Nut milks can be substituted for milk for drinking, for shakes, and in baking. Nut milks are not at all difficult to prepare. They are high in fat-burning essential fatty acids and fat-burning amino acids (i.e. protein); thus one should not consider nut milk as fattening.1 For drinking and using on cereals, I consider nut milk much tastier than soy milk. The main disadvantage is the high cost of nuts.
I don't recommend commercial nut milk products. The first question I have is whether the nuts used in them have been presoaked for good assimilation. Secondly they contain ingredients that are not present in home prepared recipes. For example, note the ingredients on one brand of almond milk,2 which is characteristic of other commercial nut and grain milk products:
Ingredients: filterd water, almonds, brown rice sweetener (filtered water, brown rice) natural flavor, tricalcium phosphate, sea salt, guar gum, xanthan gum, carrageenan, carob bean gum, vitamin B2, vitamin A palmitate, vitamin D 2
While similar ingredients are present in some other dairy foods I do use, such as cottage cheese and cream cheese, I use these only occasionally. By comparison, a non-dairy alternative is likely to be used almost daily by most people for breakfasts and even in baking. The consumer's dilemma is determining what all these ingredients contribute nutritionally. For example, Nourishing Traditions cites that synthetic vitamin D2 "has been linked to hyperactivity, coronary heart disease and other allergic reactions."3
You can make your own nut milk from basic ingredients that are beneficial. I favor Almond Milk over Coconut Milk as a better compliment to grains, either used in baking or with cereals because it is a better source of protein than coconut milk. The protein is also highly digestible. Would you believe that almond milk was used extensively in medieval kitchens where there was no refrigeration to rely on for keeping dairy milk for very long? Medieval cooks also used walnuts for milk. Apparently, Medieval cookbooks included many recipes calling for almond milk! Is that not amazing? Almonds, of course, were a prominent nut crop in the Middle East (do an almond word search in your Bible).
The latest new nut milk on the market is hempmilk. It is high in omega fatty acids and essential amino acids. It also contains similar ingredients as listed in the example above. It currently costs over $4.00 per quart.
1 An excellent reference is Not Milk...Nut Milks! by Candia Lea Cole, Woodbridge Press, Santa Barbara, CA 93160, 1992 (see footnote2 p. 15).
2 Almond Milk: All Natural Non-Dairy Bev., Low Fat Original, Pacific brand.
3 Nourishing Traditions, 2001, p. 39.
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