Simple Almond Milk

There are a million recipes for homemade almond milk on the internet, yet I was still hesitant to try making my own. For one thing, it takes some time to get used to the idea of soaking nuts for 7 hours or more before you even do anything with them. Also, I have like a $20.00 plastic blender that I got from a discount grocery store, so I was concerned that it might not be up for the job.

Now, I’m realizing hesitating was a bad decision.

First of all, homemade almond milk is so good for you. I’ve tried to find a good source of information on the nutrient profile of homemade almond milk, without much success.  This source seems the most balanced to me. In short, it says that almond milk is surprisingly low in fat and calories. It has a little protein and a little fiber in it, and the fat that it does have is mostly heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

Almond milk is also rich in vitamins and minerals including vitamin E, manganese, selenium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron, phosphorous and calcium. Some of these minerals, like selenium and zinc, are important in regulating immune function. Magnesium facilitates many crucial functions and people with gastrointestinal diseases are one of the few groups at risk for chronic deficiencies (although you should not consume large amounts of magnesium when on antibiotics commonly prescribed for IBD, such as cipro). See this article for more information. Almonds are one of the best natural sources of this mineral, and it’s always better to get our vitamins and minerals from natural foods than from supplements, because our bodies are better able to absorb them and we are less likely to cause a new problem by introducing imbalance. And by straining out the skins and solid parts of the almonds, almond milk is even easier to digest.

So, have I convinced you to make almond milk a regular treat yet?

The first step in preparing almond milk is to soak the almonds for 7-24 hours in a salt solution.Image

This serves two purposes: first of all, it softens the nut and prepares it for processing—the longer the soak, up to 24 hours, the creamier the resulting milk; secondly, it breaks down and neutralizes enzyme inhibitors. Enzyme inhibitors, which are present in many nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes, are basically a defense mechanism of the plant. They prevent the plant from sprouting or breaking down in any way until conditions are right for growth. This makes it difficult for insects or drought to negatively affect the survival of the species, but it also makes it difficult for our own digestive enzymes to break down the food properly. By soaking the nut, we are basically tricking it into thinking that it is time for it to sprout and grow!

Once the nuts are soaked, the process is very simple: first rinse them in a colander with fresh water.Image

Then, blend with filtered water (I told you I didn’t have a fancy blender!).

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Strain through cheesecloth or a nut milk bag.

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Pour it into a jar or wherever you want to store your fresh almond milk.

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Almond Milk Ingredients (yield 2 cups)

  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 2 cups filtered water, plus more for soaking
  • ¼ tablespoon sea salt
  • Dates, honey, vanilla, or other flavorings (optional)

Method

  • Measure almonds and place in a bowl.
  • Dissolve sea salt in warm, filtered water, and pour over the almonds. You want to use enough water to cover the almonds with a few inches, since they will expand slightly as they soak.
  • Let almonds soak for a minimum of 7 hours, and a maximum of 24 hours.
  • Drain almonds. Discard the soaking water and rinse thoroughly. Place almonds and 2 cups filtered water in blender. If you like, add dates or honey, vanilla, or any other flavorings you’d like at this stage. I like my almond milk plain.
  • Blend on a high setting for about 4 minutes.
  • Using a nut milk bag lining a mason jar, or a colander or strainer lined with cheesecloth and set in a bowl, strain the almond milk. Gently squeeze on the almond meal to extract as much milk as possible.

That’s it! If you’d like, you can add the pulp to smoothies or oatmeal, or you can dehydrate it in the oven by spreading it thinly on a cookie sheet and baking at 150 degrees for a few hours, until completely dry, to use for baking. Store the milk in the refrigerator and consume within 3 days. Here are my favorite ways to incorporate almond milk into my diet:

  • Combined with a very small amount of coffee. SCD recommends only very weak coffee, so this way I get to feel like I’m drinking coffee but I get plenty of nutrients and less bad effects.
  • Mixed with a banana, ice cubes, yogurt or kefir, and cacao or 100% fruit jam for a probiotic morning smoothie.
  • In the place of liquid milk in recipes.

It’s also nice to drink plain if I have any leftover (which I rarely do!).

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