A few days ago I got asked a seemingly simple question -
“What kind of almond milk do you drink?”
Instead of simply responding with Trader Joe’s Unsweetened Vanilla, I chose to respond with a few paragraphs (via email) detailing how I’d come to choose this particular almond milk. Don’t worry – I did warn the person it was a loaded question before I answered.
Anyway, it got me thinking about all the different varieties of almond milk out there (and other non-dairy milks too) and how confusing it can be to stare at the shelf in the dairy case, not knowing what to choose. In fact, I once helped a women with a puzzled look on her face choose an almond milk for her daughter. Seriously… I love talking to people at the grocery store… and I hope her daughter liked the milk!
Over the past year or so, I’ve started buying almond milk exclusively although my husband still drinks dairy milk, so I do use it for cooking from time to time. The decision to eliminate dairy milk is a personal one, so I’m not going to preach about how wonderful it is. For me, the decision came because I didn’t drink a lot of milk in the first place (don’t really care for the taste) and I knew I was having sensitivities to dairy and was trying limit how much I consumed. Milk was out… cheese had to be in.
I began drinking shelf-stable Almond Breeze Unsweetened Vanilla. It tasted pretty good, but the bottom of the glass (and carton) tended to have a chalky residue that was less than appetizing. A few months in, I noticed it contained the additive carrageenan which is derived from seaweed and added to many products as a thickening agent. Research has shown it may cause digestive issues in some people so even though the research isn’t definitive, I choose to avoid it where I can.
On to almond milk number two (Trader Joe’s) and three (Whole Foods), both unsweetened vanilla flavor (refrigerated). I like the flavor and texture of both of these almond milks and they are both carrageenan free. The deciding factor for me is the higher calcium content in the Trader Joe’s version. Since I don’t eat that much dairy (a good source of calcium, though there are others), the added calcium is what sets it apart for me.
I think it’s worth saying I much prefer refrigerated almond milks to shelf stable almond milks. The texture is smoother and I don’t have the chalky residue problem. Also, in the matter of full disclosure, I’ve never tried Silk brand, but I believe it is carrageenan free as well. I can’t provide any information on the nutrition facts either.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you could make your own almond milk too. Here’s a step-by-step guide from Oh She Glows if you’re interested. I’ve never made my own, but maybe someday!