When my daughter was 6 weeks old, I knew something was not right. She had eczema, screaming fits after feedings, persistent bright red diaper rash, and very unusual digestive sounds (I won’t get too graphic). As a new mom, I was already exhausted and confused at how things could already be going so wrong. After my pediatrician told me food allergies were rare and to “just continue everything you’re doing,” I decided to take matters into my own hands.
Since I wanted to continue nursing, I decided cut out dairy, soy, eggs, wheat, and nuts over the next 6 months. I was basically eating grass, but her symptoms greatly improved! At 8 months, we had her allergy tested and discovered she was allergic to eggs. Our new (and much more open-minded pediatrician) told us that she also had a sensitivity to dairy and soy and to continue avoiding all three foods until at least 1 year of age. She offered us an allergy friendly formula that smelled like rabbit food. I said no thanks and stuck to breast feeding until one year.
We survived the first year.
At one year of age, she was still getting outbreaks of eczema if I ate any type of dairy. So, I was forced with a decision. Buy store-bought nut milk or take my pediatrician’s advice and give her the awful smelling toddler formula. I researched the benefits of non-dairy milk versus formula because I was concerned that she may not get the calcium and protein with nut milk. But I was less than thrilled with the ingredient list on the back of the formula bottle either (which consisted primarily of corn and soy). One resource that helped in my decision making process was Dr. Alan Greene. I use his more holistic, practical approaches to ages and stages still to this day.
Once again, I went against my pediatrician’s advice and turned to the nut milk. Then there was the decision of brands. With so many food allergies on the rise, the options were endless. Cashew milk? Almond milk? Coconut milk? Almond-Coconut nut milk? Sweetened or Unsweetened? Guar gum or carrageenan? Refrigerated or room temp? How much is this going to cost to figure out which one she likes? Ah!
Pinterest saves the day!
I did what most moms do in times of indecision. I got on Pinterest and looked up recipes. After much research, I chose cashews because you don’t have to strain the milk, and it is high in nutrients. I used a recipe online for about a month until I tweaked it enough to call it my own.
She is now 2.5 years old and still drinks homemade cashew milk. She is able to eat cheese and yogurt without problems, but my mommy gut tells me cow’s milk is not the best thing for her. In fact, our family has completely turned against cow’s milk. We all eat a very balanced diet including lots of leafy green vegetables and other sources of dairy (such as grass fed yogurt and cheese). We also take high quality supplements that include calcium and vitamin D.
We save about 50% at the grocery store every time I make a batch of cashew milk. I would be lying if I said I’ve never purchased store-bought nut milk. There are a handful of companies that have clean labels without the gums or cane sugar. But it costs about $10 per gallon! Plus, I prefer the taste of fresh milk.
Here is my recipe for easy cashew milk. I hope this helps other moms that decide to take the more natural approach. I certainly do not judge moms who turned to hypoallergenic formulas or made the switch to cow’s milk. But for us, cashew milk works!
Homemade Cashew Milk
3 cups of raw, unsalted cashews
12 cups of filtered water
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp maple syrup (optional)
Pinch of salt
Soak cashews for at least 4 hours or overnight. Drain and roast on 200 degrees for 20 minutes. Let cool. Add 4 cups of water to a high powered blender (I use a Vitamix). Add 1 cup of cashews, 1/2 tsp of vanilla extra, 1 tbsp of maple syrup and pinch of salt. Blend for 30 seconds and pour into a large pitcher. No need to strain the milk! Repeat this recipe twice more. Store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.