The more we learn about the food industry, the more we may begin to feel overwhelmed about making healthy choices for ourselves, our family and the planet. Buck up! An important shift of your perspective could help you remember that you can be empowered to make great choices. One amazing way to reduce extra sweeteners, processed drinks and dairy is to make your own nut/seed milk. And here’s the best part: it’s so much easier than you think.
There are many reasons that consumers have chosen to swap their animal milk to a nut or seed alternative. For some people, being lactose intolerant may be a great reason to avoid dairy. For others, the choice may actually stem from their connection to animal rights issues, or even a desire to cut out GMOs or processed foods. Whatever your decision for swapping out your milk, making your own is a great way to know exactly what you are (and aren’t) putting into your body.
Why an Alternative to Milk?
Like most ready made & pre-packaged foods, many store-bought nut/seed milks are hiding behind the guise of being a healthy alternative. While these milks do not have lactose in them, most of them are loaded with sweeteners. The only way to ensure that you are free of the extras is to find the “unsweetened varieties”. But why skip out on a sweet taste when you can get it naturally at home?
There are some milk alternatives that do not have any added sweeteners, but (like their sweetened cousins & cow’s milk) are often ultra-pasteurized. This means that the drink is exposed to severe heat for short periods of time in order to extend shelf life. Although this has been a practice of preservation for some time, it’s just another step of processing that your store bought almond milk has gone through to get to your glass.
Lastly, many of these alternatives have added thickening agents to help us to better connect with the texture that we crave from cow’s milk. Guar gum, carrageenan and tapioca starch (just to name a few) have gotten their fair share of controversy in terms of their impact on health.
Get Empowered- You Can Do It!
At this point you may be back in the “overwhelmed” camp. Not to worry! The answer is simple and within reach – make your own, at home.
Making your own homemade almond milk is actually quite simple. Once you get into the groove of the process, you’ll find yourself making batches of it quickly and easily. All you’ll need is a little foresight, some raw almonds, water, optional sweeteners (like vanilla bean or dates), a blender and some cheesecloth. Because we are doing our best to avoid added chemicals, try your best to get organic ingredients. Ready to get started? Let’s get empowered!
First things first: soak your nuts overnight. This is that foresight part we talked about. You could allow the nuts to soak for just about 4 hours, but overnight is best.
Why is this step important? Well, like food blogger and nutritionist, Sarah B. of My New Roots says, “Wonder why those seeds … in your cupboard don’t turn into plants, or get moldy? Well, nature is amazing, and has given nuts and seeds a special enzyme that inhibits their growth until it has all the things it needs to grow (sunlight, water, soil etc.) … Simply by soaking nuts in a little water, the nuts release these harmful enzymes, and at the same time, their nutritional value skyrockets.”
Convinced? Great! So let’s get soakin’.
Homemade Almond Milk
This recipe calls for 1 cup of almonds to every 3 ½ cups of water. So if you are making one batch (which will give you about a quart of milk) just cover 1 cup of almonds with water, cover with a tea towel or plate, and let it sit overnight. In the morning, rinse the almonds clean to get rid of the enzyme, and maybe even use the soaking water for your plants. As an option, you can peel your almonds. Though this takes some extra time, it makes for smoother milk, but just remember that it’s completely optional.
This recipe uses almonds, but you can really use any nut or seed of your choice. Make your own superfood milk by using hemp seeds!