January 21, 2011
got almond milk?
It's nearing the end of week two of the 21-day detox diet, and in just this short period of time I've added quite a few things to my expanding food lexicon. What I used to think of as alternative is becoming a more varied way to eat, with many delicious discoveries. I'm also continuing to learn how to use whole food as a way to allow the body, as much as possible, to heal itself.
One of those new discoveries is homemade almond milk. It's a simple recipe, made by soaking the almonds for several hours, liquefying the almonds with fresh water in a blender, and then straining out the almond pulp. The leftover liquid is the almond milk. The taste is slightly sweeter than cow's milk, and can be sweetened a little more with honey or soaked pitted dates. It's easy to make, free of additives found in store brands, and cheaper if you buy your almonds from the bulk department in the grocery store. It's full of nutrients and fiber from the nuts, and you can vary the richness by changing the amount of water you add. I like the taste of the almond milk without the honey or dates added, which makes it more versatile for cooking, but you can add one or the other if you prefer a little more sweetness. The almond pulp, leftover from the straining process, can be used in smoothies, desserts, or dehydrated and ground into almond flour.
Soaking the almonds before making the milk is key to getting the best nutrition from the milk. When the almonds are soaked in water for several hours and then drained and rinsed, the anti-nutrient properties are removed from the skins of the almonds, and the milk is made more digestible for sensitive stomachs.
To make the almond milk, you'll need a blender. I use a Vitamix, but you can use a sturdy standard blender that's able to handle heavy blending. For straining the milk, you'll need a piece of very lightweight, unbleached muslin fabric, which you can purchase by the yard at your local fabric store or online. From the fabric you purchase, cut out a 20" x 20" square of muslin for straining. Last, you’ll need a container, tall enough to hold all the liquid, its opening no wider than 6 or 7 inches (similar to a typical blender container).
I promise I'll get to the recipe soon. Here's a little bit of nutritional info to help you decide what consistency you'd prefer in the almond milk...
For a consistency and fat content similar to:
•whole milk (1 cup almond milk=82 calories, 8 grams fat, 1.5 grams fiber)
-use 3 1/2 cups water
•in between (1 cup almond milk=65 calories, 6 grams fat, 1.2 grams fiber)
-use 4 1/2 cups of water
•2% milk (1 cup almond milk=55 calories, 5 grams fat, 1 gram fiber)
-use 5 1/2 cups of water
(adapted from the Vitamix Create cookbook)
1 cup raw almonds
3 1/2 or 4 1/2 or 5 1/2 cups fresh water (depending on consistency preferred)
honey or soaked pitted dates, to taste (optional)
Put the almonds in a separate bowl with three cups of water, cover with plastic wrap or a towel and soak overnight or at least 8 hours. After 8 or more hours, discard the soaking water and rinse the almonds. Put the almonds and fresh water (choose the appropriate amount of water for the consistency you prefer) in the blender container. Add the honey or soaked pitted dates (optional). Using the highest speed on the blender, blend the ingredients for about 2 minutes. The mixture will become smooth and creamy and will have a thick layer of foam on top.
To strain the mixture, run the muslin under water and then squeeze the excess water out. Drape the muslin over the top of a tall container, creating a deep well in the center to hold the mixture as it drains, while also leaving a generous overhang (The damp muslin should stay in place as it overhangs and clings to the sides of the container). Slowly pour the entire mixture through the muslin into the container, gently stirring to help the liquids pass through. Let sit until most of the liquid has drained through. You'll have a good amount of almond pulp and foam left in the muslin. Once the liquid has drained, carefully gather the edges of the muslin together, creating a bag with the pulp in the center, and gently twist the gathered neck of the bag downwards, squeezing as much of the remaining liquid from the pulp as you can into the container. Open the muslin bag and scoop out the remaining almond pulp. Rinse the muslin off and let dry for future use. Put all the leftover almond pulp in a small storage container and keep it in the refrigerator (use within four to five days).
At this point you should have a container of almond milk with a very smooth texture.
Chill in the refrigerator and use within four to five days. Stir before pouring, as the milk separates while it sits in the refrigerator.
Makes about 4 to 6 cups