Almond Milk and Food Additives

We have said it before, and we will say it again: PUT DOWN THAT PACKAGED FOOD!

We will return to our investigation into all of the FAD diets for you later this week, but this Washington Post article by Kimberly Kindy entitled “Food additives on the rise as FDA scrutiny wanes” was too interesting not to share today.

We encourage you to read the whole eye-opening article, but to summarize:

The explosion of new food additives coupled with an easing of oversight requirements is allowing manufacturers to avoid the scrutiny of the Food and Drug Administration, which is responsible for ensuring the safety of chemicals streaming into the food supply.

And in hundreds of cases, the FDA doesn’t even know of the existence of new additives, which can include chemical preservatives, flavorings and thickening agents, records and interviews show….

In the five decades since Congress gave the FDA responsibility for ensuring the safety of additives in the food supply, the number has spiked from 800 to more than 9,000, ranging from common substances such as salt to new green-tea extracts. This increase has been driven largely by demand from busy Americans, who get more than half their daily meals from processed foods, according to government and industry records.

Even that almond milk that you have replaced your organic milk with has additives. Many of the vegan options at the supermarket have additives to help them resemble the food product you are trying to avoid (like vegan cheese or vegan-mayonnaise).

According to the article:

Carrageenan, extracted from red seaweed, was one of the first substances that the agency recognized as GRAS. The additive is a stabilizer that can help preserve the structure of foods and beverages and is used in products such as evaporated milk.

But as processed foods began to take off, and a demand for low-fat and tasty vegan processed foods became more popular, so did the use of carrageenan. A drop of it in a package of reduced-fat deli meat, a bundle of vegan cheese, a bottle of kefir or a carton of almond milk can keep ingredients blended together and give products a pleasant texture.

Carrageenan has been linked to gastro-intestinal issues.

…doctors say the proliferation of carrageenan in the food supply is taking a mounting toll on health. As its uses have multiplied, so have gastrointestinal disorders such as diverticulitis, irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease, according to some doctors who specialize in treating patients with gastrointestinal tract problems.

Since the FDA is clearly dropping the ball on regulating food additives, the best way you can protect yourself is to eat whole foods. Only foods that occur naturally in the environment – nuts, seeds, veggies, fruits, meats, whole dairy, etc. If it comes in a package, you should be concerned…

Since we always like to share recipes on this blog, if you like Almond Milk, but are now (justifiably) terrified of consuming it…make it yourself! Thanks to The Kitchn blog for showing us the way:

How to Make Almond Milk at Home

 

What You Need

Ingredients
1 cup raw almonds, preferably organic
2 cups water, plus more for soaking
Sweeteners like honey, sugar, agave syrup, or maple syrup, to taste, optional

Equipment
Bowls
Strainer
Measuring cup
Blender or food processor
Fine-mesh nut bag or cheese cloth

Instructions

  1. Soak the almonds overnight or up to 2 days. Place the almonds in a bowl and cover with about an inch of water. They will plump as they absorb water. Let stand, uncovered, overnight or up to 2 days. The longer the almonds soak, the creamier the almond milk.
  2. Drain and rinse the almonds. Drain the almonds from their soaking water and rinse them thoroughly under cool running water. At this point, the almonds should feel a little squishy if you pinch them.
  3. Combine the almonds and water in a blender. Place the almonds in the blender and cover with 2 cups of water.
  4. Blend at the highest speed for 2 minutes. Pulse the blender a few times to break up the almonds, then blend continuously for two minutes. The almonds should be broken down into a very fine meal and the water should be white and opaque. (If using a food processor, process for 4 minutes total, pausing to scrape down the sides halfway through.)
  5. Strain the almonds. Line the strainer with either the opened nut bag or cheese cloth, and place over a measuring cup. Pour the almond mixture into the strainer.
  6. Press all the almond milk from the almond meal. Gather the nut bag or cheese cloth around the almond meal and twist close. Squeeze and press with clean hands to extract as much almond milk as possible. You should get about 2 cups. (See Recipe Note for what to do with the leftover almond meal.)
  7. Sweeten to taste. Taste the almond milk, and if a sweeter drink is desired, add sweetener to taste.
  8. Refrigerate almond milk. Store the almond milk in sealed containers in the fridge for up to two days.

Recipe Notes

  • Using the Leftover Almond Meal: The leftover almond meal can be added to oatmeal, smoothies, and muffins as it is. You can also spread it out on a baking sheet and bake it in a low oven until completely dry (2-3 hours). Dry almond meal can be kept frozen for several months and used in baked goods.

 

 

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