Almond milk is a staple in my diet – I drink it by the glass, add it to cereal, and please don’t talk to me until I’ve had my coffee with steamed almond milk first thing in the morning. Almond milk can be as simple as mixing water with soaked almonds, and draining the pulp – but bottled almond milk sold in stores usually has at least a few artificial ingredients added to thicken and sweeten the milk. Generally, if I can’t pronounce something on the label, I think twice about eating it. Enter carrageenan (pronounced car·ra·geen·an). This thickening agent is used in several commercial almond milks, and is also an ingredient found in other food products, including some baby formulas. Although carrageenan is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (the federal agency responsible for regulating food), the agency also notes that high levels of carrageenan can cause gastrointestinal problems. Guinea pigs exposed to high levels of carrageenan in their diet even developed ulcers (eek!).
The Verdict: Normal amounts of carrageenan in your diet should be fine, but if you have an almond milk addiction like me, or if you just want to be careful about what you’re eating, making your own almond milk is easy.
Measure about two cups of almonds in a bowl.
Cover almonds with about an inch of water, and let them soak in the fridge overnight.
After almonds have soaked, strain the almonds. Discard water.
Add almonds, two cups of fresh water, 4-5 pitted dates, ½ tsp of cinnamon, ¼ tsp vanilla extract, and a pinch of sea salt to blender and blend on high speed until smooth.
Pour almond mixture into nut bag, cheese cloth, or stocking, and drain the milk into a bowl, squeezing the milk out as you go.
Pour the almond milk back into the rinsed blender before pouring it in your milk jug. Now enjoy! Splash some in your coffee or on top of granola, or drink alone. This makes about two cups, so I usually double the recipe if I want it to last more than five minutes.