Almond milk seemed to appear on supermarket shelves in Sydney overnight. And not just one or two brands for us to choose from either, the market was literally flooded. I’m trying to pinpoint the article someone wrote or the event that may have occurred to set the avalanche off, but I haven’t as yet.
Don’t get me wrong, I couldn’t be happier about alternate milks like almond and coconut milks hitting the ‘mainstream’ but as with all commercial endeavours, profit is one of the main drivers where most companies are concerned. You want almond milk we’ve got almond milk! In a rush to get the next fad product out, some have arrived with a stack of unfavourable ingredients that lend themselves more to preserving shelf life than promoting health, so reading labels is a must.
I regularly make almond milk and other nut milks at home and I can assure you all you need are almonds (activated is my preference), water, a pinch of salt and maybe a sweetener like dates, honey, maple syrup, rice malt syrup or stevia if you feel like it. That’s it. Three to four ingredients are all it takes.
Of the now numerous almond milks (that I know of) there are only four I have come across that contain these very basic ingredients. They are Inside Out Nutritious Goods Almond Milk, Luz Almond Milk, Pureharvest Organic Almond Milk and more recently Bruce Organic Almond Milk.
- Carrageenan (a seaweed that has been reported to cause gut issues and/or intestinal inflammation in some people)
- Maltodextrin (basically sugar, mostly made from either wheat or corn so not always gluten-free and they don’t always list which one has been used)
- Agave syrup (much debate about this one as study results are unclear. Some health experts say it’s a healthy sweetener, others say its up there with high fructose corn syrup – my thoughts align with the second camp)
- Vitamin A Palmitate – (often derived from palm oil, which is damaging to the environment)
- Calcium carbonate (no real issue with this however it is not a well absorbed form of calcium)
- Various gums (I tend to think these should be avoided by those with digestive issues as they may cause digestive upset and some such as xanthum gum may cause allergic reactions in those with dairy, soy, wheat or corn allergies)
- Lecithin (some don’t say whether its soy or sunflower so may be an issue for those with soy allergies)
- Natural almond flavours (why does almond milk need almond flavours??!)
That is a very big list of extra things when we’ve already established you only need a handful of ingredients, no? To make matters worse some of them have all of these ingredients, not just a few! So, consider your research done. Next time you’re purchasing almond milk all you need to do is grab one of the four brands above with The Tolerant Table tick of approval and be on your way. They are all wonderful, pure products that have your health in mind and they contain nothing more than the basic ingredients. It is worth noting these are the products available in Sydney, so if you’re not from around these parts just make sure you read the ingredients of any of the almond milks available where you are.
It’s a bit tough when you’re fond of a milky coffee in the morning and the only milks available are cow or soy, and you’re intolerant to both. So something else I am over the moon about in the midst of the almond milk boom is cafes taking the trend on board. What I am not so thrilled about is their choice of almond milk. Most are offered the same brand by their suppliers and unfortunately they don’t read the ingredients it contains, many of which are in the list above. When a cafe says they have almond milk I always ask, ‘which one?’. If they tell me they make their own, I find it difficult not to hug them, although somehow I contain the urge. If they don’t make their own and they don’t say Inside Out, Luz, Pureharvest or Bruce is the brand I ask to see the carton. If it contains any of the ingredients above, I start up a conversation and mention the not so healthy side effects of the product they’re using and ask if they’d be willing to change. Most are, so feel free to do the same in your local cafe. Tell them why you would love them to change their almond milk as I’m quite positive they don’t want to be serving you something that will affect your health. Most are just supplying what they think their customers want, which is so lovely. We can just help them make a better, and healthier choice.
So after all that, where can you find these almond milks*? Some can be found in supermarkets and/or health food stores but best to check websites for stockists.
- Inside Out Nutritious Goods Almond Milk – Provide both unsweetened and sweetened almond milks along with a range of flavoured milks. I love them all, although their salted caramel flavoured milk contains E150, which the lovely folk have confirmed is from a natural source, however I still think this is one (and the only one of their milk products) for the intolerant types to avoid.
- Luz Almond Milk – They also have both unsweetened and sweetened almond milks and an espresso or medjool date flavoured milk.
- Pureharvest Organic Almond Milk
- Bruce Organic Almond Milk
And cafes who stock almond milk? (this list will continue to be updated)
- Pioik Bakery – Pyrmont (make their own)
- The Book Kitchen – Surry Hills (Inside Out)
- Two Chaps – Marrickville (Inside Out)
- The Venus Cafe – Darlinghurst (make their own)
- Reuben Hills – Surry Hills (make their own)
- Paramount Coffee Project – Surry Hills (make their own)
A little note: Some of my four preferred companies sell a number of products and whilst I’m sure they’re all pure and delicious, I have not seen them all nor reviewed their ingredients so please note my support at this point is solely for the almond milks. I will get to all the other products in the very near future and update the blog accordingly.