Non-dairy milks are wonderfully versatile. They are delicious in smoothies, juices, baked goods, or over your morning granola. Not all store-bought alternatives are completely safe, however, and some contain ingredients that are worth mentioning.
When you read a non-dairy milk label, most of the foreign ingredients you see are added vitamins and minerals for extra nutrition. However there is one common ingredient that should raise considerable alarm.
Carrageenan, a seaweed derivative, is commonly used as a thickening agent, stabilizer, or emulsifier in many non-dairy products. It may sound harmless, but recent research from the Cornucopia Institute has linked carrageenan to a number of digestive issues, including colon inflammation and cancer in animals.
Since it can be difficult and time-consuming to find products without carrageenan, the Cornucopia Institute has created a helpful shopping guide.
If you want the freshest, most natural and nutritional non-dairy milk possible, a great option is to make it yourself. It is surprisingly simple to make your own non-dairy drinks, using nuts, seeds, or grains.
How to Make Your Own Nut Milk
This is a simple recipe for homemade almond milk, using only almonds, water, and a blender (and a few other optional items). You can get creative and try this with any nut or seed, even a combination!
- Soak one cup of almonds in water for at least 8 hours, or overnight.
- You can substitute hazelnuts, cashews, walnuts, or even coconuts in place of almonds. Experiment to find your favorite, or even your favorite blend.
- Drain the almonds completely. Combine with 2-3 cups of water in a blender or food processor, and mix until a familiar creamy color is achieved. If you prefer some extra flavor or sweetness, you can try adding a bit of sugar, dates, vanilla, and/or cinnamon before you blend.
- If you don’t mind a grainy milk, seal it as is and refrigerate. However, if you want to strain it, you can use cheesecloth, a fine mesh strainer, or a convenient nut milk bag.
A nut milk bag.
- A nut milk bag is a fine mesh bag that you pour your milk through and squeeze to drain. This is the easiest way to separate your milk from the pulp, which you can then save for other recipes. It helps if you have a large funnel as well, which allows you to squeeze your milk directly into the container you will store it in.
- Bottle your milk and refrigerate. Be sure to shake well before using, and use within 7-10 days.
It’s that simple. You’ll have complete control over what you are drinking, and you can make just the amount you need. It’s a dairy-free nutrition miracle.