How to Buy the Best Almond Milk (Hint: Avoid Carrageenan)
Almond milk is one of the most delicious and versatile dairy alternatives you can have in a healthy diet. People in the health world go ga-ga over this stuff for good reason.
What’s so great about it? It contains vitamin E, calcium, protein, B vitamins, and fiber. It’s also low glycemic, vegan, and lactose-free, so it will benefit your body with essential nutrients without causing blood sugar spikes or allergy irritation. Plus, it just tastes good.
As with all food homemade is best, but in reality, we don’t always have the time to make everything from scratch. In those situations it’s ok to buy it in packaged form, but…
Watch out for carrageenan, added sugar, and other mystery ingredients.
When I don’t have time to make my own, Silk is my almond milk brand of choice because it’s verified non-GMO, is free from soy, gluten, and harmful preservatives, and they have an unsweetened option, which is the one I always get. Stick with the unsweetened versions to limit unnecessary added sugar in your diet.
Why should you avoid carrageenan in almond milk?
If you buy your almond milk, make sure to read the label and avoid any brands that contain carrageenan. This common ingredient, derived from seaweed, is frequently found in almond milk and other dairy or faux-dairy products and is used as a stabilizer and thickening agent. There are probably other brands out there that have removed it as well, Silk is just the brand that I get at my local store.
The reason I consider it questionable is because it has not been adequately tested, and some studies show that it can be harmful to the GI tract and even promotes tumor-growth.^ You should always avoid anything that has not undergone thorough testing and is proven to be safe. I don’t even understand how dubious things like this are allowed to be added to our food!
When you DO have the time to make your own almond milk, here’s how to do it:
Remember to soak overnight (or at least four hours) and the rest of the process just takes 5 minutes. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to five days.
2 cups of raw or pre-soaked almonds
4 cups of filtered water, plus more for soaking
1 teaspoon of real maple syrup OR raw honey
optional: ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
optional: ¼. teaspoon cinnamon
You will also need:
a high-speed blender
nut milk bag (or fine mesh strainer, or cheesecloth)
medium/large mason jar
Soak the almonds in enough water to cover by 1 inch for at least 8 hours at room temperature. If you purchase pre-soaked almonds, then still give them a quick soak to soften them.
Place the soaked almonds in a high-speed blender with the water, and blend on high for 2 minutes or until you can no longer make out any almond chunks, about 90 seconds.
Place the funnel on your mason jar, and the nut milk bag in the funnel so the center of the nut milk bag is above the funnel opening and upper portions of the nut milk bag are draped over the rim of the funnel. Now pour the blended almond milk into the nut milk lined funnel so the pulp is caught at the top and the pure almond milk collects in the mason jar. If you don’t have a funnel, put the nut milk bag in a bowl and collect the milk there. Then, pour the milk into a rinsed blender container for easy pouring into your mason jar.
When there is a good amount of pulp collected at the top, take a pause from pouring to squeeze the pulp and extract all the liquid. Transfer the remaining dry pulp out of the funnel and then continue pouring the rest of the pulp-mixed almond milk and squeezing the pulp until you have transferred all the blended almond milk.
Optional: Add the vanilla extract, cinnamon, and maple syrup and blend another 10 seconds until incorporated.
If you don’t have a nut milk bag, try my cashew milk recipe as an alternative to almond milk.