Just because you give up dairy doesnt mean you have to give up your favorite foods. A quick trip to the grocery store will reveal a variety of dairy-free options including nut milks like almond milk!
When I chose to remove dairy from my diet, I was concerned that I would have to give up some of my favorite meals. There is nothing like a hearty bowl of cereal for breakfast and that cereal just isnt the same without milk. I soon learned, however, that not all milk is dairy! Upon visiting my local health food store I discovered a variety of nut milks and other dairy-free milk alternatives.
Types of Nut Milk
Milk can be made from almost any kind of nuts almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, walnuts, etc. One of the most popular types of nut milk, however, is almond milk. The key to good nut milk especially if you plan to make it yourself is to start with raw nuts. If the nuts have been toasted or cooked, some of their natural moisture content will be lost and the resulting milk will not be right. Most regular grocery stores have begun to carry almond milk, but you should be able to find a wider variety of options at your local health food store.
Benefits of Nut Milk
One of the main benefits of nut milk versus dairy milk is the lower calorie count. Even in comparison to skim milk (about 90 calories per cup), nut milks are much lower in calories (about 30 per cup). Nut milks are also a good source of antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids which help to protect your heart. Nut milks like almond milk are also rich in vitamins and minerals such as copper, zinc, iron, magnesium, potassium and even calcium. What many people love about nut milk, however, is that it is completely free from animal by-products and the hormones found in dairy milk.
Making Your Own
If you are concerned about the price of nut milks compared to those of traditional dairy products, you may want to consider making your own at home. Dont worry you do not need any fancy machinery and the process itself is uncomplicated. All you need are raw nuts and water! Some of the best nuts to use include almonds, cashews, hazelnuts and pistachios. Really, though, you can try it with any kind of nut you like!
To create your own nut milk, start with a ratio of 1 cup raw nuts to 2 cups water. This ratio will yield a beverage of similar consistency to 2% milk if you want it thinner, use more water. For the best results, soak the nuts in water overnight and drain them before using them. Next, blend the nuts and water in a blender for about 2 minutes. Once the water turns white and opaque, strain the mixture and re-blend the pulp with extra water. You can repeat this process as many times as you like but after two or three times, most of the moisture from the pulp will be lost.
Once youve finished your nut milk, feel free to flavor it with a hint of cocoa or sweeten it with a little honey. I personally enjoy the natural flavor of raw almond milk but am not opposed to sprinkling it with a dash of cinnamon.