So, a wildly popular trend in the health community nowadays is to substitute cow’s milk with nut milk. But did you know that what we think of a fairly new niche product in the health food world has actually been around since the Middle Ages where it kept for longer than cow’s milk – and there was us thinking how clever we are!
There are, of course, benefits to both types of milk but with more people avoiding dairy for their own specific reasons, I decided to focus on the reasons why nut milks should be considered appealing and how you can make them at home!
Benefits of Nut Milks
In terms of nutritional content, nut milks provide a dense selection of vitamins and minerals and are a great option for those who are either lactose intolerant, following a dairy free diet or vegan. That being said, we also need to clarify that almond milk isn’t a substitute for breast milk or those of you who suffer from tree nut allergies!
The main staple nut milks that can be found are made from cashews, almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts and brazil nuts. Almond milk, as the most common nut milk is very high in Vitamin E, which is great for our glowing skin! It also contains only around 40-60 calories per cup, compared to whole milk that has around 140.
Since almond milk is the most popular and regularly purchased, I thought I would focus on this one!
All About Almond Milk
As mentioned above, almond milk is consistent with a dairy-free or vegan diet, so initially makes it popular for those reasons. Apart from that, we love our almond milk for its nutrients it provides for us!
“The UK Institute of Food Research found finely ground almonds contain potential probiotic properties that could help boost digestive health by increasing the levels of certain beneficial bacteria in the stomach”1
It is packed with those all-important vitamins and minerals such as:
- Zinc, an (antioxidant
- Iron, which helps make red blood cells
- Manganese, for healthy DNA bones and nerves
- Magnesium, which increases calcium absorption and produces energy
- Selenium, for detoxifying and anti-inflammatory.
These all occur naturally, rather than added to fortify the milk. And, did you know that one serving of almond milk has roughly 1 gram of fibre, which aids digestion.
Also, almond milk has no cholesterol, and in addition to being dairy free is also gluten free! Seems pretty great, doesn’t it?
It’s worth noting though that almond milk doesn’t have as much protein as cow’s milk does with 1 cup of almond milk being equivalent to 1g protein whereas cow’s milk has 8g. It should also not be used as your sole source of calcium in your diet (it has approx. 25% of your recommended daily amount) so you need to look to dark leafy greens and other vegetables for added calcium!
Knowing What’s the Best Almond Milk to Buy
As you browse the supermarket shelves you’ll come across various different brands and qualities – sweetened, unsweetened, flavoured….take your pick.
However, I would advise checking the ingredients carefully. The first thing that struck me was just how few almonds there actually are in shop bought almond milk!
So, do check those labels as some brands will include sweeteners or binding agents in them, e.g. carrageenan, which is a water-soluble fibre found in certain types of seaweed. Some have said it gives them digestive problems though this is open to debate. I guess that rule applies again of sticking as close to nature as possible – simplicity is the key!
My favourites choices of shop bought milks would be Ecomil or Rude Health but my absolute preference really is to make my own. Once I tried this, I couldn’t believe how easy and satisfying it is…..
Homemade Almond Milk
Now, there are clear benefits to making your own almond milk at home, such as it being really cost effective (you only really need almonds, water and maybe a sweetener!) and you’re also able to make it as healthy and simple as possible.
The measurement of almonds to water is usually 1 part almonds to 3 parts water!
To start with you will need the following ingredients and a glass bottle (or something to store it in the fridge):
– 2 cups blanched almonds
– 6 cups water
– a muslin cloth
– (optional) cinnamon, honey or vanilla extract to sweeten
The step for sweetening it is optional, but I personally don’t think it needs anything extra!
Okay, the first thing we need to do is SOAK, SOAK, SOAK those almonds for a minimum of 6 hours before you do anything (this is important). This neutralizes any nutritional inhibitors, releases the enzymes and makes it possible to blend up the almonds properly. Doing this overnight is preferable.
Also, the reason we use blanched almonds is that it’s much easier than wasting time peeling the skin off the almonds (though if you want to leave them on it just makes the milk a slightly darker colour). You can buy these at most supermarkets, or online in bulk.
– After soaking almonds, drain them and rinse in cold water.
– Add the almonds to you blender with the water (and sweetener, if using).
– Blend for 2-3 minutes until smooth and slightly frothing.
– Pour the milk through the muslin cloth and into a container to separate the milk from the almond pulp.
– Squeeze the muslin cloth to ensure you get all of the liquid out.
– Store in the fridge for up to 5 days! Remember that the milk will separate in the fridge because of the density of the contents, but this isn’t a problem. Just shake well before using!
The great thing about this recipe is that all parts of the almonds can be used! The pulp left over can be collected and used as almond flour for future baking (talk about getting your money’s worth!).
The muslin cloth just needs to be washed but can be reused hundreds of times too!
All you need to do now is ENJOY!
It’s great added to porridge, coffee, granola or a smoothie and you’ll get a real buzz from the fact that you’ve made it yourself!
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