I’ve never been a great fan of milk. Memories of school milk are up there with the semolina pudding with skin that was also served …… quite frankly 100% yuk!! Free school milk was introduced shortly after WW2 to give a nutritional boost to children’s diets. Nowadays, I would suggest it gives them more a boost in a host of nasties such as antibiotics, hormones and pus ……….. mmmmm – tempting?
Mother Nature designed milk as a liquid breakfast, lunch and tea for an infant of the same species, and humans are the only species that choose to drink milk from another animal and do so well past infancy!! Also part of the grand plan is that lactase, our digestive enzyme which helps us digest the milk sugar lactose, starts to decline after age 2. Hence, why a lot of people struggle with dairy after this age.
When I suggest to people that they come off dairy, one of the immediate questions is “but where do I get my calcium?” Ever since we put a straw in our first bottle of school milk it has been engrained in us that calcium equals strong bones; milk contains lots of calcium; so milk must make strong bones. The stuff of myths!!
One of the problems is that nowadays, most milk is pasteurised, and the very high temperatures used in this process kill the enzyme in milk (phosphatase) which is critical for the absorption of minerals such as calcium. Studies show that areas where dairy-eating is prevalent are also the very areas which suffer a high incidence of osteoporosis (bone thinning condition). There are raw-milk lovers who extol the benefits of their chosen beverage, but for me vegan is the way to go.
As to where to get calcium from, ask yourself what do cows eat, and also what about elephants? They grow pretty huge with strong bones, but have you ever seen one drink a banana milkshake? I‘m guessing not!! The answer is greens. We can get plenty of calcium from plant sources.
Nowadays, I enjoy nut and seed milks, which I can promise you have been nowhere near a cow. These make great alternatives to dairy and can be easily made at home. If you are just adjusting your diet and finding the whole thing overwhelming, then the good news is that most supermarkets stock alternative milks such as oat or almond. Watch out, however, for additives, but as a starter for ten, these are a great option. Once you’ve bedded in this change into your diet, you may get curious and even adventurous and start making your own. So here are a few simple pointers ………..
How to make a nut / seed milk
Ideal candidates: Almonds (my fave); Brazil nuts; cashews; sunflower seeds; pumpkin seeds; hemp seeds (if using the unshelled, best to use a high powered blender such as a Vitamix to pulverise them) Equipment needed: a blender and a nut milk bag (or a piece of material such as muslin which can be used for straining). A wide mouth jug is also handy (otherwise the milk can go all over the place!)
Soak 1 cup of nuts / seeds of your choice for about 6 hours.
- Discard the soak water, and rinse.
- If using almonds – skin.
- Blend: Add the nuts / seeds plus 1 pint of fresh water to the blender and whiz until broken down.
- You can make the milks creamier / thinner by using less / more water.
- Strain: Drape the milk bag over a wide mouth jug & pour the blended contents into the bag.
- Squeeze out the milk.
- Store: Can be stored up to 2 days in the fridge, but it is best when freshly prepared.
If you want to learn more – come along to my next Demo Workshop on Juices, Smoothies and Nut Milks – see my website for details.