If you're just starting to dabble in the Paleo diet, there are some pretty black-and-white rules to stick to: No dairy. No grains. No legumes. No refined sugars. And no processed foods. OK, we got it.
That still leaves some gray areas, though. Nuts are allowed on the Paleo diet, like cashews, walnuts, and almonds (no peanuts, though, since they're technically considered a legume), but what about almond milk? Can you use it in your morning protein smoothie or topped on homemade grain-free granola?
The quick answer is yes. If almond milk is made by soaking organic raw almonds, then blending them with water, and if that mixture is strained so the pulp is separated and all you have left is fresh almond milk, then yes, almond milk is Paleo. But if you want that pure Paleo-approved almond milk, you'll probably have to make it yourself. And it's even OK if you want to sweeten it with a little honey or maple syrup. You could make cashew or hazelnut milk in the same way, and those would also be considered Paleo.
What about the almond milk you buy at the store? Most brands contain almonds and water, but they also contain a bunch of other weird ingredients to extend the shelf life — even the ones labeled "unsweetened." Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure our ancestors didn't find locust bean gum, carrageenan, gellan gum, and calcium carbonate growing outside their caves. And you especially don't want to buy the original or sweetened varieties, as these contain sugar, a big Paleo no-no.
If you're not super strict about being Paleo, then you may be OK with a little sunflower lecithin in your almond milk. You're not allowed to eat cheese, bread, or pizza, so if you want to pour a little commercially made almond milk on your nuts and fruit in the morning, then go for it!
You definitely don't want to make a habit of downing an entire store-bought container every day, though. Aside from not being 100 percent Paleo, almond milk isn't the healthiest food. It may be low in calories and dairy-free, but it's processed and basically just almond-flavored water, which is virtually devoid of fiber and protein. You'd feel fuller and get more nutrition from noshing on a handful of raw almonds instead.