Is This The Taste of Evil?

This post was imported from my short-lived, now-defunct food blog, Cooking With Ginger.

it burns! it burns!

As I approach the business end of my Fat Busting adventure, I'm having to fight for every tiny wee ounce I lose. My body seems reluctant to surrender any more lard. All it takes is a stray slice of toast, one skipped gym class or merely breathing in some Lamington Fumes and I'll wind up with a nasty result on my Wednesday Weigh Days. So lately I've been scouring my food journal, looking for things to cut out or modify in order to get some results.

This week I focused on milk. I normally drink semi-skimmed, which contains about 1.5% fat. That's the bottle with the green lid. Here in Britain the milk is colour coded and it all makes perfect sense to me. Full fat milk is blue, which makes one think rich, lush, indulgent – fat jersey cows ambling over pastures. Green is wholesome, inoffensive, natural – a happy compromise. Red means pain, suffering, deprivation – the mournful moo of a malnourished bovine. Red is evil. Red is for skimmed milk.

So that's what I drank last week. Here's where I need to insert the disclaimer. I hate Skimmed Milk. I hate Non Fat milk too, which is the American equivalent. I even hate Skim Milk, as it's called in Australia with our fine tradition of abbreviation. I hate skimmed milk as I was forced to drink it as a child. Well, I wasn't forced very forcefully, it was just often all we had left in the fridge. The Mothership liked to stock healthy foods such as brown bread, green vegetables and sensible cereals like Weetbix. The typical parent/child conversation went thus: 

"Muuum I'm hungry."
"Have an apple."
"I don't want an apple."
"Well you're not really hungry then, are you?"

The Mothership's milk of choice was Shape, which was allegedly not as evil as Skim as it contains half a percent or so of fat. But I couldn't taste a difference. It was still pale and watery. Even if you added Home Brand Chocolate Topping and blasted it for ten minutes in the milkshake maker, it was still pale and watery. Just BROWN, pale, watery. I used gag and screw up my face and clutch my stomach most melodramatically, counting down the days til the weekend where I could guzzle full cream milk and sugary cornflakes at my dad's house. And I always thought the design of the Shape carton somehow made it taste worse. It was white with gold stripes, the word SHAPE zapped across it in a neon 80s font. There may also have been a silhouette of a lady in a leotard and legwarmers, because that's how we all dressed back then.

Despite this troubled history I decided to give it another try. I'm all for revisiting the Food Foes of ones childhood – I used to say I hated avocados because they seemed pale and nasty to my ten-year-old self. But now? Mmm, avocado. I pity the fool I was back then. ANYWAY, in my quest to save calories and fat, skimmed milk seemed a good place to start. Plus they tell me that low fat dairy is higher in calcium. How can you go wrong? I subjected the brew to a number of different taste tests. 

First test:   The Smoothie
Hidden amongst frozen berries, yogurt and orange juice, the half cup of Skimmed Milk wasn't a dominant enough player to really make an impact. I sniffed and sipped, looking for the tell-tale notes of water and evil, but it was indetectable. So score one for the Skimmed Milk. But then again I used full fat Yeo Valley yogurt. I guess that cancels out the benefits. D'oh! 

Second Test:   The Porridge
After trudging to work on a winters morn, there's nothing better than zapping ones oats in the microwave for a hearty breakfast. I usually make my porridge with a 2:1 ratio of semi-skimmed milk and water, but this time it was pure Skimmed. I thought there wouldn't be much difference between 0% skim and 1.5% semi + water. But there was! It was rotten, ROTTEN I tells ya! Usually the oats are burbling after two minutes, white and creamy and begging for a pinch of brown sugar. But in their insipid Skimmed Milk bath, they just sort of blinked up at me, grey and sludgy. They hadn't melted at all, and the addition of sugar just made it murky and sickly sweet. Never again!

Third Test:   The Glass
One of my favourite snacks is grainy toast with almond butter. But it has to be accompanied by a glass of cold milk, so you can swirl it round your mouth and hose all the sticky bits off your teeth. So I made the toast and poured the glass and sat down in front of Ready, Steady, Cook. All I can say is, BLARRRRGH! On its own, the Skimmed Milk tasted like not just all the fat but the SOUL had been drained right out of it. And when gnashed around with a bite of toast it just got lost completely, instead of being part of the overall flavoursome mess as the Semi-Skimmed does.

Conclusion: Definitely the taste of evil. I shall stay loyal to the green cap. While I envy and applaud those healthy folk who manage to chug this stuff down, for me the 1.5% fat I'd save is not worth sacrificing 100% of the taste.

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32 thoughts on “Is This The Taste of Evil?

  1. I drink skim milk (it’s called that in America, too), and like it. But I grew up on it. I can handle 1% or 2%, but whole milk makes me feel like my mouth is lined with butter (and not in a good way). However, I have a deep hatred for all other non-fat dairy products. Non-fat yogurt? Repulsive. Non-fat cottage cheese? Urk. And low-fat cheese is just plain ol’ nasty. Dairy needs some fat. Period.

  2. You might try ultra-pasteurized or lactose-free skim milk — it might tickle your fancy more. Here in the U.S. they also sell some skim milk that is processed in some way to add some flavor and goodness back in. But then, maybe that’s scary. Oh, but of course we now all know that low-fat diets aren’t any healthier for you, due to study released yesterday. Yet, low- or non-fat dairy can still help you lose weight!

  3. “Muuum I’m hungry.”
    “Have an apple.”
    “I don’t want an apple.”
    “Well you’re not really hungry then, are you?”

    Too funny Shauna…you do realize this will be a typical conversation with your little one in a few years, don’t you? It’s the same conversation I used to have with my mom (it drove me crazy) yet I find myself having the same conversation with my daughter now (and I’m much cooler of a mom than my mom was, of course!)

  4. Your entry made me laugh because I actually just went the other way–after growing up eating fat free yogurt and drinking skim milk (that’s what most Americans really call it, by the way–only Starbucks baristas call it nonfat) I switched to 1% for both and it is HEAVENLY. Especially 1% milk with oatmeal and a drizzle of maple syrup, or 1% yogurt with berries and a dusting of granola. And I find that I’m actually eating less overall, because the little bit of fat is more satiating than nonfat. Who’d have thought?

  5. My Brit friends were utterly appalled by the skim milk I offered them when they stayed with me in Boston – they asked why it blue! (yes, it is sort of bluish)

    I have distinct memories of my granny in Northern Ireland letting my little brother eat the frothy fat right out of the little glass bottles delivered early each morning….probably why he’s lactose intolerant today!

  6. I prefer skimmed milk to the semi or full fat one. And that despite of the fact that I grew up drinking full-fat cow milk, milked by my granny, so it was often still warm and frothy (when not at my grandparents, I settled for the 3.5% one in the shops). Delicious back then, way too greasy now.
    You’ll get used to it, Shauna, you will:) Persevere!

  7. Eh, I chucked ’em all and now I only drink unsweetened Silk soy milk.

    Shauny, thanks for the chuckles — love the new site!

  8. I think the last time I drunk milk must have been from my mother’s breast! I despise the liquid! But when I decided to lose weight, I had to incorporate it in my diet, so skim milk was the only one I could have. I still nevr drink it, but I can have it with cereal or use it in cooking instead of cream.

    So I must say, I agree with the title of this post. Milk (10% to 0% fat) IS the taste of evil! 😉

  9. i have always hated milk too yuck milk yuckyuckyuck but alas must have it in cereal so settle for what we call halfvolle melk, half full, 1.5% fat. fine that but still dont drink the leftovers out of the bowl *shudder*

  10. Reaally, they hop straight from 0% to 1.5% in Britain? When I was a kid we had 2%, 1%, 0.5% and skim here in the States; though I can’t find 0.5% anymore. It did make it a little easier to step down that fat grade. Any chance you guys have something like this in your shops? Hood brand is local to the northeastern US, but I thought maybe with the low carb popularity, you might have something similar. It has about the same calories as skim.

    The fat free has about half the calories of skim, and I think it’s just as good in my oatmeal. Then again, I’m A-Ok with the fat free dairy.

  11. soy milk! now there’s a project i could try. what about rice or oat milk, anyone out there tried that?

    pille – but i trriiiied! i really did. well. not very hard 😛

    hiya amy! i’m not sure we have anything like the Hood milk here. there’s not the same abundance of choices in the uk than the us.

    for your basic garden variety supermarket milk, we have:

    skim = very close to fat free

    full fat/whole = about 3%

    semi-skim = around 1.5% – meeting the others halfway.

    i guess it’s a smaller market so fewer brands and options.

    i remember looking at milk in a supermarket in san francisco and being utterly gobsmacked by the range of choice! should i get 0, 1, 2 % or whole milk or half and half, whatever that is? and what is the difference in taste between 1 and 2%? panic! panic!

    i reckon i would need about 5 hours to do my weekly grocery shop if i lived in america 🙂 there’s just so much to see…

  12. Hilarious. Being a mother now, with an offspring of three, I employ these same methods with regard to hunger. Yet I add a little bit of world wide hunger education to the mix.

    I’m hungry
    Eat an apple
    I don’t want an apple
    Then you aren’t hungry then are you…. imagine how happy those poor little kids in Africa or Bangledesh would be if they had the opportunity to eat an apple. It would be the most exciting thing in their week. Now, stop being ungrateful and eat the apple.

    Eyes downcast, offspring eat apple.

    I win again!!!

  13. I think it is just the sudden change that you taste so how about phasing in the skim milk? You could just start by adding a slosh of skim to your semi-skimmed then the next week add a little more…

  14. You neglected to mention my favourite skim milk beverage: the latte! Two shots of espresso in a huge cup of steamed skim milk! Yum!!

    Hey, I thought that the dairy products in the UK were supposed to be so great, which is the reason why your chocolate tastes so much better than ours. Hmmm.

    We can get skim, 1%, 2% or homo (3.5%). We also get “light” cream (5%), “half & half” (10%), coffee cream (15%) and table cream (18%). So much dairy, so little time…

    I put skim on my cereal (even oatmeal) and put 1% in my coffee. That’s about all the milk fat I can handle.

  15. I stopped drinking cow’s milk four years ago and have never looked back. No milk, cream or cheese and my stomach and intestines thank me for it. I drink soy milk with calcium and use it in cooking too. It works on 99% of recipes.

  16. I died laughing at the “Muuum I’m hungry” exchange. I had the EXACT same convo with mom when I was a kid some 35 years ago, only for her it was a hard-boiled egg instead of an apple — blurgh! So even across the Pacific and across the years, our mothers used the same script — where do you suppose they learn this?? Mommy school…what??? As for skimmed milk…milk’s not supposed to be _blue_ fercryin’outloud!

  17. PS: Agree that you should try soy milk. But like so many things, it can be an acquired taste. Now I like it in everything, and milk just tastes odd to me now, but at first I only liked it in my grain coffee, where the taste was well-hidden. Just have to be careful of the sugar, since so many soy milks are over-sweetened. I get unsweetened so that I can control how much sweetener I want. Play with the different brands, as they have different flavors and consistencies. I’ve never tried rice milk but it looks thin compared to soy. I have enjoyed cooking up couscous and dried fruit and nuts in almond milk for dessert…

  18. For the last ten years, we haven’t had anything but soy milk in my house. I despised it at first, and then got used to it but never enjoyed it. Then, when i started working at a breakfast place i fell in love with real milk..im assuming its probably whole milk, but i don’t really know actually. Now, i actually crave milk, but i’ll only buy skim milk or fat free(which i guess is the same thing?) for the house. The thiness doesn’t bother me, probably b/c its similar to soy milk, but tastes ALOT better to me. I never really understood the difference in all the milks, so this post has helped me alot 🙂

  19. I can’t stand full fat milk now that I am used to skim. Mind you I only drink milk with my tea or milo (which is a huge trigger fodd that I an’t have now). Just takes time to get used to.

  20. I only drink skimmed milk. In any circumstances.

    I don’t know if you had to go through this in Australia, but here there was the horror of School Milk. That was full milk. I was one of the last generations to get it in a real little glass bottle. You pierced the foil top with a straw and then sooked for all you were worth. The sound of a whole classful of small children making slurping noises as they got to the bottom haunts me to this day.

    And it wasn’t refrigerated, so it was icky and warm, and by the time you got to the last bit, about 50% dribble. I used to get in trouble for taking a long time to finish…

    So the thought of full milk, even in tea, makes me gag. I can manage skimmed on my cereal, or in my tea or coffee. But I couldn’t drink it neat in a million years.

  21. I’ve recently skipped up to 1% after a lifetime of being a diehard skim milk person. (That’s what my mom always gave us, even when we were toddlers and she wasn’t supposed to.) Except, I’ve found that I actually *like* cereal with 1% and I never liked it with skim. After two years of prednisone and ongoing inhaled steroids, I figure I ought to get all the milk I can.

    Oh, whoever up there commented about the chocolate – it’s because European chocolate doesn’t have paraffin in it. They add wax in the US to make it more shelf stable to compensate for a warmer climate. Thus, it tastes gross.

  22. I completely agree. It’s only worth the cut calories if it still tastes good. Fage 0% is a gold standard: all fat free stuff needs to taste THAT GOOD to qualify for my fridge.

    I like that in the US I can pick between 1% and 2% lower-fat.

    I refuse to use skimmed because my coffee should not taste of evil.

  23. hehe… i love all these milky comments.

    and rosemary I AGREE! i was going to devote a whole post to 0% Fage (it’s on my to do list) because it is the holy grail 🙂

  24. yeah, skimmed milk is vile, but there is a middle way – it’s not too easy to find, but look for the purple. Wisemans make it and its nattily called “The One” – 1% which means it still tastes quite nice. Give it a go – it’ll match your knickers!

  25. HAH! I grew up on WHOLE milk (I mean my mom got milk from the lady down the road that had a cow) and now I can’t drink anything but skim. I love love love milk – but if it isn’t skim it is too thick! We have skim plus over here (US) that is skim but they make it thicker to fake you out. I don’t drink that either though!

  26. Talking about the Mothership’s sensible food brings back memories re my kids attitudes. Homebaked bread – my kitches had huge bins of wholemeal flour and raw sugar. But the one they still give me a hard time over is Coco Pops deprivation. Breakfast cereal at our place was weetbix, vitabrits, corn flakes or rice bubbles. None of 110% sugar stuff. Things like Coco Pops and Fruit Loops were treats – Christmas and Easter only. Even now you will find the Coco Pops in my daughter’s food pantry on occasions – a clear sign of the mental scarring of child abuse by lack of Coco Pops

  27. “Muuum I’m hungry.”
    “Have an apple.”
    “I don’t want an apple.”
    “Well you’re not really hungry then, are you?”

    So it’s true, there is a Mom gene! Yikes.

    Anyway, I enjoy skim myself mostly because it has less of a coating effect on my tongue, etc. Soy is good with oatmeal or “porridge” I guess.

    Hate to be Debbie Downer (SNL character) but it sounds like you need to either cut something else out of your diet, or (more sensibly) change up the ol’ exercise plan. It’s possible that you’ve plateau’d on your current plan and that’s why your body isn’t changing anymore.

    Just my 2… %

    Henh. Geddit? 2% milk? Yeh, well…

  28. 🙂 cheers everyone! nice to know this mum thing is universal!

    btw, i’m still losing, but was just saying it’s a lot harder work now i’m getting to the end…

  29. I just bought a new brand of fat free milk that is fabulous! It is Skinny Cow and it is really creamy, not watery at all!!