Whenever possible, I prefer to make from scratch whatever my husband and I eat. We’re purists when it comes to food, because if the old saying “you are what you eat” is true, then the average American is the sum total of refined sugars, bleached flours, GMO’s chemicals and preservatives…basically a science experiment gone horribly awry. Food is one of the easiest things we can control to contribute to a healthier, happier life. While I won’t claim to be the most amazing chef in the world, I do find that often times food and drinks taste better and are much healthier when I get to make them myself. Most importantly, I know what goes into the recipe, so I also know what goes into my body.
Since I avoid eating or drink milk or cheese products (other than occasionally goat cheese), I get my calcium fix via almond or coconut milk. Plant based milk is about a billion times healthier for you, and it doesn’t come with added calories, antibiotics, or hormones. The one catch is store bought almond milk does usually have some type of preservatives additive. Whomp whomp…sigh! What’s a girl to do? Make her own damn milk, that’s what! Fresh-made milk has a richer, deliciously creamy taste, and personally I think it beyond scrumptious. Fortunately, it’s SUPER easy to do! Making your own almond milk sounds more impressive than it actually is, but you can keep that under wraps if you need to impress someone with your savvy domestic skills. I’ve also included some delicious variations in case you get tired of plain ol’ almond milk (which, I seriously doubt you will, because fresh milk is SO GOOD!). And just in case you needed even more persuasion, here are some of the benefits of drinking fresh, raw almond milk (list borrowed from Lifehack):
1. It helps with weight management.
One cup of almond milk contains only 60 calories, as opposed to 146 calories in whole milk, 122 calories in 2 percent, 102 calories in 1 percent, and 86 calories in skim. It makes for a great substitute that will help you lose or maintain your current weight.
2. It keeps your heart healthy.
There’s no cholesterol or saturated fat in almond milk. It’s also low in sodium and high in healthy fats (such as omega fatty acids, typically found in fish), which helps to prevent high blood pressure and heart disease.
3. It keeps your bones strong.
While it doesn’t offer as much calcium as cow’s milk, almond milk does offer 30 percent of the recommended daily amount, as well as 25 percent of the recommended amount of vitamin D, reducing your risk for arthritis and osteoporosis and improving your immune function. Plus, these two nutrients work together to provide healthy bones and teeth formation.
4. It keeps your skin glowing.
Almond milk contains 50 percent of the recommended daily amount of vitamin E, which contains antioxidant properties essential to your skin’s health, such as protecting it against sun damage.
5. It barely impacts your blood sugar.
Almond milk (with no additives) is low in carbs, which means it won’t significantly increase your blood sugar levels, reducing your risk for diabetes. Because of its low glycemic index, your body will use the carbs as energy so the sugars aren’t stored as fat (score!).
6. It contributes to muscle strength and healing.
Although almond milk only contains 1 gram of protein per serving, it contains plenty of B vitamins such as iron and riboflavin, both important for muscle growth and healing.
7. It keeps your digestion in check.
Almond milk contains almost one gram of fiber per serving, which is important for healthy digestion.
8. It doesn’t contain lactose.
Lactose intolerance impacts about 25% of the US population, which means they have difficulty digesting the sugar in cow’s milk. This makes almond milk a suitable, lactose-free substitute.
9. It tastes better than cow’s milk.
Almond milk doesn’t taste like cow’s milk, perfect for those who are turned off by the taste. It has its own unique flavor many describe as being light and crisp. Bonus: it’s versatile, meaning you can use it instead of cow’s milk in recipes that require it. It won’t have the same taste, but it will have the same consistency.
10. It doesn’t require refrigeration.
Knowing that you don’t have to refrigerate almond milk means you’ll be more likely to take it with you to work, or on a camping trip. It’s perfectly fine at room temperature which makes it a convenient, nutritious staple to pack, automatically upping your daily intake of all the fabulous nutrients above.
11. It’s easy to make.
Being that it’s a tad inconvenient to have a cow grazing in your backyard, almond milk is the convenient alternative to make at home. It’s made by finely grinding almonds and placing them in a blender with water, then filtering the pulp with a strainer to separate it from the liquid.
Convinced? I hope so! Now on to the recipe!
Cheese cloth and/or very fine strainer
- Raw, unsalted almonds (roasted will lend a smokey flavor to your milk, which, I mean great if that’s what you’re going for!)
- 1-2 pitted dates or 1-2 TBS stevia to taste
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Dash of kosher salt
- 3.5- 5 cups filtered Water
Here’s How To:
- Place almonds in bowl, cover completely with water, throw in a pinch of sea salt. Allow almonds to soak for between 8 to 48 hours. The simplest thing to do is soak them overnight. They’ll plump up and look a little boggy when ready. TIP: 1 cup of dry almonds plumps up to about 1.5 cups
- Drain the almonds, and place in a blender with 3 3/4 – 5 cups of the filtered water, vanilla extract, and salt.
→ TIP: I use a Vitmix, which is SO WORTH THE MONEY! The higher the quality of your blender, the more water you can use and the creamier and smoother the almond milk will be.
- Pour the dates into the blender, and blend on high for 1 minute.
→ TIP: sear them in a pan to really caramelize and bring out the natural sugars, or microwave for about 10-15 second. This adds a delicious, natural sweetness to your milk.
- Let almonds settle for about 5-10 minutes
- In the bowl you’ll pour the liquid into, place a strainer with the cheese cloth in it. This acts as a double filter.
- Carefully pour the almond milk mixture over the cheesecloth.
- After all the mix is poured into the strainer and cheese cloth, gather up the cheese cloth and wring out the remaining liquid. The strainer will catch any potential particles.
Variety, the Spice of Life:
You can mix up your flavors. Some delicious options:
CHOCOLATE: Add cacao powder and stevia for chocolate almond milk.
MAPLE-VANILLA: Mix in maple syrup and vanilla beans to taste for a delicious Maple-Vanilla milk.
SNICKERDOODLE: Add cinnamon, stevia to taste, 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract, 1/4 Teaspoon Butter Extract.
Waste Not, Want Not:
My friends in the vegan/veggie community use the remaining nut puree for several recipes instead of throwing it out out.
- Dehydrate left overs by baking on very low temp to preserve enzymes; once dried out, puree again in blender and make your own almond flour (a great paleo compliant substitute, hooray!)
- Toast it by baking it at around 375 degrees. That nut mix is a fabulous, paleo friendly + gluten free version of bread crumbs and also goes nicely over desserts, apple crisps, oatmeal, and yogurt (if dairy is your thing 🙂 You can also use it to make your own granola mix or protein bars.
- DIY Glowing Face Mask: don’t throw out that almond mush! Give yourself a facial that will leave your skin feeling GORGEOUS!