from LorAnn solves this problem. We use about 1 tsp per carton of unsweetened almond milk. To make adding the flavor easier, we purchased a dropper. Much better!
In terms of sweeteners, we aren't too particular about the various forms/brands of stevia. However, the same can NOT be said of liquid monkfruit. Wow. What a difference. We have found that the Lakanto brand's liquid monkfruit extract is significantly more potent than others. It's worth the $8-$11 cost. The sweeteners on the right from Skinny Syrups add a lot of flavor with one squeeze. The downside is that these sweeteners rely upon sucralose, which many feel is chemical and inferior to stevia and monkfruit. We use them ALL!!
Recipe for success
Step 1. Start with Almond Breeze 40 calorie unsweetened chocolate almond milk
Step 2. Add Lorann Chocolate Flavoring (about 1 tsp, but experiment)
Step 3. Add your favorite sweetener or combo of sweeteners -- we use ALL of the ones pictured above
Step 3. Shake it, refrigerate it
Step 4. Enjoy on own ... or do as we do and use for hot chocolate, smoothies and more!
Please comment with your thoughts!