Is Homemade Almond Milk Better For You?

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almond-milk-1024x682Written by Jackie “Lynn” Stevenson, DTR

Almond milk is awesome. It’s a nutrient-dense alternative to dairy milk. It can be used anywhere you would normally use milk. Almond milk has become pretty mainstream, with several companies boasting they have the best product. But which ones do?

MALK is one of several emerging brands of nut milk whose platform is no additives, as compared to most mainstream commercial brands like Silk and Almond Breeze. They use processes that decrease the use of unnecessary thickeners and preservatives. This speaks to lots of people who are transitioning to clean eating. For the sake of simplicity, homemade products are better because they don’t contain any extra ingredients.  Fillers used in most products have been deemed unnecessary, but not unsafe (yet). MALK’s product has only three ingredients: almonds, filtered water and Himalayan sea salt. There is literally zero question whether these ingredients are safe, so why use extras that may or may not be proven safe in the future?

What is the nutritional difference between store bought and homemade almond milk? There is a huge nutritional difference between store bought and homemade almond milk. Almonds are naturally packed with protein and good fats, making it a high calorie, yet nutrient dense food. The MALK product or homemade variety provides a beverage that preserves these nutrients.  Mainstream products contain little almond, a ton of water and other ingredients, and the nutrient facts reflect that. See the table below. The Silk brand gives an added boost of calcium, but only because it has been fortified. If you are looking for a milk alternative to meet your calcium needs, Silk is the way to go.  If you actually like the taste of almonds, want something less process, and get adequate calcium homemade might be right for you!

compare almond milk

Why do commercial almond milks need the extra additives?
Large nut milk companies also use added ingredients to enhance the flavor and texture of their product. Since most are national, they must preserve it in some way to have a shelf life that will last through production, shipping, and storage. If made at home, the shelf life can be shorter because you cut out the time in the middle between production and consumption.

Why are carrageenan and other thickeners a problem? Carrageenan is an algae-based product that is used as a thickener in many processed foods. It’s safety has come into question in recent years. Several animal studies have shown carrageenan to be pro-inflammatory, however there are a few issues with these studies, about which Chris Kresser’s article goes into detail. His final recommendation is on point — Take precaution consuming products that have not been proven safe, especially if there are alternatives that don’t contain possibly harmful ingredients.

Downfalls of making it yourself– The number one reason why people don’t make it themselves is due to convenience. It’s easy enough to pick up a half gallon of almond milk on the weekly grocery run. Soaking almonds and processing take much more time (but not active time). If you’re like me and enjoy knowing where everything comes from, try making it yourself. It’s really very easy.

Homemade Almond Milk

What you will need:                               Prep time: 1 minute + 12 hours downtime

1 cup whole almonds                                Blend and strain time: 10 minutes

2 cups water, plus enough water to soak almonds

Cheesecloth, a bowl or jar and a blender (any kind will do)

What to do:

Dum20160119_183122p the almonds in a bowl or jar of choice. Cover them with water. Let soak for about 12 hours.

20160119_183742Almonds will swell to about twice their size. Drain the almonds, throw in a blender with 2 cups of water. Blend (puree speed preferred) until liquid is milky white and pieces are small, about the consistency of almond meal. Strain the liquid through cheesecloth. I used a fine strainer, but still had some chunks at the bottom. Cheesecloth can strain finer pieces.

20160119_184612

That’s it! Store the milk in a sealed container in the refrigerator. Use the leftover almond bits anywhere you would use almond meal, or crushed almonds. You paid for them, use them! I threw a bag in the freezer and a small bit to use in recipes throughout the week.

FYI, I’m not a professional photographer and my kitchen is poorly lit. I’ll work on it!

Whether you decide to take on the challenge to make almond milk yourself or prefer to stick to the ease and convenience of store bought, both types of almond milk can be a great addition to your daily diet.

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