Welltalks: Megan Wallace on the benefits of handcrafted nut mylk
There’s no question that nut mylks have hit the mainstream. In fact, these days you’d be hard pressed to find a restaurant or coffee shop that doesn’t at least carry almond mylk, whether store-bought or made in-house. And while personally, our fridges are usually stocked with some brand of store-bought mylk for convenience (the fewer the ingredients the better), making it yourself, or buying it homemade from a brand like Vancouver’s Nutmeg Mylk is the healthier and tastier choice. We sat down with Megan Wallace, founder of Nutmeg Mylk to find out what’s so different about hand-crafted nut mylk versus conventional store-bought, and to get some tips from a pro on how to make it at home.
Tell us a bit about Nutmeg Mylk and how it all started?
It all started very naturally. My sister-in-law is actually a holistic nutritionist, she was putting on a workshop on how to make nut mylk and I had been wanting to learn how to do it. Like a lot of people, I don’t really do well with dairy, it just doesn’t sit well with me. I was using soy and store-bought almond mylk as a substitute, and I just hated how it tasted. It seemed expensive to be purchasing individual nut mylks from juiceries all the time, so I decided to start making 1 litre bottles to be able to provide people with a larger volume. Smaller bottles are still the most convenient for grab-and-go, so I did start offering those and people are really loving them.
What makes your nut mylks different from conventional store-bought ones?
We started with just nut mylks and then began experimenting with different blends. What I really love to do, and what I’m passionate about is creating different flavours by mixing different types of nuts and superfoods together to create blends that you can’t find at the grocery store. Though we do still have a few standard flavours because we still want to fill that demand for homemade, fresh nut mylk, rather than what you find at the grocery store, we have some really unique blends, like our honey lavender, that adds a really great flavour to coffee or even overnight oats. You can also steam up our mylks to make them into lattes, or add them to smoothies — The Indie, which has turmeric in it is delicious in a smoothie with frozen mango.
What are some of the common concerning ingredients that you can find in the store-bought nut mylks?
There are lot of additives in the conventional nut mylks like preservatives, gums and emulsifiers. There is seaweed derived gum, carrageenan (learn more about it here) that is particularly concerning. And a lot of the time with the conventional ones, you aren’t actually getting a “nut mylk” as they typically only contain 1-3% actual nuts and the rest is just additives and water. In our nut mylks you are actually getting 25% nuts, so we are’t stripping our products of their health benefits.
What are some of the nutritional benefits of your unique nut mylk blends?
Our goal is that each mylk contains ingredients that are beneficial to your health. For example, walnuts are really great for your brain and memory; they’ve been show to help with Alzheimer’s and other memory degenerative diseases and are packed full of vitamins and nutrients. Walnuts aren’t typically in our daily diet so the nut mylk is a great way to be able to add them in. Brazil nuts are great for skin, and also a great source of selenium. Some of the other ingredients we add in like cinnamon, turmeric and bee pollen all have their own nutritional benefits as well. Maca for example helps with energy, lavender is super calming. The Provence, which has honey and lavender naturally soothes the stomach and skin, calms nerves and helps with stress, so is great for before bed.
What are some tips for people who want to make their own nut mylk at home?
It’s so much easier than you think! I know it’s a bit of a process, and it can be overwhelming having to soak the nuts, but it’s really not that hard. You do need to have a fairly good food processor, but even if you have a Nutribullet for example, you can just puree it for longer and it will work just fine! In terms of tips, I would offer the following:
1. Soak your nuts for for 8-12 hours prior to blending. Make sure to rinse the nuts really well after you soak them so you are getting rid of what’s outside of the nuts (especially with almonds because they can cause digestive problems).
2. Get a good nut mylk bag, you can can get one from Whole Foods or Amazon. Don’t use a cheesecloth because it gets super messy.
3. Have fun with it and experiment with different flavours and combinations. Any sort of nut works, even peanuts!
Do you have any creative ideas for what you do with the leftover pulp?
The possibilities are limitless when it comes to uses for the leftover pulp. I don’t like to compost something that is still so nutrient dense, so I will freeze it and blend a bit into my smoothies to add fibre, it’s especially great for smoothie bowls as it helps to thicken the base. It’s also perfect for making energy balls, you can bake with it and make cookies and other treats. You can add it to overnight oats to make them thicker or even make it into “parmesan”, by baking it and adding some nutritional yeast.