Is almond milk a healthy option?

via Niki Bezzant: Is almond milk a healthy option? – NZ Herald

This article in the NZ Herald purports to challenge almond milk as a healthy food option but does it really?

The first point it makes is not health-related at all. Ok, so almond, soy, coconut etc etc etc milks are not really milks in the strictest biologic sense…even though we tend to use them in much the same way and these not-milks are probably healthy that the lightest of lite milks that have had most of the goodness scrubbed out of them. That bastion of common sense, the EU,  has said that “…plant-based products can no longer be sold…using terms such as milk, butter and cheese…” Think about that as you spread ETA peanut no-longer-really-butter on your toast in the morning, or as you explain to your kids that the PC Police require to now ask for peanut not-butter and jelly sandwiches…

calcium.JPG“…we could be misled into believing almond milk is as good as cow’s milk, from a nutrition point of view..” Or we might not be…the only concern really raised here is the low hanging fruit of calcium content, or more correctly, the red herring of calcium content. A balanced diet will include other sources of calcium like:

1) Raw Milk
1 cup: 300 mg (30% DV)

2) Kale (cooked)
1 cup: 245 mg (24% DV)

3) Sardines (with bones)
2 ounces: 217 mg (21% DV)

4) Yogurt or Kefir
6 oz: 300 mg (30% DV)

5) Broccoli
1 ½ cup cooked: 93 mg (9% DV)

6) Watercress
1 cup: 41 mg (4% DV)

7) Cheese
1 oz: 224 mg (22% DV)

8) Bok Choy
1 cup:74 mg (7% DV)

9) Okra
1 cup: 82 mg (8% DV)

10) Almonds
1 oz: 76 mg (8% DV)

The Herald, and the Healthy Food Guide staff writing for it, might be more concerned about the low health value of commercial almond milk and promoting homemade almond milk as a simple alternative. It is so easy to make, with far higher almond content, that healthy shoppers should be avoiding the commercial tetrapaks and stampeding the nuts shelves. I usually buy my raw almonds from Bin Inn in Taupo as they often have them on special or, for bulk, check to see if Penelope @ Happy and Healthy has any deals on…

The other advantage of DIY almond (or other nut-based) milk is that you have all the leftover meal with which you can do wondrous things including bliss balls, cheesecake bases, cookies etc. I toss a cup into my muesli when I’m making a fresh batch and also use it in lieu of bran flakes for wholemeal bread.

The environmental concerns raised in the ‘article’ are also not health-related. Water (mis)management issues in California are related to far more complex matters than the growth of almonds. Again another, red herring under the guise of a health issue. If this really concerns you, then buy Aussie almonds but – not mentioned in the article – parts of Australia also experience similar water management challenges so the PC brigade may wish to check first so that they can purchase conscience-free.

The ‘article is also quite biased in that it does not discuss any of the potentially unhealthy aspects of dairy food – one might wonder who paid for this ‘article’? In a society apparently so concerned about national levels of obesity, it doesn’t hurt to cut back on dairy intake. That was a tip I was given was back in the 90s but only tried a couple of years ago at the beginning of my green journey . Dropping my dairy consumption right back was the biggest factor allowing me to lose 20kg in 3 months without any great effort. Reducing ‘whites’ (white sugar, rice, bread, etc) and reducing the number of processing stages between the raw material and the final product were just supporting acts…

I’m not entirely ‘off’ dairy. I’ll occasionally have an ice cream or make a milk-based coffee at work and am happy to use cream in recipes where there is no practical green alternative. But everything in its place. Now, if I have dairy products too often, I just feel bloated and yuk…I have a balanced diet and so am not lacking any of the good things that come with dairy…

It annoys me that the NZ Herald and Healthy Food Guide continue to punt out this one-sided propaganda under the guise of health news. The facts are that if you don’t want milk/dairy and you have a balanced diet, then give the cow a miss…

Chocolate, beetroot and raspberry cake thing


This didn’t turn out that well at all but went down well with the target audience…not sure what went wrong but it may be that I didn’t bake it long enough and there was not enough flour for the old skewer trick to determine whether it was done or not…I also used real cocoa powder which really upped the chocolate ante possibly past that intended by the author who only wrote cocoa powder into the original recipe from Healthy Food Guide.

I’m not normally that much of a chocolatey person and found it totally overpowering on its own but quite a pleasant treat once tempered with cream and creamy vanilla ice cream. Probably because it didn’t fully bake properly this one had a very interesting texture from the grated strands of pear and beetroot…

Next time I will back off on the cocoa content and possible add a little coconut flour for body. It would be so good to be able to get colourless cocoa so we get the flavour and the deep rich red colouring of the beetroot…

Say no to sugar taxes

sugar nanny state.jpg

Drone alert in more ways than one…

Healthy Food Guide reports today that

“A petition calling for a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages that collected nearly 10,000 signatures was presented to Maori and Green Party MPs in Parliament last week”

That’s on the HFG site that is so paranoid that it has blocked the right mouse button function to prevent people copying or printing its articles and recipes. Heads up, team, all that does is force people to other sites more friendly (you’re not that unique), to use the browser drop-down menu, and/or just give you a miss: most, if not all of your recipes are available elsewhere (it’s not called the world-wide web for nothing you know)…just Google the recipe title to see if you can’t find the same -or often a better – recipe elsewhere…

But…back to the sugar thing…dear food fun Nazis, please get a grip…taxes don’t stop people using commodities they want to use…increasing taxes hasn’t drastically changed usage stats for spray paint, petrol, alcohol or nicotine, nor, had the legislation been enacted, would it have stopped sheep farting…all taxes on products like these is make them more expense so that people waste more money on them (less the sheep farting – sheep farts will always be free).

If you really want to stop people using something, then ban it and make it totally unavailable, except of course, for the bootleg and black market alternatives that will spring into existence the second the ban goes into effect. Bans – certainly where the market mass is most of the population – are rarely (not really!!) effective.

Ongoing effective education is the solution. Not anti-sugar propaganda because even kids can see through that. Tell it like it is. Put the truth – not truth, not your truth – out there. Be first with the truth. It’s not perfect but have a read of That Sugar Story anyway. Damon Gameau is a bit OTT at times but his basic premise is pretty good and pretty healthy – and you don’t need any laws or taxes to make it work. Consume less sugar. Avoid hidden sugars: quick tip, if it’s in a plastic wrapper that says it’s healthy, don’t touch it…you DON’T have to give up food fun to be healthy…there’s more to healthy food than water and lentils …

(lentils get a bad rap sometimes)

Stop trying to protect everyone from themselves. Nanny-stating has an opposite effect in the long term: instead of protecting the people from themselves, the increasing absence of challenge turns them into mindless drones incapable of applying judgement, solving problems or thinking for themselves.

I caught up with an old friend last week – someone who I had not physically seen 2007 but whom the miracle of Facebook had kept me in touch with. She made the very telling comment that the more support services we offer, the more people demand AND the less capable they become of thinking and fending for themselves. More and more people expect everyone to be nice to them and for ‘someone else’ to doing all think and supporting for them as well…

The truth is that sometimes life throws up challenges; life is sometimes a bit hard; things do not always go according to plan. ‘The people’ need to make their own decisions and accept the consequences of those decisions. They need to be given opportunities every day to exercise and practise those skills. Taking away their ability, indeed their right, to make lifestyle decisions for them and their families doesn’t make us smarter or healthier as a nation…

Look askance at any politician babbling in support of a sugar tax…