Big news in the Los Angeles area this week: LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy announced that L.A. schools will eliminate chocolate- and strawberry-flavored milk from their menus. The move came in response to activists led by Food Revolution’s Jamie Oliver, who has hounded the district on school lunch reform for weeks since his arrival in L.A. Several other districts across the country, including those in Washington D.C., have already banned flavored milks.
But what’s the big deal about flavored milks – particularly strawberry? Aren’t strawberries good? Sure, but most strawberry milk is made with artificial flavors or strawberry “powder” and many brands have loads of added sugar. So even though it has a fruit-like connotation, “strawberry” milk is pretty far removed from the berry patch.
Embarrassing disclaimer: The older Jolly Tomato kid is a frequent consumer of strawberry milk whenever he buys his lunch at school. But we’ve been talking quite a bit about sugary drinks, and after it came up several times in conversation, it was his idea to start making our own berry-flavored milks as a Fun Food project.
Our first effort was strawberry milk, and we decided to use just a slight amount of sweetener. We settled on our new favorite liquid sweetener, agave syrup, to make blending easier. Here’s the basic recipe:
1 cup regular low-fat milk
4 medium strawberries, sliced
1/2 teaspoon agave syrup
Combine milk, strawberries, and agave syrup in a tall cup. Blend with immersion blender for one minute or until evenly smooth.
The result? A smooth, thick concoction that was delicious and milkshake-like. Better still, the total sugar was just over 18 grams (13 g for the milk, 2 g for the strawberries, and 3 g for the agave syrup, according to information from NutritionData), as opposed to 28 to 31 grams of sugar in various store-bought brands we checked out. Not to mention it had real fruit, as opposed to strawberry “flavor” or artificial colors. Note: Horizon Organic’s Lowfat Strawberry Milk used to have 31 grams of sugar, but with its new formulation it now has 23 grams of sugar – pretty close to our homemade version.
Flush with success, we tried the same thing but with half a banana, and then with 1/4 cup of blueberries. Both of those were yummy, but the strawberry milk was the hands-down favorite. Heck, we might need to start packing it in lunches, or at least having it ready as an after-school snack. Or maybe Jamie Oliver would like to buy a case?
We’re taking the weekend off to head out to Camp Blogaway, but we’ll be back soon with more information and inspiration. Until then, happy Fun Food Friday and happy weekend to all!