I have started to experiment with nut milks in order to cut my dairy intake without missing out on the texture and flavour of cow’s milk. I will still have full cream milk in my coffee [I do love my caffeine], and eat butter [my disdain for margarine deserves a post all of its own] and some cheese, but I figure this small action will still do my body good.
Of course, nut milk is only one option. There is soy milk, but recent reading tells me that may not be the best alternative, due to the presence of anti-nutrients and toxins in non-fermented soy products. I find rice milk to be too watery and bland; I may as well drink water instead. And have you ever tried orange juice on muesli? I have; it’s not delicious.
So why am I avoiding cow’s milk? It makes me feel gluggy. Simple as that.
Humans are the only living creature to drink the milk of another animal, or to drink animal-derived milk post infancy. I never really understood this – except for reasons relating to taste. I stopped being vegan over 10 years ago because of cheese.
Aside from the facts that pasteurised milk is a heavily processed product that is difficult for humans to digest and all of the nutrients within milk are readily available elsewhere, my reading (eg. via FormerFatGuy.com and The Guardian) also suggests that drinking milk can facilitate iron loss and some of the nutrients within milk (like phosphorus) actually combat the absorption of calcium, the main nutritional ‘benefit’ for which milk is so highly prized. Cow’s milk is expensive to produce, environmentally speaking, but I have not yet compared its cost/sustainability to production of the crops used as the basis for nut, legume and seed milks.
Books such as Don’t Drink Your Milk! and The Devil in the Milk give many more points to ponder. There is far more information on the international network as to why you should avoid milk, particularly if it has been pasteurised, and you will also find many counterarguments in cyberspace. To milk or not to milk is a very personal and emotional question indeed.
What is nut milk exactly? As wiseGEEK states, nut milk is basically ground nuts combined with water, and potentially other flavourings. Nut milk has been around since at least the 14th century, as this recipe attests.
Here are a couple more recipes – cut-and-pasted from my Google search, which revealed 854,000 related entries!
- wikiHow makes creating nut milk look so easy – which it absolutely is.
- This eHow page is a great resource on how to make any raw nut milk from scratch.
The recipe to follow is my own invention, based on the reading I could find online, and I am very happy with my finished product.
Recipe #81: Almond & macadamia milk. Makes approx. 1.3 litres. Keeps for up to 3 days. You will need to have either a nutbag (a cloth bag used for straining) or a fine chinois on hand as a normal strainer just won’t cut the mustard.
This is what I used:
► 2½ cups nuts [I used 1½ cups of blanched almonds and 1 cup of macadamias. You can use nuts with their skins – the choice is yours]
► 5 cups cold water, plus extra for soaking
► ½ tsp vanilla bean paste [or scrape the seeds out of one vanilla pod. Don’t substitute with vanilla essence]
Cover the nuts in cold water and soak overnight.
- Soaking is optional; I did this for two reasons: (1) to make the blending process easier & more efficient; and (2) I didn’t know how the macadamias or almonds had been treated – I figured that, by soaking the nuts then discarding the soaking water, I would get rid of many invisible nasties.
- Some recipes call for soaking in boiling hot water. I used cold water to keep the nuts as raw as possible, in keeping with my new foodly philosophy.
To make the milk, discard the soaking water and add the 5 cups of fresh, cold water to the nuts in a blender/Thermomix. Blend on high speed until very finely pureed (around 30 seconds in the Thermomix), then add the vanilla and blend on high for 10 more seconds.
Strain your milk into a jug or bowl using a nut bag or fine chinois.
Store in a bottle or jug – you may need to shake or stir the milk prior to each use – and use as you would cow’s or soy milk.
The end result looks very creamy and similar to cow’s milk, but it doesn’t taste the same. My little one loves the milk on his cereal yet won’t drink it by itself.
You will have a fair quantity of nut pulp leftover from this recipe. Restrain the pulp to extract as much milk as possible, then save it for use in cookies, cakes and green smoothies. Nothing goes to waste in this recipe.
Please let me know if you try this – I would love to hear what you think of it.