Got Nut Mylk?
Whether or not you’re one to tolerate dairy, it’s hard not to notice the ever-expanding milk department in the grocery store. The market has grown beyond soymilk or lactose-free milk to include alternatives such as: almond, cashew, coconut, hemp, flaxseed, rice, and pistachio. Interest in non-dairy “mylk” is booming—but did you know that you could whip up these milks right at home? Not only are homemade nut and seed milks delicious, they’re super easy to make and can help you steer clear of many unwanted added ingredients found in store-bought varieties. Try upgrading your post-Ascend ride recovery smoothie with homemade milk!
Time to ditch the dairy?
At Ascend, we recommend choosing organic varieties if consuming dairy products, and doing so in moderation. Rather than encouraging anyone to remove dairy from their diet—as we believe dietary choices are highly individualistic—we’ll highlight a couple reasons why some are choosing more plant-based options.
The concern with conventional dairy farming has to do with the synthetic growth hormones that are often given to cows (to increase milk yields) along with antibiotics that could be passed to humans through the consumption of dairy products. Despite the added hormones, cow’s milk itself contains natural hormones and growth hormones that may affect our bodies. One growth hormone in cow’s milk (that our bodies also produce), insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), has been linked with stimulating cancer proliferation—particularly breast and prostate. Milk from cows that are treated with synthetic hormone rBGH (banned in many countries, but approved in the US) has been shown to contain higher levels of IGF-1. Dairy intake has also been linked to acne and inflammation.
Many individuals have intolerance to dairy, with symptoms ranging from digestive discomfort to allergies. Lactose-intolerance refers to the trouble digesting lactose, a form of sugar found in milk. While human breast milk is considered the perfect food for a baby, cow’s milk is harder on the digestive system as it is much higher in protein. The protein most present in cow’s milk, casein, has also been shown to promote cancer.
Benefits of nut-ritious milk
Regardless of your stance on dairy, plant-based milks can be a healthy addition to your diet. Nuts and seeds are nutritious superstars on their own—offering healthy fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals. Naturally, they bring an added boost when made into milk and combined with other foods. You can use nut or seed milk just as you would cow’s milk: drink on it’s own, in your morning coffee, smoothies, golden milk or matcha lattes, or add to overnight oats, sauces, etc. The best thing about making your own milk at home is how easily you can manipulate level of sweetness by adding dates, maple syrup, or honey and altering flavor with cocoa, cinnamon, turmeric, matcha, etc.
If you do choose to purchase your non-dairy milk, make sure to look for varieties (even organic) that do not include carrageenan. This additive derived from red seaweed is used as a thickener and to improve texture, but may activate an immune response causing inflammation, and other negative health effects.
Do try this at home
When deciding what type of non-dairy milk to make, take note if soaking is involved so you can plan ahead (don’t get discouraged if soaking is involved - it couldn’t be easier, you just need to plan for a soaking time of at least 4 hours). A few items you’ll need to make your own milk at home, include:
· Milk base of choice (nuts, seeds, coconut, etc.).
· Filtered water
· Nut milk bag or cheesecloth
· Large mixing bowl
· Airtight containers with lids such as mason jars for storage (most milks will last 2-4 days with refrigeration)
· Good tunes, always
Below are two recipes for making your own vegan milk, one that requires soaking and straining and one that does not. Vanilla cashew milk tastes divine, and hempseed milk couldn’t be easier. But remember, there are many different varieties and flavor combos out there, so experiment with what works best with your unique taste buds.
Vanilla cashew milk
1 cup raw cashews, soaked in water for at least 4 hours
3 cups filtered water
1 tsp vanilla extract (or scrape a vanilla bean)
3-4 dates, pitted (or more, to taste). Pro tip: soak for 15 minutes to soften before blending
Pinch of sea salt
Dash of cinnamon
After soaking, rinse cashews and add to the blender with the water. Blitz. Pour liquid through a nut bag/cheesecloth over a large mixing bowl, gently squeezing the nut bag to strain the liquid. Once you have the liquid in the mixing bowl, add it back to your blender along with the dates, vanilla, and cinnamon. Adjust to desired sweetness. Refrigerate in an airtight container. Enjoy!
Chocolate hempseed milk
1 cup raw shelled hempseeds
3 cups filtered water
Pinch of sea salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
3-4 pitted dates
1 Tbsp maple syrup (optional to increase sweetness, or you can add more dates)
2 Tbsp cacao powder
Add all ingredients to the blender blitz! Note: there will be some natural separation as the milk sits in your refrigerator, so just give a good shake before drinking.
Inspired to give it a go? Tag @ascendcycle and show us your homemade concoctions. Bottoms up!
Blogpost written by Ascend content expert, Ashley H