Nut Milk 101
People these days seem to be nuts about nut milk. Milk from a nut? What? How? It’s not like these tiny nuts have udders. How do you milk them? These are the pressing questions surrounding the allure and mystique of nut milk. Wander down the milk aisle at your grocery store and you’ll see a bevy of nut milk products. There’s almond milk, cashew milk, and macadamia nut milk. What exactly are these beverages? They even make yogurts and coffee creamers out of nut milk now. You can get almond milk yogurt and cashew creamer for your morning coffee. The nut milk possibilities seem endless. But what even are they made from? What’s nut milk? How is it made? Have no fear, we’re here to help, so let’s delve in and discover the wonderful world of nut milk.
What Is Nut Milk?
Nut milk is a term used to described a liquid made from nuts that mimics its dairy counterparts. It can be made of crushed or pressed nuts. Typically these nuts are first shelled, then often lightly toasted. The nuts are then soaked in filtered water before being ground into a paste and then blended with water. To extract the milk, the liquid is strained from the solid nuts. It has a milky appearance and is used as a milk replacement and dairy alternative. Nut milk is a great choice for many people, such as vegans and those folks that are lactose intolerant.
There are a few different kinds of nut milk. The most common and easy to find is almond milk. Almond milk is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, which is the same healthy fats found in olive oil. It’s also full of fiber, antioxidants, and vitamin E. While this sounds wonderful and healthy, you must be careful when buying almond milk. Many commercial brands aren’t so nutritious, and in fact, most brands only contain about 2.5% actual almonds. Take a gander at the label and you’ll see many not-so-healthy additives as well. Many almond milks contain sweeteners like cane sugar or agave as well as thickening agents like carrageenan, which is derived from seaweed. While carrageenan may seem like a natural additive, it has a tendency to cause gut irritation and inflammation over time, so you want to try and limit your ingestion. Be sure to do your research when choosing an almond milk, and be prepared to pay more for a better quality nut milk.
Another type of nut milk is cashew milk. Cashew milk is low in calories and fat naturally, as long as it is free of any sneaky additives. It is high in vitamin E, which is great for the skin and can help protect against sun damage. Macadamia milk is another great nut milk. It is rich and creamy— perfect as a dairy alternative.
How To Make Your Own Nut Milk
To avoid any nasty additives, we recommend making your nut milk at home. It’s surprisingly easy! Homemade nut milk will blow any store bought variety out of the water. It will be creamier, milkier, and tastier— we guarantee it. First, you’ll want to choose your nut. For this article, we’ll stick to almonds, but you can of course do this with cashews, macadamias, or another nut of your choosing. You’ll need to soak the almonds in water overnight or for up to two days. If you want it creamy, stick to two days. The longer the almonds soak, the creamier the milk will be. Start with one cup of raw almonds, preferably organic. This will yield about 2 cups of almond milk. Once the almonds have soaked, drain the soaking water. Then you’ll blend them with fresh water and drain them again. The resulting liquid that is drained from the almond meal will be your almond milk. It’s better to make nut milk in small batches, as it only last a few days in the fridge when it’s homemade.
1 cup raw almonds
2 cups water, plus extra for soaking
Optional: sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, sugar, agave, etc. (we prefer it without)
Blender or food processor
Cheesecloth or fine-mesh nut bag
Soak the almonds. You can do this overnight or for up to two days. Place the almonds in a bowl and cover them with about an inch of water. They will absorb water and plump up. Feel free to leave it on the counter, covered with a cloth, or in the refrigerator.
Drain the almonds of their soaking water. Discard this liquid.
Rinse the almonds thoroughly under cool running water. The almonds should feel slightly squishy if you touch them.
Combine 2 cups fresh water with the almonds in a blender or food processor.
Blend at the highest speed for 2 minutes. Start by pulsing the almonds so they are able to break up nicely, then blend continuously. The almonds should be blended down into a very fine meal. The water should appear to be an opaque white liquid.
Strain the almonds. Be sure to line the strainer with cheesecloth or similar fine mesh cloth. Place the strainer over a measuring cup. Pour the blended almond mixture into the strainer.
Press all the almond milk from the mixture. Wrap the cheesecloth around the almond meal. Squeeze and press it until you’ve extracted as much almond milk as possible. It should yield about 2 cups.
If choosing to sweeten, sweeten your almond milk now.
Refrigerate the almond milk. Store it in a sealed container, and it should keep in the fridge for up to two days.
Recipes for Nut Milk
There are so many things you can do with nut milks. They can be used to make lattes, as substitutes for dairy milk when baking, and more. Our favorite way to use nut milk, though, is to put them in smoothies! They make for a wonderfully creamy and delicious addition to any smoothie. Here are some recipes you can try at home.
The Ultimate PB&J Smoothie
1 cup nut milk of your choice (we recommend homemade)
2 tablespoons peanut butter (we prefer all natural to avoid any added sweeteners)
½ cup strawberries
½ cup blueberries
½ cup raspberries
½ banana (optional — to add some natural sweetness)
1 teaspoon maca powder (optional — maca is great balancing hormones and boosting energy)
Pour the nut milk into your blender. Add 2 tablespoons of your favorite peanut butter, followed by a half cup of strawberries, a half cup of blueberries, and a half cup of raspberries. These berries can be frozen or fresh. Frozen will make the smoothie frostier. If you’d like to make your smoothie sweeter, add half of a banana. This can also be frozen or fresh. For an extra bonus, we recommend adding a teaspoon of maca powder. Blend until the mixture is smooth, and enjoy!
Pina Colada Smoothie
½ cup nut milk of your choice (preferably homemade)
½ cup coconut milk or cream (use your personal preference)
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 cup frozen pineapple
Pour the nut milk and coconut milk or cream into the blender. Add one tablespoon of coconut oil, then add a cup of pineapple (we prefer frozen) and a half of a banana (frozen or fresh is fine). Blend these ingredients together until you have a smooth, thick consistency. If you want your smoothie to mimic the consistency of a typical frozen pina colada, add ice cubes to your blender. Keep adding ice and blending until you get a nice frosty texture. Add a tiny umbrella to your smoothie, and enjoy!
Post Workout Smoothie
1 cup nut milk of your choice (again, homemade is recommended)
1 scoop of your favorite protein powder
1 tablespoon nut butter of your choice
½ cup strawberries
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Pour a cup of nut milk into your blender. Add a scoop of protein powder, or follow whatever serving size is recommended for your particular protein powder. Add a tablespoon of nut butter for extra protein and some healthy fats. Peel a banana and toss it in the blender. Bananas are perfect for a post workout smoothie because they are rich in potassium, which is often depleted over the course of a workout. They are also a great source of healthy carbs, which are essential in rebuilding damaged muscles. Add a ½ cup strawberries, fresh or frozen, for extra flavor and a boost of antioxidants. Then add a teaspoon of cinnamon to top it all off. Cinnamon not only adds flavor, but it also reduces heart disease factors, lowers blood sugar, and acts as an anti-inflammatory. Blend everything together thoroughly and enjoy!