Here we are with another keto ingredient spotlight. Almond milk is the star today, and it’s incredibly useful in keto baking and desserts. Just think about all of the ways milk is used in dessert-making and you’ll begin to get the idea! Keep on reading to learn the keto take on almond milk and what you need to know about incorporating it into your keto diet.
What is keto?
First, we’ll do a brief recap of what keto is in case we have any newcomers to the keto party. The keto diet is a low-carb-high-fat way of eating in which you get at least 70% of your energy from fat and the rest from protein and carbohydrates. The goal is to keep carbs low (although you don’t want to totally eliminate them for health reasons). Limiting carbs allows the body to use fat as the main source of energy. Keto is scientifically proven to benefit epilepsy, Alzheimers, Parkinsons, autism, depression, overall body weight, and even cancer It seems that every day researchers find new benefits to the keto way of eating! It’s incredible for brain health, your mood, metabolism, and so much more! Check out our keto basics page for more background and science!
Net carbs explained
One more thing before we get into the amazing almond milk. Net carbs! Since we want to keep our carb intake low on the keto diet, below 50 g/day, it’s important to know how many you’re consuming and how they affect you. Out of the total amount of carbs you eat in a day, some of them affect your blood sugar and some don’t. The ones that do are called impact carbs, and these are the only ones that count towards your carb total. Fiber and sugar alcohols, on the other hand, do not affect blood sugar, so they don’t add to your net carbs for the day. Your net carbs are your total carbs minus the fiber and sugar alcohol you’ve consumed. If you want to know more about net carbs see here!
Almond milk macro analysis
So let’s break down the macros for almond milk and see how it fits into our keto requirements. This comes with a warning that almond milk macros can vary depending on the brand you buy (and if you make it yourself). For simple, unsweetened almond milk with minimal additives, 100g of milk (which is a little under half a cup) has 1.1g fat and about 0.4g carbs. For us keto dieters this means overall almond milk is not doing much to help our fat goals for the day, but it’s not negatively impacting our carb totals either. This makes it a totally acceptable keto food and a great ingredient to use in our keto desserts!
Hit us with health!
Although almond milk doesn’t work wonders for our fat intake, it has a lot of health benefits that make it worth it. Scientists have shown that almonds are great for heart health, and eating them can boost metabolism and prevent weight gain and people who eat almonds at least four times a week have a lower prevalence of heart disease. Research has repeatedly shown that almonds help reduce cholesterol, too. Nuts, in general, are anti-inflammatory and prevent insulin resistance, and they even have phytonutrients that boost your gut bacteria!
In terms of nutrients, almonds are high in vitamin E, which is a powerful antioxidant. The antioxidant effects of almonds have been shown in the brain, and in some studies, almonds have even helped improve memory thanks to vitamin E and riboflavin! And vitamin E is also good for skin health! The health benefits are not as strong when drinking almond milk as opposed to raw almonds since the milk is diluted, but it’s great to know that this keto, dairy-free milk is so good for you!
Get the good stuff!
Here’s the catch—the macros we gave are only applicable for unsweetened, plain almond milk with little to no fillers or additives. Many brands of almond milk out there add thickeners, emulsifiers, and gums to improve the texture and creaminess of the milk and to make it shelf-stable. This also allows such brands to have a lower amount of actual almonds in there and more water, which is not what we want. We want to benefit from as much of the nutrients and fat from the almonds as possible, not to mention that many of these additives have shown to be irritating to the stomach. This is why we recommend using almond milk with the fewest ingredients possible, or, even better, making your own!
Almond milk at home
All you need to make almond milk is almonds and water. It’s that simple! And compared to making coconut milk on your own, it’s much easier. The first step is to soak raw, unsalted almonds in water overnight, or for at least eight hours. Then strain and rinse the almonds and put in a blender with between four and six cups of water. Use more water if you want thinner almond milk and less water if you want it to be thicker and creamier. Blend on high for about two minutes, until all of the almonds are completely broken down. Next, you strain this mixture through a cheesecloth, fine mesh strainer, or a “nut milk bag” into another bowl. A nut milk bag is a type of mesh bag with a drawstring at the top so you can pour the nut and water mixture right into it and not have to worry about it spilling anywhere. Once the milk strains through, wring out the “pulp” in the cheesecloth or bag to get as much milk as possible! Now what you have in your bowl is almond milk!
Almond milk is delicious plain, but if you’d like to sweeten it a bit to round out the taste, you can add your favorite keto sweetener with the almonds and water when you blend. Just remember to factor that into your macros. It’s deliciously flavored with a pinch of sea salt, cinnamon, and a splash of vanilla blended in, too!
Save that pulp!
Don’t throw out the pulp that’s leftover in your cheesecloth or nut milk bag! That is almond meal, which you could use to bake with! You really get two products in one by making your own almond milk! You can also use the pulp as a protein and fat boost in smoothies. If you don’t want to use the pulp right away, freeze it and it’ll be there for you whenever you’re ready!
Is it worth it to make my own?
So, is it really worth it to make your own almond milk? Yes! We think so! The first thing to keep in mind is that it tastes much better when you make your own because store-bought almond milk actually has very few almonds so that it can be sold at a low price. When you make your own you get to enjoy all of that delicious almondy flavor! Beyond the taste though, making your own allows you to avoid all of the fillers and additives we mentioned and just drink the almonds.
Almond milk in the kitchen and avoiding dairy
Almond milk is extremely versatile in the kitchen! The most prominent use is as a dairy-free milk option. It has a milder flavor than coconut milk, so it’s a great basic substitute in any recipes in which you’d typically use cow’s milk. This is helpful for many people who don’t tolerate dairy. We’ve talked before about dairy on the keto diet here and here, but to summarize, avoiding dairy can be helpful if you are trying to lose weight on keto and you aren’t succeeding or you’re stalling. If milk is still a staple for you in your diet, try almond milk for drinking or for any other kitchen use. Now on to what we love—desserts!
Keto desserts with almond milk
As we said, almond milk is the perfect substitute for regular milk in your keto baking and desserts. We have a ton of recipes on My Sweet Keto that use it! We like to use it in cupcakes like these keto coconut cupcakes. Although these St. Patrick’s day cupcakes call for heavy cream, they work great with almond milk instead! Almond milk also makes vegan keto panna cotta possible, which is pretty amazing! Or use it to make delicious cakes like this keto jaffa cake, and this pistachio matcha cake. Another few of our favorites are these sweet au gratin pancakes and the six-minute avocado mug cake!
The exception to the rule
Beware though: Almond milk is not a good substitute for coconut milk. They’re not interchangeable because coconut milk has a much higher fat percentage, so it acts differently in recipes than almond milk.
We love almond milk!
That’s enough almond milk dessert recipes to last you the rest of the day (or week), so get baking! And you can bake in confidence knowing that your almond milk will help protect your heart, keep your brain and skin healthy, and be delicious in tons of recipes!