Tesco Unsweetened Almond Milk

Product Reviews

 

Whether you suffer from a milk allergy or intolerance or have revisited plant-based milk alternatives due to health or ethical reasons, there is no denying that the dairy-free (or freefrom) market is on the rise. Tesco have supplied us with soya and rice milk as a part of their own-brand & freefrom food range for a while now (years and years even!), but our food preferences have influenced their food production just that one step further! They now stock their shelves with their own-brand almond milk! Stumbling upon this during our weekly shopping trip was a happy accident indeed. 🙂

Many companies offer almond milk these days, but it’s great to see major supermarkets finally producing their own!

Tesco offer both an unsweetened and sweetened UHT version, which is perfect as not everyone has refrigerator space for four or five cartons of milk (well, particularly those that meal prep and/or eat an abundance of fruits and vegetables- us included)! Additionally, they also sell a fresh version, but it’s sweetened.

 

 

So, how does it compare to other leading brands…

…well in this instance we have compared it to ‘Alpro’!

 

Ingredients & Nutritional Info

Tesco

Alpro

 

The Facts…

Personally, we would always opt for buying unsweetened milks!

    • Both milks contain 2% almonds, which isn’t really a lot when you think about it! In fact, almonds are listed as the second ingredient to water! Maybe it’s about time we all start to make our own?!
    • Per 100ml/:
      »They are both low in calories; Tesco’s is slightly higher but it’s negligible.
      »They are both low in sugar (not surprisingly!) and salt; Tesco has slightly less salt but again the quantity is negligible.
      »They both have the same quantity of protein and fats.
      »Tesco’s version has slightly more carbohydrates, but that’s because it’s third ingredient is added ‘maltodextrin’ (which we discuss shortly).
  • They both use the same thickening agents: ‘Gellan Gum’ and ‘Carob Gum’ (which is also known as ‘Locust Bean Gum’; E410).(¹)
  • They both fortify their milks with: Calcium, Vitamins D, B2 and B12; their quantities vary ever so very slightly, but not enough for it to be a deciding factor over it’s product quality.
  • Tesco does not fortify it’s milk with Vitamin E, but Alpro does; unlike B12, Vitamin E is found naturally in numerous plant-based food items, e.g. avocados, wheat germ, vegetable oils and nuts,(²) so this is not by any means a travesty!
  • Obviously they are both dairy-free and ‘vegan’, but also gluten and wheat free.

Photo: Vegan Society logo (UK), courtesy of the Vegan Society

  • Alpro has the Vegan Society’s seal of approval; Tesco has yet to get their milk recognised by the Vegan Society!

 

Taste
Almonds_Rob Stanard_flickr

Photo: Almonds By: Rob Stanard_flickr

You’ll experience the same delicious, slightly sweet and nutty taste in both brands but Tesco’s version is slightly thicker; a lot of almond milk’s have a ‘watery’ taste (similar to s/s cow’s milk). The thicker taste is down to the fact that Tesco’s third ingredient is maltodextrin; a manufactured sugar/starchy carbohydrate (a ‘polysaccharide‘), used as a multi-purpose food additive that can have a mild and sweet taste. It can be derived from various cereal starches, i.e. wheat, corn, tapicoa, rice, (³) or potatoes. It’s added to food products to help thicken, bind and/or flavour them.

For us, the thicker taste is welcomed but it all comes down to personal preference. A thicker milk would come in handy for those that cannot consume soya (but prefer a fuller-bodied milk), do not enjoy soya, oat or coconut milks or those who need an alternative/fuller and versatile milk that they could use in their dairy-free sauces, milkshakes, soups and/or curries etc.

Another good point is that it didn’t curdle in our tea (as some dairy free milk has a habit of doing!).

 

Cost
      • The cost of Tesco’s Unsweetened Almond Milk is currently £1.40/1L/carton.
      • Alpro’s Unsweetened Almond Milk varies from store to store; occasionally you can only purchase a UHT or fresh version at any one store. At Tesco, Alpro’s UHT Unsweetened Almond Milk currently costs £1.70/L/carton.

 

Value
Photo: Raw vanilla Almond Milk By: Heather Crosby_flickr

Photo: Raw vanilla Almond Milk By: Heather Crosby_flickr

Everyone has different tastes and budgets, but these two products are both fortified and taste great. Personally speaking, half of the reason as to why we purchase dairy-free milk is for the dietary calcium, Vitamin D and B12 supplementation that it provides! Currently there are quite a few dairy-free milks on the market (inclusive of almond) that do not provide you with many or any extra added nutrients, so make sure to check the labels before you buy them!

The biggest influence for us is cost. If a product is cheaper (but not inferior in taste or quality), then that’s our decision made. Almond milk is currently more expensive than some other-dairy free milks (but in no means the most expensive!), but there’s no doubt that Tesco will have a sale on it at some point; you can occasionally find Alpro milk’s on offer for £1/carton or 2 for £2.

Tesco’s almond milk advises that you should use it within three days of opening, whilst Alpro advises using theirs within five. These use by dates are generally not a problem for us; a carton of milk typically only lasts about two days (between the two of us!) but even so, we’ve used dairy-free milk and yoghurt’s up until seven days with no ill effect.

Lastly, both their ‘unopened’ use-by dates are about the same (8-9 months from the date of purchase).

 

Our Overall Opinion

There are plenty of brands that currently sell almond and various other dairy-free milks and Alpro used to be our ‘almond milk’ of choice, but unless Tesco suddenly changes the taste, cost or skimps on its fortification, then this will now be our preferred brand. Like any food item, it will all come down to diet, lifestyle, budget and/or personal preferences.

If you’ve never previously tried almond milk or have have a bad experience with it, this product is worth giving it a first or second chance!

Our only requests for Tesco would be to add a few more almonds (it’s cheeky we know, but please!) and to start selling it in larger cartons; 2 litres would be perfect! A lot of North American non-dairy milks are sold in 1L, 2L or 4.55L(1 gallon) cartons! Considering the popularity of freefrom brands, isn’t it worth a trial?!

How does everyone feel about increasing the current carton size of dairy-free milks? Please vote and express your thoughts!

 

Do any of you currently drink almond milk or any other dairy-free milks? What’s your favourite brand? We’d love to hear about your thoughts and experiences!

 

Sources:
Food Standards Agency (FSA): Additives & their E Numbers (1)
NHS Choices (2)
Coeliac (UK) (3)
BDA
Tesco
Alpro
Vegan Society UK

 

*Disclaimer: We have not been paid for this product review and all thoughts and opinions are our own.
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Thai Green Coconutty Adventures!

Product Reviews

 

Opened Coconut_JustyCinMD_Flickr

Photo: Opened Coconut By: JustyCinMD_Flickr

For some, coconuts and coconut products are consumed on a daily basis, particularly for those living in subtropical areas around the globe where it is cheap and plentiful; they will probably also learn how to cut a coconut open from fairly youngish age? Who knows… but we think the that idea of hacking into a standard/matured brown coconut can be a little daunting!

We both have memories of adults needing a hammer (or rolling pin and chisel) to open it’s hard exterior; allowing you to pour out what seemed to be a worthless amount of water, followed by an extended period of time to remove its meaty flesh. #palava

Question: How often do you eat fresh coconuts and why?

 

 

Coconut face_Tree_Specles_flickr

Photo: Coconut face_Tree By: Specles_flickr

“Coconut (Cocos nucifera) belongs to the Palm family (Arecaceae). Grown in abundance in Malaysia, Polynesia and southern Asia, Spanish explorers named the cocos – meaning ‘grinning face’, because of the three little eyes on the base which they thought resembled a monkey. Classed as a fruit and frequently confused for being a nut, the coconut is actually a one-seeded drupe. ” . (1)

 

 

Of course sometimes nature makes us work for things, but it can also supply us with easier alternatives…such as Thai Green/baby/young coconuts! They have more water as in the mature ones it’s replaced by the white flesh. So if you have a craving for a refreshing coconutty drink, these are the ones to go for!

There was probably just over a cup of water, maybe 300ml in each of our coconuts; it’s hard to say as hacking these open was thirsty work (j/k!) so we didn’t bother measuring it! It’s good to note that this volume (and the quantity of coconut meat) will probably vary, depending on the size of the fruit (oh sorry, we meant drupe!).

All of this coconut water is great for rehydrating, especially because it’s rich in vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, including important electrolytes: potassium, magnesium, calcium and sodium.(2) These electrolytes are vital for the health our muscular, cardiovascular, nervous and immune systems, as well as to help with the absorption and balance of the body’s internal fluids.

Coconut water is not a miracle drink, but a natural and healthful one; one study showed that coconut water is just as effective for rehydration as other carbohydrate-electrolyte sports drinks. Whilst on the topic of sports drinks, it’s good to note that the majority of people do not sweat enough through regular exercise to warrant buying manufactured sports drinks (laden in added sugars!); ideally they are designed for elite athletes that are exercising more than an hour a day. Erm but even then, how many Olympians do you see drinking Gatorade or Lucozade Sport?!

Anyways, let’s move on with our coconutty adventures…

 

Thai Green Coconuts!

We’ve previously read that once these coconuts are harvested, their outer green husk is removed, they are shaped for easy access and handling and then finally wrapped in plastic to help keep in the moisture.

 

Oh and labelled…complete with easy instructions on how to access its sweet water and flesh, but how easy was it?!

 

Pre-Step One

Buy the coconuts! Please note that standard/matured ‘brown’ coconuts are generally a lot cheaper. Our duo pack costed £3.50 (at ASDA of all places, who’da thunk it?!). For lovers of coconut water but not so much the meat, this seemed a little pricey… but it’s a novelty and we’re not going to experience a cheaper one on a Thailand beach anytime soon! Make sure to thoroughly inspect them (as you would any other expensive piece of merchandise!); only in this instance check for mould, cracks, leaks and/or soft spots.

As you can clearly see above, the best before states: consume within 3 days of purchase; it’s been two weeks since we purchased ours! Perhaps we’ve lost a few nutrients, but ours still tasted fresh and down right delicious!

 

Step 1

Give yourself ample room to work with (safety first folks!). Place the coconut on it’s side, then whilst keeping a firm grip you’ll need to hack into and saw off the top; the directions recommend using a ‘sharp chef’s knife’. Even without a really ‘chefy’ knife, this step was easy enough; the outer, white, husky skin is very ‘manageable’. Tip: If the husk is really thick, you’ll have to make your first cut further away from the tip to help expose the hard brown shell; our first cut was about one inch below the tip.

 

Step 2

Whilst still keeping a firm grip, chisel or hack the husk down to expose the top of the brown shell (which is again manageable). The more experienced you are with this, the less mess you will make! Tip: Lie the coconut on its side or keep it upright, whatever you feel most comfortable with.

 

Steps 3 & 4

Alex attempting this without glasses or even a morning cup of coffee!

This is where the fun begins (not really)! It’s advised that you have to hit the brown shell at a 45 degree angle (whilst upright) with the edge of your knife, preparing grooves or a substantial cut in order to be able to lever off the top! Sound simple? Well, if you do not have a sharp (or large) enough knife (because it’s not worth damaging your standard kitchen knives over) or lack strength, then it really isn’t! #nomeatcleaversinthishouse

Unlike this guy…

Photo: Coconut Man By: Christian Senger_Flickr

Photo: Coconut Man By: Christian Senger_Flickr

…straight from the local trees, onto his chopping block and hacking it like a boss!

 

We preformed this step by using two methods; firstly by utilising its recommended approach and then secondly by using an impromptu, quirky but highly effective method! It just goes to show that you don’t need to use anything too sharp.. in fact if your strong and brave enough, you could probably use a simple dinner/butter knife!

Tip: You might need safety glasses for the first approach… husky splinters were known to fly everywhere!

The first approach produced this…

 

 

The second approach was quicker (well at least for us), safer and produced a much wider opening. Perhaps you can try using the latter; a bread knife and rolling pin! Sounds daft but as you’ll see in our (above) 60 second video; it made step three and four easy and simultaneous. It’s also good to note that we didn’t really spill any of the liquid!

***Please excuse our amateur video skills!***

 

Step 5 (The Sweetest Step!)

The product advises topping with a straw and a festive umbrella… erm yeah, we were fresh out of the latter (obviously!)… and our orchid didn’t flower this year, so we still couldn’t fake the much needed ambiance!

So all there was left to do was simply enjoy it’s sweet nectar and imagine being somewhere warm, without grey and murky skies…that we are so fortunate to have in the UK! 😦

Photos: Hammock and coconuts_ Les Salines Beach_Carribean Sea_Martinique By: lo lo_flickr

Photos: Hammock and coconuts, Les Salines Beach, Carribean Sea, Martinique By: lo lo_flickr

 

Our closing thoughts…

There are loads of health claims around coconut water (or coconut products for that matter), subsequently encasing them with the term ‘superfood’… but as we have previously mentioned here, ‘superfoods’ do not exist.

Taste, Price & Value:

Alex found the coconut flesh quite bland while I found it to be quite sweet. Additionally, the flesh was very creamy and jelly-like (living up to its nickname ‘jelly-nut’), it can easily be removed from its shell and tasted absolutely delicious in our morning bowl of porridge (definitely a step up from your standard desiccated coconut topping)!

Although healthful, refreshing and the water having a much sweeter taste than most standard cartons of coconut water, it is pricey (but its no surprise as it is imported). You can buy approx. 500ml of unsweetened/pure coconut water for about the same price as one of these coconuts!

You shouldn’t feel obligated to buy coconuts. If you love them, great; as we have mentioned above, a well balanced diet can provide you with all of the same essential nutrients that are found in coconuts. #nosuperfoods. So unless you desire fresh coconut water and/or meat, or a novelty cup for your next summer party (which sounds AWESOME btw), stick to purchasing cartons of (organic?) unsweetened/natural coconut water, preferably ones that do not contain any added bits of fruit, pesticides or husk!

 

Sources:
1.BBC Good Foods
2.USDA
3.NCBI

 

*Disclaimer: We have not been paid for this product review and all thoughts and opinions are our own.