For various and sundry reasons, mostly out of dismay with the dairy industry and their treatment of cows, I’ve been drinking alternative milks: soy milk, almond milk and rice milk, to varying degrees of satisfaction. Wait, what’s wrong with cow’s milk, you ask? Here’s a snippet from a longer article on Peta’s website, “Cows produce milk for the same reason that humans do: to nourish their young. In order to force the animals to continue giving milk, factory farm operators typically impregnate them using artificial insemination every year. Calves are generally taken from their mothers within a day of being born. After their calves are taken from them, mother cows are hooked up, several times a day, to milking machines. Using genetic manipulation, powerful hormones, and intensive milking, factory farmers force cows to produce about 10 times as much milk as they would naturally.”
But back to the story on hemp milk, which makes me happy (the dairy industry does not). Soy was great, until we learned the truth about soy cultivation, processing and the detriments of soy to our systems and our ecosystems.
Almond milk is quite good, but once I learned how easy it is to make it, I find it nearly impossible to buy it (and am somehow also too lazy to make it myself). Just in case you’re not lazy, here are a couple of almond milk recipes:
This great recipe for making your own almond milk is from Vegan Reader. It involves blanching, which for some reason is one step too many for me – though the author claims it will make the milk taste sweeter and have a better texture (and I believe her).
Just in case you share my feelings about blanching, here’s a non-blanching recipe:
1 part almonds
4 parts water
several dates (optional and to taste)
cinnamon (optional and to taste)
nutmeg (optional and to taste)
Soak almonds in water overnight. I use a canning jar with a lid.
Soak dates for about an hour.
Drain the almonds, and blend with water until creamy.
Add dates, cinnamon and/or nutmeg.
But enough about Almond milk. Rice milk just never really took a liking to me. Horchata, now that’s another thing entirely and one of my favorite beverages, but not for making a beurre blanc sauce or a simple rue.
Then, lo and behold, just the other day I discovered hemp milk and it’s truly my new favorite cow’s milk alternative. It’s creamy, not grainy, not watery and has a full, unobtrusively nutty/grassy/natural flavor. It’s rich in protein, has no cholesterol and has naturally occurring Vitamin A, E, B12, Magnesium, Iron, Zinc and Potassium. It also contains Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids which have been linked to prevention of heart disease and some cancers. And it contains immune-boosting essential amino acids! For more on hemp milk check out www.HempMilk.org.
I now use it in all sorts of ways, from just drinking it in a glass, to using it in all my baking recipes. I even did a taste test in homemade pumpkin pie this Holiday season. Everyone, and this includes some very die-hard meat eaters who would never but never consider using hemp milk, chose the organic, from-a-pumpkin, with-hemp-instead-of-evaporated milk pie.
And, just in case you’re curious, hemp is not the same as marijuana – read more than you ever wanted to know about the two very different varieties of the same plant!