Almond milk was invented by French bakers in the Middle Ages to combat spoiled milk. Milk had to be bought and used fresh, so this raised the cost of milk. To complicate matters, vendors often diluted milk to increase their profit margins.
Almonds are high in unsaturated fat. This is good for two reasons:
- Unsaturated fat has been proven to reduce heart disease by causing a rise in the "good cholesterol" that we're always hearing about.
- Almond milk can be, and traditionally has been, whipped into a spread much like butter, but much healthier.
In addition to the health benefits of unsaturated fat, almonds and their derivatives, are an unrivaled source of Vitamin E; an excellent source of zinc, fiber, phosphorus, magnesium and calcium. Calcium is probably one of the most important nutrients in almond milk, because it is an oft overlooked component of a healthy vegetarian or vegan diet.
Commercial almond milk is available, and IMHO pretty good. I was introduced to it when a roommate brought home a couple quarts of Blue Diamond Almond Breeze. It's more neutral tasting than most soy milks, which is less startling to a normal milk drinker. If you're really interested in almond milk, the cheapest way to get your fix is to make your own - DIY.
Making almond milk is simple. Recipies call for anywhere from 2 to 4 parts water to 1 part chopped almonds. Purée the almonds in a blender or food processor eg a Cuisinart. Strain with cheesecloth. Small additions such as puréed rasins or vanilla extract are commonly added for flavor. Chocolate almond milk is delicious, also. Almonds, organic or not, cost roughly $4 or $5 (USD) per pound. This may seem expensive, but one pound of almonds should give you many quarts, depending on desired thickness.