Category Archives: Dairy

Adventures in Nut Milk

In addition to dehydrating up a storm, I had my first foray into homemade nut milk last week. You all know how I feel about dairy, so this girl does nut milk.

I have to say, making my own almond milk was a wee bit of work but so incredibly worth it. The taste was unreal.

I had been buying the 365 Brand of Unsweetened Organic Almond Milk from Whole Foods. It’s very good as far as pre-made nut milks go – in health and taste – but there are still ingredients in it that I don’t love. And people kept saying it was easy to make it yourself so I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.

Now I know. They taste like two totally different drinks.

The real mess was the cheesecloth because you have to strain the almonds to get smooth milk. Cleaning the cheesecloth was a bit tricky so next time, I’ll go with a fine mesh metal strainer.

BUT! I also bought some cashews to try cashew milk. While the taste of almond milk is superior, cashew milk is SO much easier to make and still tastes great.

Cashews don’t have to soak as long, which is a huge plus if you forgot to soak and need some milk (um, that was me this morning!). But the best part is that you don’t have to strain them. Cashews are soft enough that they blend really well. Faster, easier, and less mess! This makes homemade nut milk a much more realistic option.

Everyone knows that almonds are a very healthy nut but what about cashews? Well, did you know that a couple of handfuls a day fights depression? Read more about it here.

Here are the two recipes…

ALMOND MILK
Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of raw almonds (organic preferred)
  • water for soaking nuts
  • 3 cups of water
  • a few shakes of cinnamon (optional)
  • sweetener: 1-2 dates or figs (optional)
  • sprinkle of ground vanilla (optional)

Preparation:

1. Soak the almonds in water overnight or for at least 6 hours.

2. Drain the water from the almonds and discard.

3. Blend the 3 cups of water, almonds (and whatever else you choose – I used only cinnamon) until well blended and almost smooth.

4. Strain the blended almond mixture using a cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer.

Homemade raw almond milk will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

I soaked overnight and didn’t use dates or vanilla and it was amazing. A bit of cinnamon adds a nice flavor (I love cinnamon) and serves as an antimicrobial agent.

CASHEW MILK
Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup of raw cashews (organic preferred)
  • water for soaking nuts
  • 3 cups of water
  • sweetener (optional): fig, date, raw maple syrup, raw honey (unless you’re pregnant!), or coconut sugar (never agave!)
  • a few shakes of cinnamon (optional)
  • ground vanilla (optional)
  • a dash of pink salt (optional)

Preparation:

1. Cover raw cashews with water and allow to soak for at least one hour.

2. Drain and rinse.

3. Place 3/4 cup of soaked cashews and 3 cups water into a blender or food processor and process until smooth, at least one minute.

4. Optional: add sweetener to taste if necessary.

Homemade raw almond milk will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

You can use more or less water to alter the thickness of your cashew milk, but in general, you want a 1:4 ratio of cashews to water.

You may also choose to strain your raw cashew milk. I, of course, did not.

**In my first round of cashew milk, I did not use any sweetener or salt. Just some shakes of cinnamon. It was good but not great. In my second round, I used some shakes of cinnamon and a fig. Better. In my third round, I used some shakes of cinnamon, a fig (fresh), and a sprinkling of ground vanilla bean. We have a winner!

Both milks are great on their own, in smoothies, or in oatmeal/cereal.

And I made an amazing shake that tasted like ice cream, so I’ll share that with you, too. 😉

KINDA LIKE ICE CREAM SMOOTHIE

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 tbsp of organic peanut butter (My choice is Maranatha!)
  • 1 banana
  • 1 fig (dried or fresh, depends on preference and what you have in the kitch)
  • a few shakes of cinnamon
  • a cup of almond or cashew milk (use more or less depending on the consistency you like)
  • ice
  • 1 tsp of cacao nibs

Blend and drink, my friends!

7 Comments

Filed under Agave, Dairy, Health, Organic, Raw, Recipe, Tips and Tricks

Be Wary of Dairy

Ah, dairy. This subject is hairy.

And you’ll probably want to be a bit chary.

Okay, no more rhyming. But it was fun. 😉

So basically, there’s been a lot of debate over whether or not we need dairy. It’s a great question. Here’s what the argument for it looks like:

1. “I love cheese!”

2. “I love ice cream!”

3. “I can tolerate it just fine.”

Okay, fair enough. Not terribly scientific, but I agree on points 1, 2, and 3!

Now let’s take a look at what the argument AGAINST dairy looks like:

1. A whole lot of people can’t tolerate it just fine

Whole populations around the world and quite a large number of people in this country are lactose intolerant. What does it say that so many of us are unable to eat dairy? Maybe it means we don’t need it.

2. Milk is a baby’s food

We don’t even drink our own milk past childhood. Milk contains carbohydrates, fat, and protein all in one so that babies get the three essential macronutrients from their one food source. Milk makes babies grow. But we’re all grown up. So again, maybe we don’t need it.

3. We are the only species that drinks the milk of another animal

A lot of anti-dairy people say, “We don’t drink our own milk, so why are we drinking the milk that’s meant for baby cows?”

Kinda makes you stop and think, right?

3. Milk isn’t a calcium solution

Wait, what?! Yeah. We have a higher consumption of dairy in this country than in most countries around the world. And we also have the highest rate of osteoporosis. That doesn’t add up. Isn’t dairy supposed to protect us from osteoporosis because it gives us calcium to build strong and healthy bones? Seems people in other countries where dairy consumption is very low, are not only finding enough calcium from other sources, they’re not experiencing bone loss the way we are.

I believe the way we’re eating in this country is stripping our bones of calcium…among other things…but we’re not going into that right now. The main point here is that dairy isn’t making up for it. Yet again, I say, “Do we really need it?”

Some great non-dairy sources of calcium?
Broccoli, kale, bok choy, collard greens, rhubarb, chia seeds, flax seeds, coconut milk, blackstrap mollasses, tahini, pistachios, almonds/almond butter, and sardines. I’m sure you can find at least ONE thing on that list that sounds good (what? not the last one?!). 🙂

4. Milk consumption can contribute to disease

This is where dairy gets really scary (sorry! that’s the last rhyme!). Milk contains a lot of hormones that aren’t so good for us. You’ve heard of rBST or rBGH, right? It’s the genetically engineered growth hormone (made by Monsanto – need I say more?) they give to cows to stimulate milk production. This is in conventional dairy and has been linked to various types of cancer.

But even organic rBST-free/ rBGH-free dairy has hormones because cows are milked all the time, which means they are milked when pregnant, and some hormones are sky-high during pregnancy. Then all of the milk from all of the cows is pooled together and we consume a whole mix of crazy stuff…stuff coming from a lot of hormonal females…think about it…

All of these hormones look to be contributing to certain types cancer. Prostate cancer is related to higher consumption of dairy products, as is ovarian cancer, although the link is less clear than with prostate. Endometrial cancer is a hormone-related cancer, so there’s concern for dairy hormones there, too.

5. Low-fat and fat-free dairy is linked to acne

Who wants bad skin? ‘Nuff said.

So do I need to take supplements?

Actually, high calcium supplementation has been shown to be related to a higher risk of heart attacks and kidney stones, as well as a higher risk of hip fractures. Basically, the calcium from supplements is different from calcium you consume in foods – it’s a big hit of the mineral at once, instead of a gradual dose throughout the day with various meals and snacks. Calcium also needs to be taken in tandem with magnesium and vitamin D, so just taking a calcium supplement without these will not facilitate absorption. And calcium that doesn’t get absorbed floats around and ends up where it shouldn’t be, causing heart disease, among other health problems. Not good.

My recommendation is to really try to get most of your calcium from your food and proceed with caution with supplements. Take small amounts at a time, if you need to, and always take it with magnesium and vitamin D.

I’ve found the evidence against dairy pretty compelling. But of course, the Dairy Industry makes sure our government recommends it as an essential part of a healthy diet. Food remains the best way to get calcium, but it doesn’t have to be dairy. If you want to eliminate it completely, or almost completely, that’s great. If not, limit your intake to 1-2 servings per day. Moderation is the key here.

2 Comments

Filed under Dairy, Diet, Health, Organic

More on Soda

My post “Getting Down to Basics” covered a lot of info in one place. One of my readers asked for me to elaborate on why soda is bad for you. I want to emphasize here that I will absolutely go into more depth on any topic in a separate post. All you have to do is ask!

Soda. Whether diet or regular, soda is a beverage of chemicals. There is no nutritional value to drinking soda.

We know regular soda contains chemicals and sugar. And we know sugar is bad for us (see my post on sugar). But what about diet soda?

Diet sodas contain the following: aspartame, artificial colors and preservatives, and phosphoric acid.

Aspartame is one nasty artificial sweetener, folks. The easy explanation here is that “artificial” just isn’t food. But beyond that, why is it so bad? In short, aspartame is linked to approximately 92 different health problems. I won’t go into it all here, but you might be interested to know that in addition to nearly any problem you can think of – anxiety, depression, insomnia, eye damage…the list goes on – aspartame is linked to weight gain.

Say what?!

That’s right. Diet food is causing weight gain because the body doesn’t know how to process all of the fake ingredients, like aspartame and other artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. As a result, your body stores the unknown ingredients as toxins in fat cells to protect you. Fat, as much as we hate it, is there to protect us. So lose the toxins, lose the weight. Eat real food that your body knows how to digest. Aspartame is also known to cause unstable blood sugar and sweet cravings, which also lead to weight gain. You can read more about aspartame from Dr. Mercola, Dr. Hull, and The Health Ranger.

Phosphoric acid is a chemical that is added to keep your soda bubbly but is linked to lower bone density. When we consume phosphoric acid, calcium is released from your bones and teeth to balance the levels of phosphorus. When the body excretes phosphoric acid, the calcium goes right along with it. This contributes to our risk for osteoporosis.

Did you know that most of the world does not consume dairy products and their rates of osteoporosis are much lower than ours? This means that despite our high consumption of dairy, which is a great source of calcium, we’re still not protected. The Health Ranger has some good info on this one, too.

So, in summary, soda, whether diet or regular, is best avoided as much as possible. Water should be your drink of choice. Look for a post about water coming soon!

Always feel free to send me questions. Health Coach Jillian is here to help!

5 Comments

Filed under Artificial, Artificial Flavors, Dairy, Diet, Sugar, Water