Why You Should Start Making Your Own Homemade Nut Milk TODAY!

Why Is Store-Bought Milk Bad for You

First off, why am I even talking about making homemade nut milk? 

Do we really need something else to make at home? I'm making bone broth, sprouting my seeds, culturing my yogurt, and now I'm making my own nut milk??

Uh, yes.

But whyyyy?

Every time I get to peek into someone else's refrigerator I am floored. It seems every household in the US now has a couple cartons of nut/soy/coconut or other dairy-free milk.  And so I felt it my duty (I guess I think I'm pretty important now! haha)  to write a little bit about the dangers of many of these products and the untruthful way they are marketed.

Then I will teach you how to make some homemade nut milk in a few simple steps!

Is Cow's Milk Bad for You

is cow's milk bad for yo

Many people start buying store-bought almond/soy/coconut milk because they've come to realize that drinking conventional, store-bought cow's milk gives them digestive issues. 

This is not only my own personal experience, but an experience shared by many people I know. The reasons for this can be a few. 

The first goes back simply to how the human body works. In order to break down the food we put into our mouths, our bodies must secrete enzymes that assist in the breakdown of these foods. The enzyme lactase is what helps break down lactose into simpler sugars that the body can actually use. Sucrase is what breaks down sucrose, or table sugar. And so on. Polysaccharides (large sugars) NEED to be broken down into smaller sugar molecules in order to both be used by the body AND to not give you terrible digestive issues.

However, the body does not produce the enzyme lactase past the age of infancy. Once we're done producing lactase, that's it. We don't have any more. So were humans not meant to drink milk? NO! Humans were not meant to drink PASTEURIZED MILK. Let me repeat that. Humans are not meant to drink the milk as it is found in the grocery store--pasteurized, homogenized milk.

For centuries humans drank milk raw and unpasteurized. In this state, it is full of beneficial nutrients. (Just ask your grandparents how they drank their milk!) Some of the nutrients found in raw milk are enzymes that actually help digest the milk for us! When we pasteurize milk we destroy those enzymes. We kill the beneficial bacteria. We damage the immune-boosting white blood cells. Essentially, we deaden the milk. This way, when put on the shelves, pasteurized milk lasts longer because enzymes and bacteria don't change the taste of the milk. (Traditionally, people used to use fermentation to preserve dairy products, which enhances the nutrient content of food instead of deadening it. This is where yogurt and sour cream come from! Also, raw milk will naturally sour with time and can still be used for things like baking. Pasteurized milk only spoils and wastes)  

However, government regulations over the last century have made laws making it very difficult to sell raw milk that is full of raw and beneficial nutrients (surprise, surprise).

In 1987, the FDA mandated pasteurization of all milk and milk products for human consumption, effectively banning the shipment of raw milk in interstate commerce with the exception of cheese made from raw milk, provided the cheese has been aged a minimum of 60 days and is clearly labeled as unpasteurized.

Ok so let's get back to the effect that conventional, pasteurized milk has on the body. Let's say we spend our childhood chugging chocolate milk, frequently treating ourselves to ice cream, and eating Go-Gurt for snacks. Every time we do our bodies use up stores of lactase in order to digest the milk sugars we have put into our bodies. By the time we are teenagers or young adults, we've used up all the lactase we made as infants and we are left with terrible stomach aches, bloating, gas, and diarrhea. 

So no. There is nothing wrong with cow's milk. As long as it is a raw milk from a humanely raised, grass-fed cow. 

Some people do have sensitivities to dairy products because of a history of other conditions like leaky gut or colitis. And some rare few have serious allergies to the protein found in milk. These issues are less common and require more attention than healing the gut or avoiding conventionally produced milk products.

If you think you simply might be lactose intolerant, find a local distributor of raw milk and see if that doesn't feel and taste amazing!

What's wrong with store-bought nut milk

Ok so now we get to the other side of the story. Obviously the food industry is not keen on teaching us the truths about drinking raw milk or avoiding pasteurized milk because it would be bad for their businesses.

So instead, what are we offered for those who “can’t drink milk”?  Rows on rows and shelves on shelves of dairy alternatives like soy milk, rice milk, almond milk, coconut milk, and the like. 

Now here's the hard truth. While store-bought soy or rice milks might temporarily relieve some gas and diarrhea, the consequences further down the road can be just as bad. I’ll explain why.

Let's first start with soymilk.

Soy products are in practically every processed food on the market. It is cheap and there's a lot of different ways you can process it. Unfortunately, unless it is fermented, soy is very difficult for the body to digest and is very inflammatory to the gut. It also has estrogen mimicking agents, which can throw off the delicate balance of hormones in your body and confuse the endocrine system.  It is also high in phytic acid, a chemical that blocks the absorption and uptake of other vitamins and minerals. Not to mention, soy is among the highest Genetically Modified foods and soy allergies and sensitivities are among the most common types of sensitivities. 

Are you ready to avoid soy yet?

If you’re not sure if soy has been causing gut and hormone issues for you, try excluding any traces of soy from your diet for 3 weeks and see if you don’t see any improvements!

Besides the dangers of soy, other dairy alternatives have a whole list of ingredients that can pose risks to your health.

Let’s look at a few of those ingredients. These are two snapshots of some of the name brand almond and soy milks on the market!

Carageenan: Carageenan is made from seaweed and can be terribly inflammatory to the body. It is often added to many dairy products (like ice cream) to make them creamier but is also added to many nut and soy milks. It not only can be used to induce colitis in lab rats but also causes inflammation and gut issues to humans. 

Synthetic Vitamins: Most nut milks list several different forms of vitamins or minerals. Tricalcium Phosphate, Calcium Carbonate, Vitamin A Palmitate, Vitamin D2, Riboflavin, and Vitamin B12 are among the most common. Before you go thinking this is a healthy thing, consider the fact that most vitamins and minerals require cofactors and other trace minerals that are only found when you eat the whole food source to be absorbed and used properly in the body. If you don't pee out these vitamins and minerals, you'll find that they don't do the body any good. Synthetic and isolated forms of vitamins (generated in a labs and injected into food) can often throw your body more out of balance than before. 

Natural Flavors: Whenever the words "natural flavors" appear on a label, run. If a company needs to add other flavors to the food to enhance it, but they don't want to list where it came from, they can simply say "natural flavors." Lauren, from EmpoweredSustenance.com says this:

A company that lists “natural flavors” on their ingredient list is trying to hide something – and it could be anal secretions from a beaver. Let me explain…“Natural flavors” can even mean various additives, even forms of MSG and artificial sweeteners. Castoreum is a secretion from the anal gland of the beaver that is often listed under “natural flavors” (with the FDA’s approval). It’s commonly used to replicate vanilla flavor

Gums (Gellan, Guar, Xanthan, etc): Added gums are used as thickeners and creamers and some are considered more safe than others. In general, I don't like the thought of extracted gums from other plants being put into my food. So until there is further research on whether or not all these different additives are safe, I'm staying away.

It’s safe to say that store bought dairy alternatives can have a disastrous effect on your health. The temporary benefits of leaving store-bought cows milk seem to be negated by all the inflammation and hormonal issues you get with dairy alternatives!

Solution to lactose intolerance

So what do we do?

If it's simply a problem of undigested sugars, raw milk can be a healing balm. Not only is it highly beneficial to the body and easily digestible, but it is also delicious. The taste is rich and totally different than conventional, processed milk.

For some people, the protein casein can be the problem. In this case, someone who has a problem with the proteins can try homemade cultured dairy. The process of culturing (adding in bacteria) can help to initiate the pre-digestion of casein as well. Hard cheeses that have been aged for at least 9 months, 24 hour cultured yogurt, 24 hour cultured cream, or cultured butter are all options that someone who has a damaged gut and has a hard time digesting milk proteins can experiment with.

If digestion is still difficult, it might be worth removing dairy for a while and working on improving digestion before trying it again.

In my personal life, I buy raw milk from a local farm and and then make it into yogurt or sour cream. I also use hard cheeses like cheddar or parmesan made from grass-fed cow’s milk. The process of aging these cheeses helps harden

But there’s also something special about the way nut creams and nut milks can work in recipes. For example, cashew milk makes a wonderfully rich hot cocoa and cashew cream makes an incredibly easy, fool-proof Alfredo sauce.

How to Make Homemade Nut Milk

Making homemade nut is super simple and can be done in a few easy steps. I personally love cashew milk because it is creamy and you don't have to strain it. Straining other nut milks isn't a problem at all--it just requires and extra step and cleaning extra things that I'd just rather not bother. 

Watch this quick little video or follow the instructions below!

Homemade Nut Milk
Author: Amy MoffatPrep time: 15 min

Ingredients:

1 cup cashews (or nut of choice)
3 cups filtered water

Directions:

Soak cashews in water overnight with a little bit of sea salt
Rinse well
Place in blender with filtered water
Blend until smooth

Alternatively, if you are short on time, you can bring enough water to cover 1 cup of cashews to boil
Add cashews and reduce heat to simmer
Simmer for 13-15 minutes until cashews are soft
Drain and rinse well
Place in blender with filtered water
Blend until smooth

If you want a thicker cashew cream, simply add less water! Use this creamy sauce as a base for salad dressings, soup thickeners, sauces, and dips!

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