Monday, October 10, 2011

Milkless Monday - Basic Nut Milk

Maybe you're already meatless, but still include dairy in your diet. It's all baby steps, and I applaud every little step you take in making yourself, and the world, better. Remember, it took me years to get myself off dairy. And that is because cheese is truly addictive. The casein in milk contains honest-to-goodness opiates, which are concentrated in cheese. No wonder we love it so much. Hello, my name is Kim, and I am a recovering cheese-a-holic.

Here's something to think about - all mothers' milk is designed for the particular babies of those mothers. Human milk is the perfect food for human babies. We don't make cheese out of it, or offer a nice cold glass with cookies to anyone else in the family. Goat's milk is perfect for baby goats. Whale's milk is perfect for baby whales. And cow's milk is perfect for baby cows. It's designed to turn a little cow into a great big cow really quickly. It can do the same for us. And keep in mind too that when baby cows grow up, they no longer drink milk. It's only for the babies.

You think you need milk for strong bones, right? Wrong! Animal protein (milk and meat) actually tends to leach calcium from our bones. The countries that consume the lowest amounts of dairy actually also have the lowest rates of osteoporosis, while our "superior" American diet leaves us with brittle bones and a long list of other ailments that can be avoided and often reversed if we just leave the animal products out of the equation. There are plenty of plant sources of calcium, like kale and sesame seeds, to name just two, and these are absorbable by the human body, unlike the animal sources. Google it yourself, or start here, at the VegKitchen, for more thorough information. I don't make this stuff up. Is it really surprising that Corporate America has got us all believing "milk does a body good?" There are enormous profits at stake for the dairy industry. When it comes to your health, ask a lot of questions, and be really cautious about believing someone who wants to sell you something...

There are lots of yummy, healthful alternatives to dairy, like soy, coconut, hemp, oat, rice, almond, and other nuts. I don't love soy milk. Frankly, it makes me gassy. But coconut ice cream is amazingly wonderful, and almond milk in my tea is a no-brainer. I used to buy it in boxes, until I saw how easy it is to make it myself. I love to amaze my friends with this simple process, I love how good and fresh the nut-milk tastes, I love that I know exactly what's going into it, and I love that I no longer have all those clunky milk boxes to throw away, because Taos doesn't recycle them.

To make your own nut milk, you'll need a blender, a nut milk bag (I got mine on Amazon because I couldn't find one locally), some raw, preferably organic nuts, and water. Filtered water is usually suggested in the recipes I've seen. We have good clean well water, so I use that. If you have icky city water, you might want to buy spring water for this.

Basic Almond Milk

Soak 1 cup of raw organic almonds in water for 4-6 hours, or overnight ( I often use half almonds and half raw cashews. Experiment!)

Drain and rinse the almonds.
Place in blender with 4 cups fresh water. (For variety, try different kinds of raw nuts, add vanilla bean or extract, or a couple of pre-soaked dates for a sweeter milk.)

Blend on highest speed for 30-60 seconds, until it looks... milky! You'll still see tiny brown flecks. That's OK. Be sure to hold the lid on... you knew that...

Pour the milk through a nut milk bag, into a bowl, and gently squeeze the liquid from the nut pulp.

Pour the milk into glass bottles. I use wine bottles with these great stoppers I found at Target. Nut milk will keep in the fridge for several days.

And don't throw out the pulp! You can use it in desserts, smoothies, sauces, and CHEESE! We'll make some tomorrow!