What should you avoid with almond milk?

Almond milk has become an increasingly popular plant-based milk alternative. However, there are some things you should avoid when it comes to using or consuming almond milk. In this comprehensive guide, we will cover common mistakes people make with almond milk and how to avoid them. From storage and preparation to nutrition and substitutions, we’ve got you covered on how to properly use almond milk so you can enjoy its benefits. Keep reading to learn what to avoid with almond milk!

What is almond milk?

Almond milk is a plant-based milk made from almonds and water. The almonds are soaked, blended, and strained to create a milky, nutty liquid. Unsweetened almond milk has hardly any calories or carbs and is naturally lactose-free. Many brands add vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. It has become popular among those avoiding dairy, looking for low-carb options, or seeking plant-based alternatives.

Key facts about almond milk:

  • Plant-based milk alternative to cow’s milk
  • Made by soaking, blending, and straining almonds with water
  • Naturally lactose-free and dairy-free
  • Low in calories and carbohydrates
  • Higher in certain nutrients like vitamin E and calcium than cow’s milk
  • Used as a substitute for cow’s milk in recipes, smoothies, coffee drinks, and more

With the basics covered, let’s look at what you should avoid when it comes to properly using and substituting almond milk.

Storage and Shelf Life Mistakes to Avoid

Like any food product, there are right and wrong ways to store almond milk to maintain freshness and reduce waste. Here are some common storage mistakes to avoid:

Keeping it at room temperature

Once opened, almond milk should always be refrigerated. Keeping it at room temperature allows bacteria to grow faster, causing spoilage. Refrigerate almond milk promptly after use.

Storing too long after opening

Almond milk typically lasts 7-10 days after opening when refrigerated. Don’t go by the best-by date alone, as that’s for unopened products. Discard almond milk if it’s been open for over 10 days, smells sour, or appears curdled or lumpy.

Not shaking or stirring before use

The solids in almond milk separate when sitting. Always give it a good shake or stir before pouring to recombine for smooth consistency and flavor.

Allowing light exposure

Like dairy milk, almond milk is sensitive to light exposure. Store it in an interior fridge shelf away from the door to minimize light exposure and prevent nutrient degradation.

Not checking for leaks

Inspect containers for leaks or cracks before refrigerating opened almond milk, as leakage can cause fridge contamination. Transfer to a clean container if packaging is compromised.

By properly refrigerating, monitoring freshness, stirring before use, limiting light exposure, and checking for leaks, you can avoid almond milk storage mistakes.

Preparation Pitfalls

While almond milk may seem as simple to use as cow’s milk, there are some preparation guidelines to follow for best results:

Heating too high or too long

Almond milk can curdle and separate when boiled or microwaved on high. Use medium heat when warming it, stirring gently to prevent this.

Not allowing time to soak in

In hot drinks, allow a minute or two for almond milk to soak in before stirring to prevent curdling from the temperature shock.

Using as a direct 1:1 substitute

Almond milk has a thinner consistency than cow’s milk. Adjust recipes by adding a bit more for baking and cooking needs to account for this difference.

Not blending smoothly

If homemade almond milk seems gritty, the almonds likely needed more soaking time. Up to 8 hours allows for a perfectly smooth and creamy blend.

Adding to acidic liquids right away

Slowly incorporate almond milk into acidic drinks like coffee to prevent curdling. Don’t pour it directly in.

With some care taken when heating, blending, and mixing almond milk into foods and drinks, you can avoid preparation pitfalls for the best results.

Nutrition and Diet Mistakes

While almond milk is low in calories, people often make mistakes in assuming it provides the same nutritional value as dairy milk:

Thinking it has as much protein or calcium

Almond milk has minimal protein and calcium compared to cow’s milk. Don’t use it as your sole source for these nutrients.

Assuming it has vitamin D or B12

Most almond milks are not a natural source of vitamin D or B12, unlike fortified dairy milk. Check if your brand adds these before relying on it for them.

Using for weight loss without calorie counting

Although lower calorie, almond milk still provides calories. Portion control is important, even when using it for weight loss.

Forgetting about carbohydrate content

Unsweetened almond milk has very low carbs, but flavored and sweetened versions can contain added sugars. Account for carbs if following a low-carb diet.

Not reading labels for add-ins

Brands vary greatly in added nutrients, thickeners, sugars, and more. Read labels closely if avoiding certain ingredients.

While almond milk can be part of a healthy diet, be sure to understand its nutrition profile. Don’t see it as a direct substitute for cow’s milk without adjusting your expectations and intake accordingly.

Baking and Cooking Substitution Mistakes

Almond milk is not an exact 1:1 substitute in recipes originally made with cow’s milk. To avoid cooking and baking failures, keep these tips in mind:

Not allowing for thinner consistency

Add a bit more almond milk to account for its lighter viscosity. For every 1 cup cow’s milk, use 1 1/4 cup almond milk.

Using it for caramelizing

Almond milk doesn’t caramelize the same due to lower lactose and protein. Opt for coconut milk or cream instead if caramelizing.

Forgetting it may curdle when boiled

Reduce heat and stir gently when simmering or boiling recipes made with almond milk to prevent curdling.

Not checking acidity of recipes

The acidic ingredients in recipes like lemon juice, buttermilk, and vinegar can curdle almond milk. Adjust acidity levels to improve results.

Using in delicate egg-based recipes

The protein content in cow’s milk is ideal for silky egg custards and sauces. Almond milk may not produce the same texture.

With some adjustments to recipes, almond milk can work well in cooking and baking. Pay attention to acidity, heating time, proportions, and protein content to avoid common substitution failures.

What to Avoid When Giving Almond Milk to Children

Like dairy milk, almond milk is not recommended for infants under 1 year old. Here are some other guidelines for giving it to children:

Avoid before age 2

Don’t give almond milk to toddlers under 2 years old due to low protein, fat, and energy content needed for this age.

Avoid as primary milk source after age 2

Almond milk should not replace cow’s milk or breastmilk as a child’s primary dairy source after age 2 due to lower nutrient levels.

Avoid homemade almond milk

Make sure any almond milk given to kids is commercially made and processed to remove anti-nutrients like phytic acid found in raw almonds.

Avoid sweetened varieties

Added sugars in flavored and sweetened almond milk provide empty calories. Stick to unsweetened for kids.

Check for nutrient additions

Look for almond milk fortified with calcium, vitamin D, vitamin A, and vitamin B12 for more balanced nutrition for kids.

Almond milk can be included in a child’s diet in moderation but is not recommended as the primary milk source or suitable for infants and some toddlers due to its nutritional differences from cow’s milk. Follow age guidelines and choose unsweetened, nutrient-fortified options if giving almond milk to kids.

Potential Drawbacks and Side Effects

While relatively safe for most healthy adults, almond milk does come with some potential downsides to be aware of:

Allergies and intolerances

Almonds and products like almond milk can trigger allergic reactions or intolerance symptoms for those sensitive to nuts or tree nuts.

Gut irritation and bloating

Some people experience bloating, cramping, or diarrhea from the fiber content of almond milk, especially in large amounts.

Tooth enamel damage

Certain compounds in almonds may weaken tooth enamel over time with frequent consumption.

Reduced nutrient absorption

The phytic acid in almonds can hinder absorption of iron, zinc, magnesium and calcium. Soak almonds before making homemade milk to reduce levels.

Higher sugar intake

Flavored and sweetened almond milk often contains added sugars that negatively impact blood sugar levels and waistlines.

By avoiding overconsumption, sticking to low or no sugar options, soaking almonds first, and being aware of individual intolerances, the potential downsides of almond milk can be prevented or minimized.

What to Check on Product Labels

With many brands and options lining shelves these days, it’s important to be an informed shopper when purchasing almond milk. Here are some key things to check for on labels:

Ingredients list

Look for unsweetened varieties or those without unnecessary add-ins or preservatives. Watch for gums, oils or added sugars.

Calories and macronutrients

Compare carbohydrates, proteins, and fat content to find options that fit your nutritional needs. Lowest isn’t always best.

Vitamin and mineral fortification

Seek partially fortified options to increase nutrients like vitamin D, calcium, and vitamin A that almond milk lacks naturally.

Sugar content

Select unsweetened or low sugar varieties. Flavored and sweetened almond milk can add heaps of empty calories from added sugars.

Certified gluten-free if needed

Look for certified gluten-free almond milk if you have celiac disease or a diagnosed gluten intolerance.

Reading labels helps avoid unnecessary additives and sweeteners in almond milk while allowing you to find varieties tailored to your nutritional preferences and dietary needs.

Healthiest Ways to Use Almond Milk

While moderation is key with any food, here are some of healthiest ways to enjoy almond milk:

Pour it over whole grain cereal or oatmeal

Choose minimally processed, low sugar whole grain cereals like bran flakes or steel cut oats and use almond milk instead of cow’s milk for a vegan breakfast full of fiber.

Blend it into smoothies

Add unsweetened almond milk to fruit and veggie smoothies for a nutrition boost without spiking your blood sugar.

Use it in chia pudding

Make a vegan chia pudding with almond milk, chia seeds, vanilla and fruit for an antioxidant-rich, satisfying snack or light breakfast.

Substitute it in baking

Replace cow’s milk with almond milk at a 1:1 ratio in heart-healthy baked goods like muffins, breads or oat bars.

Enjoy in vegetable dips

Thin hummus, bean dips and more with almond milk instead of oil for a creamy texture with more nutrition.

By using almond milk in wholesome foods focused on whole grains, fruits, veggies, fiber and healthy fats, you can integrate it into an overall balanced diet.


Almond milk can be a versatile, plant-based addition to a healthy lifestyle with proper handling and realistic expectations on nutrition. Avoid storing incorrectly, overheating, assuming it’s equal to cow’s milk in recipes, and giving it to infants and young toddlers. Read labels closely and focus on unflavored, unsweetened varieties to maximize benefits while minimizing downsides. Use almond milk to add nutrition to whole foods like smoothies, cereals and baking rather than as a beverage in isolation. With some care taken in selection and preparation, almond milk can be enjoyed regularly as part of balanced eating patterns.

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