Milk Substitutes: Coconut, Flax, Oat, and Pea

milkscfopCoconut Milk

The name “coconut milk” may be confusing at first glance, as many people assume that it refers to the natural juices of the inside of the coconut. But what is sold as coconut milk, the dairy substitute, is actually freshly grated coconut pulp mixed with water. The resulting milk may be sweetened or unsweetened.

Benefits include:

  • Few allergens. This milk is naturally soy- and gluten-free; just check to make sure it was processed in a facility free of allergens.
  • Medium-chain triglycerides. These highly digestible fats are believed to boost the metabolism, promoting weight loss.
  • High potassium content.

Some of the downsides are:

  • Low protein content.
  • Low calcium content.

Other characteristics of coconut milk include:

  • Consistency very close to whole cow’s milk (creamy) due to higher fat content.
  • Nutty taste that complements cereals, most baked goods, and some savory dishes, such as Asian cuisine, nicely.

 

Flax Milk

Flax milk is manufactured by taking cold-pressed flax oil and adding water. Some varieties are then sweetened.

Benefits include:

  • Few allergens. That means no soy or gluten.
  • High fiber content.
  • High levels of omega-3 fatty acids. These nutrients are believed to be very beneficial for cardiovascular health, perhaps even lowering blood pressure, curing hardened artery walls, and preventing heart attacks.

The main drawback of flax milk is that it contains very little protein. The sweetened type can be alarmingly high in sugars, but this is easily avoided by purchasing the unsweetened beverage.

Other characteristics of flax milk include:

  • Consistency varying from thin to remarkably dairy-like.
  • Naturally sweet flavor. Blind taste tests involving people who regularly drink cow’s milk revealed flax milk as the closest alternative in flavor. In cooking and baking, this makes flax milk a surefire substitute in any recipe calling for dairy milk.

 

Oat Milk

Oat milk is easier to find in Europe than in the United States, but it can be done. The manufacturing process starts when oats are soaked in purified water. The manufacturer may then opt to pulverize and blend the oats to release additional fiber. Solid materials are strained out and the result is oat milk. Oat milk is typically sweetened.

Some of the advantages of oat milk are:

  • No tree nuts, making this a good choice for some people with food allergies.
  • High fiber content, good for long-lasting energy.
  • Some protein. Although oat milk only contains about half the protein of dairy milk, it is still superior to many of the non-legume alternatives.
  • Some minerals. Even when unfortified, oat milk does contain a little bit of calcium (though not nearly as much as cow’s milk) and some iron.
  • Phytoestrogens, compounds that mimic estrogen in the body. Associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, hot flashes, and breast cancer recurrence.

Disadvantages include:

  • Gluten. If you suffer from gluten intolerance, you will want to choose a different milk.
  • High sugar content. Unsweetened oat milk can be hard to find in the United States.
  • After long-term consumption, phytoestrogens tend to interfere with normal hormone function.

Other characteristics of oat milk include:

  • Thick, creamy texture much like dairy milk.
  • Slightly sweet earthy (but not bitter) flavor. It can complement most cereals, baked goods, and some more robust savory dishes, but it can overwhelm foods and sauces with delicate flavors.

 

Pea Milk

Sound strange? Well, maybe. To avoid disagreeable flavors and colors, yellow peas are highly processed to isolate the most nutritious part without the baggage. Sunflower oil is sometimes added to make the product creamier. Assorted gums may be added to enhance the texture, as well. It can be purchased in both sweetened and unsweetened varieties.

The primary benefit is the high protein content, comparable to cow’s milk.

Drawbacks include:

  • High levels of processing.
  • High levels of omega-6 fatty acids. When unbalanced with omega-3 fatty acids, the omega-6s can produce an inflammatory effect on the body.

Note that pea milk has a floury taste. You definitely will want to purchase a small quantity the first time out to see if you can drink it.

8 Ideas for a Bison Business

8 Ideas for a Bison BusinessWant to do something a little different with your family farm or ranch? How about raising bison?

From a land stewardship perspective, there are some major advantages to raising bison. Despite their size, these animals are far easier on pastures than most types of domestic livestock, fostering a healthy grassland ecosystem. Furthermore, they are hardy and well able to take care of themselves with few inputs.

But does raising bison pay? The short answer is yes, but keep in mind that bison are specialty livestock. It is crucial to size up the market before jumping in.

Here are a few of the enterprises you might consider:

  1. Meat. Bison finish quite well on grass alone, making them efficient in the pasture. The resulting product is lean and high in protein. It has a rich flavor that makes for an enjoyable gourmet dining experience. If you are up to the task of direct marketing bison meat, this enterprise can be extremely lucrative. Potential options are selling to consumers, selling to restaurants, or selling through some health food stores.
  2. Hides. You may be able to sell these through a novelty shop, or you may need to find a way to direct market to the end purchaser. If you can find a leatherworker interested in your bison, you are in luck as this is an excellent way to sell untanned hides.
  3. Leather. What if you are interested in working with leather yourself? Add value to your hides by turning them into finished products.
  4. Fiber. Did you know that bison hair can be spun into yarn? Bison can be either sheared or brushed to collect the hair. Then it must be sorted, as there are four layers of coarse outer coat suitable primarily for making ropes. The soft undercoat is typically mixed with wool or alpaca to make it easier to work with. The result is a soft, durable yarn.
  5. Trophies. Bison heads can make fine trophies, which in turn make marketable products.
  6. Skulls and other bones. Some novelty shops carry these items, or you can sell direct to the customer.
  7. Agritourism. Instead of just selling the bison, sell the bison ranch experience! Bison-related agritourism opportunities are too numerous to list here—the list would look remarkably like an extensive list of agritourism opportunities in general. One of the most common ideas involving bison is herd tours. This could be coupled with other enterprises, such as a gift shop or bed and breakfast.
  8. Breeding stock. Are you really serious about breeding bison? Selling seedstock may be an option. Note that there are no specialized bison sale barns. You will have to plan on sending bison either to one of the few major bison sales or selling direct to the customer. In some cases, you may be able to sell to zoos and public game reserves.

Before buying any bison, you will want to evaluate these enterprise ideas carefully to locate sales channels and to estimate demand. This requires time and research, but it will pay off in the long run. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find out that these unique animals are just the right fit for you.

Pros and Cons of USB Microphones for Home Recording

Pros and Cons of USB Microphones for Recording MusicAre you interested in recording at home? It can be done, but it requires some special equipment.

The most obvious first purchase is a microphone. A good microphone can be dauntingly expensive. A USB microphone promises an easy way to get started at less cost—or does it? Let’s find out.

Pros

  • Low cost. A USB microphone is typically quite affordable. Furthermore, no digital audio interface (DAI) is required to connect it to a computer, further cutting down on the expense.
  • Simplicity. Plug the mic into the USB port on your computer. Done.
  • Portability. USB microphones are powered by the computer, eliminating the need for a phantom power source. This cuts down on the amount of gear you have to haul around when you are recording. The mic, the stand, the cable, and the computer are all you need.

Cons

  • Doubtful economy. A cheap USB microphone will yield unsatisfactory results, guaranteed. The price of a truly good one will typically buy a decent XLR microphone and an audio interface. If you buy cheap to begin with, you will soon spend more on a replacement. Be careful to read plenty of reviews to avoid the cheap trap!
  • One at a time. You can typically only record with one USB microphone at a time and get good results. A digital audio interface allows for recording multiple instruments at once with multiple inputs; even the most basic interface will typically allow for recording both one XLR signal and one high-Z signal (for plugging in electric guitars).
  • Latency. Most (but not all) USB microphones have latency problems. In other words, there is a delay between the time the sound enters the mic and the time it exits your headphones. Most audio interfaces are designed with low latency in mind.
  • Reduced sound quality. USB microphones tend to sample at bare-minimum rates (many are designed for podcasting), resulting in a considerably less professional-sounding recording. And this does not even take into consideration the all-too-common cheap inner workings that add noise to the mix (pun intended). A little more cash outlay can get you a quality digital audio interface that is specifically built for high sampling rates and top-notch sound.
  • Reduced control. The USB microphone will do whatever it is built to do, end of story. Little room for adjustment here. Hooking a microphone up to some type of audio interface opens up new options, depending on the interface. The interface adds an extra element of control over input levels and mixing.

Conclusion

The bottom line is that a USB mic may appear at first glance to be an attractive choice for a beginner’s home studio—after all, it’s so cheap! However, there is typically a reason for this. Cheap parts equals cheap sound.

If you are going to the trouble to do your own recording, you will want to record high-quality sound. Yes, it is possible to achieve this objective without breaking the bank. Spend the money it takes to obtain quality equipment—just don’t purchase unnecessary features.

You will want to start out with an XLR microphone and a digital audio interface for best recording results. Note, however, that cheap versions of both of these items exist—these inferior products have absolutely no advantage over a good USB mic. Research carefully to find the best bang for your buck. You may need to sacrifice a few inputs and gizmos to maximize quality without breaking the bank.

Home recording is not an inexpensive hobby. To do it well requires investment. Don’t throw your money away buying cheap!

Helpful Resource

The Beginner's Guide to MicrophonesA Beginner’s Guide to Microphones
Want to know more about microphone options and their best applications? This little eBook has the answers. Read our full review.

5 Years of Abundant Living in Flyover Country

5 Years of Abundant Living in Flyover CountryOn July 15, Homestead on the Range passed a major milestone—the five-year mark.

July 15, 2013, saw the publication of the first post at our website. All about living debt-free, this was also the first installment in our Getting Started series. Tips for what do when the hens stop laying, the Arkansas River Lowlands entry in our first-ever guide (Kansas Regions), and a link to a free eBook titled Beans as a Field Crop in Kansas rounded out our lineup for that first week.

Why We’re Here

Our story is told in depth on our About page. Hands-on experience with learning the country lifestyle in Kansas was proof sufficient that a better source of information was needed—one dedicated to learning how to live with the vagaries of this unique state.

Country living can be a challenge in Kansas. In addition to the usual complement of beginner’s mistakes and unexpected mishaps, a newbie can expect to face everything from drought to flood, heat and humidity to biting winter winds. When it comes to the Kansas climate—expect the unexpected. And climate affects everything from the laying rate of chickens to the size of the vegetable harvest to the household electric bill.

But we believe that every Kansan can live their dreams and enjoy a country lifestyle, because we believe that abundant living is possible no matter where you are. And we are here to help. Our mission:

Homestead on the Range is a Kansas-based small business dedicated to serving country living enthusiasts by supplying them with the innovative resources that they need to succeed. Whether your family’s farm or ranch is 5 acres or 500, a business or a hobby, in Kansas or in some other part of the world, our goal is to keep you informed and inspired.

To accomplish this, we have created a number of resources with your needs in mind.

What We Do

So what will you find here at Homestead on the Range? Our posts on a wide range of country living topics are likely the first thing that will meet your eye. However, we have a few other free online resources that we hope you will find useful:

  • Guides. In-depth articles on topics ranging from vitamins to vegetables to Kansas birds. Think of them as online encyclopedias.
  • The Homestead Bookshelf. Gathering knowledge is a big part of successful country living. This is where to go for inspiration, how-tos, or just the facts. Covering topics from Bible reading to crop planting to exploring Kansas, the Homestead Bookshelf is a growing repository of quality information (and a good place to find books to complete our reading challenges).
  • The Gallery. Free stock photos relevant to country living or the Kansas outdoors can be hard to find. Our photos of wheat, composters, wind turbines, and more are available for commercial and noncommercial use without attribution. (Please see our Stock Photo Terms of Use.)

Also free to all are our email newsletters:

  • On the Range. Your weekly country living update! Every Friday, receive notice of new posts, site updates, country living tips, Scripture Passages of the Month, reading challenge hints, relevant headlines, and more, right in your inbox!
  • Publishing Newsletter. A good way to keep up with our newest book releases, specials, and freebies.

And speaking of publishing, that brings us to our books. Our publishing catalog is still in its infancy, but we currently offer The Family Garden Journal and The Worst Jokes I Know with more books in the works.

Thank You, Readers

We are on a mission to collect as much useful Kansas country living information as possible into one place, and we would love nothing better than to have you alongside!

Thank you, readers, for five great years!

6 Tips for Keeping Plants Going Through the Summer

6 Tips for Keeping Plants Going Through the SummerSummer can be a tough time to garden. The heat is challenging to many plants. Coupled with dry weather, it pulls the moisture right out of the ground and wilts leaves and stems. Paired with humidity, high temperatures may stress plants and foster fungal diseases.

But never fear! Gardens can continue to be productive in the hot summer months!

Here’s how to keep your plants in peak health despite the heat:

  1. Water deeply and infrequently, but regularly. It stands to reason that plants will need regular watering in the heat of summer. However, it is important to avoid weakening them by watering shallowly and thus encouraging their roots to grow near the surface. By watering deeply and allowing the surface of the ground to dry out in between waterings, the plants will put down extensive root systems less prone to damage from rapid soil moisture evaporation.
  2. Mulch. Mulch helps the soil retain moisture longer. This will allow to you water less frequently, and will help protect the plants from stress due to water deprivation. In a hot, dry, windy summer, an unmulched garden may literally require watering every day, and even that may not keep it alive.
  3. Protect cool-season plants with shade cloth. Still have broccoli or lettuce persisting through the summer heat? Increase your chances of a successful harvest and give these cool-weather plants a helping hand by shading them from the intense sun. Shade cloth is sold specifically for this purpose.
  4. Avoid excess nitrogen. Heat and humidity promote plant diseases, and so does excess nitrogen. A quick boost of nitrogen will indeed result in large, lush plants, but there are hidden side effects. The new cells grow very quickly, resulting in soft tissue susceptible to the invasion of pathogens. If your plants need nitrogen, apply it in a slow-release form, such as compost or well-rotted manure.
  5. Grow vines vertically for better airflow. Not only do sprawling vines take up space and promote weed growth, they are prone to disease and attract insect pests looking for a hiding place. Growing vertically exposes the entire plant to light and air. While this means that it will require more water (again, a mulch is recommended here), the trade-off is typically beneficial because the plant is healthier overall.
  6. Pull dead and dying plants. Not every plant will be able to keep going through the summer. Leftover cool-season plants will succumb, and even some hot-weather plants, such as bush beans, will eventually reach the end of their productive lives. Trying to keep dying plants going through the summer rarely produces miracles—in fact, it typically just attracts pests. Do the rest of your garden a favor and remove sickly vegetables.

With these tips in mind, your garden can continue to produce bountiful harvests throughout the summer.

Looking for the Scripture Passages of the Month?

Looking for the Scripture Passages of the Month?Looking for the Scripture Passages of the Month? We have moved this feature to our free weekly country living update, On the Range.

Along with five Bible verses every month, a subscription to On the Range will provide you with plenty of interesting reading material:

  • Our latest posts.
  • Site updates.
  • Additions to the Homestead Bookshelf.
  • New photos in our stock photo gallery.
  • Ideas for preparing for each new month of country living.
  • Hints for our reading challenge.
  • Headlines that affect you and your farm.
  • Featured posts from our archives.
  • Fun facts.
  • Food for thought.
  • Timely tips.

The Scripture Passages of the Month will be sent out with the newsletter this Friday. We look forward to sharing this feature with you!

Last Chance for a Free Joke Book

The Worst Jokes I Know (and I Know a Lot!)

Looking for some light summer reading that the whole family can enjoy? Now is your last opportunity to pick up The Worst Jokes I Know (and I Know a Lot!) by B. Patrick Lincoln for free!

This illustrated collection of 101 Funny Bone Ticklers for Jokesters of All Ages will be available for free to all on July 6 and 7 only! Pick up the free eBook for keeps, or read it with your subscription to Kindle Unlimited.

Children will love sharing clean humor with their friends, family, and pun pals as they find out the answers to important questions like:

Why is it inadvisable to read the contents of this book to an egg?

Why was the ground delighted with the earthquake?

And why did the chicken really cross the road?

After July 7, The Worst Jokes I Know will no longer be enrolled in the Kindle Unlimited program—so if you want to read it for free, now is your last chance.

Want to preview some sample pages? Click here for more information.

Happy summer!