Star Wars Blue Milk at Galaxy’s Edge in Disneyland


As soon as I read that the “Blue Milk” at Galaxy’s Edge — the new(ish) Star Wars-themed section of Disneyland — was dairy-free, I knew I’d be reviewing it for my blog. I was fortunate enough to visit the Happiest Place on Earth last week and finally saw Galaxy’s Edge for myself. Since this is a food blog, not an amusement park blog, I won’t say much about Galaxy’s Edge itself, except that overall it was underwhelming. Not bad… just not as amazing as it could be. And the same could be said about the Blue Milk.

That azure concoction that Luke Skywalker drank in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope — or as we Gen-Xers call it, just plain old Star Wars — was the inspiration for this beverage, sold at a vendor simply called the Milk Stand. But don’t look for a sign that says “Milk Stand,” because just about every sign in Galaxy’s Edge (other than the one for restrooms) is written in an alien language.


In addition to Blue Milk, you can also get Green Milk, but I didn’t try that one. I have heard, though, that the Green Milk tastes fairly foul.

Both beverages are dairy-free, vegan, and made from a blend of coconut and rice milks. Blue Milk has the consistency of a smoothie and tastes sort of like a piña colada, minus the rum. But it’s not as sweet, and it has a slightly oily mouthfeel. This might be because — as I found out later from this great blog post on WDW News Today — the drink contains coconut oil.


This is not what I would’ve envisioned for Blue Milk. If it were up to me, I would’ve made this a blue raspberry-flavored milkshake. (We all know there’s no such thing as a “blue raspberry,” but this mythical flavor is now what we expect when we see a blue beverage.) They could offer a regular Blue Milk, made with cow’s milk, and a vegan Blue Milk, made with full-fat coconut milk.

And finally, they need to dispense these beverages not from industrial spigots like the kind used for Slurpees, but poured by hand from a futuristic Tupperware pitcher, as Luke’s Aunt Beru did. Either that, or squeezed from the udder of an animatronic Bantha.


All my criticisms notwithstanding, I drank my entire cup of Blue Milk. Several hours later, I had the kind of gastrointestinal distress you really don’t want to have at an amusement park. Now, I can’t say whether this was from the Blue Milk or the twelve other gut-bomb-inducing snacks I consumed that afternoon. But it was bad enough to make me think twice about getting Blue Milk again.

If you do decide to try it, may the Force be with you.


Oatly Dairy-Free Oat Milk


Scanning the dairy shelves at Ralphs, I ask myself, “Do I really need to try another dairy-free milk?” I’ve already had soy, almond, coconut, almond-coconut, cashew, macadamia nut, hazelnut… How many more things can you make fake milk out of?

But oat milk is the big new player on the market, supposedly the most environmentally friendly milk there is. And the oat milk latte I had at Balconi Coffee Company was pretty good. So I give in and buy a carton of Oatly.

First of all, you’ve got to give them points for creative packaging. My favorite part of the carton is not the hippie font or the wacky artwork, but the part that says, “You are one of us now.” It sounds so sinister that it cracks me up. This is the kind of carton that will entertain you while you’re eating cereal.



When I drank it straight up, it did actually taste like the milk at the bottom of a bowl of cereal. It’s slightly sweet, and the oat flavor is reminiscent of Cheerios.

But in coffee, Oatly loses its cereal-ness and has a smooth, inoffensive flavor. It’s thicker than almond milk, which is my usual go-to in coffee. I added it to iced coffee, and its lack of a distinctive flavor allowed the coffee to really shine.


I also made a latte by foaming Oatly in a manual milk frother. Because of its thickness, this was far more successful than trying to get almond milk to foam. Coconut milk is even thicker, but it tastes like coconuts — not what everyone wants in a latte.


My next mission is to make a dairy-free chocolate pudding using Oatly. Stay tuned!

Jasmine Lime Tea Cooler


My favorite beverage at Peet’s Coffee & Tea used to be the jasmine lime tea cooler, a refreshingly sweet and tart iced tea they offered during the summer. Unfortunately, they took it off the menu years ago, which left me and many other fans of this drink bereft.

A friend of mine used to work as a barista at Peet’s and told me the recipe: iced jasmine green tea mixed with Lime Odwalla. Alas, the Lime Odwalla has also mysteriously disappeared from shelves.

So I decided to make my own jasmine lime tea cooler, using fresh lime juice in place of the Lime Odwalla. I use honey as a sweetener. The key is to sweeten the tea while it’s hot (so that the honey dissolves more easily), rather than trying to sweeten the lime juice.

If you find the drink is still too tart for your taste, you can add more honey or sugar later, but make sure you stir it really well. Better yet, use simple syrup.

A pitcher of this iced tea will get you through the hottest days of late summer. Enjoy!

I use Numi organic tea, but any jasmine tea will do.


3 1/2 cups water
3 jasmine green tea bags
2 tablespoons honey, or more to taste
1/2 cup fresh lime juice (about 2 or 3 limes)

Place tea bags in a 1-quart glass pitcher. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Pour over tea bags and let steep for 4 minutes.

Remove tea bags. Add honey to the tea; stir until it dissolves. Refrigerate the tea for a few hours until chilled.

Add lime juice and 1 1/2 cups cold water; stir well. Serve over ice. Makes 4 cups.


Horchata… Dairy-Free, as It Should Be


I always thought horchata was safe for a lactose-intolerant person like me, since it’s traditionally made with rice milk. But more and more often, when I encounter horchata in L.A. and ask to make sure it’s dairy-free, the answer is no. In many cases, it contains evaporated milk, making it more like a shake than an aqua fresca.

A few days ago I read an article in the Food section of the Los Angeles Times that explains why: Even though real horchata doesn’t have dairy, “it’s easier, cheaper and involves less labor to use cow milk because you get that creamy texture without all the work of soaking, blending, then straining out the rice.”

Having just made my own horchata using a recipe printed in the article, I can say that it’s not that much work. The hardest part is remembering to make it a day ahead so it has time to soak. Straining the horchata isn’t a big deal if you have a good mesh strainer and some cheesecloth handy.

I’m grateful to live in an area where I can find things like Morelos rice and canela (Mexican cinnamon) in the international section of my supermarket. But if you can’t, just use long-grain white rice and regular cinnamon.



A popular variation in L.A. is the “dirty horchata,” a combination of horchata and espresso. I made my own version using half horchata and half Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, because that’s what I had on hand. It was delicious.

Adapted from the Los Angeles Times

2 cups uncooked Morelos rice
1 stick canela (Mexican cinnamon)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup dark brown sugar or honey
4 cups filtered water
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Combine all the ingredients in a blender and purée on high for 30 seconds to break up the rice. Turn off the blender and refrigerate the mixture in the blender overnight, or at least 8 hours.

When ready to serve, re-blend the mixture. Pour it through a fine mesh strainer, then pour it through a layer of cheesecloth to remove any remaining sediment. Taste and add more sugar, if you like. Serve the horchata over ice and sprinkle with ground cinnamon to garnish. Makes 4 servings.

Homemade dirty horchata

Xing Fu Tang Taiwanese Boba


There’s boba everywhere in Taiwan. For a boba tea lover like me, it was both heavenly and overwhelming. When there’s a boba shop on every block, how do you decide which ones to try? Taiwanese establishments don’t have a big presence on Yelp, so I had to rely mostly on instinct.

Shopping in Ximendeng, a touristy neighborhood in Taipei, I picked the boba shop with the longest line, figuring the locals knew. Xing Fu Tang, I would later find out, is a hugely popular boba chain with at least 60 locations in Taiwan. During my trip, I would see many people carrying those pill-shaped cups.

I waited in line for 20 minutes under the scorching sun, but it was worth it. Xing Fu Tang’s signature drink, the brown sugar milk tea, was unlike any milk tea I’ve had in the United States. It had a strong tea flavor, it was creamy as hell, and the boba balls were as fresh as they come. The only reason I wouldn’t drink this more often if I lived in Taipei is because it would make me seriously fat.

Oh, and because they use real milk and I’m lactose-intolerant. But hey, I was on vacation. (Read my blog post, “When Cheating on Your Diet Is Worth It.”)

The big wok where they keep the boba balls warm.

As outstanding as that milk tea was, the grapefruit green tea I had at the Xing Fu Tang in Jioufen was even better — and dairy-free! Jioufen is another tourist area, a mountain town filled with narrow, winding cobblestone streets lined with street-food vendors and souvenir shops.

This grapefruit green tea was the best I’ve ever had, surpassing even my favorite from Tea Bar in Azusa. It wasn’t bitter like some grapefruit drinks can be, but it wasn’t too sweet, either. It had bits of pulp (but not an annoying amount) and it tasted super-fresh. Even without boba pearls, this drink was something to remember.

The location — at the end of the long main street in Jioufen, overlooking the lush green landscape — is a huge plus. You couldn’t ask for a more picturesque spot to enjoy a refreshing beverage.


If you find yourself in Taiwan, jonesing for boba, Xing Fu Tang is the spot. Just beware of other Xing Fu Tang locations, though. They’re not all equal. I tried a small offshoot in Ximendeng (with a much shorter line) and another in Danshui Harbor, and they were both disappointing.

XING FU TANG (Ximendeng)No. 29, Chengdu Road
萬華區, 台北市 108

XING FU TANG (Jioufen)No. 175, Jishan Street
瑞芳區, 新北市 224

Dairy-Free Passionfruit Mango Smoothie


I’ve loved passionfruit ever since I was ten years old and went on a family trip to Taiwan. It was a hot summer and everywhere we went, we were given fresh passionfruit juice served over crushed ice. It’s not easy to find passionfruit in L.A., but passionfruit juice in a can is a decent substitute.


Now that summer is here, treat yourself to a taste of the tropics with this easy dairy-free smoothie. You can use plain Non-Dairy Chobani yogurt, the best non-dairy yogurt I’ve tried — or if you prefer a less sweet smoothie, Green Valley Lactose-Free yogurt (okay for lactose-intolerant people, but not suitable for those with dairy allergies).



1 cup frozen mango chunks
1/2 cup plain non-dairy yogurt, such as Chobani
1 cup passionfruit juice

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth. Chill until cold. Makes one serving.

Nutella Latte at Republic of Pie


It’s been three days since I had a Nutella latte at Republic of Pie, and I’m still thinking about it. My obsession may be related to the fact that I am attempting to cut down on caffeine, making afternoon coffee a forbidden fruit. But I’m also obsessed because this latte rocks.

Republic of Pie is a popular coffeehouse in the arts district of North Hollywood. The place was packed on a late Friday afternoon, hipsters as far as the eye could see. But the real test was the dairy-free lattes. As a faithful drinker of Peet’s, I was prepared to do my usual comparison and be disappointed.

My new fave, the Nutella latte

But something caught my eye on the Republic of Pie menu: the Nutella latte. It does not actually contain Nutella, the chocolate hazelnut spread; it’s just espresso and steamed chocolate hazelnut milk. This sounded more interesting than my usual almond milk latte. So I asked the barista my two standard questions:

  1. Is it dairy-free?
  2. Is it sweet?

Luckily, the answer to the first was yes, and to the second, “Just a tiny bit.” He told me the only sweetness came from the chocolate hazelnut milk itself; there was no added sugar.

Believe it or not, I had never tried hazelnut milk before. These days, more and more dairy-free milks are popping up, many of them made from nuts. I happen to be in the minority of Americans who like hazelnuts, so hazelnut milk seemed like a natural fit.

Many dairy-free milks at Republic of Pie

The Nutella latte blew my mind. It was chocolatey, nutty, and as promised, just a hint sweet — not enough to be cloying. The coffee itself was bold but not bitter. And it was so smooth and velvety! It’s like a subtle version of a mocha.

It is now officially my favorite coffee drink.

Though I’m still committed to cutting down on caffeine, I’ll indulge in a Nutella latte as a “sometimes treat” when in the neighborhood. I encourage all dairy-free latte lovers to give it a try and see what I’m talking about. Brave the hipsters and the bad parking. It’s worth it. The pies are also pretty amazing.

REPUBLIC OF PIE, 11118 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601

Strawberry rhubarb pie… a slice of heaven.

PG Tips Perfect with Dairy-Free Tea


If you’re a tea lover, you probably know that PG Tips is the gold standard when it comes to English breakfast tea. I once had a British co-worker who always made sure the office kitchen was stocked with it. I usually like to drink organic teas, but every so often I make an exception for a box of PG Tips because it’s so delicious.

Most supermarkets in Los Angeles carry regular PG Tips, but if you want more of a selection, visit a store that sells British imports, like Ye Olde King’s Head Shoppe near the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica. I found a box of Decaf PG Tips there, and for weeks I enjoyed a guilt-free “cuppa” in the afternoons. Decaffeinated black tea is notoriously weak in flavor, but PG Tips’ decaf actually tastes just like the regular kind.

That’s when I discovered that PG Tips also makes a “Perfect with Dairy-Free” tea, specially blended for dairy alternatives. I love a splash of milk in my breakfast tea, but almond milk — my current go-to dairy alternative — is often too light to stand up to a strong black tea. So I wanted to see if PG Tips had cracked the code.


I looked online for PG Tips Perfect with Dairy-Free and couldn’t find it available anywhere but Amazon. I ordered a box of 70 tea bags for about $7, not realizing that it was being shipped all the way from England and would take weeks to arrive. When it finally got here, I eagerly brewed a cup, letting it steep for a full five minutes, and added a splash of Almond Breeze Almondmilk Creamer, which is just slightly thicker than regular almond milk.


I wasn’t blown away at first. I couldn’t really tell the difference between this PG Tips blend and the regular one. But I have to admit, it works. I’ve been having a cup of PG Tips Perfect with Dairy Free with this creamer every morning for the past few weeks, and I’d have to say I’m hooked.

That’s how PG Tips gets you. It sneaks into your life without making a fuss, and before you know it, you can’t live without it.


Labobatory’s “50 Shades of Earl Grey” Boba Milk Tea


If you’re the kind of person who enjoys clever drink names, then you’ll love Labobatory, my favorite boba tea shop in the San Gabriel Valley. The drink in the picture above is called “50 Shades of Earl Grey.” The name alone is cool. The fact that it’s actually grey makes it that much cooler.

What makes it grey? Charcoal. I asked the boba-ista what the charcoal does, thinking that it had some health benefits, and she said, “Nothing really. We just put it in there for the color.” But then she added that some people do take charcoal supplements for detoxification purposes. I could use some detoxifying, for sure.

My go-to drink from Labobatory is the Lebanese Rose Milk Tea, which remains the best rose milk tea I’ve ever had. Like rose milk tea, Earl Grey milk teas are fairly common at boba shops. But Labobatory takes common drinks and does them to perfection. The 50 Shades of Earl Grey, though not wildly different from other boba shops’ Earl Grey teas, was the best one I’ve ever had in terms of quality.

The flavor of the tea is strong but not bitter or too heavy on the bergamot. The dairy-free milk is smooth and creamy. (They use non-dairy creamer unless you specify otherwise; they also offer regular milk, soy milk, and almond milk.) The drink comes out the perfect temperature and has just the right amount of ice.

But here’s what I like best: You can adjust the sweetness level, even to 0%. At many boba shops, if you ask them to make an Earl Grey milk tea with no sugar, they can’t do it. Why? Because they use a pre-sweetened Earl Grey powder or syrup, rather than making the drink from freshly brewed Earl Grey tea. Since I don’t like my tea sweetened, I will go out of my way to find boba shops like Labobatory.

And did I mention that my drink was grey??? This is the type of beverage that will get you a lot of views on Instagram, if that’s the kind of thing you’re into.


I declined getting the boba pearls in my 50 Shades of Earl Grey because I’m trying to cut down on carbs. But even without those chewy little bombs, this drink was top-notch. I just hope that the owner of Labobatory opens a shop in L.A. again — the now-defunct Boba 7, which offered alcoholic boba drinks, was a true gem.

LABOBATORY, 819 W. Las Tunas Dr., San Gabriel, CA 91776 

G&B Coffee at Grand Central Market

I have a fear of Grand Central Market, a popular food emporium in Downtown Los Angeles, because I always assume it’ll be jam-packed with tourists and I’ll have to stand in line for hours. But if you’re in the neighborhood and you’re hungry, it’s kind of irresistible. There are tons of choices, both old-school and new.

One of the older vendors is G&B Coffee, which has been there since 2013. It’s hard to miss because it’s a large stand-alone coffee bar right at the Hill Street entrance. Because their vibe is so annoyingly hipster, I’ve never been interested in trying their coffee — until I saw that they had Almond Macadamia Lattes. I’ve had almond milk lattes, but almond mac nut? Sign me up!


As you can see, the prices at G&B are high, even for L.A. It’s hard to justify putting a “market price” on a cup of tea; it’s not like a live lobster flown in from Maine. But you have to hand it to them, names like “Business & Pleasure” and “Fizzy Hoppy Tea” are bound to make people curious.

Mostly I was curious about the house-made almond macadamia nut milk. When I tried a sample straight up, I was pleased to find that it has a mild, natural taste. And it isn’t sweet, even though it contains dates. When frothed, it doesn’t create huge pillows of foam, but it was thick enough to give me a dairy-free milk mustache.


The coffee itself is smooth, not at all bitter. I like my coffee more robust, but G&B’s expresso blend is sure to please a wide range of palates. The almond mac nut milk gives the latte a slightly nutty flavor that you’ll enjoy if you like hazelnut coffee.

My husband tried the Fizzy Hoppy Tea, which is a carbonated iced tea with a hint of hops. It tastes kind of like if you added a shot of beer and tea to a Dry Sparking Soda. Weird. If you’re craving an iced tea, this beverage won’t hit the spot.


Overall, I wouldn’t recommend going out of your way to hit G&B Coffee. You can certainly get better coffee for less elsewhere. Plus, their ordering system is chaotic. There’s no line; you can order anywhere at the bar, which causes all sorts of confusion, and then they don’t call out your name, so you have to just hover anxiously as you wait.

But if that doesn’t deter you, by all means give it a shot. The almond mac nut milk is an unusual find for us dairy-free folks.

G&B COFFEE, Grand Central Market, 317 S. Broadway C19, Los Angeles, CA 90013