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Eat Well Nov. 5. 2013
Beverages

Make Your Own Plant Milk

Nov. 5. 2013
Beverages
McKel Hill, MS, RDN, LDN

McKel Hill, MS, RDN, LDN

Dietitian, Founder

Looking for a delicious alternative to cow’s milk? Try the world of plant-milk made from nuts and seeds.

Learn how to make plant milk including homemade almond milk, hemp seed milk, and other nut milk — also learn the health benefits of making your own nut milk, and a couple of recipes to make with nut milk! Bookmark this Guide to Nut Milks for future use and feel free to share with friends and family who may be interested in going dairy free or who have a known dairy intolerance This Guide to Nut Milks (or should I say NOT-milk) is also perfect for those of you who may suspect your body isn’t tolerating dairy well or simply looking for a delicious alternative to cow’s milk.

What is Plant Milk?

Plant Milk or nut and seed milk are simply non-dairy milk made out of 1) filtered water, 2) nuts or seeds of your choice, and 3) possible flavor additions. Nut milk is a perfect way to still enjoy the versatility of cow’s milk without the dairy proteins involved (which are typically the cause of inflammation/allergic reactions). Nut milk is generally easier on digestion, taste great, are humane and environmentally sustainable, easy to make, affordable, and did I mention taste great? Yes, well they’re delicious!

Why would you choose non-dairy milk? Well, dairy and I don’t get along. My body doesn’t like dairy and it doesn’t like me, we’ve established that now after several years of unpleasant signs and symptoms that my body wasn’t tolerating dairy. I made my personal nutrition and lifestyle history a case study while I was in school and figured out dairy was one of the culprits keeping me from reaching optimal health (in hindsight, I, later on, I also figured gluten and I wasn’t friends either). I’ve been happily dairy free for about 7 years now and have never turned back because of the positive health benefits and complete absence of my symptoms I used to experience pre-dairy free. Another reason why I’m not a fan of dairy is the production and mass factory farming of dairy cows and the way they’re treated/what they’re treated with. Remember you are what you eat, including what you eat, has eaten. Unfortunately, the more common nature of the production of milk cows is that cows are often given loads of antibiotics to ward off diseases because of their unkempt living environments.

Is Dairy Doing Your Body Good?

Not everyone needs to stay away from dairy — some digest it just fine and their body feels good with it in their diet. Others may have a sensitivity to dairy, which is common and growing. Possible symptoms or signs that you may have a dairy intolerance, sensitivity, or allergy: constipation, gas, bloating, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, headaches or migraines, acne on the face/back/chest, sinus infections, severe allergies or nasal congestion, earaches (especially in small children), colic (in babies), runny nose, itchy eyes, hives, may worsen symptoms of IBS or celiac disease, heartburn, and arthritis/joint inflammation. These symptoms don’t necessarily arise immediately upon consuming dairy, but rather are symptoms of general consumption of dairy.

I urge that if you have any or most of these signs and symptoms to make a consultation with your trusted physician or with myself. Note, many physicians lack nutrition expertise, especially in the field of food allergies, as this isn’t a required fieldwork in their academic career. From personal experience and coaching my clients, you can not only thrive on a dairy-free diet but also enjoy it! Disclaimer: just because I’m listing signs and symptoms of a dairy intolerance doesn’t mean that if you experience one or all of these symptoms you have a dairy allergy. It can be caused by many other possible reasons, which is why I suggest getting an in-depth consultation with me or with your physician to rule out any other suspected allergies or inflammation related issues (end disclaimer).

Buh-bye Bloat

I often hear magazines giving their readers lists of foods for flat abs and stomachs; however, they fail to mention limiting or avoiding dairy. Some of these lists actually recommend dairy to decrease bloating, but this is simply not effective for those who have intolerances, allergies, or even small sensitivities. In the end, it’s inflammatory to most. What can help you better “beat the bloat” are Nut Milk like almond milk, cashew milk, etc. They’re digestive-friendly, meaning incredibly simple to digest, and most contain omega-3 fatty acids naturally found in the nuts and seeds which also help fight inflammation.

As I mentioned, making your own Nut Milk is so simple and affordable that you won’t need to buy it in the grocery store any longer. The price of non-dairy milk is actually one of the most common challenges I hear from my clients, “almond milk is expensive, I can’t buy that…”, etc., well now you have no more excuses not to incorporate this lovely and nourishing beverage into your diet! Not to mention, some of the ingredients used in very mainstream popular almond milk brands contain questionable ingredients, mainly carrageenan. Carrageenan is a very common food additive made from red seaweed, it’s often used in organic/natural food brands since this is a “natural” food additive used to emulsify or thicken. Joanne Tobacman, MD has been a predominant physician-scientist in addressing how carrageenan should be taken out of our food systems due to the studies showing carrageenan may increase the risk of stomach ulcerations, glucose intolerance, and is cancer promotion. Check out this great resource of how to avoid carrageenan in your foods.

Calcium + Milk Myth

“Where will I get my calcium and vitamin D if I don’t drink my milk?” This is a routine question I get from so many clients that make me want to stomp in frustration. It’s not your fault at all – it’s the working of good marketing from the Dairy Council and traditions of drilling into our heads that milk = the only source of calcium and vitamin D in our diets. Well, friends, this is wrong. Calcium is widely presented in many plant-based foods, for example, did you know 100g of broccoli raab contains about 100mg of calcium? Even higher in calcium is the little ole’ sesame seed, 1 cup of sesame seeds is equal to about 1400mg of calcium and 100g almonds have about 380mg of calcium. As far as vitamin D goes, going outside daily for about 20-30 minutes (depending on your skin tone) during the day of highest sun and you’ll get adequate amounts, or of course supplementation for those needing more.

Different Types of Nut Milks to Try

  • Almond milk
  • Cashew milk
  • Pumpkin seed milk
  • Flax milk
  • Hazelnut milk
  • Hemp milk
  • Any other nut/seed you’d like to try!

Now that you’ve made your own nut milk (congratulations!), now you can save and reuse that beautiful fiber and protein-rich nut/seed pulp and make your very own nut flour for all of your gluten-free baking needs!

Make Your Own Nut Flours

After you’ve squeezed the pulp to make sure no more liquid is in the pulp (c’mon, we want to make sure we have every last drop!), you can dehydrate the nut/seed pulp and make your own flour! Here’s how:

  1. On a dehydrator sheet (if you’re using a dehydrator) or cookie sheet (if you’re using an oven), spread the nut/seed pulp flat and even to cover.
  2. Dry: Dehydrator at 115 degrees F for 4 hours, conventional oven at 200 degrees F for 2 hours or until the mixture has become completely dry.
  3. Test if there is any moisture by pinching the flour, if the flour leaves moisture on your fingertips or creates a ball from pinching, it still needs to dehydrate more.
  4. Store in a glass jar, BPA free container, or another airtight container in the refrigerator for optimal freshness.
  5. Use in gluten-free baking and any recipes here on Nutrition Stripped that use almond flour, etc.

Do you have a story you’d like to share about dairy and your lifestyle? Try this recipe and give it a go — share it on Instagram or submit your photo below to share how you make plant milk work in your lifestyle.

The Recipe

Serves 4

Print

Ingredients:

1 cup raw almonds (or a nut or seed of your choice listed in post)

4 cups of filtered water

pinch of sea salt (optional)

stevia to sweeten (optional)

Directions:

Step 1

Soak the nut for at least 4 hours in water, rinse.

Step 2

Simply blend all the ingredients in a Vitamix/ or another high-speed blender until all of the nuts/seeds have been broken down. The color of this mixture should be a variation of white (depending on the nut/seed used).

Step 3

Using your nut milk bag/cheesecloth, line a large mixing bowl until the entire bowl has been lined. Pour your nut milk mixture into the nut milk bag/cheesecloth. The pulp or solids of the nuts/seeds will be caught in the cloth, creating a natural filter.

Step 4

Wait until all the liquid has settled into the large mixing bowl and then take each side of the cloth and bring it up to form an enclosed cloth “ball” around the nut/seed pulp within.

Step 5

Squeeze the pulp in the cloth until no more liquid pouring into the large mixing bowl. The liquid that remains in the large mixing bowl after squeezing the pulp, will be the nut milk.

Step 6

Store in an airtight glass jar, mason jar, pitcher, etc., for up to 4 days. Serve chilled.  Use in place of dairy milks or wherever you’d use dairy milk.

Enjoy!

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