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Review: Vitasoy Quinoa beverage, vanilla flavour

Vitasoy Quinoa beverage, vanilla flavour
Quinoa is everywhere, but does is work as a beverage?

Is there anything they won’t milk?

In the past couple years, I’ve sipped cow milk, almond milk, rice milk, soy milk … and those are just the milks I remember. But quinoa milk? This was new to me.

If you read much about food, you’ll know there’s currently a love-in surrounding quinoa – the latest ancient grain to be loudly “rediscovered” by health-food evangelists – which explains the urge to milk it – both literally, turning it into milk (though the package never calls it this), and figuratively, milking it for sweet, sweet grocery store lucre.

Don’t think I’m ragging on quinoa. I like the stuff, and I eat it from time to time. It makes a great salad, and it’s a nice change from rice when you’ve got a thick, saucy stew that demands to be spooned over something.

When I saw this 1-litre carton of Vitasoy’s vanilla-flavoured “enriched oat and quinoa beverage” at my local Co-op, I couldn’t even imagine what it would taste like, which is why I had to buy it.

The Pitch: “Vitasoy Quinoa beverages are made from the ancient grain quinoa, the only plant-based complete protein other than the soybean, which delivers all the essential amino acids to nourish your body, keeping you satisfied and full of energy. Enjoy the mild, nutty flavour of Vitasoy Quinoa beverage everyday!” Also, Vitasoy notes that the quinoa used to make this drink is grown in Canada. Vegan, “animal-friendly,” dairy- and lactose-free, non-GMO – any more fancy credentials and it could practise medicine in Saskatchewan.

The Oddity: I don’t want to dwell on the fact that this proudly soy-free drink is made by a company called Vitasoy, but what’s up with that?

The Look: Like any number of other 1-litre tetra-paks in the alternative-milk section of the grocery store. Features an image of a luxuriously smooth beverage being poured into a glass. Utilitarian, but not ugly.

The Taste: Nutty is right. Tastes like drinking quinoa from a glass – what an utterly bizarre, unpleasant experience. Limp texture, too – I expected it to be thick and rich, like decent soy milk, instead of thin and watery. It’s a bit chalky, with grainy flavours and garden-centre-potting-soil twang. In short: absolutely awful.


Cost: About $3.99 for a 1-litre carton at Calgary Co-op. Last I checked, it was on sale.

Value for cash money: Not great. But quinoa doesn’t come cheap, so that’s no surprise.

Availability: Hard to find. I didn’t see it at my favourite eco-minded Calgary grocery shop, Sunnyside Natural Market. Nor was it available at my neighbourhood Planet Organic. But it was at Co-op. Weird, right?

Nutrition?: Per 1 cup (250 mL): 130 calories, 3 grams of fat, 95 mg of sodium, 0 grams of fibre, 3 grams of protein.

The verdict: A terrible, terrible curiosity that, if there is any justice in the grocery world, should find permanent shelf space in the dumpster behind the supermarket. One glass was enough; I doubt I’ll be able to finish the carton. Remarked NEAROF! contributor Aline: “Don’t people taste these things before they bring them to market?”



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