Ok everyone, I am going to make a statement that might shock you. Here it is. Milk is not a great source of calcium. There, I've said it. You can be shocked. For years we've been told to drink milk every day because it is "an excellent source of calcium". Yes, milk may be high in calcium but our bodies cannot absorb it properly. During pasteurization, 50% of the calcium in milk is lost. Millions of people are also allergic to milk and even more are lactose intolerant (which means they can't digest lactose, the sugar that is in milk). Many people don't make the enzyme lactase after childhood (which is the enzyme used to break down the milk sugar). Being allergic to milk and being unable to break milk down and digest it means you can't absorb its calcium.
There are many better sources of calcium that are not mucus forming, acid creating and digestion clogging. Think for a second. Do animals in the wild drink the milk of another animal once the said animal is done drinking its mother's milk? I think not. You can be sure that an animal such as an elephant that has a huge bone mass, is going to need a ton of calcium to keep its bones healthy but you don't see it milking a lion now do you? It gets its calcium from other vegetable matter. The same goes with humans. But what are good plant sources of calcium you might be wondering? Let me tell you! Sesame seeds, sea veggies, green veggies, beans, nuts and salmon (with the bones). These are all much easier to assimilate in the body.
So if you are like me, you stray away from dairy. You may avoid it because your body is sensitive to it, or perhaps you are vegan and avoid consuming animal products altogether. I avoid dairy for a number of reasons (see above). If I do eat dairy I will try to choose goat because it is a heck of a lot better for you (less allergenic, more nutritious, more alkaline). Since I don't drink animal milk I choose to use plant milk (almond, sunflower seed, rice, coconut, etc.). And I make my own. What?!!! But how do you do that you might ask? Well today I am going to teach you. And it is soooo easy! It also tastes better than the stuff you can buy from the store and it is a heck of a lot healthier for you. I swear that once you make it once you will never go back.
Making your own plant milk (as compared to buying it from the store) is amazing. First of all, the stuff you buy from the store is more water than nut. Secondly, when you make it at home there is nothing extra added-no fortified this and that and definitely no carrageenan. You may have heard of carageenan and thought, well that sounds healthy, it's made from edible seaweed. Sadly it is not healthy at all. Carrageenan is used in the food industry as a thickener/gelling agent and it is what makes your almond milk thicker and creamier. The problem with carrageenan is that we are not able to digest it. It creates inflammation in the digestive system and it may be linked to gastrointestinal disease and colon cancer. Yikes! It is best to be avoided and may be lurking in other products that you have. I was looking at a "natural" infant toothpaste the other day and carageenan was one of the ingredients. Seriously? Yes, seriously. I almost threw the box back on the shelf in anger and decided to make my own infant toothpaste instead.
One of the questions you may have in regards to making your own plant milk is, won't that be super expensive? Almonds and walnuts and cashews are all ridiculously expensive where I live so I tend to make my milk out of cheaper seeds (like sunflower), or I will mix different nuts and seeds together to make it more cost effective. But you can make your milk out of any nut or seed- you can even make it out of oats! Using nuts and seeds in plant milk are amazing because they are high in vitamins and minerals (calcium!). Another question you may have is what do I do with the leftover pulp? You can make hummus with it, or make crackers. You can put it in the blender again with more water and extract more nutrients out of it for more milk. Or if you don't feel like doing any of that you can simply compost it.
I encourage you to try making plant milk!
Nut or Seed Milk
Makes 4 cups
What you'll need:
-A nut milk bag (can be purchased at the health food store)
-A large bowl
-1 part nut or seeds to 4 parts water
-An acid such as apple cider vinegar
-Jar for storage
1.Measure out your nuts or seeds to make 1 cup total. I like to mix 1/2 cup sunflower seeds, 1/4 cup sesame seeds and 1/4 cup hemp seeds.
2.Cover with fresh filtered water and a teaspoon or two of your acid. Let sit overnight (or at least 8 hours).
3.In the morning, strain your seeds. Rinse with fresh water and strain again.
4.Place seeds in a blender with 4 cups of fresh filtered water.
6.Place nut sac ;) over a large bowl and pour the milk into it. Tighten bag and squeeze out all the liquid.
7.Put pulp aside to use later in hummus or crackers.
8.Pour milk into a sterilized jar and keep in the fridge for up to a week.
There you have it! Easy as pie. There are so many combinations you can do so have some fun! If you like your milk a little bit sweet feel free to add a date or two and maybe some vanilla and a pinch of sea salt to the blender. You can also add cacao powder to make a chocolate version. Have some fun!
Love and light,