Almond milk is a simple and healthy alternative to dairy that can be used in cereals, smoothies and baking. Sales of almond milk in the United States doubled in 2010, and people are becoming increasingly aware of this low-fat, lactose-free beverage. Although almonds are high in protein, almond milk is not, because it mainly consists of water and most of the protein remains in the almonds' meat. However, almond milk is a good source of vitamins D, E and K (potassium) and calcium. Additionally, almonds have been found to be an excellent insulin regulator, making almond milk a good beverage for diabetics or pre-diabetics.
Soak the almonds in purified water for 8 to 12 hours, or overnight, in a covered container. Do not refrigerate, as the almonds need to be room-temperature. Soaking the almonds helps release their natural enzyme inhibitors. Although this step is not required, it is suggested because it not only helps you better digest the almond milk, it softens the almonds, making them easier to blend.
Drain the almonds, then add them to a blender with 2 cups of room-temperature, purified water. Cover and blend on a high setting for 1 minute, then add the remaining cup of water and blend again until the mixture is smooth. Blend in a little sweetener at this time if you like, but keep in mind that doing so will add more calories; you can also add vanilla flavouring.
Place your nut bag over your bowl or create a loose sack with cheesecloth; pour the mixture in. If using a high quality blender with a lot of power, you may not feel the need to run the milk through a strainer. However, for a silkier texture, strain the mixture and squeeze the cheesecloth or nut bag if there is any remaining nut meat or pulp. You can discard the meat or refrigerate it for later use in another recipe.
Transfer the almond milk to a beverage container with a lid and refrigerate it until you are ready to use it. There are no preservatives added, so it is advisable to use the almond milk within a couple days.