I’ve been on the search for the best tasting and true almond milk ever since I found out the brand I was loyal to for years, Blue Diamond Unsweetened Almond Breeze, was outed in the media last month for containing only 2% almonds resulting in a class action lawsuit.
Almond milk has been getting raked over the coals by nutritionists and media for awhile. Many commercially produced almond milks are more water than milk, and their nutritional claims have been questioned. Cow milk drinkers like David think I’m nuts and tell me drinking whole milk is better than anything else, but I am trying to manage my dairy intake. And I like the taste of unsweetened almond nut milk (or so I thought that was what I was drinking.)
Rather than crying over spoilt almond milk I decided to take matters into my own hands. I bought a nut sack on Amazon for $8.99 with a plan to make my own almond milk. I was told by purists that once I made my own nut milk I’d never go back to store bought “imposters”.
While waiting for its arrival I researched home-made nut milk recipes, downloaded the nut sack company’s free Ebook and looked for raw almonds where I live. I couldn’t find any that weren’t roasted or salted, and the most suitable nuts I found were expensive: $8 to $10/bag at my local store. So much for things being less expensive in the country.
I ignored all the snarky and suggestive comments from David about nut sacks and assigned him the task of finding me a bag of affordable nuts. He dutiful brought me a back a sack of raw almonds from Trader Joe’s in Manhattan ($6.99).
The directions said to soak the nuts for 8-12 hours. Done. Then I put them in my blender with appropriate amount of water (more nuts; less water). Done. Then I poured the thick mixture into my nut sack and started squeezing the liquid into a bowl. I’ve never milked an animal but I’ve now milked a nut sack. More suggestive comments from the one man peanut gallery followed.
The end result was a very nutty and creamy milk. But the sack of nuts made only a little milk. There was more nut pulp left than milk. We froze the nut pulp to figure out what to do with it later. The handmade pure almond milk was flavorful and almost too rich for my taste. Maybe that’s because my palate is so accustomed to the watered down almond milk I was used to drinking. It’s kind of like skim milk versus whole milk.
So was it worth it? Nut milk purists will all chorus in with a “Yes.” But my gripe is that I had to use a lot of nuts to make a little milk, and the end result didn’t last very long. After four days in the refrigerator my homemade nut milk started to turn and we had to toss it out. I hate wasted food.
Meanwhile I found a store-bought almond nut milk brand that tastes pretty good and is more affordable than my homemade attempt. Califia Farms, which is dairy free, soy-free, plant based and vegan ($3.99 @48 oz.). It’s also lower in sodium than the only other brand I tasted and Liked (Stop and Shop). The only issue I have with this brand of nut milk is that it contains carrageenan, an additive used to thicken nut-based milks, yogurts and ice creams. Carrageenan has been linked to both gastro-intestinal issues and being possibly carcinogenic. According to Califia Farm’s website, carrageenan will be removed from its products by the end of 2015.
Now that I own the nut sack, I may try my hand at making milk again, or maybe I’ll just try a creamy nut butter. I can already hear David groaning.
Why I like Nuts
Studies have shown nuts are a heart-healthy food. Nuts are high in fiber, omega 3 fatty acids, plant protein, vitamins, phytochemicals and antioxidants. Consumed in moderation (e.g., a handful or 6 to 8 nuts, not the entire bag!) they are a healthy snack. Choose unsalted, unsweetened dry roasted nuts. Spiced nuts are delicious, but watch added salt!
Suggested reading about nuts (among many):
Mayo Clinic New York Times Well Blog Health.com
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if you missed last week’s moving show on Living Beyond Breast Cancer here is the link. I want to thank Peggy Olivas, diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer in 2008, and Jean Burns, diagnosed with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer in 2013 for sharing their personal stories and insights. I also want to thank Living Beyond Breast Cancer CEO Jean Sachs. It was a great show on a sensitive topic.
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