I'm Not an Ignorant Hipster: The Case for Real Almond Milk + Recipe

The nutrition world is a little trendy, ok a LOT! As a Certified Nutritionist, this is definitely a pet peeve of mine because I spend a lot of my time helping people sort through misinformation. I often compare it to high school gossip ("cringe"), someone reads something in a blog and all of a sudden its gospel and spreading like wildfire! One such topic at the moment is almonds. This tiny little tree nut has gained a whole lot of popularity. There are dozens of brands of almond milk, not to mention, almond pudding, almond ice cream and almond yogurt! To say it's a trend, is a bit of an understatement. As the gentleman who wrote "Lay Off the Almond Milk, You Ignorant Hipsters" Tom Philpott mentioned. It has become big business; even Wall Street is slurping it up! Therefore, I can understand why Mr. Philpott is wondering what all the hubbub is about.  However, reading the article was a tad annoying due to the sweeping generalities. It assumes that those of us choosing almond milk don't understand why we are doing so, or worse, understand what we are actually drinking.  So let me help clear a few things up!

1) The choice to go non-dairy goes way beyond "Lactose Intolerance".

One of the most common food sensitivities I see in my practice is dairy, and it’s not "just" about lactose intolerance.  In my experience, lactose intolerance is just the tip of the iceberg as to why cow dairy causes so much digestive upset. Another contributing issue is that the fat molecules in cow’s milk are quite large which makes them more difficult to digest than milk from smaller animals like goat or sheep. Furthermore, because the majority of the population in North America often consumes some dairy at nearly every meal and snack and already have compromised digestion. For many people it is the protein in dairy they are intolerant to, which is why drinking lactose free milk, doesn't reduce their digestive distress. Over and over again, this food product often touted as a meal in a glass, has proven to be a major aggravator of digestive issues and can be connected to bloating, constipation and general inflammation in the body. That last point is really important. Don’t forget that word “inflammation” because it is becoming increasingly clear that chronic inflammation is the root cause of many serious illnesses – including heart disease, many cancers, and Alzheimer’s disease.

2) Of course, almond "milk" is not the same as eating almonds!

I don't know about you, but I'm smart enough to realize (guessing you are as well) that almond milk isn't the same nutritionally as whole almonds. But there is nothing wrong with that.  People are not buying almond milk to get the same benefits as they would from eating almonds. They are simply looking for something to replace the taste and texture of dairy milk without the added hormones, antibiotics and digestive upset. If you are someone who is sensitive to dairy and you switch to a non-dairy beverage like almond milk, it will help your digestive system and relieve many symptoms. But how healthy is it?

3)  Is commercial almond milk a health food?

This is where Mr. Philpott and I agree, is it really a "healthy" alternative? Yet another reason cow dairy causes so many issues is because it is pasteurized. When something is pasteurized it is exposed to very high heat, and this reduces the nutritional value of the food and kills all the enzymes that aid digestion. But the same is true for non-dairy milks because they too are pasteurized. Yes, this includes your precious almond milk. Sadly, it is also true that they contain many additives including cheap synthetic vitamins (healthy food doesn't need added vitamins), emulsifiers (such as carrageenan that can cause inflammation and gut irritation), natural sweeteners and flavourings.

4)  What the heck should I drink?

So I've explained why its a healthy thing to choose a non-dairy alternative, but in the same breath revealed that it is not as healthy as may have thought. NOW what? The answer is simple and takes less than five minutes! Roll up your sleeves and make your OWN! No excuses about time constraints, just plan and make it a priority.

5)  One more thing: Raw almonds are not always "raw."

First thing is first; you have to use organic RAW almonds. Many almonds are labelled “raw”, but be aware that if they come from California, they are actually pasteurized! Yes, no joke, its law! So you need to look for almonds that are truly raw. My favourite brand is “Organic Traditions."  Their almonds are organic non-pasteurized and non-irradiated, imported from Italy. Plus, they are the most cost effective I have found in Toronto. I pay $10.49 for a 454g bag. I can get approximately five litres of almond milk from one bag. So the actual cost is a little less or relatively the same for a superior product than buying it. IMG_1200

Homemade Vanilla Almond Milk

1 cup of raw almonds 6 cups of filtered water pinch of sea salt 1 teaspoon of organic vanilla extract 2-Medjool dates (optional) Soak 1 cup of almonds in a glass container in the fridge overnight. IMG_1681 *This is an important step because it actually makes the almonds sweeter, more nutritious and easier to digest. By soaking the almonds for eight hours, you are actually sprouting them which activates enzymes in the almonds, specifically lipase, an enzyme used for digesting fat, thereby assisting digestion. The next morning, rinse the almonds, place them in a blender with water, sea salt, vanilla and dates and blend until frothy and white. IMG_4392 Now all you have to do is either strain the milk through a fine mesh “nut bag," cheese cloth or fine stainless strainer and pour into a glass mason jar!   IMG_4414 It doesn’t get any easier than that! IMG_1672 This is exactly the amount of milk I produce with this recipe! *You can substitute almonds with hemp hearts or other types of nuts such as brazil nuts or cashews. It is always a good idea to rotate your milk on a regular basis! You can have too much of a good thing! Give it a try and let me know how you do! Trust me when I say the TASTE will win you over. To keep connected and get my FREE "Win at Weight Loss Tip Sheet" head on over to my website www.ciarafoy.com and start feeling better NOW! Ciara Foy xo      

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