By Michelle Mitchum
Before you pick up that carton of almond milk, let’s a do a little research. While plant-based “milk” is a lot more beneficial to the body than animal produced milk, store-bought brands might not be the healthiest route.
Many makers of almond milk claim to harness the nutrition of the almond, nature’s almost-perfect food, in their product. However, a lot of unhealthy ingredients and preservatives are added in that process. Take a quick glance at the label of your typical supermarket almond milk. You might find sugar, gellan gum, tricalcium phosphate, xanthan gum or a list of other additives that decrease nutritional value. Therefore it’s very important to read labels before throwing items into your shopping cart.
If you want to drink Almond Milk, make your own instead.
Making your own food and ingredients can alleviate (to an extent) the foreign additives and additional preservatives your body consumes from packaged goods. Have you ever noticed pure “homemade” almond milk is barely thicker than water? That’s because almond milk is essentially the product of blended almonds and (yes, you guessed it) water. Richly packed with protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber, the almond is a great snack in and of itself.
How to Make Almond Milk at Home
Makes about 2 cups
1 cup raw almonds, preferably organic
2 cups water, plus more for soaking
Sweeteners such as honey or maple syrup, to taste (optional)
Blender or food processor
Fine-mesh nut bag or cheese cloth
1. Soak the almonds overnight or up to two days. Place the almonds in a bowl and cover with about an inch of water. They will plump as they absorb water. Let stand, uncovered, overnight or up to two days. The longer the almonds soak, the creamier the almond milk.
2. Drain the almonds from their soaking water and rinse them thoroughly under cool running water. At this point, the almonds should feel a little squishy if you pinch them.
3. Combine the almonds and water in a blender. Place the almonds in the blender and cover with two cups of water.
4. Blend at the highest speed for two minutes. Pulse the blender a few times to break up the almonds, then blend continuously for two minutes. The almonds should be broken down into a very fine meal and the water should be white and opaque. (If using a food processor, process for four minutes total, pausing to scrape down the sides halfway through.)
5. Strain the almonds. Line the strainer with either the opened nut bag or cheese cloth, and place over a measuring cup. Pour the almond mixture into the strainer.
6. Press all the almond milk from the almond meal. Gather the nut bag or cheese cloth around the almond meal and twist close. Squeeze and press with clean hands to extract as much almond milk as possible. You should get about two cups. Sweeten to taste. Taste the almond milk, and if a sweeter drink is desired, add sweetener to taste.
7. Refrigerate almond milk. Store the almond milk in sealed containers in the fridge for up to two days.
The leftover almond meal can be added to oatmeal, smoothies and muffins as it is. You can also spread it out on a baking sheet and bake it in a low oven until completely dry (two to three hours). Dry almond meal can be kept frozen for several months and used in baked goods.