As early morning rays of sunshine peak through the rain clouds, bringing glimmering light and a new day, I have found a few moments of rest and inspiration despite the business of this month. Each morning, I look forward to my hot cup of coffee, usually served with a generous scoop of coconut milk and a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg. I normally am set in my ways, and like my coffee a certain way, piping hot with a splash of cream, but decided to experiment, so I set out to make almond milk. I have never been a huge fan of almond milk, because the store bought ones usually contain sugar and preservatives, but this homemade version has me craving another batch. It is simply delicious and I have been enjoying it all week with hot coffee or iced chai tea.
I am a huge fan of a cold glass of milk. Milk and cookies—those late night cravings that are instantly satisfied with the beautiful combination of a warm, chocolately cookie with a glass of chilled milk. However, since moving to Hawaii, I have not drank any cow’s milk as regular pasteurized milk gives me the worst stomach aches and raw milk is not legal in this state. (I do enjoy cream, yogurt and cheeses just fine). This creamy, slightly sweet vanilla almond milk is delicious chilled and a great dairy-free alternative—simply made in the comforts of your own kitchen.
Why I avoid pasteurized milk—
Heating or pasteurizing milk, significantly destroys the majority of nutrients, vitamins and minerals found in milk. Many people, myself included, cannot tolerate pasteurized milk but do fine with raw milk. Milk is high in lactose which converts to sugar in your body and the pasteurization process removes many vitamins and minerals necessary to digest and properly absorb milk. Raw milk still contains active enzymes that support immunity and strengthen the digestive system. Historically, many cultures have consumed raw milk and cream for centuries. This healthy source of fat is high in essential fatty acids that support brain development and cellular functioning.
Is raw milk safe? Raw milk comes from cows that graze freely on grasses rather than be confined to dairy feedlots. Cows are ruminants and designed to consume grass. A grass-fed diet is rich in nutrients rather than conventional diets full of grains, corn, antibiotics and pesticides.
For more about raw milk, check out Chris Kresser's article, Raw Milk Reality: Benefits of Raw Milk.
Why I consume grass-fed dairy such as butter, cream, yogurt & cheese—
Raw and grass-fed cheeses, butter, and yogurts are readily available at your local farmer’s market or even Costco and Target. Grass-fed or pastured dairy products are very healthy and full of powerful nutrients, especially CLA (conjugated linoleum acid) which promotes weight loss, regulates blood sugar, reduces inflammation, and can reduce cancer growth. As opposed to pasteurized milk, these dairy options are mostly fat and contain little dairy proteins that negatively affect many people.
Cultured dairy such as yogurt, kefir, sour cream and many cheeses contain little to no lactose or dairy proteins as most are naturally removed during the culturing or fermentation process. Cultured dairy is usually easy to digest and many people can tolerate this delicious and nutritious type of dairy. Cream from grass fed cows is also a great option as it is lower in lactose due to its high fat content. For me, I do great with heavy cream, yogurt and cheeses—however, I encourage you to find out what specifically works for your body and stick with that!
**Please note, the thoughts and opinions expressed are simply my own as a result of findings in my own life. I encourage you to find what works best for your specific body and lifestyle.
If you are looking for a dairy-free milk, this homemade almond milk is delicious! I have been making it weekly for a family that I cook for and help with nutrition and they absolutely love it. It tastes great as a coffee creamer, with iced chai tea, or poured over grain free granola. Check out this video I made on Instagram showing the blending process, or my step-by-step photo collage on Pinterest. Enjoy!
Almond Milk Sweetened with Dates
A dairy-free milk alternative, slightly sweetened with dates and hints of vanilla. A dairy free nut based milk, as the perfect addition to your morning grain free granola (fig or pumpkin spice) or hot coffee.
- 1 1/2 cup raw almonds
- 1/2 cup deglet dates, about 10
- 3 1/2 cups water, for blending
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- pinch of Celtic Sea Salt
- In a glass or stainless steel bowl, soak almonds fully covered in 3 inches of water. Soak overnight or up to 24 hours. During the last hour of soaking, add dates to soften.
- Strain and rinse almonds and dates.
- Add to a blender with 3 1/2 cups warm water, vanilla, cinnamon and salt.
- Blend on high for about 2 minutes, depending on the power of your blender. The mixture will be thick and foamy but should be completely fluid.
- Over a wide mouth container, pitcher or bowl, place cheesecloth, securing with a rubber band to hold the cloth in place.
- Working in small batches, slowly pour some of milk through the cloth to strain out the almond meal. You may need to clean or change cloths several times. (You can also use these nut bags to simplify the process).
- Gather the cloth in your hands to press out any remaining milk. Discard the almond meal.
- Store in glass containers in refrigerator for up to 7 days.
This & That
- Be patient with the straining process as it does take some time. I recommend letting it strain for a while as you do other things around the house or in the kitchen.
- You can use these nut bags to simplify the process instead of cloth.
- I recommend storing the milk in glass containers—I use these mason jars with storage caps. Plastic absorbs flavor and can alter the taste of food or drinks.