Fruits and Vengeance: Barley Smoothie

Contrary to popular belief, being vegan does not mean that you will never know good tasting food ever again. I admit that there was a time when I did think that giving up dairy was impossible and that those that did so were certifiably insane. However, a recipe that none other than my carnivorous father introduced to me showed me that even I could live without dairy.

gavel2For years, physicians have questioned whether or not dairy is really healthy for humans. The consensus seems to be that there is no consensus. Growing up, most of us heard that dairy was important for building strong bones. Indeed, dairy advocates have stated that it is not only vital to building strong bones and muscles, but that is essential for healthy skin, to defend against obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

Two camps of dieters have vocalized very different beliefs as to what dairy does to the human body. Both vegans and carnivorous Paleo dieters have stated that dairy increases cancer risk, that it increases risk in cardiovascular disease, that it is irrelevant to bone health, that the production of milk and other dairy products is actually abusive to cows and that dairy intake from an adult mammal is simply unnatural and downright repulsive.

Courtesy of Flickr

Courtesy of Flickr/avillanueva©

Obviously, there is a great disparity in opinion on this surprisingly hot topic. Many people have little to no idea about the concern behind dairy and its place in the human diet. Many, including Mark Hyman, MD, a contributing writer to the Huffington Post, say that is because, “criticizing milk in American is like taking on motherhood, apple pie, or baseball.”

Hyman also talks about how the United States Department of Agriculture recommendation in 2005 of three glasses of milk a day is “udderly ridiculous” because many of the scientists behind this study come directly from the dairy industry and, therefore, have a vested interest in the outcome. The 2010 guidelines emphasized the need to intake less whole and 2% milk and more skim low-fat milk and cheese.

Courtesy of Christie Merino / Gavel Media

Photo by Christie Merino/Gavel Media

Life without ice cream, yogurt, milk, butter or cream seems quite daunting. Unlike meat, this is not something you may eat once or twice a day that you can substitute with other sources. Faux dairy is not something to look forward to. Fake cheese does not taste like real cheese, nor does almond milk or rice milk taste like milk from your animal of choice. The reason that most people consume whole and 2% dairy products is because of the thicker and creamier taste.

Whether or not you think veganism the right lifestyle for you, questioning the status quo is something that everyone should make a part of his or her lives. Just like when mom shot some variation of, “If everyone jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge, would you jump?” we should all be asking ourselves if consuming milk, a product of mother nature meant for the nursing of a baby, is right for us. True, we are the only animals that consume the milk of another animal. We are also the only animals to come up with a complex civilization where we put ourselves at the top of a food chain from which we remain relatively distanced.

My dad will be the first to tell you about the difficulties of milking a cow or growing fields of corn. His hands-on approach to food has led to an interest in hunting and fishing which has spread to my brother. Come hunting season, they leave before the crack of dawn to find dinner. Clearly, our lives do not depend on their ability to make a kill. However, the experience of finding and preparing an animal for consumption has certainly given them both a great satisfaction in knowing that they can survive without the supermarket.

Courtesy of Christie Merino / Gavel Media

Photo by Christie Merino/Gavel Media

My dad loves deer meat and freshly caught fish cooked over an open fire with a beer by his side. But he also enjoys the bean salad recipe from last week and the smoothie recipe for this week. His joy of gardening left me with many fond memories of picking tomatoes in the yard and fruit on the farms in our area. His aversion to wasting any food meant that it all had to be consumed while it was still fresh. For a child, the task of eating enough for two grown men always left me with a bleak feeling. However, he found ways to use the fruits while still fresh and make them last longer.

Courtesy of Christie Merino / Gavel Media

Photo by Christie Merino/Gavel Media

This smoothie uses no yogurt, no ice, no milk and a grain. Any combination of fruit will make this extremely healthy smoothie taste like heaven. Without the heavy feeling or the frosty sensation of a normal smoothie, this drink will make you question everything you once knew. Or at least that a smoothie needs dairy. Boiled barley hardly seems an appropriate ingredient in a smoothie recipe and rice milk, obviously, does not taste like real milk at all. But don't judge until you try it! This smoothie has cured my brother of many colds and aided a friend or two after getting wisdom teeth removed.



Rice milk



1. Boil a pot of water and cook the barley until soft. Let this sit in the fridge until cool.

2. Put ¼ of barley and ½ a cup of rice milk in the blender.

3. Put as much fruit in as you like. Classic combinations like strawberry and banana are delicious, but this recipe can handle any combination you dish out.

4. Blend until the consistency is to your liking and enjoy.

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Christie Merino