Moon milks are the latest Instagram drinks trend, that look pretty as well as help you sleep. Here are some of Stylist’s favourite recipes, suitable for vegans.
Drinking warm milk before bed to help you sleep is a remedy as old as time – even if the science behind it is not quite what you might think. The story goes that tryptophan – an amino acid found in milk, turkey and eggs – is converted (via a fairly lengthy process) into melatonin, which makes us sleepy. But in reality, the levels of tryptophan typically found in a glass of milk are so low it’s unlikely to have any effect.
What does play a part is something simpler: nostalgia. Many of us grew up drinking warm milk before bed, and doing so as an adult can trigger comforting memories of bedtime stories and being tucked in by our parents. This soothing feeling helps send us off.
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The ancient Indian practice of Ayurveda has a similar concept: moon milks. A warm, plant-based milk flavoured with fruits, herbs or spices that help you to relax is often recommended for people struggling to sleep. While you can add all sorts of herbal powders to create Instagrammable night-time soothers (if you can track down pink pitaya pea flower or blue butterfly pea flower, you’re in for a treat), there are plenty of recipes that employ nothing more than the contents of your spice rack.
To make your own moon milk, simply bring your milk of choice to a simmer in a saucepan over a medium heat, then whisk in your ingredients and allow to cool slightly before drinking. Here, Gina Fontana, author of new book Moon Milk, talks us through three blends that will whisk you off to the land of nod in no time. Sweet dreams.
500ml unsweetened almond milk
1 tsp dried lavender (food-grade), plus extra to garnish
2 tbsp honey (or maple syrup, if vegan)
1 chamomile tea bag
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
“Lavender and chamomile have been used for many years to help people snooze. The sedative effect is caused by apigenin, a nutrient that reduces anxiety, leaving you feeling relaxed and sleepy. Add your chamomile tea bag to the saucepan and let your milk simmer a bit longer for a more potent flavour.”
500ml unsweetened cashew milk
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground turmeric
¼ tsp ground cardamom
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Pinch of pepper and salt
“Both ginger and turmeric have been used for centuries for their known positive effects on the digestive system, and the combination of them in this moon milk is one unbeatable marriage that helps you battle nausea and indigestion. Cardamom also boosts digestive health and helps to lower blood pressure, allowing your body to relax before you hit the hay.”
500ml unsweetened oat milk
¼ cup tart cherry juice
5 large sprigs of fresh thyme
1 tsp pure almond extract
1 tbsp agave syrup
Pinch of cinnamon
Pinch of pepper
“Tart cherry juice is nature’s gift to us as one of the highest natural sources of melatonin, a known component in achieving quality sleep. Thyme has the ability to help treat acne with its antibacterial properties, and is also effective in lowering blood pressure, which can help you relax and sleep better.”
Recipes from Moon Milk by Gina Fontana (£12.99, Hardie Grant), out now
Photography: Gina Fontana
M&S designs homeware and nightwear that gives a great night’s rest, and is the official partner of the Stylist Restival 2020.
Jenny Tregoning is deputy production editor and food editor at Stylist, where she combines her love of grammar with lusting over images of food