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All About Almond Milk

Almond milk burst into the marketplace in 2013. Swiftly outcompeting its aging plant-based nemesis, soy milk, it moved to prey on dairy. This seemingly ancient juggernaut, once a prime beverage, has staggered through a decades-long decline in US per capita consumption. Positioning almond milk as a healthier, more sustainable lactose-free alternative to cow’s milk has allowed brands like Silk and Almond Breeze to successfully challenge the dairy industry's monopoly. The process is nowhere near finished, mind you, as more consumers come daily to embrace the taste and health benefits of plant-based beverages. While new alternatives sourced from plants are continually emerging, almond milk remains both leader and flagbearer. Indeed, for some, it is virtually synonymous with nut milk!

Elmhurst is the poster child for the plant-based revolution: a family dairy that closed its doors and reopened to sell almond milk. Why would a company with 90 years invested in cows do this?

  • Was it the array of health benefits, including antioxidant properties, weight management, and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, that almond milk offers?
  • Was it almond milk’s potential to substitute for dairy milk in coffee, cereal, smoothies, and more?
  • Was it that Elmhurst had the technology to produce an almond milk with a nutty flavor and creamy texture, free of gums and emulsifiers?

Actually, it was all of the above. Let's take a closer look!

Almond Milk Nutrition

There is not a single nutrition panel for almond milk. It can vary significantly by brand. Here are the ranges we found for the most popular, widely-consumed brands:

  • Calories
    • Unsweetened: 30-130 kcal
    • Sweetened: 50-150 kcal
  • Fat
    • 2-11g fat, predominantly monounsaturated
  • Carbs
    • Unsweetened: 1-3g carbs
    • Sweetened: 6-9g carbs
  • Protein
    • 0-5g protein

Why such variation?

Sadly, many nut milks exist as water emulsions. When drinking these beverages, you might assume that the creaminess you taste comes from the almonds themselves – because it IS almond milk, after all! Alas, a deception lurks. For certain brands, the actual nut percentage can hover around just 2% 1, so other ingredients – principally guar gum 2,xanthan gum 3, and sunflower lecithin 4 – are often added to achieve a satisfyingly thick mouthfeel.

To add insult to injury, fewer nuts per serving also translates to lower fat and protein counts. The calories in such milks will invariably be lower, which some competitors cite as a sort of benefit. When you consider that these calories possess all of the nutritional value of nut milk, this is not such a good thing.

If you're looking for unparalleled authenticity, Elmhurst's unsweetened almond milk is made with up to 4x as many nuts compared to other brands and just two ingredients: water and almonds. You can be sure that this product's creaminess and nutritional quality come directly from their source ingredient.

Benefits of Almond Milk: What Makes Almond Milk Good for You

As note, almond milks differ in how many almonds they actually use. While we cannot say exactly what makes almond milk good for you, research paints a resounding picture for the almond itself.

  • Low in carbs; high in fat and protein
    • Collectively, all of these components work together to help to keep blood sugar levels steady
  • High in monounsaturated fat
    • Consuming a diet high monounsaturated fats has been shown to help with weight management and promote weight loss 5
    • High amounts of monounsaturated fats have been shown to reduce risk of cardiovascular disease by way of reducing LDL and triglycerides, increasing HDL, decreasing oxidized LDL and lowering blood pressure 6
    • Monounsaturated fats has been shown to improve joint health by preventing destruction of cartilage under stressful conditions 7
  • Rich in vitamin E
    • Vitamin E, the most abundant fat-soluble antioxidant in our skin, helps prevent wrinkles by defending our skin from free radicals, oxidative damage and UV radiation 8
    • Vitamin E synergizes with selenium to boost levels of the body’s master antioxidant, glutathione, to combat inflammation 9
    • Vitamin E enhances immunity and regulates gene expression 8
  • Good source of protein
    • Diets high in protein are more satiating than those high in fat or carbohydrates, and thus, are more effective for weight loss 10 11
  • Good source of potassium
    • Ancestral diets high in potassium have been linked to lower blood pressure 12, thereby reducing risk of cardiovascular disease

Of course, these benefits do not generalize to all almond milks since most brands use blanched almonds and strain the liquid they produce, discarding the fiber and antioxidants comprising almonds’ health halo.

Elmhurst's HydroRelease™ process, by contrast, yields a product with a high ratio of almonds to water, preserving all of the almonds’ macronutrients and micronutrients

Unsweetened Almond Milk

Many almond milk brands interpret "unsweetened" quite literally as no added sugars or sweeteners. They're technically right, but for Elmhurst, this marks an opportunity to delete all of the extras. What's left is the simplest almond milk possible. Remove one ingredient and you have a container of whole almonds or carton of water.

Here are some of the ingredients found in unsweetened almond milks on the market. Elmhurst only has the first two!

  • Water
  • Almonds
  • Sea Salt
  • Natural Flavor
  • Locust Bean Gum
  • Gellan Gum
  • Ascorbic Acid
  • Potassium Citrate
  • Sunflower Lecithin
  • Calcium Carbonate

Almond Milk Recipes

Almond milk doesn't just function for cereal. It can also be a terrific dairy substitute for recipes – particularly when using a brand high in nutritional value from almonds.

To get you started, we are providing a recipe from four popularly searched categories, each created by Elmhurst's own Chef Tristan Hall.

Cauliflower Pasta "Alfredo"

A ketogenic recipe
(Serves 4)

Ingredients

  • 2 Cups Elmhurst Unsweetened Milked Almonds
  • 8 Cups Cauliflower Florets
  • 4 Cups Vegetable Stock
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 Tbsp Garlic, Minced
  • ½ Cup Nutritional Yeast
  • 2 Tbsp Lemon Juice, Fresh
  • 1 Tsp Onion Powder
  • 1 Tsp Garlic Powder
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste
  • 1 Spaghetti Squash, Cooked
  • Parsley, Chopped (as a garnish)

Preparation

  1. In a large pot, add cauliflower florets and cover with vegetable stock. Bring to soft boil. Once the stock is boiling, cook for an additional 3 to 7 minutes until fork tender. Drain and set aside.
  2. Next add oil in a separate pan and sauté minced garlic over low heat for about 5 minutes until soft and fragrant. DO not burn! Next add in Elmhurst US Milked Almonds, cooked cauliflower, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Simmer for about 5 to 10 minutes and slightly cool.
  3. If using an immersion blender or regular blender, puree the sauce until a smooth consistency is reached. Transfer mixture back to the pot and combine cooked pasta until heated through for about 5 minutes.
  4. Serve warm and enjoy!

Almond Peach Spiced Smoothie Bowl

A smoothie recipe
(Serves 4)

Ingredients

  • 2 Cups Elmhurst Unsweetened Milked Almonds
  • 3 Cups Peaches, Sliced and Frozen
  • 2 Cups Bananas, Sliced and Frozen
  • 1 Tbsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Tsp Chai Spice
  • ¼ Cup Almond Butter
  • ½ Cup Blueberries, Fresh
  • 4 Tbsp Almonds, Sliced

Preparation

  1. In a Vitamix or blender, add Elmhurst Milked US Almonds with ½ the of bananas, peaches, almond butter and chai spice. Pulse until combined. Continue to blend to a smooth consistency. Add more Elmhurst US Milked Almonds to thin as needed.
  2. Divide the mixture into desired serving vessels and top with the remaining banana, sliced blueberries and sliced almonds.
  3. Sit back relax and enjoy!

Ian's Chia Spiced Pudding

A dessert recipe
(Serves 4)

Ingredients

  • 2 Cups Elmhurst Unsweetened Milked Almonds
  • 1 ¼ Cups Chia Seeds
  • 2 Cups Sweet Potato Puree
  • 1 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • ½ Tsp Ground Ginger
  • ⅛ Tsp Chili Powder
  • ⅛ Tsp Ground Black Pepper
  • ¼ Tsp Ground Nutmeg
  • ¼ Tsp Ground Cloves
  • 1 ½ Tbsp Cane Sugar
  • 2 Tsp Vanilla Extract, Pure
  • 2 Tbsp Agave Nectar, Optional
  • Coconut Flakes, Optional

Preparation

  1. Mix the chia seeds with Elmhurst US Almond Milk bowl, and let the mixture sit for 5 minutes. Whisk or stir the mixture to evenly disperse the chia seeds. Cover and place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
  2. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, chili powder, sugar and black pepper.
  3. Remove the chia pudding from the refrigerator, and stir in the pumpkin purée, dry spice mixture, vanilla extract, and agave nectar, if using
  4. Serve garnished with coconut flakes and enjoy!

Raspberry Overnight Oats with Almond Milk

An overnight oat with almond milk recipe
(Serves 4)

Ingredients

  • 2 Cups Elmhurst Unsweetened Milked Almonds
  • 2 Cups Steel Cut Oats
  • 2 ½ Tbsp. Almond Butter
  • 2 Tbsp Maple Syrup
  • 2 ½ Tbsp Chia Seeds
  • ¾ Tsp Almond Extract
  • 3 Cups Raspberries, Fresh or Frozen
  • 2 Tbsp Maple Syrup
  • 2 Tbsp Water

Preparation

  1. In a small sauce pan, combine raspberries, maple syrup and water. Bring to a gentle simmer. Allow to cook for a couple of minutes until the raspberries have cooked down and remove from heat.
  2. In a medium bowl combine, almond butter, maple syrup, chia seeds and almond extract. Add Elmhurst Milked US Almond and steel cut oats. Whisk together all ingredients until fully incorporated. Divide mixture into desired serving vessels and place in fridge till the next day.
  3. Served warmed or at room temp. Top with raspberry compote and enjoy!

Why Choose Elmhurst?

Certain very well-known brands of almond milk force us into a heavy distinction between almonds and almond milk. Using fewer nuts and blanched, rather than whole raw almonds, dilutes nutritional value. This is why protein, fat and calories are relatively low. By contrast, Elmhurst's original and unsweetened almond milks combine more nuts (up to 4x the number per serving) and a process which separates and recombines all nutrients, resulting in a flavorful, creamy beverage with a multitude of uses.

References

  1. Franklin-Wells O. White gold: the unstoppable rise of alternative milks Health & Fitness 2019; https://www.theguardian.com/news/2019/jan/29/white-gold-the-unstoppable-rise-of-alternative-milks-oat-soy-rice-coconut-plant. Accessed June 25, 2019, 2019.
  2. Wikipedia. Guar Gum. 2019; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guar_gum. Accessed June 20, 2019, 2019.
  3. Wikipedia. Xantham Gum. 2019; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xanthan_gum. Accessed June 20, 2019, 2019.
  4. Wikipedia. Lecithin. 2019; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lecithin. Accessed June 20, 2019, 2019.
  5. Elizondo A, Araya J, Rodrigo R, et al. Effects of weight loss on liver and erythrocyte polyunsaturated fatty acid pattern and oxidative stress status in obese patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Biological research. 2008;41(1):59-68.
  6. Martínez-González MÁ, Sánchez-Villegas A. Review: The emerging role of Mediterranean diets in cardiovascular epidemiology: Monounsaturated fats, olive oil, red wine or the whole pattern? European Journal of Epidemiology. 2004;19(1):9-13.
  7. Bastiaansen-Jenniskens YM, Siawash M, van de Lest CH, et al. Monounsaturated and Saturated, but Not n-6 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids Decrease Cartilage Destruction under Inflammatory Conditions: A Preliminary Study. Cartilage. 2013;4(4):321-328.
  8. Services USDoHH. Vitamin E: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. 2018; https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminE-HealthProfessional/. Accessed June 20, 2019, 2019.
  9. Michaelsson G, Edqvist LE. Erythrocyte glutathione peroxidase activity in acne vulgaris and the effect of selenium and vitamin E treatment. Acta dermato-venereologica. 1984;64(1):9-14.
  10. Weigle DS, Breen PA, Matthys CC, et al. A high-protein diet induces sustained reductions in appetite, ad libitum caloric intake, and body weight despite compensatory changes in diurnal plasma leptin and ghrelin concentrations. The American journal of clinical nutrition. 2005;82(1):41-48.
  11. Holt SH, Miller JC, Petocz P, Farmakalidis E. A satiety index of common foods. European journal of clinical nutrition. 1995;49(9):675-690.
  12. Cordain L, Eaton SB, Sebastian A, et al. Origins and evolution of the Western diet: health implications for the 21st century. The American journal of clinical nutrition. 2005;81(2):341-354.

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