Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Joys Of Almond Milk

So I'm now 34 weeks pregnant, and LUCKILY I haven't had a problem sleeping soundly through the night (which I'm given to understand is pretty common in the 3rd trimester).  I do have to get up to pee regularly (duh) but for the most part can fall right back to sleep.  

EXCEPT, that is, FOR LAST NIGHT.

Last night I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn't fall back to sleep until sometime after 6am.  Then I slept until a little after 9:30am, which as far as I'm concerned is practically the MIDDLE OF THE DAY.  Craziness!

Anyways, by the time I was up and staggering around this morning I was hungry, groggy, and grumpy.  I wanted breakfast - STAT - and I didn't have the energy to make anything.  So I ate a granola bar, which immediately gave me a heartburn flare-up.  

Yippee.

So for the rest of the day I was idly mulling over in the back of my mind the question "What can I keep on hand for an easy, filling, healthy, ready-to-eat breakfast?"

And then the answer hit me - ALMOND MILK!

For some strange reason I go through periods where I'll regularly make homemade nut milk, and when I do I thoroughly enjoy it.  But then for a while I'll forget about what a great thing it is to have on hand until something reminds me.  

See, homemade nut milk does take a little bit of planning ahead but it's super easy to make, and miles better than the weird pre-made stuff they sell at the grocery store.  To me homemade almond milk has the mouth-feel of real milk - it's smooth and creamy, with a delightful hint of almond flavor.  

Almond milk makes a fantastic breakfast.  I make 4 cup batches at a time - just enough to fill a quart mason jar - and usually can only drink 2 or 3 cups at a time because it's so filling due to the healthy protein and fats from the nuts.  Delicious!  The remainder never lasts past a refreshing afternoon snack on the same day for me, but you could store it in the fridge for a few days without a problem.

Bon App├ętit provided me with the key tip to making the smoothest, creamiest almond milk ever - soaking your nuts 12 to 24 hours first.  This makes a huge difference in the quality of the almond milk, but it does mean having to plan ahead.  

Step 1.) Put 1 cup of your favorite nuts in a container, and cover with cold water.  I usually stick with almonds, since they're cheap and delicious.  I've also tried hazelnuts, which were AMAZING.  Let your nuts soak in the fridge for 12 to 24 hours.

Step 2.) Drain the nuts and rise them off.  Put the drained nuts in a blender or food processor with 4 cups of HOT (but not boiling) water and a pinch of sea salt.  Blend on high speed for a while - don't be shy.  Let it rip for at least 2 solid minutes.

Step 3.) Put a fine mesh strainer lined with cloth over a bowl or large measuring cup (something with a spout is helpful here).  Slowly pour your nut milk into the cloth.  Let the liquid drain until you have a cloth filled with nut sediment left. 



Step 4.) Pick up the corners of the cloth, and squeeze the rest of the nut milk out.  There's a lot still in there, I promise!



Step 5.) Now you should have a bowl of finished nut milk, and nothing but dry ground nuts in your cloth.  Pour your nut milk into a storage container (I use a quart mason jar with a lid), and add a splash of your favorite sweetener (I add about a teaspoon of maple syrup).  


You could use the leftover ground nuts to make homemade protein bars, dry it out and use it as nut flour, or just stir it into oatmeal, muffins, or other baked goods.  

Enjoy!



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