Almond milk is a common alternative for cow's milk used by vegetarians, vegans and those with lactose intolerance. It is typically espoused to be healthier than other substitutes (for example, soy or rice milk) because it is very nutrient laden with many essential vitamins and minerals and high in mono-saturated fats. However, almonds are expensive and as a result most commercially distributed almond milks have a very low percentage of actual almonds in them, and they are supplemented with synthetic vitamins.
Vitamins and Minerals
Almond milk contains 25% of your daily value of vitamin D, which helps your body absorb higher levels of calcium. The high levels of vitamin D work in sync with the calcium found in almond milk. One cup contains 30% of your daily value.
Other minerals found in almond milk include copper, magnesium, riboflavin, iron, phosphorus, zinc and manganese. Minerals like copper and iron help to improve oxygen flow in your blood, while riboflavin, an essential nutrient that must be obtained through diet, helps metabolize foods and protect against harmful free radicals.
They are also very high in vitamin E, selenium and calcium, which are anti-oxidants and may reduce the risk of various types of cancer. Almond milk made straight from ground almonds and water is very high in all of these vitamins.
The magnesium obtained from almond helps break down the food consumed into energy. It also assists the functioning of the parathyroid glands, which are responsible for production of hormones known for good bone health. The potassium present helps maintain normal blood pressure. Almond milk is also a good source of flavonoids. This is because; almond milk is prepared by crushing the almonds with the skin. The skin is rich in flavonoids, which is good for cardiovascular health, thereby providing protection against various heart diseases.
Almonds have thermogenic, sedative, anti-spasmodic, astringent, laxative, diuretic, demulcent and aphrodisiac properties. They are loaded with phytochemicals and antioxidants.
These nuts reduce LDL cholesterol, regulate high blood pressure. They help control type 2 Diabetes and are good for your heart when taken in a balanced and nutritious diet.
Thus, the health benefits of almonds derived from mono-unsaturated fatty acids help prevent heart disease. The nut also lowers the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Moreover, almonds are useful in curing obesity by promoting weight loss. Basically, being rich in proteins, fiber and monosaturated fats they help control food cravings. Consuming them in excess, however, may lead to weight gain.
The flavonoids present in this nut inhibit the growth of tumor cells, thereby suppressing conditions like prostrate tumor and breast cancer.
In addition, almonds contain chemicals like phenylalanine, nutrientriboflavin and L-carnitine that support healthy neurological function and improve memory.
The protein found in almond is easy to digest (especially when the nut is soaked in water for about 12 hours to remove the brown skin) and even makes a good supplement for milk because it includes amandin.
Besides, almond oil can be consumed or used in aromatherapy and massage. It has a soothing smell and is rich in vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B6 and vitamin E.
The oil works as a natural moisturizes and nourishes dry and irritated skin. Plus, it adds glow to the skin and stimulates hair growth.
It is considered as light carrier oil that easily gets absorbed in the skin. When ingesting the oil, though, make sure it is sweet almond oil not bitter. It can be used in culinary preparations as well.
In terms of nutrition, almonds are enriched with riboflavin, niacin, manganese, magnesium, copper, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, etc. Plus, the nut includes omega-6 fatty acids, omega-9 fatty acids and dietary fiber.
It is low in sodium and does not contain cholesterol. As almonds are rich in folic acid, they are considered good for pregnant women to avoid serious birth defects.
Almond Milk Nutrition Facts
A 1-cup serving of pure almond milk contains only 60 calories, 25 of which come from fat. This type of milk has no saturated fats. The beverage is also low in sodium and sugars. Almond milk contains 8 grams of carbs per serving, one of which comes from fiber.
Almond milk also contains no cholesterol or trans fats. When compared to other milk varieties, this choice provides one of the most abundant sources of natural health benefits.
A word of caution. Almond milk cannot be substituted for breast milk.
Although the health benefits of almonds are many, it does not have the necessary adequate nourishment required for infant growth. For lactose intolerant babies, it's best to consult a doctor on what would be best for the child. Nuts like almonds also include goitrogens; this substance is known to suppress thyroid gland functioning by interfering with iodine uptake. The use of bitter almonds has also been cautioned against, as bitter almonds, when blended with water, release cyanide; a poisonous chemical.
Almond milk is sold commercially, but it cannot compare in taste or freshness to homemade and because only a few nuts are needed to make a small recipe of almond milk, making your own almond milk will represent a financial savings for most families. Best of all, you will have the satisfaction of knowing you’ve achieved something really vital – the skills you need to do for yourself and your loved ones. That’s an accomplishment that no one can put a price tag on.
In making almond milk, please do use only organic almonds.
In your quest for satisfying recipes that give you a chance to improve your self-sufficiency, you don’t want the deadly pesticides in your glass that are sprayed on conventional almond orchards. Nothing appetizing about that! By choosing to make organic almond milk, you will know that you are serving up health, and not sickness, to your loved ones.
Blanching The Almonds
You can make almond milk without this step if you’re really in a rush, but the skins of the nuts will give a slightly bitter, strong taste to the finished almond milk that isn’t totally pleasing. Blanching only takes a couple of minutes, and the end result will be a very white milk with a pure, sweet taste.
Once the almonds have cooled a bit, simply rub off their papery skins and discard the skins. That’s all there is to blanching and the end result is the lovely, creamy nut meats, ready to be turned into almond milk.
Making Almond Milk
Put the blanched nuts and 2 cups of fresh water into your electric blender. Make sure you put the lid on. Blend them until you’ve crushed as many of the nuts as you can and the milk is creamy white and thick. You may have to stop and start the blender, picking it up off the base and shaking it from time to time, as the nuts can get stuck under the blades.
I want to note here that if you use more water/less water or more nuts/less nuts, you can control the exact creaminess of the milk. A higher proportion of water produces a thinner milk, and a higher proportion of nuts produces a thicker one. My proportions in this almond milk recipe results in a milk that I feel is just about right, but you can experiment. The truth is, I no longer measure the nuts and water when I make almond milk. I just make as much as I need at the moment
Straining The Almond Milk
Holding your metal mesh strainer over a receptacle – a jar, a bowl or wide-mouthed container of some kind, simply pour the milk through the strainer. Set the pulverized nuts aside. You can strain the milk twice if you want to be sure you’ve gotten out all of the little particles of nuts, but I only strain once. There are fancy bags and other devices for straining nut milks, but we don’t have these around our house and any fine-gauge mesh strainer seems to do the job just fine.
And that’s it. You now have homemade almond milk! It could hardly be easier to make.
1. Soak the raw almonds covered in water for at least 6 hours, and then drain them.
2. Pour the almonds into a blender and add the cold filtered water.
3. Blend well. When you see a froth on the top, stop blending.
4. Add the vanilla and honey.
5. Blend again for another 20-30 seconds.
6. Take the cheesecloth, and fold to ensure it is at least 4 layers thick.
7. Put the cheesecloth on the top of the pitcher and secure it with a big elastic band. Use your fist to push some of the cheesecloth down into the pitcher so that it is not tight on top.
8. Pour the almond mix through the cheesecloth into the pitcher.
9. Use a big spoon to help push the milk through the mass of almond and into the pitcher.
And voila, you have Almond Milk!
Once you cinch the basic recipe, you’ll be eager to try the many possible variations:
For a chocolate fix, add 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder.
For sweeter milk, throw in a 1/2 cup of dates.
For cinnamon milk, add 1 teaspoon cinnamon and a dash of nutmeg.
For maple flavour, add 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup.
For a sugar-free option, eliminate the honey and add Stevia to taste.
What can be done with those wet, pulverized nuts? In order to answer that question, I’d like to share with you another simple recipe that is so exquisitely good. I hope you’ll give this a try the next time you’re making almond milk and your family would like something sweet after supper.
Blackberry Almond Cobbler with Ginger Lime Almond Milk Ice Cream
Just follow the instructions and it’s bound to turn out right. And it uses up both the milk and the nuts in the almond milk recipe, so this a no-waste dessert you can feel very good about. The following recipe is not only vegan, but it is also gluten-free. This serves 2. Increase the recipe for a larger family.
A batch of the almond milk recipe above.
1 C. Organic Rice Flour
2 C. Blackberries (or blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, whatever you have)
1/3 C. Maple Syrup for the berry mixture
1/4 C. Maple Syrup for the ice cream
Juice of 1 organic lime
1/2 T. dried ginger powder
1 T. Organic Sunflower Oil
Shake of salt
Step 1 – Making the Almond Milk Ice Cream
Take your finished almond milk and put it in the blender with the 1/4 Maple Syrup, the lime juice, ginger, a tiny sprinkle of salt and the organic sunflower oil. Add 4-5 ice cubes. Blend until the ice is crushed. Taste. If it’s not quite citrus-y enough you can add a little lemon juice for an even more refreshing taste. I like to do this, but it isn’t essential if you don’t have a lemon. If it’s not sweet enough, blend in a little more syrup. You don’t want it too sweet. It’s supposed to be light and snappy to contrast with the syrupy fruit.
Pour the blended mixture into a wide-mouthed, shallow container. I like to use a glass pie dish but you could use a wide shallow bowl or a rimmed platter. *Do not use a metal receptacle or it may react badly with the citrus juice. Glass or ceramic is best. Set it in the freezer.
While you are doing the other steps in this recipe, return to the freezer every 15 minutes or so to see if the ice cream has formed crystals. When it has, use a spoon and stir the mixture in a circular motion so that you keep it granular and so that it doesn’t simply harden into one big flat lump. The stirring also keeps the juice from separating from the milk. If you’ve ever eaten a granita, snow cone or shaved ice, you will know what the granular texture is that you’re looking for here. It’s not smooth like traditional ice cream. It’s much icier than that, and it is so good! Keep stirring the mixture from time to time while you make the rest of the dessert.
Step 2 – Baking the Cobbler Biscuits
Mix the wet, pulverized almonds (left over from making almond milk) with the cup of rice flour. Add a sprinkle of salt and gently stir the mixture together. Plop out onto a baking sheet in rough circles about 3 inches in diameter. Bake in the oven at 375 degrees until the bottoms are turning golden brown. The tops will still be pale. Remove from the oven and set aside.
Step 3 – Making the Berry Filling
While your cobbler biscuits are baking, wash your berries and put them in a pot with a couple of drops of water and the 1/3 C. maple syrup. If you are using strawberries, do slice them. But, any other berry can be cooked whole. Bring almost to a boil and then turn down to simmer. Stir frequently until the berries have disintegrated in the syrup and the mixture has thickened slightly. What you are doing is cooking off the excess water in the berries. This tends to take no more than about 10-15 minutes over low heat. Don’t forget to stir!
Assembling Your Dessert
Spoon the berry mixture equally into the bowls. Lay the biscuits on top of this. Is the ice cream all icy and ready? Put a big scoop on top of each dessert. For real gourmet flair, add a sprig of fresh spearmint to the top of each. Beautiful! Serve.
You will love the nutty pastry that is made with the leftover almonds from the milk, and the bright taste of the granita-like ice cream. This dessert provides a wonderful contrast to a meal that is heavy or starchy. It’s so light and fruity and fresh tasting. And, it’s truly a fine way to use up the almonds. This dessert contains no gluten, no animal products and no unhealthy fats. It’s simply natural goodness and one of the loveliest ways I know of to celebrate summer berries.
One of the many benefits of almonds that may interest some sweet buds is that, it has a special blessing to tame and be able to treat the most rapidly growing disease in the world, that is diabetes. Diabetes stands as a disease that defines high sugar levels due to very little or absent insulin secretion in the body. Insulin is vital for processing glucose as fuel in the body and also balances the level of glucose. For those affected with diabetes, following a diet and maintaining the sugar level becomes very important in order to keep the disease in control.
Almonds have been most successful in taming sugar levels. There is a hand of research and surveys that have been conducted to study and prove the role of this nutritional snack in controlling diabetes. More on almonds and diabetes has been compiled below.