Almond milk: A healthy alternative to dairy milk

Making your own almond milk is quick and easy. You just have to grind almonds in a blender filled with water. You then filter the mixture through a nut bag or cheesecloth. That’s it.

** See note below if you live in Geneva and can’t find nut bags or cheesecloths.

From time to time, I make my own almond milk. It’s fresher and purer than most commercial types and I know exactly what I’m drinking. I can also add my favourite sweetener – either maple syrup or one or two fresh dates. I use almond milk whenever I make stovetop porridge. I also enjoy it in cereal and frothed in my morning coffee.

Whether you choose homemade or store-bought, almond milk is a great alternative if you don’t drink cow’s milk. It’s a suitable alternative for people with health conditions such as diabetes, lactose intolerance, dairy allergies or kidney disease.

Be aware, however, that many commercial brands have added sugars. If you need to reduce calories or restrict your sugar intake, unsweetened almond milk is the better choice. On the container, it should say “unsweetened”. Also, check the ingredients on the food label and avoid anything that says “sugar cane”, “high fructose corn syrup” or other sugars that end with “ose”.

Is almond milk good for you? The fat content in almond milk is unsaturated and cholesterol free, so it’s considered a heart-healthy beverage. And because it’s made with almonds, I would say yes, the milk is good for you. Almonds have excellent health properties and you can read about that here. But I wouldn’t rely on it as a health drink on a daily basis. Since the almonds in the milk are filtered and diluted in water, there isn’t a whole lot of fiber left in the drink. In fact, the overall nutritional value in almond milk is weaker than the nutritional value you get from consuming raw almonds or almond cream.

One good thing about buying commercially prepared almond milk is that many varieties are now fortified with calcium, Vitamin D and Vitamin E. If you’re making almond milk at home, keep in mind that you may need other sources of calcium, Vitamin D and essential nutrients, whether through foods, supplements or both. Also remember that a reasonable exposure to the sun is your best source of Vitamin D.

Further, even though almonds are a good source of protein, almond milk is not. It is low in digestible protein compared to dairy milk and is not a suitable replacement for infants or young children with milk allergies. There are other specialized formulas for infants and children with digestive issues.

Fine mesh laundry bags – My go to nut bags!

One final point: The amount of almond pulp that goes to waste when almond milk is commercially produced is shocking. If you make it at home, you will notice that there is a large amount of almond residue that is leftover. I always freeze it and bake with it.

** When I started making almond milk, I couldn’t find cheesecloths or nut bags in Geneva. I probably had to shop around in specialty food stores to find some and pay the high price for such ordinary items. Instead, I opted for a fine mesh polyester laundry bag for washing delicates. This may sound strange, but an ordinary laundry bag works perfectly well for straining nut milk and I still use mine today. It’s durable and washes out easily. I bought mine at the Manor department store for a relatively cheap price. You can find similar ones at the Migros. Also, the Coop grocery stores sell fruit and vegetable bags to replace plastic and these can also do the trick. 

Almond milk

Makes over 2 cups of almond milk (double the recipe for more)

Ingredients

  • ½ cup raw almonds with skin
  • 2½ cups water
  • Sweetener of choice (option): 1 TBSP maple syrup -or- one fresh medjool date, pitted and softened in hot water (discard water after)
  • A dash of pure vanilla (option)

Procedure

First thing to do is to soften the almonds. Here are three ways you can do this:

1. In a bowl, cover the almonds with water and soak them for 8 hours or overnight or,

2. Soak in boiled water for 2 hours or,

3. In a small microwaveable bowl, cover almonds with water. Put a lid on and microwave on high for 3 minutes.

In a sieve, drain the water from the softened almonds. Rinse and cool them under cold running tap water.

If you’re using one or two dates, remove the pits and soak dates in hot water for a few minutes to soften them. Discard water.

Add the almonds, water, maple syrup or date(s) and vanilla in your high-speed blender bowl.

Blend increasing to high speed for a good 3-4 minutes.

On top of a bowl, use a nut bag to filter the almond pulp and squeeze out the milk with clean hands.

Transfer the milk to a glass bottle with a lid. Can be stored in the fridge for 4-5 days.

Freeze leftover almond pulp in a covered container and use it for making breads, cakes, cookies or muffins.

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Julie Zimmer

Julie has extensive experience in nursing practice and education in a wide range of fields from intensive/coronary care, to medical-surgical to community and public health. Julie has Bachelor Degrees in Psychology and Nursing, and a Master’s Degree in Community Health Nursing Education. She has taught in faculties of nursing and in various communities in Toronto, Canada and in Geneva, Switzerland, and is a consultant to the International Council of Nurses (ICN). Julie also has years of experience teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) in addition to coordinating an English department in a Swiss private school.

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