Every year, it seems as if there is a new dairy-free alternative to milk popping up on our wellness feed. A decade ago, it was soy. This year, oat milk and so many in between, including coconut, almond, rice and cashew milk. Lately, however, we’ve been noticing a new plant-based beverage around the health food store — sesame milk — and it’s aiming to dominate 2020.
“The plant-based beverage market as a whole is hot right now, and sesame seed milk is just another example of it,” nutrition consultant Keri Gans, M.S., RDN, CDN, explains.
A group of Chicago friends saw the market potential of sesame milk, which at the time was one of those drinks you had to make at home. After about two years of research, in late 2018, they introduced the first sesame milk line, Hope & Sesame, to the market. They launched with five varieties: original, unsweetened original, vanilla, chocolate and chocolate-hazelnut.
According to Hope & Sesame, their organic seeds are harvested using sustainable farming practices. After selecting the freshest seeds, they process them in their state-of-the-art facilities and fortify them with their proprietary “Sesamein protein” — which is basically their exclusive plant-based blend of organic sesame protein concentrate, organic pea protein concentrate and organic natural flavor.
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According to Gans, one serving is packed with 8 grams of protein, something that “is surely lacking in many other plant-based alternatives,” she says.
It also boasts as much calcium as whole dairy milk (30%, or the recommended daily allowance, says Gans) and 50% of the RDA for vitamin D.
As for sugar, the original unsweetened actually has less than milk — zero grams. However, every other variety does contain added sugar — in the form of organic cane sugar — and quite a lot of it. For example, the original sweetened version has 7 grams of sugar, with the third ingredient listed as “organic cane sugar.” The vanilla has 11, while the chocolate and chocolate-hazelnut boast 17.
Every variety is organic, kosher and Non-GMO Project-verified. Additionally, all but the chocolate-hazelnut are vegan and dairy-, soy-, gluten- and nut-free, while the chocolate-hazelnut is vegan and dairy-, soy- and gluten-free.
What does sesame milk taste like?
While it would be easy to assume sipping on sesame milk is like drinking ground-up sesame seeds, surprisingly, that isn’t the case. The flavor is pleasantly rich and more subtly nutty than seedy. Despite being protein-packed, it doesn’t have that chalky protein taste other beverages do. As for the consistency, it is relatively thick and creamy — definitely a great coffee creamer or smoothie milk.
Should you ditch your dairy for sesame milk?
“As a nutrition expert, I look at this ‘milk’ as another option in the beverage category but not as a total cow’s milk replacement unless dietary restrictions mandate,” Gans points out. While the dairy vs. nondairy controversy is raging in the wellness world, most research sides with cow’s milk as the most nutritious option. She explains this is because cow’s milk contains nine essential nutrients — calcium, potassium, phosphorus, protein, vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin B12, riboflavin and niacin — “which still makes it one of the best options available.”
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While most nondairy milks are now fortified with calcium and vitamin D, not all have good amounts of protein compared to cow’s milk, which has 8 grams, she adds. Also, if you’re watching your sugar intake, be very careful when selecting a nondairy milk, as many have added sugar.
However, if you’re lactose intolerant, have a milk allergy, or simply choose not to consume dairy products, Gans maintains that sesame milk is definitely a viable option.
To find out where you can pick up a box of Hope & Sesame, use their store finder. There’s a coupon on that page for $2 off.
Explore more plant-based options with our video about sustainable, raw chocolate.