Whether you’re a vegan, sensitive to cow’s milk or soya, or just don’t like how they taste, almond milk is an ideal alternative. It may be trendy, but almond milk is more than a passing fad. And this popular dairy-free milk substitute comes with plenty of health benefits. In addition to containing no lactose, almond milk has no cholesterol (as it is not an animal product), and can be extracted using simple equipment found in most homes. Just like soy milk, almond milk is an excellent alternative to cow’s milk, and has a surprisingly rich and creamy taste.
Once referred to as amygdalate, almond milk was commonly used in medieval Europe and the Middle East. One of the reasons for the popularity of almond milk in the Middle Ages was its high protein content, and its ability to keep better than milk from dairy sources.
Almond milk is indisputably nutritious, with little or no saturated fat, unlike cow’s milk, and no lactose, which many find indigestible. One cup of almond milk contains only 60 calories, as opposed to 146 calories in whole milk, 122 calories in 2 per cent, 102 calories in 1 per cent, and 86 calories in skim milk. Replacing low-fat cow’s milk or soy milk with almond milk can help reduce your total daily calorie intake, which can help you achieve or maintain a healthy body weight.
Almond milk also supplies the body with high levels of manganese which helps in activating enzymes in your body. In addition, it contains selenium, which is good for the immune system, and plenty of vitamin E, which helps maintain healthy skin. It also contains natural omega-3 fatty acids, which can help prevent high blood pressure and contribute to overall heart health.
You can even make your own milk from fresh almonds, rather than buying a pre-packaged, processed product from the shops.
How to Make Almond Milk
- 1 cup raw almonds
- 2 cups water
- pinch of sea salt
1. Place the almonds in room temperature water with a pinch of sea salt; soak at least 12 hours. Rinse clean the next day or just drain the water.
2. Remove the almond skins, which results in lighter-coloured milk and also removes a slightly bitter flavour. To remove the skin, simply pour boiling water over the almonds and let them sit for five minutes and then drain. The skin from the nut should peel away easily.
3. Blend almonds and 3 cups of water in a blender on low speed for 10 seconds. Turn blender off for 5 seconds. Blend almonds and water on high speed for 60 seconds.
4. Using a fine-mesh sieve, strain the milk to remove the solid particles (almond meal). Alternatively, you can use a cheesecloth or nut bag to strain the meal. If using the cloth method, make sure you squeeze the cloth with your hands to get the last bit of liquid out. (Keep that leftover almond meal, though. You can use it as a flour substitute in your baked goods, or even as a thickening agent in soups. You can also make a quick, easy body scrub with it.)
5. Store your fresh almond milk in the fridge for up to three days. You can also freeze it.
For a second batch: After draining your almond milk from the almond solids simply add another 2 cups of water and blend again. The milk will be more watery this time, but will contain the same nutritional benefits.
For sweetened almond milk: Add a teaspoon of natural vanilla extract or a few drops of natural almond extract. You could also add 3 to 6 pitted dates, 2 or 3 tablespoons of pure maple syrup, or a sweetener of your choice.
You can drink almond milk straight, or else add to hot beverages like coffee, tea or hot chocolate. You can also add it to smoothies; make non-dairy ice-cream or savoury dishes.