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Many are making the switch from cows milk to non-dairy plant milks. For those with a dairy intolerance or allergy, this would be a no-brainer, and for everyone else it should be something to consider. Conventional cows milk raises many digestive issues as it is filled with inflammatory compounds and hard to digest proteins such as casein.

While these “plant” milks are excellent for a large part of the population that avoids dairy – What are these premade, prepackaged dairy-free milks made from? While we may be familiar with the infamous ingredient carageenan (an extract from seaweed that can be destructive to the digestive system), what else are in these “plant” milks?

The Problem with Almond Milk

Almond milk is touted as a health beverage, and while it neither contains a cocktail of antibiotics, nor is it the result of factory farming, these boxed plant milks offer very little nutritional value. It turns out those little half gallon cartons of almond milk specifically, contains less than handful of almonds and it is estimated that almonds make up only 2% of the total drink.

Luckily it’s fairly simple to make almond milk at home. However, I raise a new issue with the trend. Due to the drought in California, the price of everything almond has skyrocketed! California is the worlds top producer of the nut, contributing to 90% of the world’s supply of almonds, and get this – it takes over 1 gallon of water (which they don’t have) to produce ONE, yes one, almond!

While almond milk is by far, the most well-known milk alternative, there are other plant milks! Of course, almond milk is simple to make at home but making almond milk at home doesn’t mean that the almonds you are using aren’t coming from California. I should also mention; tree nuts are a top allergen making this plant milk unsafe to bring to school.

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Luckily there is option that is both sustainable, school-safe and super easy to make (no tedious soaking required), this being HEMP milk!

Hemp Milk – The Healthy and Sustainable Choice!

If you aren’t using hemp yet, I encourage you to start! Hemp is a crop which can be grown in a wide variety of conditions around the world. I call hemp “the way of the future” as the entire plant can be used from seed, stalk to root for making food, clothing, rope, paper, building materials, animal bedding, eco-friendly “plastic”, paint and fuel! Another interesting point is that hemp has never been genetically modified and does not require synthetic pesticides, herbicides and fungicides to grow – it is not a picky plant and grows well in a large variety of environmental conditions.

So as you can see the potential for hemp goes beyond using it for our nutrition, however I have a few points to make that get you on the path to being “fuelled by hemp”! This oil seed can be used to make hemp oil, hemp “hearts”, hemp milk and hemp flour. Since hemp is a seed (not a nut); is naturally gluten-free; and has a very low case of allergies, it is a great choice for many.

Hemp is an excellent source of plant-based proteins. It contains all of the essential amino acids, making it a perfect source of complete protein for those who follow a plant-based, vegan/vegetarian lifestyle, but also for those who like to add in a good quality plant protein with an animal protein. In only 3 tablespoons of hemp you get a mighty 10g of protein! Making hemp a simple addition to any meal for a protein boost.

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Hemp contains more than just protein. Since this is an oil seed it is also an excellent source of healthy fats and more specifically, plant-based omega-3. Hemp is made up of about two-thirds linoleic acid, an omega-6 essential fatty acid, and one third alpha linoleic acid (ALA), the omega-3 that can be converted into EPA, for pain and inflammation and DHA for the brain! As the body can’t create essential fats, these fatty acids must be obtained through the diet. In just 3 tablespoons of hemp you get 10g of omegas. Hemp is also unique for containing the perfect ratio of omega-6 to omega-3, in a 3:1 ratio. While many foods contain omega-3, such as walnuts, they typically contain an omega fat ratio more like 6:1.

We need to maintain a balance of omega-3 to omega-6 as too much omega-6 is a contributor of inflammation. While we do need omega-6 to some degree for our health, maintaining the ratio is key. Omega-3 is anti-inflammatory and benefits everything from the skin, eyes, brain, digestive system and heart. It is estimated that the standard American diet consists of an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 50:1, that’s nowhere near 3:1, and can explain why we have so cases of inflammatory diseases.

Last but not least, before I share with you the simplest recipe in the world for HEMP milk. In 3 tablespoons of hemp, not only are you getting 10g of protein and 10.5g of omega’s, but you are also getting 2g of fiber, and all of the carbs in hemp are fiber. Making this a low-carb, high-protein, high-fat, ketogenic and low-glycemic power seed!

Now that you are a hemp master, and have been somewhat convinced that almond milk is so 2015, here is the recipe for the simplest hemp milk to replace all other plant milks.

Simple Hemp Milk

Makes 2 1/2 – 3 cups

What you need:

  • 1 cup raw hemp hearts
  • 3 cups filtered water
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What to do:

  1. Add your hemp hearts and water to a blender. Blast on high for 30 to 60 seconds until creamy and combined
  2. Consume unstrained for the most nutritional benefit (protein, omega-3 & fiber) or strain with a nut milk bag for a smoother milk. If straining, please save your hemp pulp and make some delicious raw cookies to limit treasured waste.

And that’s it! This is a simple recipe for a protein-filled, omega-3 packed and fiber containing plant milk!

Lasts 2-3 days when refrigerated

NOTES:

You can also make this milk fancy! Depending on your time frame. Here is another option for an extra fancy Hemp Milk:

Fancy Hemp Milk

Makes 2 1/2 – 3 cups

What you need:

  • 1 cup raw hemp hearts
  • 3 cups filtered water
  • 2 pitted dates soaked, or 1-2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon raw coconut butter or oil (optional for a richer milk)
  • 1 tablespoon non-GMO sunflower seed lecithin (for added brain benefits and for obtaining a a smooth consistency)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of Himalayan salt

What to do:

  1. Add all of your ingredients to the blender. Blast on high for 30 to 60 seconds until creamy and combined
  2. Again, consume unstrained for the most nutritional benefit or strain with a nut milk bag for a smoother milk.

Lasts 2-3 days when refrigerated

NOTES:

You could flavor this milk with raw cacao, cinnamon or berries!

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Holisticole
Holistic Nutritionist
Nicole Eckert is a Holistic Nutritionist and the Owner + Founder of Holisticole. On her holistic living blog: holisticole.com - you can find amazing clean-eating recipes, informative blog posts and online programs.
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