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.

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