A Better Source of Calcium for Pregnant Women and Children
My pregnant clients are sometimes surprised to learn that dairy is a poor source of calcium due to its acidic nature. Acidic foods not only lay the foundation for disease, but at minimum, they deplete mineral reserves from the body. The great irony – especially for people like me, who grew up believing humans were somehow dependent on cows for optimal development – is that, in the process of digesting milk, you can lose more calcium than you consumed. In fact, dairy has been solidly linked to osteoporosis. (Two of my favorite books on the topic are The pH Miracle by Dr. Robert Young and The China Study by Dr. Colin Campbell.)
So where does this leave us? First of all, dark leafy greens are an excellent source of calcium and a host of other minerals and micro-nutrients. But collard greens are little consolation when only milk will do. You can buy non-dairy milks in the store, but that’s often a matter of picking between your evils with all those additives and heavy processing.
The solution? Homemade almond milk.
You’ll find your own almond milk to be far more delicious than store-bought; it’s also infinitely better for you than cow’s milk. Not only are almonds alkaline and rich in calcium, but they qualify as a superfood. And it’s practical to boot: Your homemade almond milk is a perfect substitute for milk in virtually any recipe: smoothies, cereals, hot beverages and baking. I even make homemade pudding with it.
Ever since my oldest child was a toddler, we’ve been making our own almond milk about every other day. Before you get too impressed, check out how easy it is:
Step One: Soak Your Almonds
We keep raw, organic almonds soaking in a covered glass container in the refrigerator at all times, so it’s ready when we need it. Raw is critical here. Now don’t let this whole soaking thing sound like a nuisance – you’ll get in the habit and it will become effortless in time. The water should be filtered, and the almonds rinsed out and replenished with fresh water daily. If you forget every now and then, don’t sweat it.
Why soak? Because this is how we ‘sprout’ almonds – in a sense, restoring them back into a living food. Almonds don’t visibly sprout like other nuts and seeds, but the effect is the same: It activates the almonds, in a sense, by releasing the enzyme inhibitors, which makes the almonds both easier to digest and more nutritious. Just make sure they’ve soaked for at least 12 hours.
Now, you can find almond-milk recipes all over the internet, but you don’t need to follow any recipe. Plus, other sources will generally recommend adding dates, maple syrup, salt or stevia to your almond milk. I personally think this isn’t necessary. I didn’t want my family getting hooked on that touch-of-sweetness in their milk, and I made my life much easier in the process. I’m all for doing what’s healthier and simpler.
Step Two: Blend Your Almonds
Rinse the almonds and toss a large handful into the Vitamix. (Some recipes will provide you with a precise water-to-almond ratio, but believe me you don’t need measuring cups. It’s almost impossible to mess up this recipe.) Then fill the Vitamix most of the way with pure, filtered water. Blend for around a minute.
Voila! Rich, delicious almond milk. There’s just one final step now: The almond pulp has to be strained out using a nut-milk bag. I bought mine at a raw-vegan store, but now they’re sold on Amazon.
Step Three: Strain the Milk
Holding the nut-milk bag over a bowl, slowly pour the milk through the bag and let it drain into the bowl. When finished, rinse the bag well inside and out with a touch of dish soap to wash out any of the oils from the almonds and to keep the bag clean and long-lasting. It’s important to let the nut-milk bag air dry thoroughly.
Enjoy, and congratulations on taking this step toward a healthier home!