Thursday, May 17, 2012

Got Nut Milk? - Part 1

Greetings Health Seekers!  The greening of Maine is in full force - finally.  I'll be planting my garden at the start of the waxing moon on May 21st.  My grandmother always said to plant seeds as the moon begins to wax or show itself in the sky - encourages growth and seeds to sprout.  She also said to weed your garden just after the full moon as the moon is waning - or disappearing from view.  Ancient wisdom worth heeding.  My grandfather always said that my grandmother could "put a dead stick in the ground and make it grow".  I believe this to be true and inherited my insanely green thumb from her.  Nice energy to inherit!

Today we will begin a new series on the creation of raw nut milks.  Yummy stuff, and if you've sworn off dairy or can't tolerate it but still want something white and milky to pour atop your cereal, oatmeal, or add to smoothies, then this topic is for you.  Tasty, easy-to-make, and oh-so-good-for-you . . . you'll absolutely love homemade nut milks . . . or nut mylks, as they are sometimes called.  Learn and reap the benefits!  Children love nut milks!

Nut And Seed Milks

Homemade raw nut and seed milks are the vegan alternative to dairy milk.  I also highly recommend them as nutritious replacements for the ultra-pasteurized soy, oat, almond, and rice milks that are now commonly available.  Fresh, raw nut and seed milks, with their creamy flavor and silky texture, serve as an excellent base for smoothies, shakes, and frozen vegan ice cream and are delicious enjoyed alone or poured over raw muesli (raw whole grain & dried fruit cereal).  These highly versatile drinks can be flavored and sweetened with foods such as dried figs, dates, prunes, raw honey, agave nectar, and even raw cacao or carob.

When making fresh nut milks, the more powerful your blender's motor, the better.  A KitchenAid or VitaMix works wonderfully well!  Soaked and softened nuts must be thoroughly pulverized for the maximum flavor and nutrients to be extracted from the nut pulp.

Rich and slightly sweet, nut and seed milks contain a wonderful balance of protein, carbohydrates, and healthful fats, plus vitamins B and E and minerals such as magnesium, manganese, calcium, phosphorus, and potassium - nutrients that help to enhance memory and concentration, steady your nerves, increase resilience to stress, plus add a healthy glow to your complexion, hair, and nails.

When stored in the fridge, the milk's yummy, rich "cream" will separate from the more watery portion and rise to the top.  When this happens, simply shake vigorously for a few seconds to reblend prior to serving.

The leftover pulp can be used for making dehydrated nut-or-seed-based cookies or raw candy or fed to the birds and chipmunks as a special treat.  It can also be composted if you don't want to eat it.  A skin care tip:  The pulp can be used as an organic facial cleanser and exfoliant . . . leaving your skin silky soft and smooth!  Give it a try.  No salon treatment compares.

Raw Almond or Walnut Milk

If you're not already a fan of raw nut milks, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by how fabulous they can taste, especially if you choose to use one of the sweetening options listed in the recipe below.  If you or a family member is allergic to dairy milk, please give this basic recipe a try.  I'm sure it will win rave reviews!

- 1 1/2 cups raw almonds or walnut pieces
- Enough water to soak nuts plus 4 more cups of purified water
- Pinch of sea salt
- Sweetening options:  4 dried figs, stems removed; or 4 pitted medjool dates; or 1 tablespoon raw honey; or 1 tablespoon raw agave nectar.  If using figs or dates, soak these in a separate small bowl overnight to soften.

1.  Soak the nuts in a medium bowl covered by at least 1 inch of purified water for at least 8 hours.  Drain and rinse.

2.  Place the nuts in a blender along with the 4 cups of water, sea salt, and a sweetening option, if desired.  Blend on high for 2 full minutes.

3.  Strain the milk through a nut milk bag, seed sprout bag, muslin bag, or large strainer lined with muslin or other finely woven cloth.  I do this procedure in the kitchen sink over a medium bowl.  Using two hands, wring out the bag or gathered cloth so that you can extract every last drop of precious milk.  This procedure may take a few minutes or so depending on how thoroughly your blender pulverized the nuts.

4.  Transfer the nut milk to a quart-size liquid storage container.  Store in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.  It will also freeze quite nicely for future use.  Shake vigorously before using, as the stored milk tends to separate.

Yield:  3 or 4 servings

NOTE:  This article was written by Stephanie Tourles and adapted from her book, "Raw Energy", Storey Publishing, copyright 2009.  The information is true and complete to the best of Stephanie's knowledge.  All recommendations are made without guarantee on the part of the author.  She disclaims any liability in connection with the use of this information.  It is for educational purposes only.