Here at the Center for Sacred Window Studies, we share voices from many perspectives and backgrounds. We believe that the sacred weeks post birth, and the experience of humanity is experienced in countless ways. We learn by listening to one another and honoring our stories. The views and opinions of our writers do not necessarily reflect the mission, viewpoints or opinions of the Center for Sacred Window Studies.
Almonds are one of my essentials for life. Eating plant-based, feeding a family AND being a new mother – they are supportive on so many levels.
For the new mom moving through her postpartum period, the best way to consume these powerhouses is in nut mylk and, as always, fresh is best.
I want to make a new mama’s sacred window time as easy as possible, especially if she is relying on family and friends rather than hiring an Ayurdoula. So, I’m going to explain why you want to prioritise nut milk making during this time and the easiest way to do it, specifically in postpartum. And of course I’ll share a couple of delicious recipes to use it in.
Homemade nut milk is, as you will learn, not just for those avoiding dairy; it’s convenient, healthy and affordable. I’m going to focus on almonds for this article, and will delve into a few alternatives in a future article.
Almonds are packed with protein, which satiates a hungry breastfeeding mama over a longer time period.
Firstly, and most importantly: the nutritional aspect. During postpartum it’s important that the majority of what is consumed has healing benefits to nurture Mama and Baby. If you are breastfeeding, your body will always prioritize nourishing your baby and will leach minerals from your own bones and tissues if needed. So it’s vital for you to keep up with demand.
Almonds are packed with protein, which satiates a hungry breastfeeding mama over a longer time period. Just 1 ounce (roughly 23 almonds) contains 6 grams of protein, 37% of daily RDA of vitamin E, 37% of manganese and 20% of magnesium. They also contain a decent amount of calcium, B2, potassium and riboflavin.
Vitamin E is a fat soluble antioxidant and travels to the baby in breast milk. It is an essential nutrient for a newborn’s immune system and nervous system development. For the mother in a very fragile state of healing, her immune system is somewhat depressed. Vitamin E is essential for boosting her ability to fight off infection and combat toxins, known as Ama in Ayurveda, which are much higher after going through labour.
Magnesium is a crucial mineral for mothers and newborns. It is known to calm, soothe and promote better sleep, which of course is crucial to a new mom. It helps with good digestion and prevents constipation, which can be common in the first few weeks postpartum. It is essential for bone, muscle and DNA growth in newborns.
Manganese is also important for bone formation and has been shown to be important for neural development as well as affecting birth weight in full term babies. So this is an important mineral to pay attention to during pregnancy as well.
In Ayurveda we are working with the elementals. In postpartum, the air and ether elements of the vata dosha are in excess. The qualities of these elements which we can find in our food are dry, cool, rough, light. We are therefore looking to avoid these qualities as much as possible to bring vata levels down.
In postpartum, we are therefore looking to consume more foods with the opposite qualities, in particular oily, warm and moist. You can see why a glass of warm, spiced almond “mylk” might fit the bill a lot better than a handful of crunchy, raw almonds.
Postpartum is a time when the vata dosha contributes to a depleted digestive fire or agni. Therefore we are limiting fibre which taxes and gives the body extra work. Liken it to a smouldering campfire. Throwing a big log on it will smother it.
We build the agni up gradually. Warm, spiced mylk tonics are a great way of providing nutrients without the heavy load.
There are so many reasons for this! I go into this further in my full nut milk guide which you can download via the link below.
- Fresh is always recommended. This way you get the most nutrition. Vitamins released from their raw ingredient form start to break down over time, well before the food is actually rancid.
- Factory-produced mylk is made to last a long time to survive shipping and distribution. By making yours at home, you can avoid the consumption of preservatives.
- You know where your ingredients are coming from. And you can choose organic and buy from producers who care for the land and environment.
- You can save money! In a shop-bought carton of almond mylk you receive less than a handful of nuts in a whole load of water and thickeners. When making your own, you have the option of buying nuts in bulk and using a higher percentage of nuts to water, creating a more nutritious and naturally creamy product.
- It is much more convenient! You don’t have to keep going to the store to buy more. This is really helpful during the postpartum period, to cut down on multiple shopping trips. To have a well stocked pantry of dry ingredients and spices is a life saver. A new mom doesn’t want to be left alone for long periods of time nor have to go out herself! If you buy a few pounds of almonds during pregnancy, you will be all set for creating a simple nutritious beverage throughout the postpartum period – even if the pantry fridge is bare!
On a side note: in this time of pandemic, making almond mylk at home is also a great tip for everyone else! Avoiding the store, being responsible for our own needs and cutting down on the products we use that have long, unstable supply chains makes a lot of sense.
How to make it
Soak your almonds the night before you want to make your mylk. I recommend getting into a 2 day routine where you’re soaking every other day, so you always have milk on hand to warm up and serve. ½ cup of dry almonds makes around 4 servings, so enough for 2 beverages a day. It doesn’t matter how much water you use to soak, just make sure the almonds are more than covered as they expand over time. I like using a quart mason jar.
Blanching and removing the skins is an optional step BUT it does mean you don’t have to strain the milk and it comes out nice, creamy, and smooth straight away. It’s simple enough although a bit fiddly. In the morning pour off the soaking water and pour some fresh boiling water over nuts to hasten the speed and the ease in which the skins slip off. Just leave for a minute or two, drain off and then pinch off the brown skins, adding the nuts straight to your blender.
Then you simply add your water and other optional add-ins. Use hot water if you want to make a breakfast beverage straight away, cold if you’re storing for use later. I like adding a couple of soaked dates and a few teaspoons of liquid lecithin. Lecithin emulsifies fats and water, resulting in extra creaminess and also provides extra nourishment, particularly for the brain. Blend until smooth and creamy.
If you didn’t blanch, you can choose whether to strain your milk through a nut milk bag or cheesecloth lined sieve. Do this over a large bowl as it can be messy! If you have a good blender and/or don’t mind a slightly grainy texture, then you are also welcome to skip straining.
Recipe for Basic Almond Mylk
½ c organic raw almonds
1 qt hot or cold water
2 t liquid lecithin (optional)
2 medjool dates (optional)
- Soak almonds and dates overnight.
- Drain and blanch the almonds by soaking in hot water for a few minutes and pinching off skins.
- Add all ingredients to blender and blend until smooth and creamy.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Delicious Spiced Almond Mylk Tonic
This became one of my go-to’s for new mamas after enjoying it immensely during my own sacred window. A great bedtime snack or early morning drink before breakfast is ready. Feel free to modify the spices and ratios to suit your own preferences and climate.
1 – 1 ½ c of hot fresh almond mylk
Pinch of saffron
Pinch of cardamom
Pinch of powdered ginger
1/2 T of sesame oil
1-2 dates or dark iron-rich sugar such as sucanat or rapadura to taste
The easy way: Simply blend all ingredients together and serve!
Slightly more involved: You will get more flavour and colour out of the saffron if you pre-soak it for 5-10 minutes in the hot milk OR heat the milk gently on the stove with the saffron in it.
I also recommend the yummy Energizing Date and Almond Shake featured in my article on dates below.
Writing and recipes compliments of
Blog Contributor, Ayurdoula
Samantha Veitch is a plant-based Maiden to Mother mentor, certified Ayurdoula and certified Go Diaper Free coach. She has been dedicated to her own healing journey for many years using plants, nature connection, meditation and yoga. Continuing this exploration into motherhood was a no-brainer. Ayurvedic teachings on postpartum became her guiding light during those first few challenging months as a new mother. She enrolled in the APC program whilst pregnant and completed her studies during her own sacred window, which was a surprisingly nourishing journey that amplified her whole experience.
I source my almonds in bulk here.
*Featured image by Nena Complo