A few years ago I became obsessed with plant-based dairy alternatives while I was living in Shanghai. The reason for this was the sudden onset of adult acne.
It was a huge shock for me being someone who had been very lucky to have had relatively problem-free skin as a teenager. My once “perfect” blemish-free skin had broken out in the most painful cystic acne on my chin and jawline, and I was miserable about it. I still remember those waking moments in the morning feeling like my face was bruised, realising I had yet another blind pimple. I did everything I could at the time, including seeing a dermatologist, but nothing seemed to be helping.
I began looking at everything I was doing and realised that besides the change in my environment going from living in South Africa to Shanghai (hello air pollution, shitty water and less sunshine), I was also under a huge amount of stress and my diet had changed.
Your skin is the largest organ in your body, so much like the heart, liver or brain, it reacts to things it doesn’t like – and mine clearly didn’t like living in Shanghai. After a few conversations with others suffering from the same issues as me, I realised that the dairy I was consuming might have been one of the causes. So I made the switch from dairy to plant-based milk wherever I could and started experimenting with making my own using various nuts and grains.
I also tried a few store-bought alternatives but always found the chemical aftertaste really off-putting. Oatly launched their oat milk in China as well, which was definitely the tastiest and most pleasant out of all the brands. It was through all this experimentation and taste-testing that I learnt to appreciate plant-based dairy alternatives and how much nicer they were when you made them yourself, regardless of the schlep of soaking, blending and straining that goes into it.
It definitely made a difference to my skin but once I’d left China and moved to London, it cleared up completely barring a couple of spots here and there. I went back to consuming regular dairy and all was well, but I definitely didn’t forget how lovely plant-based alternatives can be.
A few weeks ago I came across a recipe for Horchata, which is a delicious Mexican rice-based drink. I first tasted it when I was in Shanghai (a melting pot of nationalities and amazing food) and loved it! I’d completely forgotten about it and wanted to experiment with making some of my own, so decided to work it into an oat bowl I’d lined up along with a few other recipes to make using the beautiful figs which The Figary sent me, as well as some of the nut butter I received from Buttanutt.
Horchata Oat & Fig Bowl
If the thought of making your own Horchata makes you want to run for the hills, that’s cool, all you need to do is use the same quantity of plant-based or dairy milk you’d like. If you are going to make Horchata then you’ll need a high-powered blender, a nut milk bag or a piece of muslin to strain the mixture. You’ll also need to begin the recipe a day ahead to allow the rice to soak.
FOR THE HOMEMADE HORCHATA
- 1 cup white or brown rice (I used a short-grain Arborio)
- 4 cups of water
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- a pinch of salt
- 2 tbsp raw honey or maple syrup
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
FOR THE OAT BOWLS
- 1.5 cups quick-cooking rolled oats
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 4 tbsp Buttanutt Cinnamon Macadamia nut butter
- 2 tbsp raw honey
- 4 fresh The Figary figs, quartered
- granola, as an extra topping
- Add the rice, water and cinnamon to a bowl, cover and place in the fridge to soak overnight.
- The next day place all of the Horchata ingredients in the jug of your blender and blend on high for 1-2 minutes until everything is fully combined and the rice has been completely blitzed.
- Strain the mixture through a nut milk bag or over a sieve lined with a piece of muslin. Discard the leftover rice pulp or save it to use in baking (I’m yet to figure out exactly what, so please comment below if you have some ideas for me).
- Add the Horchata, oats and salt to a saucepan and whilst stirring continuously, cook over medium heat for about two minutes. Lower the heat and continue cooking (whilst stirring) for around 8 minutes or until the oats are cooked.
- Divide the oats between two bowls and drizzle with the nut butter and raw honey.
- Top with figs and a small handful of granola for some extra crunch.