I can’t begin to tell you how much the humble little almond has changed my life in the last year or so. Like many, I grew up with the message that nuts were ‘bad’ because they contained large amounts of ‘bad fat’ and would make you fat if you ate too many of them! Fast forward 20-something-something years and I now understand this is not the case and that these little morsels are in fact incredibly healthy and more over, one of the ‘good’ things that I should have been eating all along. While I am regretful to have lived with that false truth for so long, I am so very glad I know differently now and no longer fear that which I need and love to consume!
One of my favourite ways to use almonds these days is as an alternative to dairy milk that I can use in all the same ways I once would have that which comes from the cow. While I can still consume certain dairy products, including lactose free milk, I still need to keep that consumption minimised or I find I get a build up in my system and my gut then doth protest in earnest, which is very unpleasant! Enter almonds and other tree nuts, which can quite easily turned into loads of alternatives that are easily digested and able to sooth the savage intestines.
From meals, to flour, to butter to milk, nuts are a great way to diversify your dietary intake and help you steer clear of those foods that aggravate your digestive system. They are also very easy to process into these alternatives with little more than a blender or food processor and some time.
The process of making almond milk is quite simple. Soak and rinse your almonds, throw them in the blender with water, blend then strain and you are done. It can be messy for sure, but as with most cooking, that is part of the fun! You will find loads of information about the why’s and how to’s of making nut milks and other products on the internet and elsewhere and they are also readily available on most supermarket and wholefood store shelves. As with many products though, I prefer to make my own, as it is often the hidden preservatives, sugars and other additives used to give foods a longer and more stable shelf life, that can upset the balance of my gut and bring on the rage that can be IBS. As frustrating as it can get sometimes, I have to say there is a lot of satisfaction in making things from scratch, so while I can I do.
Now, let me give the hot tip – if you are planning on making almond or other nut milks on a regular basis, invest in a nut milk bag (I know, it always make me snigger too!), it is well worth it. I started out my milk making journey by blanching, peeling and sieving my almonds and it seemed to take forever. I was going almost ready to give up on it when a friend laughed at me and explained that in her view the best almond milk is neither peeled nor sieved, just soaked and squeezed through a bag. I went out and got the bag and have never looked back! It makes much shorter work of the process and you are able to wring a lot more the liquid out, which makes using the pulp a much easier thing too. There are all sorts of them you can buy, just do some searching and see what works best for you. The one I have linked here I got from my local wholefoods store and it is awesome! (Not sponsored – just so you know).
Once you have made your almond milk, you are left with the pulp, but PLEASE don’t throw it away – there are so many things you can do with it. I use it in my baking, make it into flour, throw some in my smoothies and sprinkle it on my morning porridge, just to name a few. It freezes well and can be used as needed – it is so versatile, really it is!
Here’s how the milk is made;
- 2 cups raw almonds, soaked then well rinsed
- Up to 12 cups filtered water
- sea salt to taste
- High powered blender
- Nut milk bag or fine sieve
- Large jug or bowl
- Sterile glass bottles with air tight lids
- Soak raw almonds* in filtered water for at least 8 hours, overnight is great. Make sure the water well covers the nuts as they will absorb some.
- Using a colander, drain & thoroughly rinse almonds in filtered water.
- Using a high powered blender, blitz 1 heaped cup of almonds, a small pinch of salt & 4 cups water together until smooth.
- Place the nut milk bag into the jug & fold over the sides to create an opening. (If using a sieve, place over the top of the jug & hold steady).
- Pour the contents of the blender into the bag / sieve & allow the liquid to drain into the jug.
- Gently squeeze as much of the liquid as you can through the bag / sieve.
- Pour the milk into bottle.
- Remove the almond pulp** from the bag & repeat the above steps with each cup full of almonds.
- Refrigerate the milk for up to 5 days.
- Freeze in ice cube trays for up to 3 months
** - Don't discard the left over pulp, it is so easy to use! Add it to cakes, biscuits, smoothies, dips & salads. Or you can dehydrate it using a dehydrator or in a low oven to make your own almond flour. You can also freeze it & use it later. It really is extremely versatile!
So there you have it. Home made almond milk, a fantastic alternative to dairy milk the whole family will love. I hope you like it as much as we do.
What about you? Are there foods you eat now you thought were ‘taboo’ when you were younger that you eat with gusto now? Did you find it hard to change your mindset?
Cook! Eat! Enjoy!