Go Nuts! Make Your Own Almond Milk

Soothing the Digestive System with dairy-free milk alternatives is a great way to boost the health of sensitive skin. Almonds contain a lot of Omega fatty acids (good fats for skin). Since I learned that commercial almond milks only have 2% almonds in them I started making it at home. 

Making it at home has another benefit not available in boxed almond milk; soaking the nuts overnight in water begins the sprouting process, releasing additional nutrients good for the skin. Soaking also helps to get rid of the reddish-brown phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors in the almond skins, which can interfere with the function of our digestive and metabolic enzymes. 

Anyone can easily make their own almond milk at home for a fraction of the cost of the factory-made versions in supermarkets. Caveat: A regular blender isn’t going to be strong or sharp-bladed enough to make your own almond milk (or a Skin Nourishing Smoothie), so I highly recommend investing in a Vitamix (or in Europe a Pousse Pousse) machine, a nut milk straining bag, a funnel, and a glass jar (preferably with a wide mouth that's easy to clean) to store and serve nut milk). 

The Zen Guy's Almond Milk Recipe: 

Most almonds are required to be pasteurized, a process that strips the nuts of nutrients using heat or the Propylene Oxide (PPO) chemical treatment. (PPO is a highly toxic flammable chemical compound, once used as a racing fuel before it was prohibited for safety reasons.) Raw almonds are better to use than dried or roasted because they haven’t been heated or exposed to PPO, but it can be hard to find almonds that are truly raw. Some small producers in the U.S. have been exempted from the pasteurization requirement and sell raw almonds. 

1. Soak 1 cup of raw almonds in water in a glass or ceramic bowl overnight on the countertop to soften. 

2. Rinse off the brown phytates that have soaked out during the night and toss the nuts into the Vitamix. 

Notice that after soaking the almonds over night that the reddish-brown phytic acid makes a solid ring around the bowl that takes some scrubbing to remove. This isn't removed from commercial almond milk.

Notice that after soaking the almonds over night that the reddish-brown phytic acid makes a solid ring around the bowl that takes some scrubbing to remove. This isn't removed from commercial almond milk.


3. Add 3 cups of filtered or spring water. 

4. Start the Vitamix on 1 and then gradually turn up to the highest setting for about 30 seconds. 

High almond to liquid ratio

High almond to liquid ratio

5. Rest the funnel on the mouth of the glass jar, and place the nut milk bag in the funnel. Pour the contents of the blender through the bag. Squeeze the pulverized nut meal until all liquid has been removed. 

Squeeze the remaining almond milk out of the nut milk bag.

Squeeze the remaining almond milk out of the nut milk bag.

6. Consider adding 1 teaspoon of coconut sugar nectar (based on a factory tour in Bali of the 'Big Tree' brand; the taste is amazing, it's sustainably collected, it has a low glycemic index and the taste is excellent) and a dash of vanilla extract.

Stay tuned for The Zen Guy's Skin Quenching Superfood Smoothie Recipe  

Got Milk? Got Eczema?

Phase 2 of The Zen Skin Philosophy is all about SOOTHING DIGESTION and this principle involves avoiding eczema trigger foods. Basically, all substances related to cow milk—such as cream, cheese, ice cream, butter, and yoghurt—have proven to be irritating to the digestive system, which in turn irritates sensitive skin conditions like dermatitis. 

There are two substances related to dairy that are even harder to avoid. Whey and casein are byproducts from cow milk and cheese production industries, and they are often difficult to identify on product labels. These two irritants are the main proteins in cow milk, so not only are they found where you'd expect them in milk, yoghurt, and creamy soups, but they can also be found hiding in margarine, tuna, dairy-free cheese, non-dairy coffee creamer, semisweet/milk chocolate, cereal bars, cheese-flavored chips and snack crackers, and processed meats. Whey is a cheap protein that cheese makers usually throw away but it’s commonly added to protein powders, protein bars, and commercially made smoothies like those at Starbucks. Most wine is made using casein from milk as well! Of course, alcohol is another eczema trigger for the digestive system.

Since milk protein seems to be pervasive in our food culture, boxes of dairy-free nut milks have sprouted up in the last few years as a popular alternative. Are soy and almond milk the panacea replacement that we can douse our cereal with and pour in our lattes? Yes and No. Nut milks can be a viable alternative but commercially produced almond milk contains about 2 percent almonds and the rest is water, sugar, and thickening agents.* Not only should people with eczema avoid sugar but those with common sense should realise it doesn't make sense to pay a premium for a product like almond milk when it actually has so little almond protein in it. Almonds are packed with Omega-3, 6 and 9 fatty acids (healthy fats) so 2 percent almonds in commercial almond milk won't have a lot of skin benefits. I thought that was nuts! So I learned how to make my own almond milk. Stay tuned for that recipe.

*Ryan Gorman, “Why Almond Milk Is a Rip-Off,” Business Insider, April 17, 2015, http://www.businessinsider.com/why-almond-milk-is-basically-a-scam-2015-4.