milking an almond

We don't use a lot of dairy products in our home. I do buy my bi-monthly gallon of milk to make yogurt with, and I like to keep a little on hand for cooking and baking, and we have a couple of our cheese staples, oh ... and butter. But seriously, compared to how much I used to rely on my milk and cheese, we're down A LOT. Part of it is because of what I've learned about what an excess of dairy products can do to you, but also because I'm lactose intolerant. Not severely, I don't notice it unless I consume too much, but enough to want to be extra cautious. But there are occasions when a nice creamy beverage of some sort is just a need. Am I the only one? Either for hot chocolate, or to add into cold or hot breakfast cereals, or frankly, just to drink. I do like to make my own soymilk occasionally, especially since I make my own tofu ... occasionally ... but it is a fairly long and laborious process. And sadly, I don't love the taste of fresh soymilk like I used to. I started buying almond milk, but then I discovered raw, homemade almond milk. And I just can't go back to the store bought stuff.
In the past year or so, as we've made some adjustments to the way we eat, I've learned a lot about the health benefits of nuts and seeds. And especially about soaking them before hand. Nuts have a particular enzyme inhibitor which, when soaked, is released. And then all of this fabulous nutrition hidden inside is more readily available to digest. And you definitely want what's hidden in there. There are so many health benefits in nuts that unless you have an allergy, there is really no reason not to be eating them. You can follow this recipe with pretty much any nuts, but almonds have a nice balanced sweetness to them without an overwhelming flavor, so it's a good place to start. And I like this particular ratio of nuts to water (plenty creamy, but cost effective), but by all means, experiment with it.
Once you've run the nuts and water through your blender cycle, you simply strain it. At this point, I like to add a couple of possible flavorings. Sometimes I add the seeds of a vanilla bean, or if I'm feeling extra decadent, I like to add a couple of tablespoons of raw cacao powder to make chocolate almond milk. And once you try this, you might not ever go back to store bought almond milk. You can't compare it to the silky mouthfeel and clean taste of homemade.

Homemade Raw Almond Milk
makes roughly 1 quart
1 cup raw almonds
4 cups purified water
1-2 pitted Medjool dates (optional)
1 cinnamon stick (optional)
  1. In a clean glass pitcher that holds at least 5 cups of liquid, combine all of the ingredients and let soak for 8-24 hours, or overnight.
  2. Add the contents to the jar of your blender and let it run until the mixture looks very milky and frothy. If you don't have a high-speed blender, you might need to let it run extra long, but it'll still work just fine.
  3. Pour the liquid into a nut milk bag or a piece of muslin over a fine mesh strainer, and squeeze out all of the milk into your desired container. Let chill and serve. 

Once strained, you can clean out your blender jar and add the milk back in with your variation of choice:

seeds scraped from 1/2 of a vanilla bean
1-2 tablespoon raw cacao powder or cocoa powder
honey or pure maple syrup to taste (best if you don't start with the dates if you're using these)


patsy said...

This is a GREAT post!
So informative.
My daughter buys almond milk & I am lactose intolerant too... I just haven't ever gotten on the almond milk band wagon. I never drank milk growing up so I don't have a taste for it now.

I think your consciousness about food & what you feed your kids is fantastic. I love your approach & willingness to work it out on your own & with a budget!

Great blog-

Jill said...

Delish. I'm officially hooked.