It is pretty much a general consensus that almonds are a healthy snack. A handful of which will give you the energy to pull through the day. They’re absolutely jam-packed with antioxidants, beneficial phenols, flavonoids, healthy fats, and as an added bonus they taste delightful as well. All in all, we can agree that almonds are a great source of required nutrients for our everyday diet. Today we shall look at almonds’ alternative way of consumption and perhaps the most popular: Almond milk. You’ve probably seen them at your local grocery store or even buy it yourself when you’re out to make a grocery trip. Why wouldn’t you, right? They’re healthy and a great substitute for regular cow milk. Well… you’re not completely wrong but you’re not completely right on this one either.
You may be surprised to hear that, as a milk alternative, store-bought almond milk is not as healthy as you’d expect . And it is this very reason that makes shelling out extra money for a carton of almond milk seem worthless. People do so because almond milk is considered a healthy alternative to dairy. But is almond milk really healthier? What exactly are you getting when you buy that carton of almond milk?
Now you may be wondering; is almond milk even good for me? Well, yes, it is. However, store bought almond milk contains more additives, water, and sweetener than homemade almond milk. What is really disappointing is the fact that a whole carton of store bought almond milk contains just a handful of almonds. In fact, researchers have found that only 2 percent of almonds were present in the UK almond milk brand Alpro. The rest was made up of water, sweetener and carrageenan, a thickening agent. Vitamins A, E, and D were then added to the mixture separately.
In order for you to receive the required nutrition from a mere handful of almonds, you’d need to drink an entire carton of almond milk in one sitting. Almond milk calorie count is a mere 30 calories per cup. Which is a joke in front of the 160 calories a serving of almond provides. So, now you know that store bought almond milk is mostly water. Which means that the nutrition value of almond milk is close to nil. Which further raises the question: is there any benefit of drinking almond milk? When talking about store-bought almond milk: no, not really.
You may be thinking why people buy this when the facts are compelling? Well, these facts are very little known, and the almond milk industry capitalizes on people’s ignorance to make profits year after year. Just in 2014, White Wave, a plant-based milk company, reported a 50 percent sales growth rate in its first quarter compared to previous years. The plant-based milk industry is expected to net 1.7 billion dollars in sales this year alone.
We are not saying that almond milk is bad for you. But the additives found in commercially made almond milk brands are. The thickener carrageenan has been proven to inflame the digestive tract, and long-term consumption is strongly advised against. If you are an almond milk fanatic, then we hope after reading this you’ll re-think your decision to spend 4 dollars a carton on artificial chemical additives and water disguised under the mask of almond milk.
To help you out we offer a simple solution. How about you make your own almond milk? Sounds good, doesn’t it? It’s simpler than you would think. You can leave out the sweetener, the harmful additives, and the water content to boost profit. All the while you may add more almonds to have a natural, thicker, and more nutritious milk.
How to Make Almond Milk
- A cup of raw organic almonds. (Non-organic almonds may also be used but it is advised that you use organic in order to boost the benefit you receive.)
- Two Cups of water. (Additional water is required for soaking as well)
- OPTIONAL: Natural Sweeteners like maple syrup, agave syrup, or honey according to preference
- Heavy Duty Blender
- Fine-mesh bag or cheese cloth
- Measuring cups
1. Soak the almonds overnight or up to 2 days.
Take a cup of raw (preferably organic) almonds and place them in a bowl. Add water to the bowl, approximately an inch above the almonds. Now, the almonds will soak up all the water and become plump. You can let your bowl just stay on the counter or you can refrigerate it for up to 2 days. Make sure to cover the bowl with a cloth. The longer the almonds are let to soak, the creamier the almond milk will become.
2. Drain and rinse the almonds.
After you have soaked your almonds, drain them from their soaking water and rinse thoroughly under cool running water. The reason the almonds are drained of their soaking water is that the water contains phytic acid. Phytic acid inhibits the body’s ability to absorb nutrients. The almonds at this point should look plump and be squishy to touch.
3. Place the almonds in a blender and add water.
Cover the almonds you placed in the blender with 2 cups of water.
4. Blend Thoroughly.
Break down the almonds by pulsing the blender a few times. After that, run the blender on its highest speed for about 2 minutes. This causes the almonds to break down into a very fine meal and the water becomes white and opaque. (Alternatively, for food processors: run it for 4 minutes, while periodically stopping it to scrape down the sides.)
5. Strain The Almonds.
After thoroughly blending your almonds line the strainer with either a fine mesh cloth or a cheese cloth. Pace the strainer over a measuring cup and pour the almond and water mixture into the strainer.
6. Squeeze all the almond milk out of the almond meal.
Gather the mesh cloth or cheesecloth around the almond meal and twist to close. After that, squeeze and press to extract as much almond milk as possible. Ideally you should get approximately 2 cups.
7. (OPTIONAL) Sweeten to taste.
After you’ve extracted all that good almond milk you may add a natural sweetener of your choosing. Alternatively, you can leave it as it is.
8. Refrigerate/store almond milk.
Almond milk can be stored n sealed containers and jars in the fridge for up to two days.
With the almond meal you’ve collected, you can add it to your oatmeal, smoothies, morning cereal, puddings, etc. for that extra texture. Alternatively, laying the almond meal on a baking sheet and heating it in the oven till completely dry makes it storable. Almond meal can be stored for months when thoroughly dried.
There you go, see how easy it is to make your own healthy almond milk?
Here’s a video to easily make homemade almond milk in 3 easy steps:
Now, that you’ve learned to make your very own almond milk why stop there? There are so many almond milk recipes that you can try out. You can basically substitute almond milk for any recipes that call for traditional dairy milk, and the result will leave you surprised. For all you vegans out there yes, almond milk is vegan so, fear not. You can try out amazing almond milk smoothies, yogurts, cheese, and for cheat days you can try out almond milk chocolates. The possibilities are endless when it comes to almond milk. You can substitute it as a creamer for your coffee; you can make hot chocolate, pancakes, a variety of shakes and drinks, etc. You can even take it a step further and try to whip up your own almond milk latte or ice cream. Now doesn’t that sound just lovely? The whole world is your oyster after you learn to make proper, natural, and healthy almond milk so GO NUTS!
Let’s take a look at what natural, and additive-free almond milk can do for your well-being.
Benefits of Almond Milk
Real almond milk is low in fat but high in energy, proteins, lipids, and fiber. It also contains important minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and zinc. All in all almond and almond milk is pretty much a superfood.
It helps with weight management:
Homemade almond milk’s calorie count still beats the 102 calories you receive in your 1 percent milk and the 86 calories in skim milk. Making almond milk a great substitute that will help in losing and maintaining weight. It keeps your heart healthy. Almond milk has no cholesterol or saturated fats. It is also low in sodium and high in omega fatty acids and other healthy fats, which help in keeping your heart healthy.
It keeps your bones strong.
Almond milk offers 30 percent of your recommended daily amount of calcium. It also provides 25 percent of recommended vitamin D. These nutrients reduce your risk of arthritis and osteoporosis while improving immune function and strengthening bone/dental health.
It is great for your skin.
Almond milk provides you with 50 percent of the recommended dose of vitamin E. Vitamin E contains antioxidant properties that are vital to your skin’s health.
It helps blood sugar.
Due to almond milk’s low glycemic index, the body uses the almond milk carbs as energy instead of storing the sugars as fat.
It strengthens muscle strength and promotes muscle healing.
While almond milk may be low in protein, it is rich in B vitamins like iron and riboflavin, both of which are crucial for muscle growth and healing.
It promotes good digestion.
We all know how important fiber is for digestion and almond milk contains one gram of fiber per serving. This helps improve digestion and keep the digestive tract healthy.
It is lactose-free.
Yes, that’s right almond milk is one hundred percent lactose-free. This is a huge thing for people who are lactose intolerant. And considering over 25% of the US population suffers from lactose intolerance this is a great milk substitute.
It tastes nothing like cow’s milk.
While we admit the taste of almond milk isn’t exactly a benefit; it is for people who are turned off by the taste of cow’s milk. And almond milk tastes nothing like cow’s milk. So, rejoice!
It is very easy to make.
As mentioned and shown above, almond milk is very easy to make. This is definitely a plus. Especially now that you know the benefits of almond milk.
Almond Milk vs. Soy Milk.
Often while talking about plant-based milk, people tend to be confused whether to choose soy milk or almond milk. These two are the most common plant-based milk available in the market so it makes sense that people would be indecisive. So which should you choose?
Calorically speaking almond milk has the advantage while soy milk triumphs on protein content. Almonds may be a good source of protein but almond milk is not.
Due to flavoring, both kinds of milk are high in sugar content. However, coming to technicality almond milk has a slightly lower sugar content. A good alternative would be giving unsweetened almond milk a try. Almond milk has no saturated fats. Soy milk does.
Soy milk contains only trace amounts of vitamin D and A while almond milk supplements 25 percent of your recommended dose of vitamin D and 10 percent of vitamin A. However, soy milk wins when it comes to potassium and magnesium supplement. Supplying 9 percent and 10 percent of your recommended daily dosage of each respectively.
Despite almond milk being low in sodium content, soy milk has an even lower amount of sodium.
Almond milk also supplies you with 20 percent of your daily recommended calcium dosage, something that soy milk does not.
In a nutshell, the debate really can’t be put to rest as personal opinion plays a huge role. However weighing the pros and cons of both kinds of milk to each other almond milk seems to have a slight advantage.
Almond Milk vs Skim Milk
Both almond milk and skim milk are close in fat content and can be used in baking and other recipes with little to no differences. Skim milk offers a slightly higher percentage of protein than does almond milk.
People with nut allergies may prefer skim milk due to its lack of nuts. While people who are lactose intolerant may prefer almond milk, because skim milk is made from cow’s milk after all. However, it is worth noting that people with nut allergies may also have a condition of low tolerance for lactose in skim milk. This denies them the luxury of both types of milks. So, it is always better to consult with a medical professional if you suffer from any allergies before you decide to try something new. Statistically, the amount of lactose intolerant people far exceeds the number of people allergic to almonds.
Almond milk can be made fresh and is far easier to prepare than skim milk. Furthermore, skim milk NEEDS to be refrigerator or it will go bad before you know it. But, despite almond milk tasting better cold, refrigeration isn’t an absolute necessary.
You’d be surprised to learn that despite having less calories than whole milk, skim milk actually has a higher calorie count that almond milk. Not only that, almond milk doesn’t have any cholesterol, saturated fat, and its sodium content is negligible. All the while, skim milk has 5mg cholesterol and about 130mg of sodium.
Talking about baby foods both skim milk and almond milk aren’t recommended to use as baby formulas. Even though Middle Eastern countries consider almond milk as a baby food, recent studies have shown that babies fed only almond milk develop protein-calorie deficiency.
For diabetic patients and people with heart diseases or complications almond milk is recommended. Since skim milk contains more carbs than almond milk, they break down as sugar in the body causing diabetic people trouble. And the lack of cholesterol and saturated fats make almond milk an obvious winner over skim milk when talking about being heart healthy.
As a conclusion, almond milk (if you don’t have an allergy to almonds) pretty much is a better option than skim milk. Even when talking about taste, almond milk has a quite nutty flavor and coms in vanilla flavoring. While shaking off the cow milk taste from skim milk is quite impossible. It tastes like watered down whole milk, to be honest. But hey, if that is what you’re into then by all means don’t let us stop you.
Have you ever tried almond milk? What are your experiences with it? Let us know in the comments below.
And don’t forget to share this with all your loved ones.