I'm doing a very mild food experiment on myself this month. For about two and a half weeks, I'm going gluten-free, vegan, caffeine-free, sugar-free, soy-free, and alcohol-free. I'm right smack dab in the middle of the experiment now, which means I have a 100% plant-based, whole foods diet.
While the first three days were ROUGH (I had no idea I was so addicted to coffee, from only 1 cup a day), I now feel like a million bucks and have ridiculous amounts of energy. One of the things I look forward to each morning during this experiment is oatmeal or a smoothie stuffed with fruit and nuts. In both, I've been using almond milk to add creaminess, fat, and flavor.
All of a sudden, I had one of those slap-my-forehead-DUH moments today when I realized there was a boatload of sugar and preservatives in the carton of almond milk I was using. It had never occurred to me that I could MAKE it from scratch, with a regular blender, for pennies compared to the carton from the store. I feel pretty stupid for ignoring this for so long (pretty much exactly how I felt when I learned to make yogurt).
So, from now on I'll be saving money and making my own almond milk. I use a regular blender (got a nice new one for Christmas!), but it's not one of those fancy Vitamix things so you don't need to go max out your credit card to get the equipment either.
Almond Milk, adapted from Meghan Telpner
Makes 2 cups
1/2 cup raw almonds (I used sliced, but whole works too)
2 cups cold water
splash of maple syrup, honey, agave, or a couple dates (optional)
Put almonds in a large bowl and cover with boiling water (I used my teapot). Let sit for at least 2 hours or up to overnight. This softens the almonds to help blend.
Drain soaking liquid. Add almonds and 2 cups fresh cold water to a blender. Blend for 3-5 minutes on high or until no chunks remain. If using, add your sweetener and vanilla and blend again.
Line a colander or strainer with a kitchen towel or cheesecloth and place over a large bowl. Pour almond milk through cloth and squeeze out as much milk as you can. Transfer milk to a mason jar and store in refrigerator for up to a week.
You could keep the almond pulp to use as a high fiber addition in baking. I haven't tried it, but I heard you can dry it in a low oven to create almond flour.
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