When it comes to variety, milk alternatives have certainly caught up with and perhaps even surpassed their dairy counterparts. They’re available in an extensive range of types and flavors; and judging by the sheer number of choices available at the supermarket, an increasing number of people are pouring themselves tall, cool glasses of non-milks.
Almond, rice, and other lactose-free beverages now occupy as much shelf space as, or more than, dairy milk.Whether you are lactose-intolerant, concerned about artificial growth hormones in milk, or just looking for something different, milk alternatives are becoming an increasingly appealing choice.
One of the easiest to make at home are nut milks, and while there are a number of good brands of nut milks on the market, it takes very little effort to make your own unique varieties at home.
Mild with a milky, creamy flavor, nut milks are also gentle on your stomach and packed with essential nutrients. Making milk from nuts is a simple process requiring, at its most basic, raw nuts, filtered water, a blender, and a nut bag or fine mesh strainer.
But don’t be afraid to look beyond the ubiquitous almond to intensify the flavor and increase the nutritional content of your homemade nut milks.
While almonds are a popular choice for making nut milk, don’t count out other varieties of nuts, particularly cashews and hazelnuts.
Naturally sweet cashews have a very mild and neutral taste and make a rich and creamy nut milk with a hint of spicy sweetness when combined with honey and cinnamon.
The stronger taste of hazelnuts is quite distinct and when paired with cocoa powder, the resulting chocolate hazelnut milk becomes more like dessert; every sip soft, smooth, and soothing.
The Nutrient Boost:
Soaking the nuts ahead of time is an important step. The soaking process neutralizes enzyme inhibitors and improves digestibility and nutrient absorption.
Try adding a few extras to your nut milks to increase the nutritional benefits as well. I like to use both Coconut water and Chia seeds.
Coconut water is the juice found in young, green coconuts. It’s a naturally hydrating source of essential electrolytes: sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium and phosphate as well as small amounts of many essential amino acids.
Chia is a gluten-free ancient grain that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. Using Chia seeds provides your nut milks with extra fiber, calcium and magnesium.
Here’s my basic formula along with the chocolate hazelnut and honey cinnamon variations. Drink it straight up, over ice, pour it on your cereal, use it in smoothies, or however you fancy.
RECIPE: Basic Nut Milk with Chocolate Hazelnut and Honey Cinnamon Cashew Variations
- 1 cup raw almonds, cashews, or hazelnuts
- 1 Tablespoon chia seeds
- 2 cups cold filtered water
- 2 cups coconut water
- 1-2 Tablespoons raw honey or 4 pitted dates soaked in warm water for about 5 minutes
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1/2 vanilla bean scraped
- 1 pinch fleur de sel or fine sea salt
- Chocolate Hazelnut Variation: 2 Tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder
- Cinnamon Cashew Variation: 1 teaspoon of good quality ground cinnamon
- Place the raw nuts in a medium bowl and cover with water. Set aside to soak for at least 8 hours or overnight.
- Thoroughly rinse and drain the nuts. If the nuts have a skin, pop the skins off the nuts between your fingers after soaking.
- Place soaked nuts in blender, along with the chia seeds water, coconut water, sweetener of choice, vanilla, salt, and cocoa powder or cinnamon if using.
- Blend to combine, let sit for about 10 minutes for the chia seeds to expand.
- After 10 minutes blend for another two to three minutes, or until you have a thick white beverage.
- Strain the nut milk mixture through a fine mesh sieve or nut milk bag, saving the remaining solids for baking with.
- Store the nut milk in a glass mason jar in the fridge for up to 5 days. Shake well before serving to reincorporate solids.
If you’d like to soak a larger quantity of nuts, put the remaining unused nuts back in a glass jar, cover with water and keep in the fridge for up to 1 week. Change the water daily.
Preparation time: overnight soaking
Cooking time: 20 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 3-4
© 2010-2011 gourmande in the kitchen.
Do you make your own nut milk? What’s your favorite milk alternative?