Boo - Hoo. My funky digestive system cannot tolerate dairy. It's not lactose or casein intolerance, rather a gut dysbiosis. If you've read my blog before you'll know all about about my food angst. I'm hoping someday I will be able to enjoy blue cheese on my cobb salad and parmesan on my spaghetti (with spaghetti squash noodles, of course!) But not to fret, as I have a great stand-in. For "cheese" I usually make some cashew cheese and season it according to what I am making (cream cheese, cheese for pasta etc.) For my smoothies, coffee, and baking, I usually whip up some homemade almond milk and add in a small amount of organic coconut milk and -Voila! Instant "milk."
You ask, "Why would someone want to make almond milk when you can buy it at almost any local store?" Well for starters the health benefits are far greater when making your own, and is much kinder to your wallet. So then, is it difficult or time consuming to make? Nope. Au contraire!
Read on readers to learn how easy it is to make your own almond milk free of chemicals and preservatives - and some brownies, too!
Homemade is Healthier for You
Storebought almond milk contains many additives and ingredients that may harm your digestive system, such as carrageenan or guar gum. Findings from animal studies and a review of the scientific literature showed that degraded forms of carrageenan can cause ulcerations and cancers of the gastrointestinal tract. Andrew Weil has a post about this here if you want to learn more about the additives in foods like almond milk.
Homemade vs. Storebought Ingredients:
Ingredients of Homemade: almonds, filtered water, vanilla, sweetener of your choice
Ingredients of Storebought: almond milk (filtered water, almonds), evaporated cane juice, calcium carbonate, sea salt, potassium citrate, carrageenan, sunflower lecithin, vitamin A palmitate, vitamin D2, D-alpha-tocopherol (Almond Breeze Brand)
They add many of these into ice creams and yogurts, too, so be sure to read your ingredients if you decide to stay away from these substances.
Almond milk also has less saturated fat and cholesterol than regular milk (although I think sat. fats do have a place in your diet) is high is protein, vitamin E, calcium and magnesium. Most importantly to me, it contains less sugars than milk and is easier to digest than dairy milk. This is part of the reason why I cannot drink milk, because the bacteria feed off of the milk sugars. Then I feel icky, I get bitchy, and well... let's just say my boyfriend hides from me. Okay, it's not that bad. But, I don't like feeling icky when I don't have to, so.... almond milk it is. And it's tastes good, so I don't feel like I'm missing out.
I personally think homemade tastes better and fresher than the store bought milk. However it won't last as long since it has none of the preservatives that storebought does, but if you use it daily like I do, you needn't worry about that.
Cheaper Than Store Bought
I paid about $4.50 for a 16oz. bag of "raw" almonds (they pasteurize them to 115 degrees) at Trader Joes. (You can buy truly raw, sprouted almonds at Whole Foods, but they are more expensive. It's all about preference.) From this, I can make about two to three times the amount of almond milk for the cost of a storebought carton.
Leftover Almond Meal for Baking
After making milk, you can use the leftover almond meal for baked goods like crackers (check out my almond-rosemary-garlic cracker recipe) muffins, brownies (see recipe following this) cookies and pie crusts ( I make a killer almond-coconut pie crust good for pumpkin pies), so you don't have to spend a pretty penny buying almond meal or flour, which sells at most places for $4-9 for a 16 oz bag. Yikes.
So you say, "How do I make this homemade almond milk?"
(You can cut the recipe in half if you don't need this much almond milk)
Cheesecloth or fine-mesh sieve
2 c raw almonds, soaked overnight
6-8 c filtered water
Pure bourbon vanilla extract
Sweetener like agave or pure stevia (optional)
- Take 1 cup of soaked almonds and add to blender with water. You can remove the skins if you like, but I usually don't. Grind until fine.
- Then, pour into a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth over a large mixing bowl or measuring cup. squeeze the meal until you can't get any more liquid out of the meal.
- Add the vanilla, sea salt and sweetener to your preference, stir, and put in storage containers in the fridge.
- If you will use the leftover meal, store in a container in the fridge for up to a week before using.
And when you have leftover almond meal.......
Use the moist almond meal to keep a dense and chewy consistency with the brownies
2 c almond meal
1/2 c coconut flour
1c unsweetened cocoa powder ( I like Trader Joe's brand)
1/2 c almond milk
1/2 c coconut milk (full fat)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c melted coconut oil
Dairy and gluten free dark chocolate chunks (Enjoy Life or Whole Foods 365 Brand makes these)
Walnuts are also good to throw in if ya have em.
Don't forget your square baking dish or muffin tins! I grease mine with a bit of coconut oil
If you're into spice and a bit of culinary adventuring, add the following for "Mexican style" brownies. You can thank me later.
1 T cinnamon
1-2 tsp cayenne pepper
Preheat over to 350 degrees.
Mix all dry ingredients together.
In a smaller bowl, beat your eggs, milk and vanilla extract.
Add wet to dry ingredients along with the melted coconut oil and chocolate chips and mix well. You can do this in a food processor, too. Do it quickly so the coconut oil does not cool and harden.
Cook brownies for about 25-35 minutes or until firm. Try to wait until they cool down a bit before devouring.