Homemade Fortified Plant Milk

October 24th, 2011 - filed under: The Food » Recipes

Monday seems to be turning into recipe day, so this week I’ll continue the trend with something extra special. It’s super easy and super practical – in fact, it’s kind of like my DIY Green Powder in so much as I’m surprised that I’ve never seen it done before!

When Waits was first starting solids I put on my research hat and got to reading. I learned a lot about toddler nutrition, and of course, I came across the issue of milk. The main reason that doctors push milk is because it’s high in fat and it’s a good source of calcium: both things which growing bodies need. But there’s also plenty of ways to secure these nutrients from other sources, so with my pediatricians blessing (she isn’t vegan but her children are dairy-free!), that’s just what I did.

Except here’s the thing: Waits is an incredibly active kid. He burns a bunch of fuel and he’s just not so interested in eating much, which means he’s a pretty skinny dude. And that’s okay – his parents are both slender and obviously, he’s inherited our ectomorphic body type. However as the momma, I have to figure out some creative ways of getting extra calories into him.

Which brought me right back to milk. Okay! No problem, I was already making my own plant milk all the time, and I began giving it to Waits as well.

But then, my overactive brain got to thinking. “WELL“, I thought, “If I’m already giving him the milk, am I wasting an opportunity to slip him some extra nutrients? Should I start buying the packaged stuff, since it’s all enriched and full of extra vitamins and minerals?

I wasn’t sure, and for a while I would go back and forth; one week I’d buy some boxed coconut milk, and the next week I’d make my own almond-walnut-hemp blend. And on. But . . . every time I made my own, I wondered if he was missing out. Conversely, every time I bought the pre-made products, I couldn’t help but grimace at the ingredients list: sweeteners, stabilizers, additives and more. Either way seemed like a compromise, until I realized . . .


And now I just make my own fortified milks. Really, what the hell took me so long, right?!

These days I make my plant milks exactly as instructed here. I usually add a few Brazil nuts for extra selenium, one medjool date to sweeten it up a bit, and a few drops of vanilla extract for flavor. Waits loves it like this.

HOWEVER. Before I blend, I also add a number of supplements. If you’re using a high-speed blender, you can toss pressed pills right into the mix. If you’ve got an older blender or a food processor, then I suggest emptying the powder out of capsules. Make sure you get vegan ones! Most gel-caps are made from gelatin. You can also buy vitamins/minerals in powdered form, such as dolomite.

We all know that calcium is key for bone health, but calcium works in a synergistic relationship with magnesium and vitamin D. Vitamin K2 and zinc are also important for proper development, but can be a bit tricky for vegans to obtain . . . especially for picky toddlers!

So these are the micronutrients that I focus on. I use various products to meet my needs, but I’ve found Deva’s Cal-Mag Plus and NOW Vitamin K2 Vcaps to be especially helpful. Vegan versions of zinc and vitamin D are not as hard to come by. (try: zinc and D)

Here are the stats for a 1-cup serving (these Daily Values percentages are for adults, and I should note that Waits would never drink even close to a full cup in a day):

Calcium: 333 mg / 33% DV
Magnesium: 133 mg / 33% DV
Vitamin D2: 633 IU / 105% recommended
Vitamin K2: 50 mcg / 62% DV
Zinc: 17.5 mg / 116% DV

You could also add B12, or anything else you feel is important.

Also, I feel the need to remind you that I am neither a nutritionist nor a food manufacturer, and this method has not been laboratory-tested, and this recipe certainly should not take the place of proper diet OR professional advisement. Okay?

So there ya go – I hope you like it as much as we have!

  • http://veganhomemade.wordpress.com Erin

    This is such a fantastic idea! I buy unsweetened almond milk mostly because it’s easy and convenient, but secondly because I like the extra boost of calcium and vitamins, so I should totally try doing this.

  • Annie

    This seems like such an obvious thing to do. I can’t believe I’ve never heard of it before this!

    I think US and Australian RDIs/DVs and general nutrition advice are clearly different. My nutrition resource book (with RDIs from last year by the Aus department of Health) says that for 1-3 year olds:
    Magnesium, upper limit: 65mg
    Zinc, upper limit: 7mg
    I’m not trying to criticize, just noting. Anyway, half the shit I’ve learnt in nutrition I take with a grain of salt – I don’t think it’s a coincidence that wheat products and [lean] red meat are heavily encouraged in the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating, when two of Australia’s biggest agricultural industries are wheat and beef.

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    Yes, sorry! These are RDAs for adults – I’ll edit to note.

  • Selina

    I have been arguing that same point with myself ever since we went vegan (fortified/homemade)! Wow! Totally doing this!
    Also…I MADE KOMBUCHA! I’m so proud of myself! :)

  • http://www.tiedyefiles.com Kaitlyn@TheTieDyeFiles

    What cool tutorials!! I’m all about homemade, and I think now that I’ve renounced calorie counting I’m going to start making my own nut milks :)

  • Heather

    This isn’t about plant milk, but I just want to say thank you for this blog.
    It’s so incredibly inspiring to see you and your family thriving on beautiful, simple, healthful food. As a woman I appreciate your advice and honesty, and as a 1.5 year vegan I am endlessly inspired by your posts about what your diet means to you and of course, the recipes.
    This is probably the best vegan resource I have found, in terms of using whole foods, simple equipment and minimal ingredients/complicated instructions. And the warmth and friendliness that you convey in your posts make it an absolute joy to read.
    There is a lot of kindness here, and I’m so happy that I’ve found you! :)

  • Anonymous

    So smart!! I love it. Very helpful, Sayward!

  • http://twitter.com/keephealthstyle Laura Agar Wilson

    That’s such a great idea. At the moment I alternate between home made nut and seed milk (my current fave being pumpkin seed milk) with purchased fortified non dairy milk (coconut, hemp etc) This could definitely save me a bit of cash – thanks! Oh and FYI, I made your juice pulp crackers with nut pulp (I usually on make them with the juice pulp) and they turned out perfectly, a lot more crispy than just with juice pulp, thanks again!

  • http://brokencookiesdontcount.wordpress.com/ Fran@BCDC

    Boy, you come up with so many good ideas. I keep meaning to make your green poweder. Thanks for the reminder! What a lucky little boy you have…and a healthy one!

  • Dairy Free Betty

    This is really smart -I always worry I don’t get enough calcium, but calcium pills upset my stomach and the calcium supplements that are liquid taste terrible. Thanks for this idea!! :)

  • http://dirtontherocks.com/ abby

    Hi there I’m new to your site and this looks very interesting. I’m not vegan but my boyfriend is.However, due to my diet restrictions I might as well consider myself vegan. I like this milk making method. When my son was younger he was so sensitive to milk. He doesn’t drink so much milk now because we try to keep him drinking water rather than just milk and juice all day, but this is a great idea. I would love to make my own milk and this is awesome. Thanks for sharing.

  • Jodie

    You are such a splendid mother.

  • Liz

    Can you taste the supplements in the milk?

  • Sierra Dawn

    Hi Sayward, This is just what I need! I have two vegan since conception children, 2 and 7. My 7 year old son was always on the smaller side, but healthy. During his last annual exam I was told that he was underweight and that he needed more fat in his diet. I was offended that the MD would just assume that because he was vegan that he must need more fat – she didn’t bother to ask me where he gets his fat- but my sons health takes priority over any hurt feelings, and, he is quite small. He’s 45lbs and pretty short. Sooo, I started giving him a lot of avocado, all of the good oils on everything, and a TON of coconut oil, butter, and milk. He doesn’t seem to be putting on weight, but doesn’t seem malnurished in the least. Someone recently said to me, ” oh, I know what you’re doing wrong! Coconut makes you LOSE weight!!” So now I’m confused. I understand that you’re not an MD, but, what are your thoughts on this? Is coconut a bad route to go for weight gain in kiddos? Also, are there any other foods you can think of that I can give a try? I’m definitely going to try the Waits Milk:)

  • nava

    Hi! Just wanted to jump in here; my boys are both on the small side, despite starting out 95th percentile. I also give them tons of fats, and they eat well and are active, no real health problems. Frankly, if your son is small and eating well, then he’s just small. Unless you have a gut feeling that something is *wrong*, I want to encourage you to just do what you are doing. It’s hard for me too, but I’m getting used to the idea that my boys will probably not ever be above the 50th percentiles again, but at least they are eating the very best they can. As long as they keep growing, things are good :)

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    Heather I’m answering this comment way, way late, but I just wanted to say thank you! It means so much to me to hear this. <3

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    Nope, it doesn’t change the flavor at all!

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    I am answering this way late, so I hope you get it! But re: coconut oil as a weight loss stimulant, I have definitely heard this. It’s said to increase your metabolism and it’s promoted by a certain sect of folks as a weight-loss supplement. I’m not sure what to think of that, honestly. I feel like I don’t lose weight when I add more coconut oil, but I don’t necessarily gain it either. But it’s so dang good for you – and for growing babies – that I wouldn’t think you should cut it out completely. Can you just focus on avocados and nut butters as a primary fat source, and lower the amount of coconut? Then you could see if there’s any effect.

    Good luck! I’d love to hear if there’s any update on this.

  • Alohayall

    Hi Sierra -
    I know this is late but I thought I would chime in. One of the reasons that coconut helps loose weight is because its a laxative. Having lived in a culture that uses it on a daily bases I can testifie of this…though I didn’t loose weight….bummer! From what I know of coconut oil is that it’s great for getting the fats without the laxative effect (as long as you’re not REALLY loading up on it) It’s the milk and other forms of coconut that can cause the problem. When we put our son on coconut milk we foud it really made for some crazy diapers so we switched to oil and he has done fine. I don’t know if this helps at all. I’d love to hear how the fortified milk goes with your kids! Good luck!

  • kim @ vegan mama

    Hello to another Portland vegan mama!
    I know this post is older, but I was wondering how long this recipe keeps in the fridge for?

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    I’d say 5 days to a week but I’m not sure, it never lasted more than 3-4 days around our house! ;-)

  • Karmalife

    This is AMAZING. I am pregnant with #2, have enjoyed making my own almond milk but was worried I haven’t been getting enough calcium in my diet. So I started buying Silk from the store (at least it doesn’t have carrageenan) but hate having to buy processed anything when I don’t really want to. I then started thinking, couldn’t I just fortify it myself? I did a search and your blog came up. Thank you SO much for this! This is a game changer :)

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  • Sarah Cohen

    Hi! I know this post is from years ago but hoping you’ll get this! I am looking to fortify my own nut milk at home but I cannot figure out how many capsules to put in for the whole recipe. Do you have the quantities of the supplements that you use for your almond milk recipe that is linked here? Thanks so much!