Tuesday, 19 February 2013

{Dairy-free} Homemade Almond Milk

Today is the day where I share my easy Almond Milk recipe. I am excited to share this with you due to the fact that it is both natural and cost-effective! Our family has been completely milk-free (still working on being completely dairy-free) since the beginning of 2013 and we wouldn't go back.

The choices are endless these days for dairy-free milk alternatives, but not all of them taste great and make sufficient substitutions for cooking and baking. Also, there can be much controversy as to which ones are best for you nutritionally. Almond milk is one of the best alternatives as it provides many of the same nutrients as cow's milk as well as some that cow's milk does not contain (such as Vitamin E). It tastes great and can be substituted 1:1 in your cooking! I encourage you to research this for yourself, but unless you have an allergy to almonds, this is an excellent milk to have on hand. Read on after the video for more information on why this has been another good choice for our family.



choose to make my almond milk at home simply to provide my family the most natural product that I can. My recipe contains raw almonds and water (plus whatever natural sweetener I prefer...dates, honey etc.). Simple, clean and delicious! I purchase almonds in bulk when on sale and always have them on hand for milk and homemade almond butter. If you do choose to purchase almond milk in the grocery store, I recommend stocking up when it is on sale and purchasing the unsweetened product to avoid unnecessary sweeteners.

Ingredients:
1/2 c raw almonds
6 c water
Sweetener of choice (Optional): 3-4 dates, Tbs Honey etc.

Directions:
Soak the almonds overnight or for at least 2 hours.
Drain the almonds and rinse well*
Add the almonds with sweetener and water to a blender ( I HIGHLY recommend investing in a Vita-mix blender as they are wonderful for making milk, smoothies, flours, soups and much more!) and process until it runs smoothly.
Use as is, or strain through cheesecloth or Strainer bag.
Pour into glass jars, seal tightly and store in the fridge for up to a week.
You can use less water if you prefer a stronger taste or more creamy texture (you can make your own creamer this way!)
*I neglected to mention in the video that you do need to drain and rinse the almonds after they have soaked. Soaking releases the enzymes and make the almonds easier to digest.

I do prefer to strain my almond milk. Adding this little step provides me with perfectly smooth milk along with the pulp left over. I am then able to dehydrate and blend into almond flour...

Almond flour is nutritious and tastes great, but I can't justify the price as a frugal wife and mom, which is why I tend toward other gluten-free flours. It is one of the most expensive gluten-free flours on the market so being able to use the leftover pulp in this way is a huge bonus! The purpose of my YouTube videos and this blog is not only to help you in making a more nutritious choice for your family, but also to help make it a cost-effective one as well. If you can't eat well for very little cost then chances are you won't eat well for very long.
Nut Mylk Bag
I have discovered an amazingly durable strainer bag with which to complete this extra step. I encourage you, if you decide this is something you would like to do on a regular basis, to invest in this Nut Mylk bag sold on Ebay for just $8 + shipping! Cynthia is the wonderful woman in BC, Canada who makes these strainer bags. When you have a chance, head over to her website, Juicerless.com for more ways to incorporate this bag in your healthy lifestyle. 

Now let's dig a little deeper. There are many reasons to remove Dairy from your diet. I've listed below just a few...

1. Human beings are not cows. It's simple...our digestive systems were not created to digest milk from other species. Do you have 4 stomachs? Last time I checked, I only had one. Cow's milk was meant to be consumed as the perfect food for baby cows just as human milk was designed as the perfect food for infant humans. Now, I do not intend this post to be a "breast milk vs. formula" debate. I chose to and was able to breast-feed both our boys successfully, but there is a variety of reasons that women choose to formula-feed their babies. Each woman and baby is different and I encourage women to make the choice that makes for happy mom and baby! More the point, is that we are the only species that drinks the milk of other species past infancy.  Approx. 3/4 of the world's population are lactose intolerant due to the fact that we lack the digestive enzymes to digest dairy. I won't even get into the whole genetically modified hormones that cows are given on a regular basis to aid in milk production, but I will say that whatever the livestock is fed, it is passed on to us as well.

2. It's not a good dietary choice if we are trying to lose weight or lead a healthier lifestyle. Dairy products other than milk, like cheese, are loaded with saturated fats and cholesterol (not to mention food coloring!) which lead us down the road to heart disease. This is a very hard point for me to make because I really like cheese, especially on a good grilled cheese sandwich! But, I have found that the less I eat it, the less I crave it and the better I feel, which is the case with most foods of which I should be steering clear. Other people have used raw milk cheese and found to have less of a reaction to it, but again, when we are thinking about cost (and I always am!) this isn't a great solution because raw milk cheese, especially in Canada, can be extremely expensive.

3. Calcium...I know this is probably your biggest concern. It is drilled into us over and over again that milk is the very best source of calcium and if we don't drink it then we are destined to suffer with Osteoporosis later on in life. Well, this is simply NOT the case and we have been very misinformed! Yes, our bones do need calcium along with other vitamins and minerals to remain strong and efficient. However, if your family is consuming a generous amount of leafy green vegetables, fruits and whole foods then you are not only getting your recommended daily value of calcium, but you are also getting high levels of magnesium, zinc and other important minerals which allow for better absorption without the nasty side effects. Milk only contains the calcium. Almonds are one of the top 10 non-dairy sources of calcium while also providing much needed vitamins and minerals. I encourage you to give almond milk a try!

Almond milk pictured with Nature's Path GF Honeyed Corn Flakes.

Again, I hope this has helped a little bit more in making healthy decisions for your family. I want to note that it was a process getting the rest of my family to accept and eventually enjoy using almond milk! For about a year, I was the only one using almond milk and I would still purchase cow's milk for Kirk and the boys. I would use it in my cooking and baking and they were fine with that, but using it with their cereal was a lost cause...until now! They all love it and even request it now. For Kaiden, the older one, I even made sunflower seed milk because he preferred the taste to almonds, but now he uses the almond as well. That's the beauty of this...get creative! Use sunflower seeds, cashews...each one will have a unique taste so find what you like.

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Treat yourself well,