As a single mom, most of my choices make my life easier. Reading this, you may think I’m an insane hippy mother who makes her own milk at home, but trust me: I am normal and I swear I’m doing this because it saves me time and money. If you’d like to know why I make my own cow's milk alternative, scroll down to read the backstory and nutrition information.
C has major intolerances to dairy and wheat, and a sensitivity to eggs and soy. As some of my long-term friends and followers may recall, I discovered this when she was about three weeks old; it was part of the reason she had colic. Instead of soy milk, almond milk, or any packaged "alternative milk," I make her a mixture of hemp and coconut milk at home, using my Vitamix. Here's how:
- Nut milk bag (or jelly strainers, which have a bigger mesh, but are cheaper)
- Blender (I use a Vitamix)
- 4 cup Pyrex measuring cup
- Glass bottle for storage (I got mine at Sur la Table for $5 and I love it!)
- 4 cups filtered water
- 1/2 cup hemp shelled hemp seeds (in the bulk section at Whole Foods)
- 1 cup shredded coconut (I buy a 22-pound bag on Amazon for the best price - I know, that's a lot of coconut)
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup (Subscribe & Save on Amazon)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I buy a huge bottle at Costco)
Directions (photos below):
- Put all ingredients in blender.
- Pour the mixture into the nut milk bag, while holding it over the Pyrex. I now do this in the sink, which is cleaner, because there can be a little bit of spray when you squeeze the bag.
- Squeeze the liquid out of the bag. The liquid will strain into the Pyrex, and the pulp will stay in the bag. You can compost or throw away the pulp.
- Pour the milk into the bottle.
- Enjoy! It's better when it's cold (which is why I start with cold water from the refrigerator), and it will separate after awhile, so shake before use. :)
Here are some photos of the process:
Steps 1 & 2: Put all ingredients in the blender, and blend:
Steps 3 & 4: Pour the mixture into the nut milk bag and strain into the Pyrex:
Steps 5 & 6: Pour into milk bottle and enjoy!
Now, for the backstory and nutrition information. I basically listen to everything my friend K says. When she tells me she’s made a decision, I know she’s researched the heck out of it. And that, my friends, is my little disclaimer about this post. I didn’t do the research, K did. But I trust her.
C has intolerances to dairy, wheat, egg, and a sensitivity to soy. As some of my long-term friends and followers may recall, I discovered this when she was about three weeks old; it was part of the reason she had colic. K’s daughter also had a milk allergy, and her story is part of why I recognized what was happening with C.
Fast-forward a year: Everyone in my mother’s group was adding whole cow’s milk to their baby’s diet, and I needed an alternative. I asked K what she decided to do, and here’s her answer:
I give my kids a combination of hemp milk mixed with coconut milk. Here's why: Hemp milk is equal or superior to cow's milk in every.single.vitamin and nutrient with the EXCEPTION of protein (more on this later.) There is also no cholesterol in hemp or coconut milk, and there is also much less sugar in both of these than in cow's milk (cow's milk has 13g of sugar in just one cup of milk.
The unsweetened hemp milk from Tempt, which is what I get, has 0g. I get “original” coconut instead of unsweetened coconut, because I find that one to be bitter. The original coconut milk only has 6g per cup... so less than half that of cow's milk.)
I thought maybe almond milk would have more protein, but no such luck. Cow's milk has something like 8g of protein per cup, while hemp has 2g and coconut has 1g per cup. Almond milk also only had 1g. Go figure. Most adults get more protein than they need, but a lot of kids don't like meat, so they don't get as much or enough. Kids between the ages of 1-3 need 0.55g of protein per lb of body weight, so my kids need 13-15 (roughly) grams of protein per day. One large egg, 1/2 cup of beans, 2 Tbsp of nut butter, and 1 oz of cheese (which C can’t do) each have 6-8g of protein. Breads, some cereals, and some vegetables also have protein in them.
The sole purpose of the coconut milk is to give them the same amount of saturated fat that is in whole milk, which is important for their growth.
For about a year, I did the exact same thing, using the same brands. Then I came across an article about carrageenan, which is a thickener used in a lot of “health foods.” The article warned against the risks of carrageenan, citing studies indicating it may cause cancer. I checked our milk cartons, and sure enough, it was in both of them. Add that to the cost of the milk, and I wanted to find an alternative. I may be an alarmist, but I don't care - better safe than sorry.
I now make C’s milk at home, and it seriously could not be easier. It takes less time than going to the store to pick up the packaged brands, costs less, and is healthier. I use a Vitamix (seriously, worth every penny – I sold a piece of furniture to pay for mine, but I would have ferreted away money for it if I’d known how amazing it is), but another blender would probably work fine too.
As you can see, I add two sweeteners to the milk. I tried it with just maple syrup, and C hated it. I am slowly decreasing the amount of both over time, hoping to have as little added sugar as possible.