Sunday, January 22, 2012

"You can Milk an Almond??"

One of the challenges that I am constantly running into as a Vegetarian is Soy. It seems to me that most manufacturers of Vegetarian Foods just adore this flavorless, waxy substance.. and well, I don't! So you can imagine a challenge when we decided to cut back on our Milk intake at my house (I am not 100% vegan -we do still eat milk, cheese, etc in my home- I am, however,  conscious about the animal products that we do consume).

Typically, Soy Milk is the most recommended in the Cow-Free/Vegetarian/Vegan lifestyle, but that just isn't an option for me. I do love most nut-based milks however. So this weekend, Chris (my husband) and I decided to experiment with making our own Almond Milk! (Not only did this save us some $$ by not going out for entertainment --making this was plenty entertaining!-- but it gave us some fun, quality time together, which is great for a newly-wed couple!)

Here is the Original Recipe that we followed (--our own tips and ideas are below--)

What you'll need:
  • 1.5 cups of blanched Almonds. ($5.99 per pound)
  • 4 cups of Purified Water ($.70 per Gallon)
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract (I used imitation Vanilla, it was just fine!)
  • 1.5 tbsp Honey (Wildflower or Clover, your choice!)
  • 1 Dash of Cinnamon
  • 1 Blender
  • Metal Strainer
  • Cheesecloth ($3)
    *Prices from our grocery trip to HEB Plus in TX
  • Soak the almonds in about 1-2 cups of water (not the water intended for the actual recipe) for about 4 hours. We used the already sliced Almonds, which probably did not need to be soaked quite as long.)
Okay, so your almonds are nice and soaked for the recommended 4 hour time period! Great! Let's get started on our Almond Milk!
  1. Strain the water from your almonds and place your almonds in your blender.
  2. Add 1.5 cups of water. (Less water in the beginning really gets the almonds to a nice smooth paste and helps get them initially chopped up while they are closer to the blades.)
  3. Blend the Almonds and Water for about 2 minutes. If you have an amazing blender, 1 minute should be enough. You should have a nice paste-like substance in your blender once they are finished with this step.
  4. Add your Cinnamon, Honey and Vanilla Extract and then the remaining 2.5 cups of water. Blend well for another 2-3 minutes. (If your blender lacks in power, I might stretch that to even 4 minutes).
  5. Once blended, you will have a frothy, delicious looking milk. Don't drink it! You can certainly have a taste, but right now, your milk is full of grainy pieces of almond. The texture is not the most pleasant. So, pull out your strainer and cheesecloth and we'll finish up our milk!
  6. Place your Cheesecloth (We used 2 layers of Cheesecloth) into your strainer. Slowly pour the mixture through the strainer/cloth into a pitcher. Once your mixture is drained, gently pick up your cloth and squeeze out the remaining liquid. Be sure to squeeze gently so only the liquid is extracted. 
  7. Set the remaining 'Almond Meal' that is left in your cloth aside, you'll want to save that for a later recipe (see below!)
  8. Repeat step 6 and 7 to ensure that you have strained the gritty Almond Meal from your milk. (Use a new Cheesecloth!)
  9. Refrigerate your Milk and Enjoy! (This recipe holds well in the fridge for about 3-4 days.)
Some Variations/Suggestions that we came up with were:
  • Not using much Cinnamon if any at all. The Cinnamon flavor was a little overwhelming for two people that aren't really cinnamon fans. 
  • Use a little extra Honey. I love sweet drinks, and the honey is a much more natural sweetener, which makes this even healthier!
  • Use this milk with Chai  or Earl Grey Teas! Yummm!

So not only is Almond Milk fun to make as well as Cruelty-Free (Dairy Cows are among the most mistreated animals in the Animal-Farming Industry -- Constantly kept pregnant and hooked up to machines so they are always producing milk --) but Almond Milk has a lot of great health benefits as well:
  • Typically (depending on your own additives/flavorings) Almond milk is only around 60 calories per 8oz serving. 
  • Almond Milk is extremely heart healthy and contains no cholesterol and a minimal amount of sodium!
  • Great for those with Diabetes, as you are using less processed sugars and with the addition of honey, you really don't need to add many other sugars or flavoring.
  • Your skin will look great after a few weeks of drinking Almond Milk! Almonds are full of Vitamin E, which helps balance out your skin's health!
  • Almond Milk contains about 1% protein as well as Vitamin B which helps regulate and promote muscle growth!
Left Over Almond Meal
Oh right! Now for that side of Almond Meal that was left-over! Your Almond Meal should have a stiff, almost wet-sand like texture to it. (Pictured above)

There are so many fun ideas that I have for this. Let me note that I have not tried a single one, but I have plans to see what I can do with the Almond Meal tomorrow! I'll let you know how it goes!

My ideas:
  • Mix it in to Oatmeal! Mmm! 
  • Mix it in to Pancake mix... then once the pancakes are ready, add a few of the blanched almonds on top. Delicious!
  • Make puppy treats out of it! (This is most likely what I will try since I usually sleep through breakfast! --plus it would be a fun, future blog post!)

For those that drink lots of Cow's Milk, Almond Milk does take a little getting used to, but once you start drinking it, you won't want to go back to the usual. Almond Milk is also a great conversation piece! You'll be asked a hundred times over, "You can Milk Almonds?".... to which I like to reply with several fun and witty answers! :-) Make your own game out of it!

I should also note, for the record, Jazz (see 'The Coffee War' post) does approve of the Almond Milk! He was offered a small glass for himself! :-)

Stephanie Conrad
The Pet Studio | Owner | Artist

Follow The Pet Studio on Facebook!