Stroll the dairy case in today’s supermarket, and you’ll find that it’s no longer just about dairy. The milk section is now crowded with an array of nondairy milks—including soy, rice, coconut, hemp, and all of the many nut varieties.
Nuts are first shelled, often lightly toasted, soaked in filtered water, ground into a paste, and then blended with water. The “milk” is the liquid that is then strained from the nut solids, or pulp. Some manufacturers then add thickeners or gums, sugar, salt, and flavors. Most of the calories, fat, fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals are left in the pulp.
About cashew milk:
There are ups and downs. It’s a rough comparison when you look at whole cashews versus cashew milk, but here’s the rundown: On the upside, a cup of unsweetened cashew milk has just 25 calories (!!), 2g fat, and 0g sat fat (ha—about 615 calories less than a cup of whole cashews). On the downside, when the pulp is strained from the milk, you lose almost all of the fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals from the whole nut. A cup of the milk contains 0g fiber and only <1g protein, and if you choose the original variety, you’ll also tack on 7g added sugar and 160mg added salt.
Unlike cow’s milk, cashew milk has no naturally occurring sugars, so it won’t send your blood sugar into a spike. A cup contains 50% of your daily Vitamin E needs (that’s even more than almond milk), which is good for your skin and helps protect against sun damage. Most of us get plenty of protein in a day, so the fact that the milk only has about 1 gram per cup isn’t something most of us should necessarily worry about. If your meal does need a protein boost, you’ve got plenty of room to add since 1 cup of the unsweetened has only 25 calories! How does it taste? We loved it! Creamy and rich with a nuttiness that was a bit more subtle than almond milk … our crew thought the flavor would be perfect in a smoothie, or a lovely complement to breakfast whole grains like shredded wheat, muesli, oatmeal, or quinoa.
One of the perks of being a nutrition editor is getting to try the latest snacks and drinks. So a while back, Blueprint—the company that really spearheaded the juice cleanse madness with those trendy bottles prominently listing their ingredients down the front—sent me a sample cleanse.
Now, this was an all-liquid cleanse that packed around 700 calories for an entire day, so needless to say, I failed miserably and realized that I really love chewing. (In fact, here are 5 reasons you should never go on a juice cleanse or detox.) I did, however, become obsessed with their subtly sweet, deliciously creamy cashew milk made with water, cashews, vanilla, cinnamon, and agave. It was the nearly perfect on-the-go light meal (or hearty snack), containing healthy fats and some protein.
The problem: When I finally spotted a bottle at my local grocery store a few weeks ago, my initial excitement quickly faded when I saw the price: ELEVEN freakin’ dollars! For nuts, water, and a little sweet and spice? That’s insanity, folks. I also noticed that the sugar content was higher than I remembered—21 g.
So I got creative. Below is my lower sugar, more economical version that’s just as tasty. Each 8 oz cup clocks in at 70 cents worth of ingredients and just 7 g of sugar. With each cup, you’re getting a hefty dose of magnesium, a mineral that helps with protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, and blood-sugar control.
Vanilla-Cinnamon Cashew Milk
Makes About 5 cups
1. SOAK cashews in jar overnight (or for at least 6 hours) in fridge.
2. DRAIN and rinse cashews, then add to blender with maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, salt, and 2 cups cold water. Blend until smooth and creamy, about 1 to 2 minutes, depending on your blender. Add 2 cups more water and blend 30 seconds more.
3. POUR into glass and drink, or store cashew milk in jar with lid up to 1 week in fridge. You can add it to iced coffee or blend it into smoothies. One of our favorite combos: 1 cup iced coffee, ½ cup cashew milk, and 1 frozen banana all blended to creamy perfection.
NUTRITION (per 8 oz) 152 cal, 4 g pro, 13 g carb, 1 g fiber, 7 g sugar, 10 g fat, 2 g sat fat, 33 mg sodium