Almond milk—the queen of all nut milks.
A few weeks ago, a friend of mine asked for some tips on how to start incorporating almond milk into their diet, and I had to step back and remember that the whole world doesn’t consume or survive off almond milk nearly as much as I do. I’ve been quite privileged most of my adulthood to live in a place that has not just one, but many nut milk variations and flavors. Portland is so dependent on milk alternatives that we now have coffee shops serving entirely plant based coffee only, with lists containing both nut, seed, and bean milks. Crazy, right? Although, I can’t laugh at this too much because I am all for the plant milks!
However, I did want to start this article by making the point that if you aren’t a fan of the plant milks or don’t consume them regularly, this is a NO SHAME environment, and thank you for just taking the time to click on this article.
I’m going to be taking you through a few sections discussing almond milk specifically, because a. I use it the most, b. I like it the most, and c. It is more accessible than other milk alternatives.
Each section will be aimed to target each of these topics:
- Why I use almond milk
- How I use almond milk
- The health benefits seen from almonds
- What the production of of almonds means for our world
- The kind of almond milk I prefer to use
- How you can use almond milk (if you choose and want to!)
1. Why do I use almond milk?
I’ve been sensitive to dairy since I was young and at one point, found I was lactose intolerant. As I got older, I grew out of my intolerance to lactose, but I still would get stomach aches whenever I ate too much dairy. I’ve never been a huge milk lover, but now that I’ve been consistently using almond milk for about 5-6 years, I use “milk” in all kinds of things. Nut milk is a great alternative for those allergic to regular milk, wanting to improve their health, or simply just prefer and enjoy the creamy flavor.
2. How do I use almond milk?
I don’t really drink almond milk by itself and use it most frequently in the morning for breakfast items like:
- Fruit & yogurt bowls
- Cereal with frozen berries
- Scrambled eggs
- Baked goods
- Chia pudding
- Overnight oats
When I first started drinking almond milk, I would buy “vanilla unsweetened” because it has more flavor than some of the original kinds. But now, I enjoy the original and if I do want to switch it up, I tend to just make my own—it’s SO EASY.
Take for instance, the almond milk photographed at the top of this article. Only three simple ingredients (if you don’t count water): Almonds, maca powder, and dates. To find out how you can make this simple recipe too, visit my turmeric honey almond milk recipe and substitute one teaspoon of maca powder and two dates for turmeric and honey.
3. Why Almonds?
Almonds decrease the risk one has in being diagnosed with heart disease, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, diabetes, and cancer. Almonds also have a substantial amount of Vitamin E and protect against inflammation and stress, while also enhancing brain health and mental performance. Depending on the brand you get, almond milk can also help with bone health because of its calcium content. If you buy your nut milk it’s labeled as “fortified” it will contain vitamin D too, which helps with the function of our heart, bones, and immune system. Every nut contains has various benefits similar to the ones listed above, but I personally like almond milk the best because of how versatile and again, accessible it is.
4. Why does the high consumption of almond milk mean for our world?
The droughts in California—the largest almond producer in the world—have been an ongoing problem and many people don’t agree with the amount of water it takes to produce almond milk. Not only do the trees require water, but so does the process of pasteurizing them. Even in the final product, almond milk contains a lot of water and some would argue that it is an unnecessary product only contributing to pre-existing issues. However, one could easily fight back against this argument by looking at how much water is also used during the farming of dairy and other animal products.
5. What kind of almond milk do I use and why?
If I’m not making my own almond milk. I prefer using Califia Farms almond milk because they are carcinogen and GMO free, and work hard to be sustainable in their manufacturing process. A lot of almond milk brands tend to use wonky ingredients and although Califia Farms does use both thickeners and emulsifiers (molecules that help to combine properties of food like water and oil), their “natural flavors” are only real food ingredients like essences and extracts.
On their website, Califia Farms has an entire section of everything they do that points toward sustainability, like using 100% recyclable bottle and less water…which actually adds to creamy flavor many customers, like me, prefer. Instead of roasted almonds like other brands are known for using, Califia Farms uses “raw” California Almonds directly from their farm. The company works hard to achieve excellence through corrugated box reuse, heat recovery systems, reduced lighting, recyclable equipment and packaging, and waste reduction all during the process of production, and they also support Xerces Society, a bee biodiversity organization dedicated to preventing colony collapse disorder. This is important since the industry of California relies heavily on honeybees to pollinate its almond trees.
I took this quote directly from their website, but it explains so well the transparency of their company:
“Our current food system needs help – and it’s time to give nature, and animals, a break. The impact of meat and dairy makes it more important than ever to make plants the stars of our diets. Plant-based foods require less water and land while polluting less than their animal-based counterparts. We truly believe that plants can power tomorrow, and that each plant-based choice can add up to one big change. At Califia, we want to produce better products, but we also want to make them in a better way. That’s why we value working directly with our farmers and are constantly looking for ways to improve the footprint of our own operations.”
6. How can you start implementing almond milk into your lifestyle?
1. Find a nut milk you like or make your own
I would recommend staying away from the sweetened nut milks and trying to find one without sugar, only because most of the time, almond milk gets tossed in with already sweet or flavorful things like fruit or coffee. I like making my own almond milk because you are able to throw so many different yummy things and if you do decide to sweeten it up, plus you are able to tailor the sweetness to your liking. I personally enjoy using dates or vanilla extract instead of sugar. But if you like sweet things, then just disregard everything I just said.
2. If you like yogurt, try making overnight oats, a fruit and yogurt bowl, or something you already make that would allow you to easily swap out regular milk with nut milk.
I don’t recommend drinking milk alternatives by themselves if you are just getting used to them. Especially the plain or unsweetened almond milks because they can be a bit bland or watery if you are used to regular milk. You want to ease your way into the swap. You can even mix regular milk with nut milk. I did this when I first stopped using regular milk and it was a great middle ground option.
3. Trying something out doesn’t mean it’s forever.
Remember when I said this was a no shame environment? Well, I meant it. Here’s the thing: You may try incorporating almond milk into your lifestyle and absolutely hate it. That’s okay and DO NOT BE AFRAID TO ADMIT IT. Just because I, and some other people tend to like it, doesn’t mean you have to! There are plenty other ways to be mindful of your health and protect against the environment, and enjoying the food you eat is important.
It’s also important you know that for me, part of following an intuitive lifestyle means eating the things my body craves without judgement. I don’t calorie count. I don’t follow a diet. I listen to my body. Yes, I eat healthy most of the time because it makes me feel good. But if I want some real ice cream, pizza, or anything else containing dairy, you can bet I’m going to trust my intuition more than I will any health specialist or influencer out there. And I hope you choose to do the same too.
I hope you enjoyed this article and if I missed anything, or you have any questions, feel free to reach out and I’d be happy to connect.