Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Almond Milk = Almond JOY

Sometimes I dream BIG:  Running Western States.  Or... building an ultra-modern-eco-compound in Sedona with a full gym of my own, next to a barn where I can provide love and care for abused farm animals.

Sometimes I dream small:  I would love to not ever have to purchase cow's milk again.

My reasons are too numerous to list here but in addition to the compassion I feel toward mama cows who have (in my opinion) the worst of the farm animal lives, I believe whole-heartedly that there is a link between cow's milk consumption, inflammation in the body, and prostate cancer in men.  There are naysayers but more often than not, they are curiously affiliated with the dairy industry.  What I've read is enough for me.  Prostate cancer runs in my husband's family.  I need to stop the milk consumption. Period.

But wait.  The husband loves milk... how will I ever convince him?  Maybe I don't have to...

My small dream might come true thanks to my friend Angie Miles.  As we RV'd together from California to Oregon in June, she used her Magical-El Salvadorian-Mom-Charms on my husband and got him to LOVE her homemade almond milk.  In what I'm sure was a statement uttered by mistake, he said "I'd give up milk forever if you'd make this every day!"

So here we are - back at home and I am an almond milk making machine! Angie's recipe is simple, easy and delicious. Bless you Angie!

Here's how I do it every day...

Soak one cup of raw almonds overnight (or at least 4 hours).  Every time I empty the jar, I fill it again.  There is a tupperware of almonds & water on my counter at all times.

Rinse the almonds well and then pop off their skins if they come easily.  I find that some almonds never want to lose their skins, no matter how long I soak them.  If you have a VitaMix or Blendtec, you can skip this step altogether.  For those of us with less than $500 blenders, it's nice to get the skins off quickly before blending.

The almonds are now "blanched" - congratulations!  They're also delicious in this state and easier for your body to digest.  Try not to eat too many, we need to make milk.

In your poor-person-blender, place the almonds, 10 pitted dates, 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract and 2.5 cups of water.  

Blend like the dickens.  I leave my blender on high for at least one full minute.  The more you can break down those almonds, the more milk you have.  Blend beyond reason.

Icy cold almond milk
Taking the top off the blender at this point is gorgeous - creamy, frothy, white MILK.

Pour the blender contents into a NUT MILK BAG.  This is a cheap little bag made specifically for the purpose and is sold on Amazon.  If you live in a cool, hip, city - I'm sure you can find one in a store.

Spend some time squeezing the bag and creating your milk - like a cow's udder!  I squeeze the milk into a large mouth container so all of the squeezing is done under the lip.  I refuse to lose a drop.

If you'd like, empty the almond meal left in your bag onto a cookie sheet and then rinse the bag.  Pour the freshly squeezed milk back into the blender for a quick spin.  Pour it back through the rinsed bag to get out any remaining pulp.

Place the container in the refrigerator right away and let it all chill down.

The almond pulp is GOLD.  Spread out the pulp evenly on your cookie sheet and then place it in a 250 degree oven.  It just needs about 20 minutes to begin to dry out.  You can also just leave it out on the counter after the oven time and wait for it to dry.

Once dry (or close to it) I place the almond meal into Ziploc bags and store in the freezer.  When it comes time to make Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies,  I just run the almond meal through my coffee bean grinder and it makes a wonderful "almondy" gluten-free flour for my cookies.  WIN.

Ironically, the process of making almond milk has become kinda zen for me.  Squeezing the milk is relaxing and it calms me to know that I'm removing my little family from the dairy lie.  Most importantly... I thoroughly enjoy by-passing the cow's milk section of the grocery store. Amen.