Nondairy beverages made from nuts — almonds, cashews, and hazelnuts, to name a few — are a nutritious, tasty alternative to both dairy and other nondairy beverages.
Unlike cow's milk, nut beverages contain no saturated fat, cholesterol, or lactose. Nut milks are also packed with essential nutrients. For example, almonds provide 6 grams of protein per ounce of dry nuts (that's about 24 shelled nuts), plus they are a good source of calcium, copper, fiber, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin E, and zinc. In fact, 1 ounce of almonds provides 50% of the DRI (Dietary Reference Intake) of vitamin E — a whopping 7 milligrams.
Hazelnuts (filberts) also pack a punch in the nutrient department but deliver a bit less vitamin E and protein. In any case, research indicates that when it comes to providing protection against coronary heart disease, nuts can significantly reduce the risk.
Making your own nondairy nut milks is easy. To make a nut beverage, the general rule is to use a ratio of 1 part nuts to 4 parts cold water. Use raw, unsalted nuts. Those with a skin, such as almonds, can be blanched to remove it. Here's a simple recipe:
If the nuts have a skin, blanch them by bringing a pot of water to a boil. Add the nuts and boil them for 30 seconds. Drain nuts in a colander. Pop the skins off the nuts. Place the blanched nuts in a blender with the water and any desired sweetener. Whirl for 2 to 3 minutes until you have a thick white beverage. Strain the resulted nut milk through a fine sieve to remove any residual particles or drink it as-is. To use your nut beverage as the base for a nutritional shake, just add your favorite fruit or other ingredients and blend again.
If you are allergic to tree nuts, then almond and other nut beverages are not for you. Nut beverages also should not be used as a substitute for breast milk or formula for infants. But if you're free to go nuts, do so in good health.