Saturday, April 30, 2011

Homemade Almond Milk

Over the past few years I've been becoming more mindful of the way that I eat. It's been quite a slow process, but every few months I'll see something or read something that gives me a little kick to up my game. A few days ago I saw an episode of Dr. Oz (this show is amazing and you should watch it!) that featured the filmmakers of Forks Over Knives, a new documentary coming out next month about the importance and benefits of eating a plant-based diet. 

Having been born and raised in Kansas, where meat and dairy are always part of the daily diet, I thought I'd have a hard time eating mostly fruits/nuts/grains/veggies full time. However, once I did, I noticed a HUGE difference in the way my body ran. I stopped drinking milk for a few days and my digestive system thanked me for it:-) This was sort of an issue though, because we drink a protein shake every day after we work out, so how was I supposed to mix my shake if I stopped drinking milk? 

The answer: almond milk! Not store bought though, I wanted to MAKE it. So after reading this blog post about it, I decided to try it myself. Here's how it went. 

First I soaked 1 cup of raw, organic almonds in water. The recipe says try for 8-12 hours, but I was impatient and could only wait 3.


After about 3 hours and a little stirring, they looked like this. 

Next I put the soaked almonds and 4 cups of water into my food processor. Notice in the photo, my food processor has a max liquid fill line on the container. I didn't see this until after I made my almond milk. I recommend doing 1/2 of the batch at a time so you don't go over this line. You'll see why soon.


Then the recipe calls for 1/4 cup agave nectar. I recommend 2 Tablespoons instead. The milk came out WAY too sweet. 


Add 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract. I'm going to attempt to make my own organic vanilla extract this summer! But for now I just used what I had.


Then put the top on, blend on high for a few minutes. If you recall I pointed out the max liquid fill line earlier. There is a reason why that's there. When I started my processor, water just started pouring out of the top like crazy. It was not fun. At this point I STILL hadn't realized I was over the max line, so I was wondering why this was happening. So I just packed the whole thing with towels and kept blending. It was really messy.

Obey the line.


When it was done, it looked like this:


Now, you can drink this as it is if you want a chunky almond shake. But, I did not. So I used some cheesecloth (but I have plants to purchase a reusable nut milk bag), and strained the almond mixture into one of my new Le Parfait jars.


I poured some of the mixture in, let it strain for a few minutes, then helped it along by pressing on it with a spoon while holding onto the cloth so it didn't fall into the jar. Eventually I just took the cloth off and squeezed the milk out.


Here's about how much milk I got out of my 1 cup of almonds. I'd say it's about 2 cups of milk.


I saved the dry almond chunks to use in oatmeal. It's actually pretty good by itself! You could put it on crackers too. 


The next day I mixed a protein shake with my almond milk and it tasted GREAT. I feel like this is a perfect non-dairy, non-soy alternative to milk, and I don't plan on going back to milk at all. You can even mix in some cocoa powder for chocolate milk! I add cocoa to my protein shakes.

Be sure to share if you try this! It's really satisfying to make your own food like this. The effort is totally worth it.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

French Canning Jars!

I got this idea from The Zero Waste Home: Le Parfait canning jars. Not only can you use them for canning, but as containers for bulk food shopping! I have a few months before I will have mature tomatoes to can, so until then I'll fill them up with bulk beans or fruits/veggies when I go grocery shopping at my newest favorite market. I bought mine here, which has the best prices on these jars I could find. These are the 0.5 liter size. I only got 2 at first, but over the next few months (or years) I'll keep collecting them in different sizes, and as my canning needs increase. I have a pretty small garden this year.

I am IN. LOVE. with these jars. They're sooooo pretty:-)





Saturday, April 23, 2011

My Thumbs are Feeling Green

More beauty shots of my garden in progress. My strawberries are turning red! 



Peas 
Onions

Hydrangea

My square foot garden!

Strawberries and spinach