Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Almond Milk

To me, there's nothing more satisfying than making an entire meal from scratch. Knowing exactly what goes into a dish from start to finish is so comforting. I don't find the process labor intensive or too complicated. Instead, I find joy in partaking in something that people have done for generations. Sadly, much of our own generation has lost the art of making meals from scratch. Society has become too busy to do such things and convenience is what is sought after. Making food with love and attention to detail has been forgotten by some and I think that it's one of the reasons why people are in such poor health these days.
All of the meals in my kitchen are made with whole foods. That means that I skip the processed items and focus on preparing foods in their whole form. In doing so, I avoid the garbage that food corporations put into processed and packaged foods while also enjoying the flavors, textures, colors, and nutrition of the real thing. Transitioning to a whole foods way of eating may take some getting used to, especially when you can buy anything under the sun already pre-packaged in a grocery store, but I guarantee you will be benefiting your health and the earth by adopting this way of eating. Making food from scratch really isn't that complicated to make. With a little planning ahead, you can have a beautiful and nourishing meal on the table in no time.
And yes, I understand that life is busy. We work long hours, drive long distances, and take care of our families. But take a moment to re-examine just how you're spending your time. Despite our busy schedules, we still have time to sit on Facebook or click through the television channels for an hour (or more) every day. In that time, you can have a healthy homemade meal ready. Really, it's true.
So, I leave you with almond milk. It's a perfect, all purpose dairy milk substitute. Use it in your coffee, baked goods, or over your homemade granola. All it contains is almonds and water and you decide if you want it a bit sweeter with some added honey or vanilla. That's it. No crazy ingredients, no preservatives. Just a little planning ahead and lots of love. That's the recipe for any good meal.
Check out this adorable video from my favorite fellow food blogger Sarah B. from My New Roots on how to make nut milk. It's a must see! And, when I took Sarah's cooking class, we actually made this very same almond milk. Enjoy!

Almond Milk (makes 1 quart)

1 cup raw almonds (or literally any other nut of your choice)
4 cups water
1/4 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
1-2 teaspoons honey, agave, or even a Medjool date (optional, but totally delish)

1. Soak the almonds in water in a bowl for at least 8 hours (overnight works for me).

2. Drain and rinse the soaked almonds. Peel each almond, discarding the skins. This step is way easier than it sounds. The skins literally slip right off and you'll be done peeling the almonds in no time. (NOTE: Peeling the almonds is completely optional. If you're pressed for time or just don't feel like peeling them, don't worry. Just blend the almonds with the skins on and your almond milk will still be fabulous!)

3. Put the peeled (or unpeeled!) almonds in a blender with 4 cups of water. Add the vanilla and sweetener (if using). Cover and blend on high for a minute or so.

4. Line a fine mesh strainer with two layers of cheese cloth. Alternativeley, you can use a nut milk bag (they sell these at natural food stores) or a new pair of panty hose (just cut the foot off and use it as a nut milk bag). Pour the contents of the blender into your choice of straining vessel. Let the milk drain into a jug or pitcher of your choice. Squeeze as much of the milk out of the pulp as you can. You'll be left with very dry almond meal. Store the almond milk in a covered container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

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