I walked into Bar Nine in Culver City today to do some health coaching, and decided to try their house-made hazelnut milk. It was so delicious without adding anything to it! And so, inspired by a glass of nut milk this afternoon, I will share a few tidbits about milk with you.
Milk is a controversial topic, with many companies pushing products with labels all telling you, “buy me! I am the best!”. Most grocery stores have an entire section that contains an assortment of milk in various forms; cow, goat, hemp, flax, soy, almond, coconut, cashew, and hazelnut, all labeled with seals claiming organic, unsweetened, extra omega 3’s, vitamin D, low fat, pasture-raised etc. The list is endless. I am not here to say that you shouldn’t or shouldn’t have milk; some people can simply digest it better than others and everyone is bio-individual. I am here, however, to tell you about your options.
If I were to go into a lot of detail then this would quickly turn into a book. To avoid a novel, I have narrowed milk down to two main categories:
- Milk from animals
- Milk from plants
Milk from animals has been a heated controversy for many years. Of course, most of us start out our life on breast milk, which is by far the most nutritious option as a baby. Some of us are not as fortunate and begin our life with a bottle instead of a boob…so sad. For those that don’t have a choice in the matter of breastfeeding, Weston Price has the only formula that I have seen which reacts to the human body very closely to human breastmilk. Regardless of baby milk though, most of us have a taste of cow’s milk once we get older. It is fine for some of us and not so great for others. Some would argue it isn’t good for anyone and others will say goat milk is better. One of the reasons that some people (myself included) can digest goat milk easier than cow milk is because is it more like human milk in that it is alkaline forming, whereas cow milk is more acidic.
If milk from animals is your preference, and your body is able to digest it, then keep a few things in mind about the quality of what you are buying. Like most food, quality can make an enormous impact and even change your body’s response to the food or beverage you are ingesting. For example, some people will have indigestion or congestion from pasteurized milk, while raw milk reacts just fine for them because the beneficial bacteria in the milk that help digest lactose have not been killed.
Labels to frown about:
- Growth hormones
- Synthetic hormones
- UHT treatment (heating to 280° F)
- Cow feed may be genetically modified
- Pasteurization and irradiation (kill pathogens and bacteria that may be harmful – but also kills beneficial bacteria needed to digest milk properly)
Labels to smile about:
- Pasture raised
- Raw (controversial)
If you’re not into animal milk at all, or want to lessen the amount you have, then GO NUTS! Nuts are high in protein, minerals, healthy fats, fiber, and easy for most people to digest. The rules are a more simple than animal milk – here are some tips for nut milk:
- Organic, non-GMO: avoid the side-effects of pesticides and chemicals
- Soak and peel: gets rid of phytic acid which binds to zinc…especially important for boys
- Almonds: these are super for nut milk – they are the most alkaline nut available.
- Walnuts: high in omega 3’s, however I prefer to use them in yogurt or salads.
- Hazelnuts: high in manganese and copper…also super yummy!
- Macadamia: contain a high amount of good fat that, lowers LDL, which is the ‘bad’ cholesterol
- Cashew: loaded with healthy fats, but also creates a thicker, sweeter, and creamier milk. Cashews are great for making nut cheese too!
There are still other options such as soy, coconut, and hemp milk. Soy contains the estrogen hormone so I wouldn’t have too much of it if I were you…nobody needs too much of that stuff! Also, most soy is GMO in the US. Coconut and hemp are super yummy, but I honestly don’t both making either at home. You can try buying them at the store, but beware of added preservatives and sweeteners.
How to Make Nut Milk: All you have to do is soak, mix in a blender with water, strain through a nut milk bag or cheese cloth, and add a little natural sweetener such as honey, stevia, agave, or maple syrup. You can also add some cinnamon, vanilla, or nutmeg.
As for me, I buy raw, organic goat milk from Erewhon when I get the chance, plain goat milk kefir (from any health food store), or make my own nut milk. If I am feeling lazy, I will buy a box of nut milk at the grocery store. At the end of the day, it’s about doing the best you can with the information and time you have.