Everyone seems to be on the non-dairy milk train right now. Including yours truly. I’ve had a hate-on for cows milk since 2003, when my first naturopath explained the results of a food sensitivity test, saying “cows milk is for baby cows, and your body can’t digest it since you’re not a baby cow.”
You don’t say. Well, that stuck with me and since then I’ve preferred rice milk, hemp milk, soy milk, and now, my favourite of all: organic almond milk. We’re talking 3 cartons a week from Costco kind of love. Smoothies, chia pudding, baking, granola topper, coffee creamer; almond milk is used for it all in our house.
I’ve come to realize this is rather excessive, and not nearly as healthy or “organic” as originally intended.
See, commercially processed almond milks contain added thickeners and stabilizers. Most commonly used in the food manufacturing business is carrageenan, which is a type of polysaccharide obtained from red algae. Carrageenan’s known side effects include digestive distress characterized by excessive gas, bloating, diarrhea and fatigue.
Carrageenan is a controversial additive.
Although it is considered safe by the FDA, some scientists have raised questions about the potentially harmful effects of widespread carrageenan consumption. (You can read a review of the research, published in 2001, here.) The FDA denied a petition to re-examine the safety of carrageenan and it is still an approved ingredient in organic products.
Some brands have now put a big “carrageenan free” label on their cartons, so you buy those brands thinking you’re a savvy informed shopper. BUT, it turns out you’re still getting scammed.
A handful of almonds in a carton…
The problem is that most almond milk contains hardly any almonds. As Business Insider put it, “If almond milk closely resembles any beverage, it’s a glass of water and a multivitamin.” If you’ve ever wondered how almond milk can be so low in calories – about 30 calories in a cup, compared to 160 calories in a serving of almonds – it’s because it’s mostly water… not almonds. This leaves almond milk almost completely devoid of the most beneficial part of almonds — protein.
Ok so we now know commercially processed almond milk sucks. However, if you can’t digest dairy, or just don’t like consuming it for ethical reasons, you still need a non dairy milk option. The good news is that homemade almond milk is super easy to make, much healthier, richer in real nutrients, additive-free AND a fraction of the price.
Now I’m buying big bags of raw natural organic almonds instead of the processed stuff.
- 1 cup raw all natural almonds (soaked in water overnight, or at least 8 hours)
- 4 cups water (or 3 cups if you like thicker consistency)
- 1 -2 dates (depending on the sweetness you prefer)
- 1 tsp vanilla
- pinch of sea salt
First discard the water that the almonds were soaking in overnight. Then blend all ingredients in a high powered blender. Vita-mix or BlendTech works great. A regular blender just might not pulverize them as much. Then strain the frothy mixture through a cheesecloth, or nut-milk bag. Your almond milk will keep in the fridge for about three days (give it a stir before drinking). Also, don’t throw away the leftover pulp; it can be added to smoothies or even baked goods for added nutrition. One benefit to consuming almonds this way is that they’ll be soaked before you eat them. Soaking helps to get rid of the phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors, which can interfere with the function of your own digestive and metabolic enzymes.
Phytic acid, which is found in the coatings of nuts, is an “anti-nutrient” responsible for leeching vital nutrients from your body. Phytic acid also blocks the uptake of essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium, copper, iron, and zinc.
So, happy homemade almond milk drinking! Here’s to your health.