So Long Dairy! Hello Almond Milk!
Whether you've tried almond milk from the store and liked the taste or not, I'm here to tell you that homemade almond milk is an entirely different and unbelievably heavenly thing. You have GOT to try this. You'll love the taste, how quick and easy it is to make, and your kids will guzzle it down and ask for more.
More and more people have been drinking store bought nut milk in recent years as ill effects of dairy consumption have come to light. Dairy is now noted as one of the top 8 allergens in the US, a leading cause of eczema and asthma in children, and according to a recent Harvard study, high intake can increase risk of prostate cancer and possibly ovarian cancer. Generations before were programmed by the dairy industry to drink dairy as a necessary source of calcium, but new studies prove the "Got Milk?" campaign all wrong. Our pediatrician at Yale, like many docs today, has advised to look to leafy greens and broccoli for daily calcium in lieu of dairy products for our child. Research shows that nursing babies get all the fat they need for proper brain development from breast milk (breast milk has more fat and species specific nutrients than dairy), and after age two children do not need as much fat in their diets. In fact, humans are the only species that commonly consumes milk of any kind after infancy (and into adulthood!), and also the only species to consume milk from another species. After becoming a breastfeeding mom myself, it has certainly struck me as totally bazaar to consider 'milking' another animal for human consumption.
Since we're culturally programmed to like milk, to pour it on our cereal, dunk our cookies in a glass full, down it in a smooth milk shake, we might as well have a handy alternative to dairy. Almond milk, hemp milk, and rice milk are three common such alternatives on shelves in the store. While popularity has made these boxed milks readily available, unfortunately new studies (as reported in Business Insider last year) have uncovered the fact that many of even the highest priced brands are watered down, preservative filled garbage- the worst case being a UK brand that contains just 2% almonds.
So, here you go... a super simple recipe to make the real deal in your own kitchen- use organic ingredients if you can, and you'll be AMAZED by the rich taste. Almonds, filtered water, splash of vanilla, and a few dates is all you need. For a super smooth texture, you can strain the blended milk through cheesecloth, a strainer or nut milk bag, and you can save and enjoy the pulp in smoothies, cookies, and in any number of baked or raw treats. My toddler loves to help make almond milk by squeezing the milk through the bag. She also happens to love drinking the milk unstrained just as well, so that saves us a few minutes when we're in a rush. All I have to do is throw the ingredients in the blender, blend for one minute, then we're ready to drink a glass full and store the rest. Homemade nut milk will keep for about 3 days in the fridge- if you don't down it all before then! Use it on cereal, muesli, and in smoothies!
Homemade Almond Milk
1 cup almonds
4 cups filtered water
3 pitted medjool dates
1 tsp vanilla (no alcohol)
Blend ingredients in high speed blender until combined well. Enjoy as is with the pulp, or pour and strain through a cheesecloth, strainer or nut milk bag if you desire a perfectly smooth texture. Save the pulp for smoothies, baked goods or raw desserts. Store the almond milk for up to 3 days in the fridge. YUM!
BONUS: Substitute the almonds with cashews to make cashew milk, or walnuts to make walnut milk- it's that easy! Our favorite flavor at my house is 3/4 cup almonds, 1/4 cup walnuts. Give it a try to add variety of flavor and nutrients to your diet!