More and more people are moving away from dairy and looking for alternative milks to have in their teas or over their breakfast cereals in the morning.
I remember (with a shudder) the small bottles of lukewarm free milk we were given at junior school. Slogans such as “full of natural goodness” and “milk’s gotta lotta bottle” brainwashed us into thinking we were doing our health a favour by drinking it.
Mother Nature designed milk as a nurturing, easy-to-digest, “all-in-one” liquid meal for an infant of the same species, and humans are the only species that choose to drink milk from another animal and do so well past infancy!! One of the problems is that lactase, our digestive enzyme which helps us digest the milk sugar lactose, starts to decline after age two. Hence, why a lot of people struggle with dairy after this age. Problems with digestion (such as bloating or diarrhoea) and skin (eczema), amongst others, often point to dairy as the culprit.
Most milk nowadays is pasteurised, and therein lies a lot of the problems with milk. The very high temperatures used in this process destroy nutrient content and render it less digestible. Interestingly, studies show that increased intake of dairy products, marketed as good for our bones, is in fact associated with higher risk of fracture .
There is a growing interest in raw milk and raw-milk lovers would argue the virtues of raw until the cows come home (literally) but for me vegan options are the way to go every time.
For most people, one of the concerns about cutting out dairy from their diet is where they will get their calcium from. Cows don’t produce calcium; they are simply storage areas for the calcium that they themselves get from eating green grass. If we think about wild animals, elephants grow strong from eating vegetation, and there’s not a milkshake in sight! There are plenty of good calcium sources from the plant kingdom. These include lots of dark greens (parsley, watercress, broccoli, kale etc), nuts and seeds (in particular almonds, chia and sesame seeds), quinoa and figs.
Almond milk is one of my favourite drinks. It’s really easy to make and delicious too, not to mention, rich in calcium!
Equipment needed: a blender and a nut milk bag (or a piece of material such as muslin which can be used for straining). A wide mouth jug is also handy (otherwise the milk can go all over the place!)
- Soak 1 cup of almonds for about 6 hours.
- Discard the soak water, and rinse, then skin.
- Blend: Add the almonds plus 1 pint of fresh water to the blender and whiz until broken down.
- You can make the milks creamier / thinner by using less / more water.
- Strain: Drape the milk bag over a wide mouth jug & pour the blended contents into the bag.
- Squeeze out the milk.
- Store: Can be stored up to 2 days in the fridge, but it’s best when freshly prepared.
For a nice variation, add about 1 teaspoon raw cacao powder, 1 banana and a couple of dates (pre-soaked for a couple of hours to soften) to about a quarter of a pint of your almond milk. Blend, pour out and enjoy!! Feskanich D, Willett WC, Colditz GA. Calcium, vitamin D, milk consumption, and hip fractures: a prospective study among postmenopausal women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003;77:504–511.
Judith is a naturopathic nutritionist. If you’re interested in her services, please get in touch with her via www.judithreidnaturalhealth.co.uk.
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