i have an urgent announcement to make.
when i took up making my own almond milk, i thought i was the new born mother theresa. i bragged to everyone about how simple it is to make, how you can use the pulp for your own flour, how basically nothing goes to waste and i can buy it in bulk! and don’t even get me started on the almond butter… OMG the best thing i’ve ever created! i thought i was being this all no-waste, sustainable mother of earth. but i was wrong.i recently found out that it takes 1.1 GALLON of water to produce ONE ALMOND! i was buying almonds by the POUND! you know how many gallons of water that is? that’s one thousand nine hundred gallons! let me put this into perspective for you. 1000 gallons of water equals 20-40 showers or 28-40 loads of laundry!
and where are these almonds even coming from??? usually california! (aren’t they in a drought???) yes. california supplies about 80% of the united states almonds, and dedicates 10%, or 80 million gallons, of its state’s water to grow the nut. cringe.
so what am i going to do about it? i have researched the most sustainable nuts and seeds to replace almonds. here’s what i found…
and while water may be the biggest factor, we must also consider location and carbon footprint, the use of pesticides, and how healthy they are for you! here are some alternatives i will be trying…
why do we need an alternative to cow’s milk? because cows milk, for one, uses 2000 gallons of water to produce one gallon of milk. for two, there are tons of reasons why people choose not to drink cows milk that i wont get into today. this article is for those who want nut milk alternatives!
i have chosen to highlight hemp milk in this article. i settled on hemp because i have tried oat and don’t really like the taste (nor do i think it is that healthy for you)… i also don’t do soy because of the wide use of pesticides. i pass on cashews because the nuts go rancid very fast making their oils potentially carcinogenic. and i’ve never heard of any other sorts of milk made from nuts or seeds… but i’m open to the possibilities!
here is a recipe for hemp milk and a little background on this awesome sustainable plant:
“Hemp is a weed, so it grows prolifically with little water and no pesticides. It takes up relatively little space, produces more pulp per acre than trees, and is biodegradable. Hemp crops even give back by returning nutrients to the soil and sequestering carbon dioxide.
Virtually every part of the plant can be used. The stalk’s outer bast fiber can make textiles, canvas and rope while its woody core – hurd – is used for paper, construction and animal bedding. Not to be overlooked, the seeds are high in protein, fiber, omega-3 fats and other nutrients. Their oil can be used for paints, adhesives, cooking and plastics. Even the leaves can be eaten and used to make juice.”
flour for baking
to start – i never use white flour. it is a highly refined substance that is used in a variety of processed foods and baked goods because it is light, airy and cheap. unfortunately, refined white flour is completely stripped of its nutrient value, with virtually no vitamins, minerals, or fats to speak of. the vitamins and minerals that food manufacturers use to enrich the white flour with are not the forms that are bioavailable to us – that means they are not the type of nutrients that our bodies are able to easily recognize and use.
some healthier options to white flour are:
- gluten-free whole grains including wild rice, brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, sorghum, teff, and amaranth flour
- nut flours: almond, pecan, cashew, and walnut
- seed flours: sesame, sunflower and pumpkin
since we are focusing on nuts and seeds here, i want to touch quickly on all those listed above.
we already talked about how almonds are the water consumers of the world so we will scratch those out, we also don’t eat cashews in our house because of their tendency to go rancid fast, and walnuts are also water suckers (not to mention, expensive) – SO! the last nut on the list is pecan and holy crap… pecan flour sounds amazing and it is so simple to make at home. my only issue is cost… why are they so pricey?
onto the seeds…
sesame seeds are hard to find. they aren’t in bulk and i can imagine to make some flour, it would take a significant amount of seeds. so skip.
literally while writing this post i discovered how easy it is to make flour at home with sunflower seeds! you’ll see soon why sunflowers are the best. AND you can buy sunflower seeds in bulk at whole foods (and they aren’t that expensive)! seriously you will SAVE MONEY by making your own sunflower flour.
now, pumpkin seed flour sounds super interesting to try, and it’s JUST AS EASY to make! pumpkin seeds use the least amount of water and are packed with nutrients.
basically if you have a high speed grinder, you can make any nut and seed into a flour. you just want to be sure you are buying sustainable nuts and seeds that aren’t rancid or full of mold! to recap – your best options are pecan, sunflower, or pumpkin flour!
real quick – i don’t use peanut butter because of it’s high suseptability to contain mold. don’t get me wrong, i love me some peanut butter! but after reading about aflatoxin i decided i didn’t need it. and there are great healthy alternatives i can make at home!
apparently you can make all types of nut (and seed) butters but i am sticking with sunflower butter because of reasons listed above.
here’s some sunflower knowledge for you:
Native Americans in the U.S. have been using wild sunflower for food and medicine for at least 8,000 years. Archeological evidence suggests that Native Americans began cultivating and improving the sunflower as early as 2300 B.C. Thus, sunflower cultivation may predate cultivation of the “Three Sisters” of corn, beans and squash. The seeds of sunflower were usually roasted and ground into a fine meal for baking or used to thicken soups and stews. “Seed-balls”, similar to peanut butter, made from sunflower butter made a convenient carry-along food for traveling. Roasted sunflower hulls were steeped in boiling water to make a coffee-like beverage. Dye was extracted from hulls and petals. Face paint was made from dried petals and pollen. Oil, extracted from the ground seeds by boiling, provided many tribes with cooking oil and hair treatment. Medicinal uses included everything from wart removal to snake bite treatment to sunstroke treatment.”