I’m just going to come right out and say it.
Cow’s milk freaks me out.
I am not a vegan, and I do consume some dairy products, but I just can’t bring myself, (or my family) to drink cow’s milk. I’ve never really liked it–even as a kid, I would use as little milk as possible in my bowl of cereal, but that was it. And as un-American as it sounds, I ate my after-school cookies plain. And with dinner, I drank water.
If you choose to drink cow’s milk, I am in no way saying you shouldn’t and I’m not interested in trying to change your mind if you do, but I am just going to quickly present some information that has definitely had an influence on why I haven’t bought cow’s milk for my family in several years.
- With a degree in Zoology, I studied a lot of animal physiology, behavior, and anatomy and I always thought it interesting that humans are the only species on earth that drink milk, from any source, beyond infancy. Once other mammals are weaned, every other species on earth survives just fine by eating food and drinking nothing but water.
- The Journal of the American Dietetic Association has published a report saying that as many as 75 percent of the world’s population loses the ability to digest lactose, a sugar found in milk, after infancy.
- Without even mentioning the horrendous treament and conditions dairy cows endure, milk production involves some extreme processes, and includes high amounts of antibiotics, hormones and genetically-modified substances that cows are continually exposed to. All cows release toxins through their milk. And pus. (Dairy cows often suffer from mastitis and the pus is released in their milk. Along with blood.) The USDA might think that a certain level of pus and blood is fine for us to drink, but I think any amount is too much.
Buying organic milk will reduce the exposure to some of these issues, and as with other products, when it’s possible to buy organic and/or locally produced dairy products, it is always a better choice than large-scale, conventionally produced options.
But dairy is not our only option when it comes to milk!
There are many milk alternatives on the market, many of which are even more nutritious than cow’s milk. Almond, coconut, soy, rice, hemp, oat, hazlenut, and cashew are just some of the more popular milk options commercially available.
While I have tried many varieties, my favorites continue to be almond and coconut milk. These two taste the best (in my opinion), and second to that, provide a higher nutritional bang for my buck. Specifically, I love these two:
We usually have a couple of each kind in our fridge at all times.
We’ve all heard how good almonds are for us, right? They really are. As the most nutritious of all the nuts, almonds are rich in Vitamin E (an antioxidant), calcium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, fiber and monounsaturated fats (the good kind). They are good for brain development and for skin, can regulate cholesterol and blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease, and can even reduce the risk of diabetes, Alzheimer’s and promote weight loss.
Since almonds are so good for us, of course almond milk is good for us too. Almond milk is simply almonds blended up with some water and filterered to remove the pulp. Some commercial brands add other things to the mix for flavor and consistency purposes, which is why I like the Silk brand–they seem to add the fewest “other” ingredients. And if all of this weren’t already enough to make you ditch cow’s milk if you haven’t already, look at the calorie comparison–almond milk has just 35 calories per serving, compared to 120 calories per serving in the dairy version.
What if I told you you could make your own fresh almond milk and you could control exactly what you put, or even better, what you don’t put in it?
I’m sure you would think, clearly, that is a girl with way too much free time on her hands.
To that I would first snort, and then I would tell you that it would take less than ten minutes! I had thought about making my own before, but always figured it would be this involved, complicated process requiring fancy equipment. Not so. When I saw this video I couldn’t believe it was so simple and quick, and I knew right away I wanted to try it for myself. In the video Maryea uses cheesecloth which obviously works just fine, but I didn’t have any and I had seen ‘nut milk bags’ online and in health food stores before which I thought would make it even that much easier, so I ordered one.
Of course I ordered My Nut Sack because it made me laugh.
What can I say, I live in a household full of boys and find humor in such things.
Here are the easy-peasy steps (which are also so conveniently printed right on the label of the nut sack).
1. Soak one cup of raw almonds in water for eight hours or so. (Or, if you are me, for like two days because you are busy and don’t have an extra ten minutes to get to the poor soaking almonds.) Overachievers unite!
2. Rinse almonds and dump into a blender with two cups of water.
4. Pour mixture through ‘nut sack’ (hee hee), or fine-meshed cheesecloth into a bowl.
5. Squeeze out as much liquid as possible.
6. Pour fresh almond milk into a storage container and refrigerate.
You can add sweetener and/or vanilla first, if you desire.
We all tasted it without adding anything and I really liked the fresh almond flavor. The rest of the family said it needed more flavor so I added a little vanilla extract.
Simple, real, nothing extra. No preservatives, no inflammation-causing carageenan, and certainly no hormones or pus.
I did a few calculations and was surprised to discover that it is actually more expensive to make my own almond milk than it is to buy it ($0.88 a cup to buy it vs. $1.70 a cup to make it–if I did my math right). But perhaps the price of peace of mind of knowing exactly what you are consuming might be worth it?
Now I just need a few cookies to dunk.