Thursday, September 26, 2013

Homemade Almond Milk

Over the past few years, almond milk has become a major staple of my diet. These days I go through at least a quart of it per week, if not more.

I was never a huge milk drinker. I can remember the constant battle with my parents growing up: "Drink your milk!" I do understand that calcium and vitamin D are both key to a healthy diet and more importantly, healthy bones, but both are attainable thorough other foods and/or supplements. Hello, leafy greens!

I've always loved almonds. Raw almonds, almond cake, almond cookies, almond extract in banana milkshakes (a childhood favorite), and so on, and son on.

So it's no surprise that when I tried almond milk for the first time, I immediately loved it. These days I use it in everything—smoothies, oatmeal, cookies, cakes, frosting—you name it. Somewhat surprisingly, it's also a great dessert substitute for those times when you're craving a little something sweet but don't want to over-indulge. It's perfect with a little cinnamon and vanilla.

As I experiment more in the kitchen, I've become really conscious of trying to avoid processed foods if and when possible. If it's easy enough, why not just make it myself? Which is exactly what I decided as I realized I was spending close to $3 a week on store-bought almond milk. Granted, $3 isn't $30, but it adds up over time, and making it would be more cost-effective. My grocery store sells a bag of almonds for close to $7 or $8, so I knew that wasn't doable. But Trader Joe's, on the other hand... They sell a 1-pound bag for $4.99. I'm sure if you buy raw almonds in bulk online it's even cheaper, but for now I'm content with Traders Joe's.

Oh, and have I mentioned how easy it is to make almond milk? And how much better and more natural it tastes than the store-bought, processed stuff? It's amazing, and I can't believe I didn't start doing this sooner. I made it for the first time on Wednesday morning, and I already consumed almost an entire batch and made a second one. I also love that you can play around with the flavor, depending on what you're using it for. Sure, there's always the standard, plain almond milk, or you can make it a little sweeter and more flavorful with dates, vanilla extract and a cinnamon stick or two. I'm also curious to try blending in a little fruit, like blueberries or strawberries. So, have I convinced you? I promise this is one of those things that is 100 percent worth the little bit of extra effort it takes.

Homemade Almond Milk

Time: 5 minutes active, 12 hours inactive
Servings: 1 quart


1 cup raw almonds
4 cups filtered water for soaking
4 cups filter water for blending
1/4 teaspoon salt, divided in two
1 date


1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cinnamon stick

Soak almonds, 4 cups water, and 1/8 teaspoon salt for 12 hours or overnight.

Drain, discard water, and rinse almonds thoroughly. Place in blender, add 4 cups water, and blend. Add date for sweetness (taste it, you can always add another one). For additional flavor add vanilla extract and soak cinnamon stick in milk once you transfer it to a container for storing in your refrigerator.

If you want to keep the almond pulp (I generally do), it's good to go as is. But if you want a smoother texture that's lower in calories, strain the milk through cheesecloth into a separate bowl/container, squeeze to remove all the liquid, and discard pulp.

This should keep in your refrigerator for up to five days.

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