Almond milk is popping up everywhere now as an alternative to dairy and soy milk which is great… but many of the store bought varieties sadly have heaps of additives. Often the almond content is actually pretty low, the water content is high and there is a list of additives like vegetable oils and gums, sugar, salt, flavors and a whole host of added synthetic vitamins and minerals.
The truth is that after the addition of all that stuff and the fact that many brands are sold in long life cartons the nutritional value and taste is very poor.
This is where homemade almond milk comes in! You can choose your own fresh organic nuts from your trusted whole foods supplier, use your own filtered water and make small batches, which are stored in the refrigerator and consumed within the space of days. The result: delicious, nutritious and cost effective almond milk. And it really is very simple to make.
You need to get your hands on a high-powered blender like a Vitamix to really extract the maximum amount of milk from the nuts. And a jelly bag with a stand makes life so much easier. You can also use a muslin cloth draped inside a colander or strainer if you can’t get your hands on a bag and stand.
This almond milk is amazing in your coffee, on your cereal, in smoothies, in baking or simply enjoyed au naturel.
- 1.5 cup organic raw almonds
- filtered water for soaking
- 6 cups filtered water for blending
- Jelly Bag with stand
1. Place the 1.5 cup almonds with double their volume in filtered water in a large glass jar and cover it. Set aside overnight.
2. In the morning, strain and rinse well, then blend the soaked almonds with 6 cups of filtered water in your high powered blender for about 1 minute.
3. Set up your jelly bag with stand over a large bowl and pour the blended nuts through the bag. Allow the liquid to drain into the bowl, using your hands to gently squeeze the remaining liquid out of the pulp.
4. Store the almond milk in a clean air-tight container in the fridge and spice it up with various ingredients for more flavor.
A Word on Plant-based milk options
More and more people are asking for plant-based milk alternatives, which resulted in a 25% drop in dairy consumption per capita in the US. Meanwhile, the alternatives have averaged annual sales growth of 10.9% in the US since 1999!
But not all alternatives are equally healthy or tasty. While some people prefer to buy soy milk because of its similar nutritional profile to dairy milk, others want to avoid soy and reach for almond milk instead.
It’s no wonder that these alternatives are on the rise: with about 75% of the people worldwide being lactose intolerant and starting to reach out for these products in order to combat the bloating, there’s a huge request for plant-based milk. But that’s not the whole story!
Many vegetarians have been making the connection and switching to veganism over the last years, and dairy-free diets are on the rise.
Store-bought plant-based milks do have some advantages as well since they are often fortified with the exact nutrients that cow’s milk offers which makes them nutritionally equal – but since the animal protein found in dairy is linked to various forms of cancer and even heart disease, the decision should be clear.
But let’s take a closer look at the different options:
1. Soy Milk
This is a protein-rich alternative with a good amount of vitamin B and folic acid. Soy has been proven effective in lowering cholesterol as well as the risk for several types of cancer. Soy milk is also very often fortified with vitamin D and B12 which comes in handy for all plant-based munchers. Make sure you’re opting for organic in order to avoid GMO and choose carrageenan-free!
2. Rice Milk
Rice Milk is the sweetest alternative since rice itself is high in carbohydrates, which turn into natural sugars when blended. It’s the least likely to trigger any allergies and is pretty low in fat, protein, calcium, and other vitamins. Rice milk can also be fortified.
3. Almond Milk
Almond Milk contains a very low amount of calories, about 25% of your daily vitamin D, and almost half of your vitamin E. It has a nutty flavor, aids in weight loss, and can prevent heart disease. Find out more of its benefits below!
... and what about cow's milk?
When we look at cow’s milk, we find a very fatty product that’s high in unhealthy animal protein that leads to cancer. It also triggers allergies and can cause diabetes as well as unwanted weight gain. Let’s not forget that it is the secretion and mother’s milk of another mammal, so it’s a product of cruelty and simply unnecessary as well as unnatural for us to consume.
Benefits of Almond Milk
Well, besides the very convenient fact that you don't need to refrigerate almond milk which means that you can take it with you, keep it at room temperature and consume it as a snack whenever you like... there's more to this healthful dairy alternative. Let's see what we're in for!
Almond milk is fairly low in calories and low in fat, both of which promote healthy weight loss. It's not just a better alternative to dairy in this regard, but also soy milk, which is higher in calories and overall fat.
A high-fat food that's good for your health? That's not an oxymoron, its almonds. It is heart healthy because almond milk doesn’t contain any cholesterol or saturated fat but instead offers healthy monounsaturated fats. What’s more, it prevents high blood pressure and keeps your veins clear so that nutrients can flow to different parts of the body. This results in a drastically reduced risk for coronary heart disease. Almond milk also contains potassium which is a key element for reducing tension and strain on the heart.
Almond milk offers a good amount of B vitamins which are important for muscle growth and healing. It also contains protein which helps the body to maintain and repair tissues. On top of that, you got manganese and copper, both of which help with energy production in the cells.
There's only a limited amount of phosphorus and potassium in almonds, both of which can be harmful to the kidneys if they are in excess in your body. People suffering from chronic or acute kidney conditions should strive to reduce the intake of foods containing these minerals in high amounts.
The vitamin E content can help you get glowing skin since its properties protect against damage. Apart from the vitamin E in almond milk, you can also find antioxidants which assist in repairing damaged skin and regulating vitamin A. You can even use it as a skin cleansing lotion!
Almond milk is low in simple sugar, especially compared to cow's milk and rice milk. This means it can help to keep blood sugar levels at bay and reduces the risk for type 2 diabetes - that is, if you use unsweetened almond milk!
The vitamin A found in this milk substitute is essential for proper eye functioning. If you’re someone who uses computers, smart phones or tablets on a regular basis (don’t we all?), try to counteract the damaging effect screens can have on your vision by increasing your intake of vitamin A – which is found in excess in almond milk.
One of the biggest reasons for indigestion and constipation is eating a diet that's lacking in dietary fiber. Almond milk is made from plants (the only source of fiber) and therefore offers more than cow's milk. If you choose to just blend almonds with water and not strain is, you'll get even more fiber! And since many of us are at least slightly lactose intolerant, a lot of tummy trouble can come from eating dairy products. Your digestion is also linked to your skin and being regular means having fewer outbreaks.
Why Homemade Almond Milk?
There are a few benefits to buying ready-made almond milk at your local store. It's definitely more convenient and the product you'll find there is probably fortified with essential nutrients. So why should you even bother making your own? It's simple:
- No weird, unwanted ingredients
- Contains more fiber and nuts
- Less plastic that goes to waste
- Use the pulp to make granola, smoothies, crusts or body scrubs
- Much cheaper than store-bought
- You can make your own flavors
Adding to the last point, there are so many different variations for you to try out! How about creamy chocolate or coconut almond milk?
And have you heard of self-made cinnamon milk or strawberry milk? Some ingredients to play around with include sea salt, vanilla, maple syrup, and even turmeric for an extra anti-inflammatory healthy boost!
About the Author
Megan is a Sydney based recipe developer, health food consultant, home cook, professional photographer, plant-based diet & wellness advocate as well as a mum and wife. Megan has studied nutrition at the College of Naturopathic Medicine in Dublin and has earned a Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Centre for Nutrition Studies and eCornell (Cornell University, USA).
Megan has been blogging since 2011 and has been following a plant-based diet for most of her life. She is passionate about sharing her knowledge and inspiring others to confidently include more plant-based meals in their life.
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