Among the things that have popped onto my desk recently is the new Alpro nut milk range – it seems the soy people are branching out. One of the cartons had the intriguing name ‘Hazelnut Drink’ and in my normal Alice in Wonderland style it was in a tumbler before you could say ‘Drink Me’. And boy it’s nice…..really nutty and with a good creamy taste. It makes a great afternoon snack with a piece of fruit, gives you 3.6g dose of vitamin E and because it’s fortified, provides 240mg of calcium with it. It’s not too bad on the calories either – 58 per 200ml tumbler and 3.2g of fat – most of it healthy unsaturated types. However it does let the side down a little by having 6g of sugar (about 1.5tsp) – which surprised me as it doesn’t taste ridiculously sweet.
Because of ‘mission flat stomach’ I’m attempting to avoid too much added sugar, so this got me thinking – what would happen if I attempted to make my own nut milk? A quick google answered that with ‘absolute kitchen armageddon’ – most of the methods I saw seemed to involve you blending the nuts with water (so far so good) and then squeezing them through a muslin bag to get the juice out; I could already see how that was going to go and its name was ‘disaster and mess’ so I turned to my favourite raw food guru Ani Phyo.
In her book Raw Food Essentials she has recipes for what she calls Nut Mylks – and, instead of straining the milks she simply blends them. This makes them high in fibre, super filling – although impossible to use in tea or coffee unless you want to filter your drink through your teeth (not recommended, it’ll stain them).
Here’s the recipe
1/2 cup hazelnuts (or any nut) – that about 80g of my measuring
1/2 cup pitted dates – also about 80g of my measuring
A pinch of sea salt
5 cups of water
I got the smoothie maker out and voila – homemade nut milk. And it was gorgeous – really creamy, really nutty, just sweet enough and the bits of nut my smoothie maker hadn’t quite broken down actually added to the taste. However, it made about five tumblers full and so then I did the calorie maths – according to my calculations, each tumbler contains 162 calories, 8.4g fat (again though mostly unsaturated) and 9.8g of natural sugars. At this point I nearly cried.
So, which milk wins The Great 2012 Nut Milk Battle? Homemade is healthier, but even with the added sugar Alpro has far fewer calories. You can make the raw recipe with Stevia which would knock about 50 cals off but still, homemade nut milk is going to have to go into the treats pile for me right now – especially as some studies show that your body doesn’t register liquid calories and adjust your appetite downwards in the same way it would if you’d eaten a handful of nuts and dates. If you’re with me, you’ll find the new Alpro range in supermarkets now. If you’re not watching your weight though, fire up the smoothie maker, you won’t regret it.