Paleo and almond milk

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Let me be real for minute. I spend so much time testing recipes, sadly I don’t have time for cookbooks very often. But when I received a cookbook from my friend, Alisa of Go Dairy Free – Eat Dairy Free: Your Essential Cookbook for Everyday Meals, Snacks, and Sweets – I was really excited to try some recipes. Toward the front of the book is a recipe I fell in love with, which has saved me both time and money on an ingredient I use frequently in my other recipes. Paleo, whole30 unsweetened vanilla almond milk!

Alisa actually calls her recipe a 1-Minute Dairy-Free Milk Beverage, because there are so many different ways that you can make it. You don’t have to use almonds, so technically it doesn’t have to be almond milk. I’ll cover the other options for you shortly.

But, since unsweetened almond milk is the most common dairy-free milk that I use in my own kitchen, my main focus is the homemade vanilla almond milk recipe. It’s so simple, delicious, and even whole30 approved!

And, it’s a wonderful staple that works so well as a base for other recipes in the cookbook. There’s a good number that are low carb, or can be made that way. A few of my new favorites from the cookbook include baked bacon Brussels sprouts, Mexican cabbage rolls, and sun-dried tomato and basil salmon.

I know many of you are looking to reduce or cut out dairy, so grab the cookbook here for more ideas! Every recipe in the book has gluten-free options, and many of them can be adapted to be low carb, too.

In the meantime, let’s talk unsweetened whole30 almond milk. Is it always paleo and low carb? Why make it when you can buy it?

Contents

Is Almond Milk Paleo & Keto?

The answer to this question is, it depends. Simple unsweetened almond milk is definitely both keto, paleo and whole30.

Unfortunately, many store bought almond milk varieties have other ingredients added. The most common ones include sugar or syrup, and thickening agents such as carrageenan or locust bean gum. Sometimes you might see “natural flavor”, which could mean a variety of things.

You can find brands that avoid these, but one of the easiest ways to get keto, whole30 approved almond milk is to make it yourself.

Basic Vanilla Almond Milk Ingredients

Fortunately, the basic homemade almond milk ingredients are simple. In fact, you just need two – almonds and water!

For vanilla almond milk, you can simply add vanilla extract. Or if you want to, feel free to mix it up and use real vanilla bean seeds.

Aside from the almonds and vanilla, there is also room to get creative with the ingredients. So many possibilities…

Options for Whole30 Approved Almond Milk

Simply using almonds and water already creates a whole 30 approved almond milk recipe. As long as you don’t add a sweetener or artificial add-ins, it stays that way.

What if you’re allergic to almonds? Or you want some other dairy-free version instead of almond milk? Alisa gives lots of variations in her recipe!

You can use almost any nuts or seeds, but she recommends almonds, macadamias, hazelnuts, or hemp seeds. You can also use sunflower seeds, but sunflower seed butter works better than the actual seeds in that case.

In general, you can use nut or seed butter in place of the actual nuts or seeds. So, that means you can make whole30 almond milk with almond butter, too. Good to know, depending on what you have on hand!

There are also plenty of options for add-ins to your homemade almond milk recipe.

If you don’t need it to be whole30, feel free to add a sweetener. When it comes to sugar-free sweeteners, something liquid like stevia might work best. Erythritol doesn’t dissolve very well.

For those that desire a paleo sweetener but don’t mind sugar, some options include coconut sugar, honey, or maple syrup. You could even blend in a soaked, pitted date for natural sweetness.

And by the way, don’t be limited by the classic vanilla almond milk! You can add an interesting twist by adding cinnamon, or other warm spices like cardamom, cloves, ginger, pepper, nutmeg, coriander, and cumin.

Finally, a tablespoon of flax seeds can be added for an omega-3 boost. They are one of the few seeds that aren’t recommended to replace the almonds, however, because the result doesn’t turn out very “milky”.

Unsweetened Almond Milk Nutrition

One of the reasons I like unsweetened almond milk is because of it’s very light. It’s low carb, low calories, and a good balance between protein and fat. A cup of almond milk contains:

  • 40 calories
  • 3g fat
  • 1g net carbs
  • 1g protein

This nutrition info is approximate, because some of the nutrient content gets caught in the sieve and doesn’t make it to the final vanilla almond milk. This is why almond milk actually has fewer calories (and everything else) than the almonds that were used to make it.

To be fair, almond milk does lose many of the benefits of whole almonds. Almond milk nutrition just can’t match up to that of the original nuts.

Whether you make your own vanilla almond milk or buy it, most of the nutrients are lost. This is because we filter out most of the almonds to make the milk, and the end result is mostly water.

Still, almond milk does have anti-inflammatory properties. 1 Besides, the fact that it’s dairy-free, low carb, keto, paleo, vegan, and whole 30 approved makes it a great option for many special diets.

How To Make Almond Milk At Home

It’s super easy to make almond milk at home.

Some homemade almond milk recipes recommend soaking the almonds first, but Alisa didn’t mention this. I really loved the end result, so assume it’s not necessary. Which is great, because I hate extra steps that take a long time!

To begin, whiz your almonds in a food processor for about a minute, until the consistency is powdered or almost like butter. You can also just use almond butter instead. Yay for options!

Transfer to a blender with some water and sea salt, if you choose to include it. Blend until creamy.

Then, pour the almond milk through a sieve lined with cheesecloth or a nut milk bag. I didn’t have either one when I first made this – only a fine mesh sieve – and it still worked pretty well to catch most of the nut bits. But, for the smoothest result, the nut milk bag is recommended.

For vanilla almond milk, you can stir in the vanilla, or for best results, return to the blender and blend until smooth.

See how easy that was? A few years ago, I never would have guessed that I could make whole30 almond milk in just a few minutes!

How Long Does Almond Milk Last?

According to the cookbook, this vanilla almond milk recipe lasts about 3 days in the fridge. I kept mine for about a week without a problem, so use your best judgement. Remember, there are no preservatives!

Of course, storing almond milk made at home is different from the commercial variety. Since there are no stabilizers, it will settle and thicken over time.

You can simply thin it out with more liquid, if needed, and give it a quick blend. For less fuss, I stored mine in a glass jar with a tight lid, and just shook it before using.

Can You Freeze Almond Milk?

Can you freeze almond milk? Yes! You can use any size containers you like, leakproof bags, or even an ice cube tray.

It’s best to freeze almond milk in the container size that you are likely to use at one time. That way, you’ll only have to defrost what you plan to use soon. Always defrost in the fridge, which may take a while. Just move it to the fridge the day before you’ll need it.

So now that you know how to make it and how to store it, will you try making homemade vanilla almond milk with me? I’d love to hear about your favorite ways to use it. As for me? I love it with paleo granola cereal, my morning coffee, and of course, in baking recipes.

Tools To Make Vanilla Almond Milk:

Click the links below to see the items used to make this recipe.

  • Spice Grinder – This little gadget will change your spice game! You will get the freshest flavors out of grinding your own spices. It’s great for coffee and nuts too.
  • Nut Milk Bag – Used to strain the nut solids form the milk, this little bag is ideal for making Unsweetened Almond Milk.
  • Cheesecloth – This is excellent for an array of straining uses, including hot liquids. It will remove the solids from your Almond Milk with ease.

Paleo Whole30 Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk Recipe:
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More Low Carb Recipes To Love

Paleo Whole30 Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk Recipe

See how to make almond milk at home – it takes just 5 minutes and 3 common ingredients! This easy unsweetened vanilla almond milk recipe is whole30 approved, paleo, keto, low carb, vegan, and 100% natural. Course Drinks Cuisine American Keyword almond, dairy-free, gluten-free, keto, low carb, milk, paleo, sugar-free, unsweetened, vegetarian, whole30 Calories 40 kcal Prep Time 5 minutes Total Time 5 minutes Author Maya Krampf from WholesomeYum.com Servings 2 cups

Ingredients

Click underlined ingredients to buy them!
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Instructions

RECIPE TIPS + VIDEO in the post above, nutrition info + recipe notes below!

Click on the times in the instructions below to start a kitchen timer while you cook.

  1. If using nuts or seeds, put them in your spice grinder or small food processor and whiz until powdered or beginning to take on a thick butter consistency, about 1 minute.
  2. Put the ground nuts or seeds, or the nut or seed butter, into your blender and add the water and salt (if using). Once you get used to this recipe, you can adjust the liquid amount up or down to suit your desired consistency. Blend for 30 to 60 seconds, or until creamy.

  3. Pour the liquid through a sieve lined with cheesecloth or a nut milk bag to remove any remaining nut bits.
  4. Return the milk beverage to your blender, add the vanilla extract, and blend until smooth, about 30 seconds. (You can also stir it in instead if you prefer.)

  5. Store in an airtight bottle or container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. It will settle and thicken as it sits. Simply thin with more liquid, if needed, and give it a quick blend.

Recipe Notes

Recipe from Eat Dairy Free by Alisa Fleming

Serving size: 1 cup

Nutrition Information Per Serving

Nutrition Facts Amount per serving. Serving size in recipe notes above. Calories 40 Fat 3g Protein 1g Total Carbs 2g Net Carbs 1g Fiber 1g Sugar 0g

Where does nutrition info come from? Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy, sourced from the USDA Food Database. You can find individual ingredient carb counts we use in the Low Carb & Keto Food List. Carb count excludes sugar alcohols. Net carb count excludes both fiber and sugar alcohols, because these do not affect blood sugar in most people. We try to be accurate, but feel free to make your own calculations.

More Low Carb & Keto Support

If you want to know more about how to start a low carb diet, want to substitute sweeteners, need a food list, or need support, check these guides:

Low Carb & Keto Diet Plan
Starter Guide Sweetener Conversion Calculator Keto Low Carb Macro Calculator Low Carb Keto Food List + Printable PDF

© Copyright Maya Krampf for Wholesome Yum. We’d LOVE for you to share a link to this recipe, but please DO NOT COPY/PASTE the recipe instructions to social media or websites. You may share a photo with a link back instead.

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The Complete Paleo Diet Food List: What to Eat and What to Avoid

The paleo diet is meant to mimic what our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate. But what foods should you eat to follow this diet and what foods do you want to avoid? If you’re new to the paleo diet, knowing what to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner can be hard. As with most diets, there are foods that are allowed and not allowed. Some foods also fall into a bit of a grey area and are sometimes allowed.

Our ultimate list of paleo-approved foods will help simplify your planning if you’re dining out or cooking at home. Whether you’re a beginner, looking for a refresher on the rules or just want to adopt some of the healthiest parts of the Paleo Diet, here’s what you need to know to eat paleo.

What is the Paleo Diet?

Image zoom Photo: vaaseenaa / Getty Images

The premise behind “eating paleo” is that the current Western diet is contributing to the rise of chronic diseases such as obesity, heart disease and cancer. Paleo diet proponents claim, eating this way can reduce inflammation, improve workouts, increase energy, help with weight loss, stabilize blood sugar and even reduce the risk of chronic diseases.

The pros of paleo are that it focuses on increasing intake of whole foods, fruits and vegetables, healthy proteins and healthy fats and decreasing consumption of processed foods, sugar and salt. For those looking to eat a more well-rounded diet, these “guidelines” sound familiar and altogether healthy.

However, the paleo diet also advocates cutting out grains, dairy and legumes, and this has caused controversy among scientists. These foods, despite what paleo advocates claim, are healthful and can be good sources of fiber, vitamins and minerals.

Get Inspired: Healthy Paleo Recipes

Foods You Can Eat on the Paleo Diet

In short, if your ancestors could hunt or gather it, it is allowed on the paleo diet. This includes:

Grass-fed meat:choosing grass-fed is healthier for you, the environment and closer to what our ancestors ate.

Fish and seafood: choose wild-caught

Fresh fruits and veggies

Eggs

Nuts and seeds

Healthy oils (olive, walnut, flaxseed, macadamia, avocado, coconut)

Meat & Seafood

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Most meat and seafood fits on a paleo diet. Meat is a source of lean protein, and protein is the building block of all cells and tissues. Protein also helps keep you full. Watch out for pre-marinated and cured meats that may contain added sugar. Common meat and seafood choices include:

Paleo Meat & Seafood

  • Chicken
  • Beef
  • Salmon
  • Tuna
  • Pork
  • Bacon
  • Cod
  • Turkey

Grass-fed meat is recommended on the paleo diet because it is leaner than meat from grain-fed animals and has more omega-3 fatty acids, the healthy fats that reduce inflammation in the body and protect your heart. A typical American diet is high in saturated and trans fats and lower in healthy poly- and monounsaturated fats, hence the paleo diet’s emphasis on grass-fed meats.

Look for chicken raised without antibiotics and try to source your meat from a local farm to learn more about how it was raised.

Choosing wild seafood over farm-caught may help boost your omega-3 intake too. That’s not always the case, but look for wild salmon and other sustainably-caught seafood when you’re eating paleo.

Fruits & Vegetables

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There is little argument over the health benefits of fruits and vegetables. They are chock-full of vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. The only caveat for paleo dieters is that some vegetables are starchy (e.g., potatoes) and some fruits are higher in sugar (e.g., bananas). So, if you are trying to lose weight or watch your blood sugar levels, eat these in moderation. In fact, potatoes are banned from some strict versions of the diet.

Many paleo followers wonder if bananas are paleo, because of their higher sugar content. They are considered paleo. One medium banana has 100 calories, 3 grams of fiber and 25 grams of carbohydrate. Bananas are a good source of potassium and they are an unprocessed, whole food.

The key to remember with eating paleo is that you want your diet to contain unprocessed, whole foods so fruits and vegetables should make up a bulk of your diet. Frozen vegetables without added sauce, are also allowed on a paleo diet.

Examples of produce to eat on a paleo diet:

Paleo Vegetables

  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Butternut squash
  • Cabbage
  • Spinach

Paleo Fruits

  • Apples
  • Berries: including blackberries, blueberries and strawberries
  • Melon
  • Grapes
  • Bananas
  • Citrus fruits
  • Peaches
  • Plums

Eggs

Eggs are allowed because they are high in protein, B vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They are also affordable and easy to prepare. Buy “organic” and “cage-free” eggs for a higher omega-3 content than eggs from chickens raised in cages.

Nuts & Seeds

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Nuts and seeds are full of healthy fats, fiber and protein. Plus, they were foraged in prehistoric times, so you can load up your cart with them. Keep in mind that peanuts are not considered paleo because they are technically legumes (see our picks for the 6 healthiest nuts to eat).

Paleo Nuts & Seeds

  • Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Pistachios
  • Walnuts
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Pecans
  • Hazelnuts
  • Pine nuts
  • Brazil nuts
  • Pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • Chia seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Flax seeds

Healthy Oils

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Oils are trickier. Loren Cordain, Ph.D., founder of The Paleo Diet Movement, breaks down which oils are healthy on the paleo diet: olive, walnut, flaxseed, macadamia, avocado and coconut oils are all allowed because they were gathered directly from the plant. While our hunter-gatherer ancestors probably did not consume flaxseed oil, it is allowed because of its content of high alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a type of heart-healthy, anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acid.

Paleo Oils

  • Olive oil
  • Walnut oil
  • Flaxseed oil
  • Macadamia oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Coconut oil

Foods You Should Avoid on the Paleo Diet

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If you are following a strict paleo diet, you should avoid the following foods. These foods are not permitted on the paleo diet:

  • Cereal grains
  • Legumes (peanuts, beans, lentils, tofu)
  • Refined sugar
  • Processed foods
  • Soda & sweetened beverages
  • Refined vegetable oils
  • Salt
  • Artificial sweeteners

Grains

Say goodbye to cereal, crackers, rice, pasta, bread and beer. Yes, beer. All grains are forbidden on the paleo diet. Why? First, grains are a product of modern agriculture; cavemen didn’t nosh on bread. Second, grains are high in carbohydrates, which can spike your blood sugar.

Paleo critics point out that not all grains are created equal-whole grains do not spike your blood sugar as much as refined grains. Even so, paleo dieters still steer clear of grains because they contain different compounds and proteins like gluten, lectins and phytates, which they claim cause inflammation in the body and block other nutrients from being absorbed. Paleo critics say these compounds are not a problem unless you have an allergy or sensitivity. Learn more about the science behind lectins.

Read More: What Is a Complex Carbohydrate?

Legumes

Legumes are members of a large family of plants that have a seed or pod. This category includes all beans, peas, lentils, tofu and other soy foods, and peanuts. This also includes peanut butter and soy sauce. Legumes are not allowed on paleo because of their high content of lectins and phytic acid. Similar to grains, this is a point of controversy in the scientific community. In fact, lots of research supports eating legumes as part of a healthy diet because they are low in fat and high in fiber, protein and iron.

Processed Foods

Processed foods are full of the rest of the no-no’s on the paleo diet: refined sugars, salt, refined vegetable oils and artificial sweeteners. Our ancestors didn’t eat these foods. Plus, there is little argument in the scientific community that refined sugars and excess salt contribute to obesity, high blood pressure and heart disease.

There is some disagreement, however, over vegetable oils and artificial sweeteners. The American Heart Association recommends consuming corn, safflower and canola oils, but paleo plans say these are “not allowed” because of the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids and the way the oils are processed.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) condones artificial sweeteners as safe to consume, but they are not allowed on paleo since they are a man-made, processed food. Plus, although artificial sweeteners lower calories in food, research shows they can still cause us to crave sweets and that they can be harmful to our gut bacteria.

Try These: Quick & Easy Paleo Recipes

Foods You Can Sometimes Eat on the Paleo Diet

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Dairy

A strict paleo diet does not allow dairy products because hunter-gatherers did not milk cows. This includes milk, butter, yogurt, sour cream, and cheese. However, some paleo dieters say dairy is OK, especially if it is grass-fed because grass-fed butter, for example, has more omega-3s. Fermented dairy products like kefir are also OK for some paleo eaters because they have a lower content of lactose and casein, the two concerns paleo dieters have with dairy. If you prefer to avoid dairy on the paleo diet, you can substitute non-dairy products made with coconut milk, almond milk, and cashew milk.

Starchy Vegetables & High-Sugar Fruits

This is a gray area. Sugary fruits and starchy vegetables (potatoes, squash, beets) can spike your blood sugar more than berries and spinach. That’s why these are OK in moderation and are best to minimize if you are trying to lose weight, according to paleo experts.

Alcohol

Alcohol is a no-no if you are strict paleo. Beer is made from grains, and liquor also contains traces of gluten. But, good news for cider-lovers: most hard ciders are gluten-free, so they are allowed. Check the label to be sure. Red wine is more accepted in the paleo community because it contains the antioxidant resveratrol, but sorry chardonnay lovers, white wine is technically not allowed.

Sample Paleo Diet Menu

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See our full 7-Day Paleo Diet Meal Plan to get more inspiration for paleo eating. Below is a sample day of what paleo eating might look like:

Breakfast: Eggs and spinach with raspberries on the side.

Snack: Pumpkin seeds and dried apricots.

Lunch: Spaghetti squash with shrimp.

Afternoon snack: Banana with almond butter.

Dinner: Chicken with sweet potatoes and vegetables.

How to Make the Paleo Diet Fit Your Lifestyle

This is a brief guide to following the paleo diet, but EatingWell doesn’t believe in being so restrictive. Eating some of the “no” foods like whole grains, dairy and legumes is necessary to add important nutrients to your diet.

If you’re interested in the paleo diet plan but don’t think you want to be so strict, you don’t have to be all-or-nothing with your approach. Consider adopting some eating patterns from paleo and skipping the ones that don’t work for you. For example, try just eating more fruits and vegetables and cutting down on added sugars. If you feel unsure about grains or dairy, talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian to determine what’s best for your body.

Lainey Younkin, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian and founder of Lainey Younkin Nutrition, a virtual nutrition coaching and consulting business.

The Quick Answer

Table of Contents

Yes, almond milk is paleo.

Why Is Almond Milk Paleo?

Almond milk is paleo because it is mostly made from two paleo ingredients: almonds and water. In an ideal world, all almond milk (which is not actually “milk”, as it contains no dairy) would be made by first soaking organic almonds and then blending them with water. This almond “pulp” would then be strained, so that only the water (with an essence of almond taste) would remain. Unfortunately, this is not the type of almond milk you will find available in your grocery store. You might not even find this in your local health food store.

Check out our Paleo Diet Food List.

Which Almond Milk Is Paleo?

If you want to drink simple almond milk, you will probably have to make it yourself. Many people choose to do so, to avoid all of the chemicals and unnatural additives used in many commercial almond milk products. Making homemade almond milk is a relatively easy process. The finished product is also said to be even better than the store-bought variations, though it may be a touch more watery due to the lack of thickening agents.

Homemade almond milk requires very few ingredients. Most recipes just call for almonds, water, and perhaps a sweetener like raw honey, stevia, or pure maple syrup. Because all of these ingredients are natural, nutrient-dense, and not harmful (unless eaten in inappropriately large quantities), this type of almond milk is always paleo.

The same method could also be used to make other nut milks: cashew milk, hemp milk, macadamia milk, or hazelnut milk, for example. As long as the ingredients used to make the “milk” are paleo, the finished product itself will also be paleo.

What Does Almond Milk Contain?

While almonds are extremely nutrient-rich and they provide many health benefits, almond milk does not actually contain many nutrients. This is because the pulp of the almonds, which contains all of the good stuff, is strained and discarded when the milk is made.

This is especially true of store-bought almond milk, which contains even fewer nutrients than homemade milk. The end product is not much different to water. It’s a thin, white-ish liquid, which has only a slight taste of almonds and barely any sweetness (unless a sweetener is added).

Almond milk is very low-calorie, usually containing only thirty to forty calories per eight ounces of unsweetened milk. It also contains minimal carbs, protein, fiber, and sugar.

The same cannot be said, however, of sweetened almond milks. These often contain a high amount of sugar and therefore more carbs and more calories. Any time a brand advertises that its almond milk contains high levels of calcium, vitamins, minerals, or protein, you can bet that that’s because of added synthetic nutrients rather than the almonds.

Make Your Own!

As a general rule, it’s always best to make your own. A basic homemade almond milk recipe will include only basic ingredients like almonds, water, salt, vanilla extract and maybe a natural sweetener, like maple syrup.

The same isn’t true of most store-bought almond milks, so use some caution when buying packaged kinds. Nearly every brand of cartooned almond milk is going to be made with lots of other not so great or natural ingredients: fillers, thickeners, extra flavors, sugar, artificial flavoring, etc.

Why do store-bought almond milks tend to be packed with so much junk? Just like with most packaged foods, it basically comes down to manufacturers wanting to make more money.

Since the tiny fat molecules in almond milk tend to separate and go bad after a short period of time, losing its taste and appearance, ingredients need to be added to keep a consistent look, to preserve freshness and to kill bacteria that can grow.

To make your own almond milk, get organic (unbleached, salted, roasted) almonds and grind them in a high speed blender with filtered water, then you strain the pieces out and add whatever flavoring you’d like (some raw honey, pure maple syrup, coconut palm sugar and vanilla extract for example).

Our Favorite Recipes Featuring Almond Milk

Almond milk makes a great ingredient in many Paleo recipes. Because of its neutral taste and easy application, it makes a great supporting role player. Whether it’s in tea, a smoothie, or making a creamy Paleo-friendly sauce, almond milk can almost do it all. Here are some of our favorite recipes featuring almond milk from our recipe archives.

Cold Chai Tea & Almond Milk Treat

Give up your expensive coffee addiction with this simple and modifiable cold chai tea recipe! This recipe can be customized in a variety of ways to suit just about any palate. Add a dash of stevia or a splash of vanilla extract. Get fancy and top the beverage with some paleo or primal cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon. The options are endless!

Almond Cantaloupe Smoothie

Almond milk brings a creamy and nutty flavor to this smoothie. Cantaloupe is a great source of vitamin A. Mixed berries, well, who doesn’t love those? Blended together, these ingredients form a delicious and healthy green smoothie.

Pan Seared Chicken with Cauliflower Cream Sauce

Succulent browned chicken gets a healthy, delicious boost of flavor from cauliflower cream sauce. It’s rich, delicious, and comforting and the perfect meal after a long day.

Paleo Banana Pancakes

Paleo pancakes are a wonderful way to start off a Saturday morning. Ripe bananas provide a delicious base for this recipe. Feel free to add nuts or chocolate chips into the batter if that’s your kind of thing. Pour only a small amount of batter into the skillet at a time because smaller pancakes will be easier to flip over. Make a big stack and top with blueberry syrup for a decadent breakfast.

Why There’s Confusion

While almonds and water are paleo, nearly all commercial brands of almond milk come with a far more complicated list of ingredients.

For example, Blue Diamond unsweetened vanilla almond milk – one of the most popular almond milk products on the market – contains the following ingredients: calcium carbonate, tapioca starch, sea salt, potassium citrate, carrageenan, sunflower lecithin, natural flavor, vitamin A palmitate, vitamin D2, and d-alpha-tocopherol (natural vitamin E).

These added ingredients were obviously not available in Paleolithic times, nor are they very natural or healthy. This is why paleo followers are encouraged to stick to homemade almond milk.

Big manufacturers of almond milk (like Blue Diamond, Silk, and So Delicious) add a range of unnatural ingredients to the milk to help preserve, thicken, and add taste to the milk, as well as to keep it from separating. So, while it may be convenient to purchase an almond milk product from the supermarket that will last for a month or more, there is a price to pay for that.

So, Is Almond Milk Paleo?

Yes, almond milk is paleo.

The best kind of almond milk to consume on the paleo diet is the homemade variety, made using only water, almonds, and a natural sweetener such as honey. Certain stores may stock this type of almond milk, but many do not.

Currently only a few select companies sell quality almond milk, so you’ll want to check the ingredients carefully. Try to find a brand that doesn’t use carrageenan and lots of sugar (like Silk for example).

Buy “unsweetened” whenever possible, although vanilla flavored is usually okay because the taste usually comes from vanilla extract and not added sugar.

How To Know What Is And Isn’t Paleo

Check out Paleo.io, the mobile app that answers the question, “is __ paleo?” Paleo.io comes with the most comprehensive paleo diet food list out there, so no matter which food you’re confused about, you’ll always be able to find out whether or not it’s paleo.

Photo credit: Mike Mozart

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Almonds are Paleo, so almond milk should be Paleo, too, right? Well, mostly…

First, for what purpose would a Paleo person use almond milk? You could pour it over nuts and seeds and dried fruit and make a cereal type snack. Or you could drink it. One cup of the unsweetened commercial variety contains about 30 calories, 1 gram of protein, 1 gram of carbs, and 2.5 grams of fat. So it’s basically like drinking water. Except it’s not water because there are nuts and all kinds of other weird ingredients in it.

If you were to make your own almond milk, you would simply soak some almonds and blend them up with water and maybe some cinnamon and a little honey. Then you’d strain the nut shards out and BOOM – you have almond milk. Four ingredients.

Now, let’s look at the ingredients in store bought almond milk.

This one is Silk Pure Almond Unsweetened Almond Milk.

(The Original version has evaporated cane juice added to it.)

Here’s Blue Diamond’s take on unsweetened almond milk:

Ingredients: almondmilk (filtered water, almonds), calcium carbonate, tapioca starch, sea salt, potassium citrate, carrageenan, sunflower lecithin, natural flavor, vitamin a palmitate, vitamin d2 and d-alpha-tocopherol (natural vitamin E).

I don’t know why they add Vitamin D2: it’s not the D3 that our bodies actually assimilate, so don’t be fooled by that. As for the other ingredients – locust bean gum, sunflower lecithin, carrageenan, gellan gum (never even seen that until just now), natural flavor (to make it taste more like almonds?), calcium carbonate (chalk), tapioca starch, and all the rest, what are those?

Locust bean gum (gum extracted from the carob tree), carrageenan (a gel extracted from seaweed), gellan gum (a gel produced by bacteria), and tapioca starch (same as tapioca flour, made from the starchy root cassava) are thickeners. If you ever make your own almond milk, you’ll notice that it’s very thin and watery unless you use a higher almond:water ratio. But that would be very costly for the manufacturer to do. So they use fewer almonds and more weird ingredients to thicken it up so you don’t feel like you’re drinking just water. Then they use the natural flavor to, yes, make it taste more like the almonds they omitted to save money.

Calcium carbonate is used as an anti-caking agent in a lot of products, but they also probably put it in almond milk to ease the minds of the lactose intolerant who sub out almond milk for calcium-rich cow’s milk.

Sunflower lecithin – or any lecithin – is an emulsifier. It keeps the fat from separating from everything else.

Everything else is a vitamin or a mineral because it apparently is a law that synthetic vitamins and minerals must populate pre-packaged, processed foods.

So is commercial almond milk Paleo? In a perfect world, no, and especially not the sweetened kind. Even the unsweetened versions are weird and full of synthetic, chemically processed ingredients. To be honest, even the almonds are now often chemically processed, which is one reason I’m not a huge fan of them. Since 2007, all almonds must be pasteurized either by steaming, roasting, or applying propylene oxide (a probable human carcinogen) to them. That means many of the nutrients are lost and they’re no longer “raw”. Anyway, besides that, calcium carbonate is the main ingredient in Tums and chalk, so on principle I have a problem with it being the second ingredient in a lot of people’s staple beverage.

The verdict is….

In reality, when people ask me if they can drink store bought almond milk on a Paleo diet, I say yes because it falls somewhere between “hell no” and “heck yes” on the Paleo spectrum. I say try to make your own with soaked almonds, so you can at least expel some of the anti-nutrients from them. Homemade almond milk with all Paleo ingredients is perfectly fine.

Just try not to make store bought almond milk an everyday thing. Everything in moderation, right?

Process

Note, these instructions are written assuming the standard serving size, since you have modified the number of servings, these steps may need to be modified for best results

  1. Soak the almonds: Soak the almonds overnight in a medium-large sized bowl with 2 – 3 cups of purified/distilled water, or enough to cover about 3 inches above the almonds (they will absorb some water) and add a generous pinch of Himalayan pink salt.
  2. Soak the almonds: In the morning, rinse them off in purified/distilled water, and drain.
  3. Blend the milk: Add 4 cups of purified/distilled water and 1 cup of soaked almonds into a Vitamix and blend for 1 – 2 minutes or until completely blended.
  4. Strain the milk: Put the nut milk bag over a small/medium sized and pour the milk through the nut milk bag.
  5. Strain the milk: Remove the nut milk bag (which will be full of almond pulp) from the bowl and with clean hands, wring the remaining milk from the nut milk bag into your bowl.
  6. Store the milk: Transfer the almond milk from the bowl into a air-tight glass container and refrigerate for up to 2 days. It will separate so stir it up before using.
  7. Use in any recipe that calls for almond or non-dairy milk.

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