Pumpkin Seed Mylk, and Chewing Gum

by Gena on June 8, 2010

Wondering if I’ve gone from editor to illiterate? No, I promise I haven’t (though I hope my blog has by now served as excellent proof that book editors are not immune to typos). That “mylk” spelling is how many raw foodists like to refer to nut and seed milks. While I see how this spelling is a little comical, I also see the appeal. If you’re like me, and memories of drinking regular milk (or even the sight of milk in a cereal bowl) send you into paroxysms, spelling alternatives are sort of a relief.

Thanks to a giant sale on raw sunflower seeds at my local health food store, this will be a month full of sunflower recipes (starting with my homemade sunshine burgers — if you haven’t gotten the recipe yet, catch up!). But it’s already a month full of pumpkin seeds, too, as evidenced by the wonderful pumpkin seed mylk I made this past weekend. Part of my weekly planning procedures when I’m especially pressed for time include whipping up at least one nut milk (or mylk) each weekend to use in smoothies, oats or oat bran, raw cereal or granola combos, or chia puddings throughout the week. Usually, it’s hazelnut mylk, almond mylk, or sesame seed mylk. This weekend, thanks to some beautiful Austrian pumpkin seeds that were also on sale, it was pumpkin seed mylk. Simple recipe:

Pumpkin Seed Mylk (yields 5 1/2 cups, or so)

1 cup pumpkin seeds, soaked 1+ hours
4 cups filtered water
4 dates (or stevia to taste)
1 tsp coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla extract or some whole vanilla bean (optional)

Blend all ingredients on high in a blender till very thick and smooth.

When making nut mylks, you can always strain them through cheesecloth, nut milk bags, or (as a reader recently pointed out to me) paint bags from a local hardware store. I enjoy the smooth texture and versatility of strained nut mylks, so I almost always strain mine, but I also like to leave them as they are sometimes — unstrained mylks are thick, rich, and far more decadent! When I tasted this pumpkin seed creation, I knew it was perfect just as it was, and didn’t want to ruin it.

This mylk will keep for 3-5 days in a fridge (I find that seed mylks get sour before nut mylks do, so taste it to be sure before you use it), and is absolutely divine in hot cereal, in smoothies, or in chia pudding.

Before I go, I wanted to share a recent reader question that cannot possibly be unique. Brittany wrote,

Hi Gena!

I was wondering what your opinion is on chewing gum. Is it a really bad habit because of the artificial sweeteners found in it, or is it the sort of thing where a couple of pieces of chewing gum every day are no big deal? Thank you!

Brittany

Good question, Brittany. Back in the days when I struggled horribly with IBS, I saw quite a few GI doctors before I finally found one who was compassionate, knowledgeable, and insightful. One of the first questions he asked me during our consultation was whether or not I chewed sugar free gum. I didn’t chew it very often, but I was curious as to why it was so bad: he quickly explained that the artificial sweeteners (namely sorbitol and xylitol) are very often culprits behind gas and bloating. This is something every person who’s prone to bloating, but who munches on gum like there’s no tomorrow, should know!

Beyond that, chewing gum can force us to swallow a lot of air, which in turn makes bloating worse. So, Brittany, it’s primarily the artificial sweeteners that make it a lousy habit (for certain people), but the chewing can be problematic, too. I’d take this a step further and say that I think there’s something psychologically suspect about constant chewing — it always seems to me as though lots of gum chewing suggests that there’s a hunger for real food that’s not being met — but as someone with an oral fixation, I’m not going to pass any judgment!

If you do want to chew gum, I’d say that xylichew, though imperfect, is probably better than a sorbitol based gum. And Glee, though it contains some sugar, is also a good alternative.

What are your thoughts? Any gum fanatics in the audience, and if so, do you guys have natural brands you like?

Back to work I go!

xo

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{ 66 comments… read them below or add one }

Jess - The Domestic Vegan June 8, 2010 at 3:06 pm

I love pumpkin seed milk (or mylk, I suppose). YUM!

I don’t chew gum because I have TMJ & it irritates my jaw like no other! Ouch. I prefer a sprig of mint or a toothbrush. ;)

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grace June 8, 2010 at 3:10 pm

that mylk sure does look good!

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melissa June 8, 2010 at 3:12 pm

Ha, I have seen that spelling before, but not from you :)

I was hoping for a bday recap. Hope it was glorious, my dear!

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Gena June 8, 2010 at 3:14 pm

Recaps aren’t valid when you spent the day at a desk :-) But it was cheery notwithstanding!

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vanillavivante June 8, 2010 at 3:16 pm

For a couple years I nearly always had a stick of gum in my mouth . . . I used to call it my “pack-a-day” habit :-) I gave it up after I realized that my jaw was nearly always tight, I was suffering from frequent headaches (especially in the back of my head & my neck), and my stomach turned into a complete basket case from all the artificial sweetener. Since then, I’ve started to eat a lot more filling lunch foods (to combat the afternoon oral fixation/insatiable snackiness at work) and drink a lot more tea. Xylitol gums still upset my stomach, so I’m curious to see if anyone can recommend a good all-natural gum!

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Lisa June 8, 2010 at 3:18 pm

I like Zellies gum and mints—but try to limit the amount. This gum is marketed (due to the xylitol) for promoting a healthy pH in the mouth and helping to prevent cavities, etc. Who knows?!

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Mara @ What's For Dinner? June 8, 2010 at 3:20 pm

I’m totally not a gum person… I swear, once I got my braces off and went on a gum bender at 15, i’ve been off the stuff for a while now! Occasionally I’ll have a piece or two, but usually that lovely Glee gum when I do :) Hope your birthday was stellar my friend!! Let’s catch up soon!

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Claire June 8, 2010 at 3:22 pm

I occasionally chew xylitol gum but very rarely…

that pumpkin mylk sounds so tasty!

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Crystal June 8, 2010 at 3:25 pm

Ah… Gum- I love it! It’s something that i can’t kick, though I never really gave it a grand effort. I find that chewing gum calms my hyper mind when I’m trying to concentrate- I have chewed it for as long as I can remember while taking a class, swim practice, running, and yes even yoga. Maybe it’s a crutch? Stress relief? Sadly I can go through a pack in a day or two- either way it’s probably a bad idea! Thanks for the insight!

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Lauren June 8, 2010 at 3:38 pm

This “mylk” sounds amazing! Totally heading to Trader Joes for some pumpkin seeds! :)

I was a gum-a-holic for years, mostly to help me not eat when I was struggling with ED. Now I wouldn’t touch the stuff, thanks God I got over that habit!!

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fartygirl June 8, 2010 at 3:54 pm

Thanks for the alternative suggestions in straining nut and seed milks! That’s something I’ve been struggling with for a while! :)

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Kenzie (Healthy Purpose) June 8, 2010 at 4:04 pm

i stopped chewing gum often when i “found health” as i figured the artificial flavors couldn’t be good–and probably not good to get stuck in your intestines either of swallowed! I am DEFINITELY making that mylk tomorrow. I’ll let you know my thoughts on it!

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Christine (The Raw Project) June 8, 2010 at 4:16 pm

Yum, I can’t wait to try this mylk and see how it is in coffee. :-) Interesting points on gum chewing, I stopped chewing sugar free gum because of the bloating problem. It wasn’t an easy habit to drop, chomping on a piece was helpful when work got stressful, but bloating has been a rear problem since.

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Rick June 8, 2010 at 4:20 pm

according to Andreas Moritz, the mastication causes cognitive function to increase; but I still can’t bring myself to buy gum because everything I see is aspartame or sugar-based. i gave it up ages ago…

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Gena June 8, 2010 at 4:25 pm

Rick,

Mr. Moritz’s is one perspective. Agreed on the aspartame avoidance!

Gena

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Alyxie June 8, 2010 at 4:40 pm

Does the pumpkin mylk taste anything like Halloween and Thanksgiving? That’s all I can seem to think of because I love the season & pumpkin pie. It would be great if this served as a small alternative!

I like chewing gum, and although I want to get myself off of it, it helps when I’m stressed out. However, after being off of it for a while I stop “craving” it. I’ve tried to minimize the amount I chew and hopefully will be off for good. Interesting what you say about the bloating and gas because that happens often and maybe this is why!

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Alyxie June 8, 2010 at 4:41 pm

Does the pumpkin mylk taste anything like Halloween and Thanksgiving? That’s all I can seem to think of because I love the season & pumpkin pie. It would be great if this served as a small alternative!

I like chewing gum, and although I want to get myself off of it, it helps when I’m stressed out. However, after being off of it for a while I stop “craving” it. I’ve tried to minimize the amount I chew and hopefully will be off for good. Interesting what you say about the bloating and gas because that happens often and maybe this is why!

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Lori June 8, 2010 at 4:57 pm

Gena,

Thanks for this post and thanks to Brittany for her gum question.

I’m typically pretty embarrassed to admit my gum obsession, but I find your blog and its readers fairly non-judgmental, so I think I can come clean with it. I have (had?) a gum problem akin to one that the average person has with cigarettes. I can chain-chew gum like no other, and have found that 1) it makes me very anxious and neurotic, 2) it only reinforces my oral fixation, 3) causes bloating like crazy. I feel that it may also promote acne, but I can’t justify this with any fact.

Since I’ve started making healthier changes in my diet, I’ve gone without it, for the most part, but occasionally have given in to gum cravings. Overall I feel like my liking for gum is similar to anyone who has an addiction. I end up feeling so much healthier and more in control of my life and body when I’m not chewing gum. It’s amazing that something so seemingly innocuous as gum can have such a negative impact on anyone’s life! When I saw that The Biggest Loser was promoting gum chewing instead of eating, I can only hope that no one with a similarly addictive personality follows their advice.

Anyhow, thanks for this post again. Also, as someone who has had a problem in the past with disordered eating, I so appreciate how you can use the words thick, rich, and decadent with no remorse. Go Gena!

Lori

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Gena June 8, 2010 at 6:41 pm

Lori —

Wow, what a great comment!

First off, I could go on for decades about what is and is not promoted on THE BIGGEST LOSER. But we’ll put that aside.

Second, there is no addiction or kind of addiction that is “silly.” Thanks for sharing with us.

Gena

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Heather @ Get Healthy With Heather June 8, 2010 at 5:00 pm

I gave up him chewing about 1 year ago and not only has the bloating decreased, headaches have too. I find that artificial sweeteners give me headaches which just isn’t worth it for me.

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bitt June 8, 2010 at 5:12 pm

I love my nutmilks! Not as big of a seed milk person but I have not experimented enough.

Why did the pumpkin seed milk turn orange? I would think it would be green? Or were these not green pumpkin seeds?

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Gena June 8, 2010 at 6:38 pm

B,

They were def green! I think that’s the photo more than anything else.

G

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Jo June 8, 2010 at 5:55 pm

I was just thinking that I wanted to learn to make my own nut milks! Thanks for posting this

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Jen June 8, 2010 at 6:33 pm

Oh, for the love of all that is good, please do not start spelling milk with a y on your blog!

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Gena June 8, 2010 at 6:34 pm

HAHAHA. Don’t worry, Jen, this is a single post deal.

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emptyjar June 8, 2010 at 7:07 pm

I like pumpkin seed butter…i wonder if u can make veggie burgers with pumpkin seeds sometimes if run out of sunflower seeds…

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Gena June 8, 2010 at 10:51 pm

I’m sure you could!

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Hayley @ Breath of Fire June 8, 2010 at 8:53 pm

My stomach has been much happier since I stopped chewing gum. Now, I don’t miss it at all, except maybe after I’ve eaten something with garlic or onions. I’ll take bad breath over a bloated belly!

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Erin J June 8, 2010 at 9:45 pm

Yummm those pictures made me get up and immediately make some pumpkin seed mylk to add to the tea I was sipping on. Mine didn’t have that gorgeous pink/orange hue that yours had – perhaps because I used liquid stevia instead of the dates?
It’s so funny that someone else mentioned the Biggest Loser, becausee that’s exactly what I thought of when I read this post! Just chew on some gum instead of eating, folks.. pay no mind to the bloating, cramping and gas! Ahh, nothing like shameless endorsements…

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astrorainfall June 8, 2010 at 9:47 pm

I try to have pumpkin seed milk 2-3 times a week. I read a Brendan Brazier interview abt how he combats low iron levels and apparently he chucks pumpkin seeds into his smoothies daily. For me, I don’t really like eating pumpkin seed-based raw pates, so blending up a milk is the next best thing for me. I do slip some into my chia pudding/cereals but I’m not someone who can handle eating the same thing daily.

So, thanks for sharing a pumpkin seed milk recipe – it looks delish. Strange orange colour though :)

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Gena June 8, 2010 at 10:51 pm

:-( I really think the color was the photo!

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Danielle (Runs on Green) June 8, 2010 at 10:31 pm

The pumpkin seed mylk looks amazing (and I’m pleasantly surprised it’s not green)!

I don’t really see the appeal in chewing gum. It sort of seems like people always need flavor in their mouth (flavored gum, flavored water, etc.) But I’m not passing judgement either! Personally, gum always made me hungry. It’s like your body is tricked into thinking it’s getting food so all of your digestive juices are released and when there’s no food…your hunger hormones are all messed up

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h June 8, 2010 at 11:03 pm

Can’t stand gum chewers! The problem with frequent chewers is that they forget that they are chewing and this is where things become sloppy.
Have you ever watched someone chewing gum say while they are reading,texting,driving,lost in thought,etc?

It is a vile thing.

All you gum chewers take a piece of gum and stand in front of a mirror and chew. Do it for awhile,get lost in thought,maybe pluck your eyebrows,trim your nose hairs and then when you realize why you were standing there in the first place quickly glance at your mouth movements. *shudder*

Seriously I may sound fanatical about this but as a non gum chewer it is really a gross thing to watch.

*Disclaimer* I am not anal. I actually feel like I am a pretty cool and laid back person except when it comes to gum chewing.

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Gena June 9, 2010 at 7:01 am

OK, this is a little intense. But your disclaimer is noted!

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Jessica Lee June 9, 2010 at 12:16 am

I have heard that gum causes bloating and gas but I chew sooo much gum. I’m weird and I only chew half pieces, the whole piece is too big for me. So in actuality, I chew less gum that people might think but still, chew a LOT of gum and I don’t know if its exactly that, that causes bloating for me. I eat a lot of fibrous veggies too and well, at this point, the bloating doesn’t bother me anymore. If it’s super tight bloat, then I might decide to stop but for now, I LOVE MY GUM!

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BroccoliHut June 9, 2010 at 12:20 am

Mmm that mylk sounds delicious–I particularly like the idea of combining pumpkin seeds and dates. They’re delicious together on oatmeal, so why not blended into mylk?

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lola June 9, 2010 at 12:59 am

Yummy!!!!! I know you are not very interested in nutrition facts, but do you know where I can get stats on your homemade almond milk and pumpkin seed milk?

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Gena June 9, 2010 at 7:02 am

I’ve no idea for the almond milk, as I’m not sure what’s lost in the straining process. As for the pumpkin mylk, happy to oblige:

1 cup:

132 Kcal
12 g fat
10 carb
6 g protein

G

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jenny (green food diaries) June 9, 2010 at 1:16 am

chewing gum/artificial sweeteners DEFINITELY worsens my IBS. I used to reach for them for the peppermint (which has relieving properties for gas and indigestion), but I stopped after overdosing on them like crazy… and i DO mean overdose, haha. Peppermint tea still helps me, though :)

quick question — how much exactly is a vanilla bean? i’ve never seen it being sold around the places i frequent, so i have no idea.

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Gena June 9, 2010 at 7:03 am

Not sure, but they’re really expensive, I know that.

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The Voracious Vegan June 9, 2010 at 2:04 am

Awww that pumpkin seed mylk looks so smooth and creamy, what a yummy drink! I love pumpkin seeds to snack on but I’ve never thought to do anything else with them. Leave it to you, Gena, to inspire me!

Sorry, I’ve never been a big gum chewer so I’ve got no recommendations for you!

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mariannes June 9, 2010 at 6:57 am

In high school one of my teachers told me she didn’t chew gum because it fools the digestion to think theres food coming, and thus giving people digestion problems. I do not know if this is so, but I stopped chewing gum then. I do on occation now, but not for long each time.

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Idol White June 9, 2010 at 7:29 am

it sounds amazing and yummy,,i never had that,,will find and get back,,,

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Metta June 9, 2010 at 8:44 am

Quick question about the seed mylk: why the addition of coconut oil? Is it for flavor, a little added fat, texture, all of the above? I know coconut oil gets hard when put in the fridge and didn’t know if that helped with the mylk’s seperation when stored in the fridge.

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Lena June 9, 2010 at 10:03 am

i use to chew gum alll the time!! it was the “cool” thing to do in school lol but when i always had really bad gassy bloating problems so when i was 12 i looked it up online and found out that gum was really bad for u as well as drinking through straws, fake sugar, and drinking carbonated rinks! so i cut out gum ( haven’t chewed it for 10 years!), cut out fake sugar and havent drank soda in forever! i still get bloated but it definitely cut it down by a lot!!

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Amanda June 9, 2010 at 12:31 pm

Whoa. I had no idea that gum could make you bloated. I think I might lay off for a while and see if I notice a change.

Thanks for the info!

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LindsayH June 9, 2010 at 2:40 pm

People with critters should be aware that xylitol is very toxic to dogs! I chew gum with xylitol once in a while, and I’m always really careful to keep it where my dog has no chance of getting into it.

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Diana (Soap & Chocolate) June 9, 2010 at 2:50 pm

I used to be a faithful gum chewer, but the main reason was for breath freshening, as I couldn’t find a mint I liked that was strong enough. But since I started avoiding artificial sweeteners, I pretty much just keep a pack in my purse for emergencies only (i.e. when I’ve eaten at a restaurant and couldn’t control the garlic/onion factor). I’ve pretty much just conditioned myself not to be bothered by aftertastes as much. Besides, when I’m eating well, aftertastes aren’t much of an issue in the first place!

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Annie@stronghealthyfit June 9, 2010 at 4:25 pm

I chewed a lot of gum when I was in the throes of an ED, and I still like to have it on hand in my purse but its’ not as much of an obsession. I have heard of the link between chewing lots of sugar-free gum and IBS/bloating, etc.

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Carey June 9, 2010 at 5:02 pm

Check out Spry gum with Xylitol. It tastes very good, good for your teeth, flavor doesn’t last long but I think you’re only supposed to chew it for 10 minutes or so.

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Nicole Slater June 9, 2010 at 7:23 pm

This post is interesting to me because I quit chewing gum when I started eating more raw foods. I think you may be on to something with the whole not getting enough “real food” so people chew gum. I used to constantly chew gum and I know that my breath used to need it!
I realized a couple months ago that I wasn’t chewing gum anymore. I never even missed it, but I definitely relate it to going raw.

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Kenzie (Healthy Purpose) June 9, 2010 at 7:47 pm

just made this with some adjustments–it’s good! mine isn’t nearly as dark as yours and i added cacao. are there different kinds of seeds? mine are green and there’s no way they’d make that orangy-color! but good!

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Gena June 10, 2010 at 7:02 am

Kenzie,

The orange color really WAS the photo. I used green seeds, and the color was neutral!

G

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Annie D. @ Annie's Simple Life June 9, 2010 at 10:01 pm

Thanks for sharing the recipe!!!! YUM!

Speaking of recipes, I made your Sun Burgers! http://anniessimplelife.blogspot.com/2010/06/oh-burger.html

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Emily June 10, 2010 at 4:39 am

Hi Gena!

I hope you had a very happy birthday!!
I have a quick question about storing almond/seed milk. A few days ago I tried my hand at making some almond milk for the first time (I used your recipe). It came out really good! Unfortunately, it didn’t stay for long at all! In fact, it went bad by the next day. Is there a special way to store it in the fridge, or a recommended bottle/container to keep it in?

And, I go through phases with chewing gum. I really try hard to avoid it because I start to form a huge addiction to it (think a pack or more a day….and the packs aren’t small!), not to mention, it makes my stomach burn. I always, always chew gum on planes, though, because it eases my nerves–that might sound strange but it works for me!!

=] Thanks!
Emily

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Gena June 10, 2010 at 7:01 am

Sorry to hear it went off so fast! Mine never last too long, but I usually get a few days. I really don’t have any special tricks — store in a cool fridge, in a glass container if possible.

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Donna June 10, 2010 at 8:36 am

Hello Gena – this is my first time commenting although I’m a long time reader. I just wanted to say that I made some pumpkin seed mylk after reading your post – and I added cacao powder. I strained it through a sieve (all I had) and it was so delicious and so easy! Thanks! I’m actually still drinking it now.

My husband has a severe pumpkin seed allergy though, so not only did he miss out, I am also not going to kiss him for a little bit, just in case!

x

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Glee Guy June 10, 2010 at 2:40 pm

Golly gee, thanks for suggesting Glee!
You are one great chum, and make me proud to be the mascot of Glee Gum!
Yours in Glee, naturally,
the Glee Guy

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Sarah June 11, 2010 at 8:56 am

I confess, I have a chewing gum addiction. I found it interesting to read in the comments about chewing gum and EDs. I may regret being this honest on a blog, but others honesty has inspired me. This post and the comments have made me realise a few things:

1. I chew gum partly out of anxiety- anxiety about my teeth and gums (don’t have much luck with the dentist).

2. I think I may chew after a meal because i’m not full and have a fear of feeling full. (partly associated with my IBS symptoms and partly past ED). And, unfortunately, I probably chew inbetween meals because I’m hungry.

3. I also chew as a distraction and avoidance of things I have to do.

Even though i have been in recovery from my ED for 5 years, this and many of your other posts, is slowly making me realise and acknowledge that I still have areas to work on.

Sorry, but thank you for this and many of your other posts :)

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Gena June 11, 2010 at 1:43 pm

Great comment, Sarah!

I don’t want to presume, but I would definitely guess that, if you’re hungry between meals or after meals, it’s because you’re not eating enough! Something to consider, maybe?

xo

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Kelsey @ CleanTeenKelsey June 13, 2010 at 11:56 pm

Gum is one thing, I’m embarrassed to admit, I chew quite frequently. It’s strictly for breath-freshening purposes though, and I only chew 1/3 of a stick each time. The artificial ingredients freak me out and I know it’s not good for me, but I have absolutely no idea what else to do. :(

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Sharon S. September 13, 2010 at 5:39 pm

I know this comment is really late, but I wanted to suggest to the gum chewers out there that Tonya Zavasta has a type of “gum” made from a pine resin. No sweeteners. I was thinking of ordering some.

http://www.beautifulonraw.com

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Cindy October 21, 2010 at 11:40 pm

I have no idea why this showed up in my Google Reader NOW after so many months,but I’m thrilled it did. The milk sounds awesome. I am so nervous when it comes to making things like this, that I won’t get it right and it will be crappy. That aside I will get some seeds soon and try it. I bought a good blender recently and it’s time to put it to use!

As for gum, thanks so much for the information. I have had days when I felt so bloated and disgusting, more fat and roly poly than usual and had no idea why, this will definitely be on my “feeling extra fat today” radar.

Excellent site!!

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Jessica January 21, 2011 at 1:40 pm

have you ever been here?
http://www.mastihashopny.com/default.php?pname=CategoryItems&cat_id=2&la=2

its in the lower east side. they sell raw gum that’s anti bacterial, sugar free, and delicious.

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Meredith August 15, 2012 at 11:22 pm

That m”y”lk looks ridiculously good. I have never attempted nut or seed milks before, but this idea makes me realize I need to call upon my courage and just try it.

Used to chew gum like a raving lunatic, this was after I gave up the cigarettes (go figure) but then I had to give up the gum because of jaw issues. It’s for the best anyway as I don’t trust the artificial crud that’s in it.

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Pauline January 8, 2013 at 1:49 am

Most gums contain sugars which promotes tooth decay.
Most gums contain artificial sweeteners such as aspertame (goes by the brand names NutraSweet and Equal, is 180 times as sweet as sugar) which is responsible for causing many illnesses including brain cancer, lukemia, inflammatory bowel disease, etc.
When you chew gum, you send your body physical signals that food is about to enter your body. The enzymes and acids that are activated when you chew gum can cause bloating and overproduction of stomach acid. Besides this, chewing gum can cause jaw muscle imbalance (if you chew on one side more than the other) and even TMJ in your jaw, which can be a painful chronic condition. The bottom line is you shouldn’t chew gum or if you do use gum, use if very rarely or right before a meal where the acid and enzyme stimulation may actually be beneficial …
This info was taken from the reputable site http://www.mercola.com. To read all the related articles just type gum chewing in the Search Mercola box. Have fun doing your own research!

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