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Almond milk the way you prefer

It's easy to make unsweetened almond milk without added salt at home from soaked almonds and water, but you have to strain out the pieces of almond and almond skins. Then you can use flavoring or keep it the way it is. You also can make no-egg 'nog' for holiday cooking out of almond milk by adding flavoring that you find in traditional egg nog, such as rum flavoring, almond flavoring, or your favorite spices. You also can add ginger, cinnamon, or cloves or vanilla, berry, or chocolate flavors.

Almond milk the way you prefer.
Anne Hart, photography.

By making your own almond milk, you can choose what to use for flavoring or to leave the nondairy beverage unflavored. One advantage is you don't have to consume the high-salt content that's put into many types of commercial almond milk if you're following a low-salt diet. The trick is to strain out the fine particles of almonds through a cheese cloth or other fine strainer so you have a liquid without small particles of almonds that tickle your throat on the way down.

When you enter a supermarket and buy one of the almond milk brands, the cashier may hand you a coupon for the other competing brand. So in any given USA city, you have the brand Blue Diamond offering almond milk competing with Silk. But if you look on the natural food shelves in numerous Sacramento food markets, you'll see other brands of almond milk without all that added salt. Almond milk has been a staple of the health foods aisle since Blue Diamond put out a shelf-stable version in 1998.

Plain means sweetened but not flavored and unsweetened can come in unflavored or vanilla

Have you bought commercial almond milk? Was it unsweetened or sweetened? Plain almond milk often is sweetened. It has to say unsweetened not plain. Otherwise there are other flavors of almond milk such as vanilla, which is sweetened and chocolate. At least there are unsweetened brands of almond milk and soy milk on the market.

Did you use almond milk in recipes calling for milk such as in making smoothies, pies, and cakes? When it comes to almond milk or any other nondairy beverages such nut milk substitutes, plain does not mean unsweetened. Plain usually is sweetened. So you need to look for unsweetened brands or make your own from liquefying in your blender soaked almonds and water.

Also see the January 28, 2011 article by Gina Kim, As almond milk sales rise, Blue Diamond battles Silk - Sacramento Bee and check out The Modesto Bee | Blue Diamond, Silk battle for milk market. The article contains comparisons of both brand's ingredients. Basically, you have Sacramento's Blue Diamond Growers competing with the maker of Silk soy milk for dominance of the fast-growing almond milk market, whose sales totaled $105 million in 2010. If you'd like to read about the health benefits of almonds, check out the site, Almond milk benefits and side effects | Sweet Additions.

Almond milk sales have risen since the company created its refrigerated Almond Breeze, rolled out to test markets in 2008 and then nationwide in September 2009, just months before Silk launched its Pure Almond in January 2010. Silk is a product of Colorado-based WhiteWave Foods, which is a subsidiary of the country's largest dairy processor, Dean Foods.

Maybe you just want unsweetened organic almond milk without all that added salt

Then you can find in Sacramento food markets, usually in the natural food aisles, another brand, Pacific Natural Foods. See the site, Organic Unsweetened Almond Original - Pacific Natural Foods » Home.

The Sacramento Bee article didn't mention Pacific Natural Foods almond milk, which is on the natural food aisles in at least three area supermarkets and in some health food or natural food type stores. Since it doesn't need refrigeration, you can buy it online or in many food stores. Check out the site for coupons.

The Sacramento Bee noted how Blue Diamond's sales of Almond Breeze climbed from $1.1 million in 2008 to $10.3 million in 2009 – and then jumped to $57.8 million last year, excluding sales at Walmart, club stores and gas and convenience stores, according to the Chicago-based market research firm SymphonyIRI Group. You can also compare that to Silk Pure Almond rang up $47.1 million in sales in 2010, according to SymphonyIRI.

So, you don't have to buy almond milk in the cooler. It's also available in a shelf-stable version. And there are several brands available that way in most Sacramento supermarkets. According to the Sacramento Bee article, in the United States, people buy 90 percent of their milk and milk alternatives – soy, almond, coconut and rice milk – from the dairy case. But what if you don't want a perishable item if it is left out of your refrigerator? Then buy the shelf-compatible version that as long as it's left sealed, you can store in your pantry or take with you on a picnic or to the office.

Maybe concern is because people are buying cows' milk just a tiny bit less than they are buying plant-based milk

For example, according to the Sacramento Bee article, consumption of cows' milk has slipped down to 87 percent in 2010 from 90 percent in 2000. But nondairy milk substitute increased to 4 percent from 1 percent, according to the New York-based market research firm, NPD Group, as noted in the Sacramento Bee article. What else can you make from foods? Deodorant for one can be made from coconut oil or from salt and/or baking soda. You could also add scents such as mandarin oil to coconut oil or keep it plain coconut oil if you don't want citrus on your skin.

Making Deodorants from Foods

If you want a greener safe skin deodorant, health food stores in Sacramento sell deodorant salt sticks. That's about the most basic, prehistoric deodorant you can make that has been used for thousands of years. Sacramento shoppers interested in green health might start at the basic body level of making deodorants safer.

One way to begin to make your deodorant safer is to use a salt stick as a deodorant or coconut oil, baking soda, and dry coconut milk powder mixed together. Or you can use cornstarch and baking soda mixed, plain or with herbs or natural scents from foods.

In Sacramento health stores selling salt-stick deodorants include Elliot's Natural Foods, Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op, and Whole Food Markets. Or you can make your own salt-based deodorant from a handful of Himalayan coarse crystal salt which most Sacramento health food stores sell. Some coarser crystal-type salts from rocks come in the bulk bins. A ready-made salt stick is less irritating to your skin than applying regular salt or sea salt.

First, take a look at the study or even the abstract, "An earlier age of breast cancer diagnosis related to more frequent use of anti-perspirants/deodorants and underarm shaving," McGrath EKG, published December, 2003 in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention, vol. 12; 6:479-85. Also see: Department of Medicine, Saint Joseph Hospital-Resurrection Health Care, Mail Box 285, 2900 N Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, Il 60657, USA.

Did you ever think in your wildest dreams that shaving and applying underarm deodorant would have any link or relationship to breast cancer? Yet the 2003 study reported that breast cancer incidence suggests a lifestyle cause.

According to this study six years ago, a lifestyle factor used near the breast is the application of antiperspirants/deodorants accompanied by axillary shaving. A previous study did not support a link with breast cancer. If these habits have a role in breast cancer development, women using antiperspirants/deodorants and shaving their underarms frequently would be expected to have an earlier age of diagnosis than those doing so less often.

An earlier age of diagnosis would also be expected in those starting to use deodorants and shaving at an earlier age. This is study had been the first study to investigate the intensity of underarm exposure in a cohort of breast cancer survivors.

Four hundred and thirty-seven females diagnosed with breast cancer were surveyed. Once grouped by their frequency of underarm hygiene habits, the mean age of diagnosis was the primary end point.

Secondary end points included the overall frequency of these habits, and potential usage group confounding variables were evaluated. All statistical tests were two-sided. Frequency and earlier onset of antiperspirant/deodorant usage with underarm shaving were associated with an earlier age of breast cancer diagnosis.

Combined habits are likely for this earlier age of diagnosis. In conclusion, the study noted, that underarm shaving with antiperspirant/deodorant use may play a role in breast cancer. It is not clear which of these components are involved. Reviewed literature insinuates absorption of aluminium salts facilitated by dermal barrier disruption. Case-controlled investigations are needed before alternative underarm hygiene habits are suggested.

Sure, more case-controlled studies are needed. But everyone knows that when you rub aluminum salts into your pores the salts are going to be absorbed into your body.

There are healthier salts to put under your arms. How about plain old rock salt? It's a hunk of salt that is found in most health food stores. Think historically, in ancient times when bathing had been infrequent (or in some cold places, historically bathing was unknown) what do you think people used as a deodorant when they didn't use icy water? Salt. Picture 3,000 years ago on the icy tundra of Siberia. Nomadic peoples used a chunk of rock salt as a deodorant. It worked then, and it still works well today.

Salt is one of the best underarm deodorants. Unless you're extemely salt sensitive, a chunk of rock salt found in health food stores makes a great underarm deodorant stick

Let's look at what are in some of the commercial underarm deodorants. You have in some preservatives such as anti-fungal parabens. Look at various studies showing antifungal parabens that are taken into breast cancers. If you stop your underarm areas from sweating, you're cutting off one of the most important pathways for your body to detox of pollutants from the air, environment, and food.

It's okay to sweat, and salt gets rid of bacteria that cause odors. By shaving before you put on commercial deodorants, you're giving chemicals easier access to your bloodstream. Some of the commercial deodorants have chemicals containing estrogen-mimicking phthalates. These chemicals are being absorbed into your breast tissue and lymph nodes under your arms.

Besides rock salt, the easiest to apply, you can make your own deodorants also from foods. Baking soda is another alternative. A third alternative is making deodorant from powdered coconut milk and coconut oil mixed with baking soda. Here's how to make your own safer underarm deodorant from foods.

Making Deodorant from Coconut Oil

Coconut oil, used extensively in the Pacific Islands and Southeast Asia, is one of the best moisturizers for your skin. It is anti-bacterial. Mandarin oil is tangerine oil. It has been grown in Sicily and Tunisia as well as in China, and has a delicate citrus scent. It’s an essential oil with properties to help relieve stress and digestive problem. Mandarin oil frequently is used to increase circulation to the skin, reduce fluid retention, and to help prevent stretch marks.

When added to coconut oil, coconut milk powder, and baking soda, a dropper full of Mandarin oil makes the finishing touch for a natural deodorant for the external use. It quickly becomes transparent on the skin. Or make your own shampoo by mixing a few drops of Mandarin oil with a few drops of olive oil added and a tablespoon of glycerin added to your favorite gentle shampoo base.

You can combine melted coconut oil, coconut milk powder, baking powder, and Mandarin oil to make your own natural deodorant. According to the Esoteric Oils site, Mandarin oil is extracted from Citrus reticulata (also known as Citrus nobilis, madurensis, unshiu, deliciosa) of the Rutaceae family and is also known as European mandarin, tangerine, naartjie and true mandarin. Here's how to make your own natural deodorant mixing coconut oil, powdered coconut milk, and baking soda with Mandarin oil.

1 cup of baking soda
1 cup of coconut oil
1 cup of coconut milk powder
1 dropper full of Mandarin oil (tangerine oil).

Mix the baking soda with the coconut milk powder in a glass bowl. Slowly melt the coconut oil in a saucepan over a low flame. Coconut oil is solid when it is in a jar kept at room temperature or refrigerated. You can buy coconut oil in most supermarkets. Powdered coconut milk is found in most Asian grocery stores. Or you can buy Mandarin oil online, for example at from Aura Cacia and other online sellers. Buy powdered coconut milk online from King Arthur Flour or Full Spectrum Organics or from numerous other online sellers that sell organics.

Add the warm, but not very hot, melted coconut oil liquid to the baking soda and dry coconut milk powder mix. Squeeze a dropper full of Mandarin oil into the liquid. Stir gently until all ingredients are mixed. Pour into a jar and let cool. The coconut oil will harden at room temperature.

Store the deodorant in a tightly closed jar. It will last a week or until used up. Make this deodorant in small batches. You want to make a fresh jar of deodorant every week or two. It will dry transparent.

Mandarin oil has a wonderful essence of citrus

It adds a gentle, delicate fragrance without being overpowering. If you’re allergic to scents, use a dropper full of citrus oil that is safely absorbed by your skin. Oils are sold in herbal shops and health food stores. Make sure the oil you use is the edible type used in foods, toothpaste, and mouthwashes and not the type used for burning in oil lamps or incense.

Don’t heat the Mandarin oil as it has a flashpoint of 133 degrees F. Check out more facts and safety levels of Mandarin oil at the Sigma-Aldrich® site.

Natural Touch Aromatherapy's Sicilian Mandarin essential oil obtained by cold-expression from the outer peel of ripe fruits. Mandarin is often adulterated with less expensive Orange oil. An excellent mandarin essential oil, amber-orange in colour with a deep, sweet, citrus-mandarin scent. To read more about Mandarin oil, see the Natural Touch Aromatherapy site.

What's the best snack you can choose?

Are almonds an optimal snack? During the next few days, almonds will be discussed and examined for effects on diet quality, appetite, adiposity and cardiovascular disease risk factors at a meeting of Experimental Biology 2014 in San Diego, California, according to an April 25, 2014 news release, "Are almonds an optimal snack?" You also could get inspired by Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food.

The latest news is that six new almond-related research studies will be presented next week in San Diego at the American Society of Nutrition (ASN)'s Scientific Sessions and Annual Meeting, held in conjunction with Experimental Biology 2014 (EB). The conference attracts an international audience of approximately 13,000 leading scientists specializing in various health disciplines.

The science presented will reveal new insights on the effects of almond consumption on overall diet quality and health status, abdominal adiposity, measures of appetite and satiety, and cardiovascular risk factors

"Presenting new research to this audience of scientists and health professionals is critical to turning the findings into practical application and recommendations, said Dr. Karen Lapsley, according to the April 25, 2013 news release, "Are almonds an optimal snack?" Lapsley is Chief Science Officer for the Almond Board of California. "These results help to advance the evolution of our understanding of almonds' beneficial effects as part of a healthy diet."

In a satellite session on Sunday, April 27, researchers will explore the question, "Are Almonds an Optimal Snack?" a hot topic given that snacking has become a way of life for most Americans. You also can check out the study, "Are almonds an optimal snack? New research on the health effects of almonds," Authors are O'Neil CE, Mattes R, and Kris-Etherton P. Or see the American Society for Nutriton Sponsored Satellite Program, Experimental Biology 2014, San Diego, CA, held April 27, 2014. Check out the site, "ASN Scientific Sessions & Annual Meeting at EB 2014."

In fact, 97% of Americans report eating at least one snack a day, with 40% consuming three to four snacks per day, according to the study, "Snacking increased among U.S. adults between 1977 and 2006." published in the Journal of Nutrition in 2010; 140:325-332. Authors of that study are Piernas C, and Popkin BM. So understanding and education about smart snacking is increasingly important. You also may wish to see the PDF article, "Trends In Snacking Among U.S. Children - BANPAC."

At the meeting, Dr. Carol O'Neil of Louisiana State University will present a new analysis of 24,808 adults 19 and older, using National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data from 2000-2010 showing that almond consumers (n=395; defined as those who reported eating any amount of almonds or almond butter in the previous 24 hours) had increased nutrient intake, improved overall dietary quality and better physiological status compared with non-almond consumers.

This is a cross-sectional study; therefore, the data cannot be used to draw causal relationships, but suggests an association between almond consumption and positive health status. You also may wish to check out the abstract of the study, "Consumption of almonds is associated with increased nutrient intake, better diet quality, and better physiological status in adult participants (19+ y) from the NHANES (2001-2010)." Authors are Papanikolaou Y, O'Neil CE, Nicklas TA., and Fulgoni VL. Program No: 810.17; Poster session: C120.

According to another research work, "Effects of almonds as a snack or meal accompaniment on appetite, glycemia and body weight," by Tan S-Y and Mattes RD." Experimental Biology 2014; Abstract No. 1927, Program No: 641.9; Poster presentation, many commonly consumed snack foods are nutrient-poor and elicit weak dietary compensation. Dr. Richard Mattes from Purdue University examined the effects of snacking on nutrient-rich almonds in 137 adult participants at risk for Type II diabetes in that research. You also may wish to check out the article, "100 Days of Real Food: How We Did It, What We Learned, and 100 Easy, Wholesome Recipes Your Family Will Love."

Researchers found that consuming 1.5 ounces of dry-roasted, lightly salted almonds daily helped curb participants' appetites and moderate blood glucose concentrations, while significantly improving vitamin E and monounsaturated fat intake.

After a month of snacking on 250 calories from almonds daily, participants did not gain weight. While the study was only four weeks long, it suggests that snacking on almonds could be a weight-wise strategy. Dr. Penny-Kris Etherton from Pennsylvania State University will be sharing results from a new randomized, controlled clinical study examining the effects of consuming 1.5 ounces of almonds vs. a calorie-matched, high carbohydrate snack on body weight in 52 adults with elevated LDL cholesterol, according to the study, "Daily almond consumption (1.5 oz./d) decreases abdominal and leg adiposity in mildly hypercholesterolemic individuals." Authors are Berryman, CE, et al. Experimental Biology 2014, Program No: 117.8 ; Oral presentation. You also can check out the abstract, "Daily almond consumption (1.5 oz./d) decreases abdominal and leg adiposity in mildly hypercholesterolemic individuals," at, "Abstracts - The Graduate School at Penn State."

That study found total body weight did not differ between the two treatments, but the almond diet reduced overall abdominal mass, abdominal fat mass, and waist circumference compared to the high-carbohydrate snack. Although the study was just six weeks long, preliminary results suggest that snacking on almonds may help decrease abdominal fat, an important risk factor for metabolic syndrome.

Additional research examining the relationship between almond consumption and cardiovascular and diabetes risk factors will be showcased in a number of poster presentations at the conference:

A randomized, parallel-arm controlled study investigated the effects of adding 1.5 ounces of almonds daily to the diets of adult subjects with poorly controlled type II diabetes on C-reactive protein – without any dietary advice provided, according to the study, "Almond supplementation without dietary advice significantly reduces C-reactive protein in subjects with poorly-controlled type 2 diabetes." Authors of that study are: Sweazea K.L., Johnston C.S., Ricklefs, K., Petersen, K., Alanbagy, S. Program No: 830.24; Poster session: C386.

Another crossover, randomized clinical trial examined the metabolic response of 2 ounces of almonds compared to dairy fat in isocaloric and equal macronutrient meals consumed by overweight/obese pregnant women. Preliminary results suggest that almonds may help improve satiety, reduce appetite, and may help promote healthy weight gain during pregnancy, although further research is needed, according to the study, "The Effect of Almond Consumption on Satiety and the Postprandial Metabolic Response in High-Risk Pregnant Women." Authors of that study are Henderson, M.N. Henderson, Sawrey-Kubicek, L., Mauldin, K. King, and J.C. Program No: 1040.5; Poster session: C289.

The body of evidence that will be presented suggests snacking can be a weight-wise strategy, depending upon the foods consumed. The nutrient profile of almonds – low on the glycemic index and providing a powerful nutrient package including hunger-fighting protein (6 g/oz), filling dietary fiber (4 g/oz), 'good' monounsaturated fats (13 g/oz), according to the good news about almonds and heart health. you also may wish to see another study published online August 2013, at the Clinical website, "Postprandial Response to Almond Consumption in Overweight Hispanic Pregnant Women."

Scientific evidence suggests, but does not prove, that eating 1.5 ounces of most nuts, such as almonds, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.

One serving on almonds (28g) has 13g of unsaturated fat and only 1g of saturated fat, and important vitamins and minerals such as vitamin E (7.4 mg/oz), magnesium (200 mg/oz) and potassium (77 mg/oz), makes them a satisfying, heart-smart (8) snack choice that can help support a healthy weight.

The research presented reflects the Almond Board of California's strong commitment to the advancement of nutrition science. Lapsley said, according to the April 25, 2014 news release, Are almonds an optimal snack? "To date, the California almond industry has invested over $15 million in nutrition research that has resulted in more than 100 papers published by internationally recognized scientists in peer review journals. The Almond Board of California is proud to present science at the elite level of Experimental Biology."

California Almonds are a natural, wholesome and quality food product, making almonds California's leading agricultural export in terms of value. The Almond Board of California promotes almonds through its research-based approach to all aspects of marketing, farming and production on behalf of the more than 6,000 California Almond growers and processors, many of whom are multi-generational family operations.

Established in 1950 and based in Modesto, California, the Almond Board of California is a non-profit organization that administers a grower-enacted Federal Marketing Order under the supervision of the United States Department of Agriculture. For more information on the Almond Board of California or almonds, visit the Almond Board's website.

Another study on consuming a blend of soy and dairy proteins

A new study, "Soy-Dairy Protein Blend and Whey Protein Ingestion After Resistance Exercise Increases Amino Acid Transport and Transporter Expression in Human Skeletal Muscle," published online April 3, 2014 in the Journal of Applied Physiology shows additional benefits of consuming a blend of soy and dairy proteins after resistance exercise for building muscle mass. But the study's abstract didn't mention organic soy or GMO soy, or whether the whey came from organic milk or milk treated with antibiotics or hormones. Was the milk raw or Pasteurized? And was the whey or casein from cow's milk or goat's or sheep's milk?

Researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston found that using a protein blend of soy, casein and whey post-workout prolongs the delivery of select amino acids to the muscle for an hour longer than using whey alone. It also shows a prolonged increase in amino acid net balance across the leg muscle during early post-exercise recovery, suggesting prolonged muscle building.

The study shows additional benefits of consuming a blend of soy and dairy proteins after resistance exercise for building muscle mass

Researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch found that using a protein blend of soy, casein and whey post-workout prolongs the delivery of select amino acids to the muscle for an hour longer than using whey alone.

Scientists conducted research from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB) in collaboration with DuPont Nutrition and Health. "This study sheds new light on how unique combinations of proteins, as opposed to single protein sources, are important for muscle recovery following exercise and help extend amino acid availability, further promoting muscle growth," said Blake B. Rasmussen, chairman of UTMB's Department of Nutrition and Metabolism and lead researcher of the study, according to the April 24, 2014 news release, "Study reaffirms soy-dairy protein blend increases muscle mass."

This new research, using state-of-the-art methodology, builds on an earlier publication reporting that a soy-dairy blend extends muscle protein synthesis when compared to whey alone, as only the blended protein kept synthesis rates elevated three to five hours after exercise. Together, these studies indicate that the use of soy-dairy blends can be an effective strategy for active individuals seeking products to support muscle health.

"Because of the increased demand for high-quality protein, this study provides critical insight for the food industry as a whole, and the sports nutrition market in particular," said Greg Paul, according to the news release. Paul is the global marketing director for DuPont Nutrition and Health. "With more and more consumers recognizing the importance of protein for their overall health and well-being, the results of this study have particular relevance to a large segment of the population, from the serious sports and fitness enthusiast to the mainstream consumer."

The study demonstrates that consuming a soy-dairy blend leads to a steady rise in amino acids, the building blocks of muscle.

The double-blind, randomized clinical trial included 16 healthy subjects, ages 19 to 30, to assess if consumption of a blend of proteins with different digestion rates would prolong amino acid availability and lead to increases in muscle protein synthesis after exercise. The protein beverages provided to study subjects consisted of a soy-dairy blend (25 percent isolated DuPont Danisco SUPRO soy protein, 50 percent caseinate, 25 percent whey protein isolate) or a single protein source (whey protein isolate). Muscle biopsies were taken at baseline and up to five hours after resistance exercise. The protein sources were ingested one hour after exercise in both groups.

Data showed that the soy-dairy blend yields an increase in select amino acid delivery for about an hour longer than the use of whey protein alone. The blend also sustained a greater positive net amino acid balance than whey, suggesting there is less muscle protein breakdown during the time period shortly after consumption of a blended protein product. Further research is ongoing to identify the long-term effect on muscle mass and strength.

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