Almond milk is one of the many artificially prepared food items available to us owing to the advancements in science and technology. Known for its versatility, almond milk is often used as a substitute for dairy milk especially by people who are allergic to dairy products. As the article follows, we will delve deeper into its various benefits and applications.
What is Almond Milk?
Almond milk refers to a plant milk that offers a watery texture. It has a nutty flavour and is derived from almonds. Since it is light in flavour, almond milk is now becoming a popular choice among many people especially those who are lactose intolerant or vegan. It has uses in a variety of different recipes, including baking recipes, coffee, and oatmeal.
The uses of almond milk are wide-ranging. Many people consume it as a refreshing and nutritious drink. There are others who opt for it to make coffee, tea, or hot chocolate, or as a preparatory ingredient in cereal, oats, and muesli. Furthemore, almond milk finds applications in the preparation of cakes, desserts, soups, smoothies, sauces, and even homemade ice cream.
You can easily buy almond milk from your local grocery store. When choosing the best fit for yourself, make sure you look for an unsweetened type of almond milk. You can also go for options without added emulsifiers or gums if that is an issue for you.
You can make your almond milk at home. Simply soak the almonds and then grind them. Finish the process by straining the raw almonds, and voila! You have your ready-to-consume almond milk. Over the years, research on almond milk has highlighted its plethora of health benefits, some of which we’ll discuss here.
Health Benefits Of Almond Milk
Safe And Hypoallergenic
Almond milk is hypoallergenic i.e. it is suitable for people who are allergic to certain food items. In this case, almond milk works wonders for lactose intolerant people. It is an effective substitute for any recipe that requires the use of animal milk.
Rich In Vitamin D
Vitamin D encompasses many aspects of our health. It ensures our bone strength and maintains the immune system and heart strength. In addition, vitamin D prevents any oral infections and even reduces the growth of cancer cells. A deficiency of vitamin D, however, poses a risk of fertility issues, heart diseases, infectious diseases, muscle weakness, and high blood pressure.
There are a handful of food items that offer vitamin D naturally. Although almond milk is fortified with vitamin D, they function as a good source of the vitamin. Remember that almond milk made at home doesn’t consist of vitamin D. Only a few types of almond milk are fortified with the vitamin. Make sure you check the product contents if you’re looking for a type of almond milk with vitamin D.
Rich In Vitamin E
Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant that protects the immune system from viruses and bacteria. It also assists the human body in making an efficient use of vitamin K and helps in the formation of red blood cells. Vitamin E’s anti-inflammatory properties reduces an individual’s susceptibility to cancer.
Almond milk has been found as a vital source of vitamin E. It consists of 22% of the required daily amount of vitamin E i.e. in a 100-gram portion. Different brands of almond milk will offer different portions of the vitamin. You can read through the contents to get an idea of the composition of almond milk and whether it satisfies your needs.
Lactose intolerance refers to a condition wherein an individual finds it difficult to digest lactose i.e. a sugar found in milk derived from dairies. On average, 65-70% of the human population is affected by lactose intolerance. Lactose intolerance can be a cause of many problems, including stomach pain, gas, and bloating.
As almond milk is naturally free of lactose, it functions as a great alternative to dairy-based products. Given the large number of people who suffer from lactose intolerance, almond milk has become a popular option. Therefore, lactose-intolerant people can now enjoy food items that usually consist of dairy.
If you’re opting for an unsweetened variety of almond milk, it is going to have fewer carbohydrates. Such varieties of almond milk are an ideal option for people with diabetes who need to monitor as well as control the amount of carbs in their diet on a regular basis. Unsweetened almond milk can help people to easily monitor their blood-sugar levels.
However, if you choose a commercial variety of almond milk that is sweetened, it is going to have added sugars. Consequently, it will not be low in carbs. Since these sugars are easily absorbed, they result in a rapid surge in the blood sugar levels.
Therefore, be careful when opting for a sweetened or unsweetened variety of almond milk.
Since almond milk is a plant-based milk, it naturally consists of lower carbs. Therefore, it has a lower number of calories as compared to other types of milk. In addition, unsweetened almond milk doesn’t have saturated fat and is free of lactose. But this is only true if almond milk is unsweetened.
Almond milk offers a wide range of nutrients that promote the health and well-being of an individual. An unsweetened and plain variety of almond milk consists of vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, calcium, potassium, and phosphorus. In addition, it is low in carbs and calories.
Because almond milk functions as an alternative to dairy milk, manufacturers of almond milk try to replicate the minerals and vitamins so that people consuming the dairy-free milk are not left out on important nutrients.
Promote Bone Health
Almond milk is high in calcium. In fact, it is the primary source of calcium in the diet of many people. Calcium plays an important role in the overall well-being of an individual as it promotes bone health and maintains a healthy blood pressure. Furthermore, it considerably mitigates the risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures in your body.
However, if you prepare almond milk at home, you need to look up for other sources for calcium because manufacturers of almond milk fortify such minerals and nutrients.
What are the uses for frozen almond milk?
It is often recommended to freeze your almond milk if you use it for some recipe. Since freezing almond milk causes a change in its texture and taste, blending and making it a part of another dish won’t be an issue because you will not be able to realize the change in taste or texture.
You can use almond milk ice cubes in smoothies and shakes instead of simple ice cubes. You can also use it as a coffee whitener, but make it a point to blend it before use. Go for frozen almond milk if you’re making a vegan-friendly cake or any other baking recipe. Furthermore, you can use its frozen version if you are cooking a dish on the stove and it needs almond milk.
How Can You Freeze Almond Milk?
Below are two different ways to freeze your almond milk. Each method has its respective set of merits and demerits. You can opt for the one that best fits your needs.
Steps to Freeze almond milk in a cube tray
For this method, you only need a cube tray and utmost 5 minutes. Just like you pour water in the ice trays, simply pour almond milk and store the tray in the freezer. Once the cubes have frozen, simply take them out and place them in a plastic sealable bag or a container. You can even place the ice trays in the deep freezer overnight to be sure the milk has frozen properly. When you’re done transferring the milk cubes, you can even label the bag or the container for easy recognition in the future. And finally, you can use the almond milk cubes as per your need.
Freeze almond milk in a container
For this method, you just need some airtight containers and a couple of minutes. If you’re already aware of the quantity of almond milk you’ll require for each recipe, you can fill each container according to that measurement. But make sure you leave some head-space in the container because milk tends to expand when it’s frozen. You can even add a label to easily recognise which container has frozen almond milk for a particular recipe. Place the containers in the freezer in an upright position especially till the liquid inside has frozen.
How To Thaw Almond Milk
There are some options for thawing almond milk that you can choose from.
Thaw almond milk In the fridge
Although this method is a little time-consuming, it’s the safest option. Place the containers or the cubes in the refrigerator in the evening if you wish to use them by the next day. Note that large containers will take even more time to thaw. Therefore, make sure that you consider that when you’re planning on using frozen milk from containers.
Thaw almond milk In lukewarm water
Place the container or the freezer bag in lukewarm water to speed up the defrosting process. As water is a better conductor of heat than air, thawing takes place at a faster pace. However, only lukewarm or cold water must be used to ensure both efficiency and safety. Don’t, under any circumstances, use warm water.
Thaw almond milk On the stovetop
If you’re going to use almond milk in something that will be cooked on the stove, you can simply skip the defrosting part. Add it directly to the food you’re preparing. Just make sure you stir it nicely to properly defrost it.
If you want to fix separated thawed almond milk, use a blender to blend almond milk for approximately 30 seconds until you observe that the texture of the milk is fixed. In the absence of a blender, go for a food processor.
Once you defrost your almond milk, it can be consumed within 3-5 days. Fresh almond milk has a shelf life of 7-10 days. Therefore, if you choose to freeze your almond milk, it will expire even sooner.
There is a change in almond milk’s texture when it’s frozen. This is because when the milk is refrigerated for a while, the almond and the milk separate. Nonetheless, this problem can be easily tackled by blending the frozen milk using a food processor or a blender for about 30 seconds.
It is advised that you freeze almond milk before it becomes unfit for use. If you have almond milk in the refrigerator and you’re sure you will not be using it for a few days, it is best to freeze the milk.
It is evident, therefore, that almond milk has several benefits. Not only does it offer a myriad of nutrients and minerals to its consumers but also helps to lower the LDL cholesterol and at the same time, increase the HDL cholesterol. Almond milk also does wonders for the human skin.
There are some demerits of almond milk however. For one, it is unsuitable for infants i.e. babies below one year of age because consuming almond milk can hamper iron absorption. Likewise, since almond milk is artificially-made, it might contain additives, such as gums, sugar, flavours, and emulsifiers which are not healthy to consume.
However, if you’re someone with a nut allergy, don’t consume almond milk. Since almond milk has fortified nutrients in it, make sure you look into the contents of the brand of almond milk you opt for and whether they satisfy your needs. Individuals who rimarly follow a plant-based diet should consume fortified almond milk to make sure they’re getting the necessary minerals and nutrients.