Homemade Almond Milk (...& The Facts).
After recently giving you some insight into the dairy industry, I figured now is a great opportunity to further inform you about a lactose free alternative. I just didn't feel right throwing a "don't drink the milk" article your way without giving you a glimmer of hope that you wouldn't have to choke down dry cereal in the morning.
Hopefully I'm not the one to break this news to you, but it's pretty obvious almonds can't be milked (unless there is something I'm missing, please inform me in the comment section below). So, essentially what we are mastering up here is almond "water." Seeing how that doesn't really sound all that appetizing, and for the mere fact that it is white(ish) in color and creamy in texture we will stick with the milk description.
Let's cut to the facts, yeah?
I was visiting my sister and her family this weekend in Maryland and my niece was reciting her rather impressive knowledge of animal facts. For instance, did you know dogs can understand at least 100 human words? Me neither! Anyway, the way she started off when we begged for another fun fact, was: "simple or not simple?" Her seven (going on sixteen) year old wit has inspired me this week to divide my almond//almond milk facts into the same:
- Almonds are good for you (obviously starting you off with the simplest).
- Almonds are rich in nutrients including fiber, vitamin E, magnesium, potassium, iron and (drum roll please)...CALCIUM!
- Almond milk does not contain any animal products, making this milk-like beverage suitable for both vegetarians and vegans.
- Almonds pack a mean protein punch. Another bonus for the veggies and vegans by being a great source of animal free protein.
- Almond milk was a staple in medieval kitchens because cow's milk could not keep for long without spoiling. (It's been around for quite a while).
- Almond milk contains neither cholesterol nor lactose, unlike animal milk.
- Almond milk doesn't contain casein, a milk protein that's chemically similar to gluten, making it appropriate for those who suffer from gluten allergies. (though always be sure to read the label if not homemade!).
Not Simple: (but still kinda simple).
- The flavonoids in almond milk have been shown to help prevent cancer and slow the signs of aging. The high levels of vitamin E found in almond milk makes it very effective in the prevention of cancer.
- The UK Institute of food research found finely ground almonds contain potential prebiotic properties that could help boost digestive health by increasing levels of certain beneficial bacteria in the stomach (DON'T YOU DARE THROW THAT PULP AWAY!).
So there are two questions I'm sensing that you might or might not be eager to ask me at the moment:
NUMERO UNO: Do I have to take 10 minutes out a day for my health to make it or can I just buy the carton of organic almond milk?
My thoughts: Honestly? Just make time to make it. It's simple, much more delicious than the carton variety, and has the option of having only two easy to read ingredients. Of course, the carton is an option, if you must, it's not the worst. I will say though, anything labeled milk that is stored on a shelf in a prepackaged long-life carton far from it's competition in the air conditioned section makes me slightly suspicious. Oh, and what's that saying? Once you go homemade, you never go back? ...or something like that?
NUMERO DOS: What's with all the hype about almond milk? What about soy?
My thoughts: Ah, the beloved soy. Where do I begin? I, for one, found out the hard way that I have an extremely difficult time digesting soy, which many refer to as digestive distress. You ever get that bloated, gassy, crampy feeling? Of course you have, but if you're not sure if you get that from soy, try eliminating it for a week and see how you feel. You might have to switch up your cereals partner in crime. Thousands of studies link soy to not only digestive distress, but malnutrition, immune system breakdown, thyroid dysfunction - even cancer and heart disease. Also, soy is already in almost EVERY PROCESSED item out there. I dare you to take a good hard look at the ingredients list on one of your favorite packaged foods. You can count on SOY LECITHIN to be there. Unlike almond milk, if you made homemade soy milk it would be green (soy beans are green, remember?). Hmm...I wonder how they are magically turning those little green beans into a white beverage.
Soak. Rinse. Blend. Strain.
It all begins with the almonds. Organic, raw almonds are the cream of the crop. If not organic, don't worry, I won't tell anyone. But definitely make sure they are not roasted (or salted for that matter). Toss them in to a container and cover them with filtered water and store in the refrigerator over night (at least eight hours, no more than two days). Give them a good rinse and right into your blender they go along with 3-4 cups of filtered water. Then, break out your trusty nut bag* (continue to read once your giggles reside) and strain away into a clean container.
1 cup raw organic almonds
3-4 cups filtered water + more for soaking
|add me if you wish|:
1 vanilla bean, scraped
1-2 pitted dates, or sweetener of choice to taste (maple syrup is another great option)
dash or two of cinnamon
1. Soak a cup of these amber beauties in filtered water over night (at least 8 hours).
2. Drain them of their soaking liquid and give them a good rinse under cold water.
3. Toss the soaked almonds (and any optional ingredients) right into your blender of choice along with 3-4 cups of water. (Less water you add, the creamier the "milk").
4. Flip the switch to high (feeling like a turbo mode kind of day? By all means have at it) and blend away for 45-60 seconds.
5. Place nut milk bag over a large bowl and slowly pour in the lovely concoction you just created.
6. Now comes the fun, and slightly messy part. Tighten up the strings (you'll see a lot of milk already filtering through the mesh) and gently squeeze (or milk rather) the almond mixture to make sure you've gotten every last ounce of your hard work into that bowl. (my friend burst a hole in their bag, so easy does it muscles). ;)
7. Funnel your milk into glass of choice and refrigerate immediately. Almond milk keeps for about 3 days if kept sealed and refrigerated.
AH, AH! DON'T YOU DARE THROW THAT ALMOND PULP AWAY.
There are quite a few things you do to turn this trash into treasure. I find the best way to use this up without having it go to waste is to sprinkle it out on a parchment lined sheet tray and dry it out in the oven on 200 degrees F (or in a dehydrator) until dry enough to pulse into almond meal/flour.
I'd love to hear your almond milk making tips! Don't be shy, share your experience in the comments below. And feel free to let us know what you added to jazz it up.
*If for some reason you do not own a nut bag (not sure why you wouldn't) no worries. I bet you have a fine mesh strainer at your fingertips. You might have some almond pulp that managed to strain through into your milk if your stainer isn't super fine. If you're looking for a little less pulp in your cup, I recommend taking the plunge and ordering a milk nut bag here.