almond milk

How To Make Your Own Almond Milk and Why You Want To

I'll start by saying that I am not against cows milk. It's tasty stuff and I do enjoy half-and-half in my coffee. I also really like ice cream. But I try to keep it at a minimum in my diet, especially during the winter, because I definitely do notice I get more mucus-y and congested after consuming it. Do you? Have you ever kept track? Try that out and see what you see.

Today, I'll tell you how to make your own almond milk and why you want to.

almond
almond

I started using alterna-milks back in 2000 when I was a total hippie. I started with carob-flavored rice milk. It had a ton of sugar but I didn't read labels for their ingredients back then. I just looked at calories. 100 calories per cup. Great. I had no idea what was good or not good. I just consumed.

Things are very different now but I had to start somewhere. Over the years, I've learned that it matters what's in my milk. It matters about everything I eat, really, so I read labels and make sure I know what I'm consuming.

When I started drinking almond milk on the regular a couple of years ago, I didn't notice the long list of ingredients on the label. Things like: tapioca starch, carrageenan and sunflower lecithin. Those are mostly natural ingredients used as emulsifiers or thickening agents, so it is shelf-stable and resembles the texture of cows milk. The sweetened versions contain 15-20 grams of sugar* in an 8 fl oz (1 cup) serving! That's about 5 teaspoons of sugar, friends. Just in one cup of milk. And it's cane sugar that's been added in, not the naturally-occurring lactose found in cows milk.

Makes a big difference, huh?

A couple of years ago, I learned how to make my own almond milk to wipe out all those extra ingredients and added cane sugar. I've refined the recipe and process a bit and I am sharing it with you so you can reduce your milk intake. Why would you want to do that?

Cold and flu season is approaching, yes? Less mucus means less sinus pressure means less suffering. Savvy? Good.

HOMEMADE ALMOND MILK

Ingredients 3 cups raw almonds (preferably organic) 7 cups of water per 1.5 cups of soaked almonds 2 pitted medjool dates

Tools heavy-duty blender 2 fine-mesh wire strainers large airtight container

Instructions 1) Cover almonds with fresh, filtered water in a glass dish or jar and soak for 2-3 days in fridge. 2) Rinse and drain. Set aside. 3) Scoop 1.5 cups almonds and add one pitted date to blender and ~7 cups fresh water. 4) Blend on high for 5 seconds. 5) Pour through 2 mesh strainers into airtight container. 6) Let the almond pulp drain completely and toss it in the strainer to remove excess liquid. Store in small airtight container. 7) REPEAT.

This should make about a half-gallon (64 ounces) of almond milk that you want to use within a week or so. You can use it with oatmeal, for smoothies, in tea or coffee or for baking!

What can you do with the wet almond pulp?

Here's the best part of making your own almond milk--you get *free* almond flour!

Make sure the excess liquid is squeezed out and spread it on a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper. Bake in the oven at the lowest temperature possible for 3 hours. Make sure you spread it around so it dries out well. Then, once it is dried out and cooled, blend it to reach your desired consistency for baking!

Cost breakdown:

I 32 oz store-bought container of almond milk (which may or may not be organic): $2.99

3 cups of raw almonds: range from $6.49 (non-organic)- $8.99 (organic)/pound yields 64 ounces of milk PLUS ~3 cups almond meal/flour for baking.

When I realized that the boxed milk might be a tad cheaper but wasn't actually 100% almond milk it was just a no-brainer for me. I'm paying less money because I'm actually paying for all those thickening agents and added sugar (in the sweetened varieties), not just pure almond milk.

I'll spend a tad more on whole foods ingredients, put in a little labor and get a LOT more in the end.

*info courtesy of BlueDiamond.com

When will you give this a try? Did this post help you feel a bit more confident to make the jump to making your own almond milk?

I welcome your comments and questions below.

NOTE: someone already asked me for recipes for other 'milks' due to almond allergies. I don't have those available...yet. ;)

Homemade Chai (courtesy of the Chai Wallah)

I can't lie. The "homemade" here is this guy's incredible chai mix:

Click here to buy the amazing chai blend from smiling Neil Harley.

And I used his recipe:

bring to a boil 1/2 cup each of water and milk of choice (I like almond milk)

1 tsp chai mix

1 1/4-1 1/2 tsp of sugar or honey

simmer 2 mins

strain into your favorite mug & ENJOY!!!

Mighty-fine Homemade Mocha

Ok. I'm going to let you in on a little secret here: I love mochas. I like cooking. I like running. I like reading.

I LOVE mochas.

Something about the coffee and chocolate combo just makes me happy all over. It's my one vice in a life filled with mindful eating and lifestyle habits.

Lately, however, I've run into some issues with my mocha love-affair.

1) the cost of buying them from local cafes

2) limited options of the milk used at said cafes

3) negative side-effects from the caffeine in the espresso (it's ES-presso, friends. Not EX-presso.)

4) inconsistent quality/finished product

Knowing that I am never limited to what meets my eye, I decided to step outside the box (as I do in other aspects of my life) and make my own homemade kick-ass mocha. I have to say that experience makes the experimentation process easier--practice may not make perfect but it makes better. I began this experiment with the Healthier Hot Chocolate I developed two years ago when I started my health coaching practice. To that recipe, I added some Dandy Blend* for coffee flavor. Yeah.

DISCLAIMER: Upon drinking this beverage, you may find yourself unable to stop. Please use caution when preparing this incredible alterna-mocha and limit the portions you use. Or don't. LIVE IT UP!!!!

MIGHTY-FINE HOMEMADE MOCHA

Ingredients

2 tsp Dandy-Blend Instant Herbal Beverage with Dandelion

2 tsp raw Cacao powder

1/2 cup boiling water

1/2 cup almond milk

sweetener of choice: stevia (vanilla flavor), raw honey or maple syrup

Instructions

1) Boil water in a tea kettle or hot pot. I avoid using microwaves whenever possible.

2) add the powdered Dandy Blend and raw cacao powder to your favorite mug

3) add the boiling water

4) add almond milk

5) add sweetener

6) stir

7) sit down in an incredibly comfortable chair, sip and pat yourself on the back for creating something that is not only delicious BUT incredibly healthy and GOOD for you--without the negative side-effects of caffeine, refined cane sugar or processed soy milk.

Why these ingredients?

1) *Dandy-Blend is a granulated coffee alternative. It is made from extracts of roasted barley, rye, chicory root and dandelion root and beetroot. Dandelion helps tonify (strengthen) and detoxify your liver. Chicory has so many amazing benefits, I'll just let you read them by clicking here.

2) I prefer almond milk to soy or rice for a couple of reasons. Rice milk, while good for people with nut allergies, is really high in sugar and not so high in nutrients. If you don't have an allergy, choose almond milk. Soy milk isn't ideal for me because it gives me gas (soybeans are REALLY hard to digest for some people) and I'm not a fan of having too much soy in my diet because it's being linked to some health concerns due to the phytoestrogen properties inherent in the bean.

3) raw cacao powder. Cacao is a superfood, packed with lots of powerful antioxidants to offset free radical cell damage in my body. Awesome. Jury's out on whether adding boiling water affects the potency of the superfood properties, but here's something I DO know: it's not crap cocoa processed by a megacompany using less-than-optimal ingredients. The product I buy is from Navitas naturals and here is their mission statement: 

Our food philosophy is simple: Nutrient rich whole foods are best produced using organic agricultural methods with minimal processing. Focusing on both food safety and nutrition, we handle our premium superfoods with care. This includes third party testing for all our products. Our facility is Organic, Kosher and GMP/HACCP Certified. In addition, we utilize methods such as freeze-drying and low temperature processing to ensure maximum nutrition and safety.

The cost of all these ingredients together comes in WAY under the cost of buying a mocha a day. 

This works for me because I know as the weather cools, I'll be wanting them pretty frequently and my wallet can't really justify buying them out all the time. When I DO, however, it will only be from Diesel cafe in Davis Square. Hands-down, time after time, delivering a high-quality product with exceptional customer service and their queer-friendly/welcoming atmosphere brings LGBTQ and savvy hetero fans from near and far. Visit my friends there---and tell them I sent you.