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You can find a million and one recipes online for making your own nut milk so I never felt it was necessary to post one here. But then I kind of feel like I can’t have a place that talks about vegan living and not mention making your own milk. Interestingly enough, the first time I made my own plant-based milk was long before the word “vegan” was even a thought. I am most definitely sure that person I was back then certainly didn’t know what vegan meant even if I were to hear the word, but there I was in my kitchen of our skinny, city row home with my infant at my side making up a batch of rice milk for the first time.

I was breastfeeding then and my son was experiencing all kinds of allergic reactions through my breast milk. My initial conclusion was that he was allergic to dairy – between my pizza and ice cream habit, plus all of the processed junk I was eating with hidden dairy, there was a strong possibility I was correct and his symptoms improved several weeks after removing it from my diet. I eventually had to go on an extreme elimination diet but still believe dairy and soy were the major culprits. This was before every store carried plant-based milks, it required a special trip to Whole Foods, and because I needed to remove all of the top allergens and any unnecessary ingredients, making it at home was my safest best. The one good thing that came from that stressful time in my life was that it was the first time I started looking at the ingredients in what I was eating. It was eye opening, to say the least, the places they manage to sneak in dairy was alarming. This got me on the path of organic, all-natural, and so on, but still far from a vegan, unfortunately. I was that asshole that thought buying grass-fed and cage-free was something to be proud of.

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I eventually advanced to store bought rice milk but I don’t think I bought a gallon of dairy milk since then. Which is silly because I was still consuming dairy creamer, ice cream, and everything else dairy, but we were strictly a boxed plant-milk family for everything else. Thankfully, my son outgrew his food allergies, except for dairy! Although it sucks for him, it’s our way of knowing if a restaurant let some sneak by us. We are pretty good at being able to prevent or at least tell but there was a time or two there was some dairy butter deep in the mix and we knew as soon as he ate it. His stomach starts to hurt, he starts to shiver uncontrollably. I hate to even call this an allergy, us humans simply aren’t designed to consume baby cow growth formula and there is absolutely no need. There are so many scientific studies proving the detrimental effects of dairy on our health and I don’t think there is a nut, seed, or grain they haven’t made into milk. The options are endless, one of your soul dairy-free milks is out there.

I’m usually buying our milk from the store, often soy, occasionally rice, but my favorite store bought milk is Milkadamia. It’s one of the pricier ones so I reserve that for a sale because it’s hard to justify the smaller package for twice the amount when we are happy with soy. Every now and then, I like to make up a batch of homemade nutmilk. My favorite is cashew but I love hemp for my raw chocolate milk, and almond is close behind. But nothing beats a fresh batch of homemade cashew milk in the Vegan Chai Milkshake. Nothing. I find that cashew, or hemp for that matter, doesn’t really need straining. I still strain the cashew but end up with very little pulp that this step can probably be skipped, unlike almond. Also, if you are privileged enough to own a Vitamix or similar high-power blender, which has been my best kitchen investment ever, I don’t even pre-soak my nuts and the milk ends up just as smooth which makes whipping up an impromptu batch of milk a breeze!

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Without further ado, yet another almond or cashew milk recipe to add to the vast internet landscape. We can never have too much vegan out there anyway.

Almond (or Cashew) Milk
Naturally sweetened ever so slightly, these homemade milks will be free of thickeners many store bought versions contain. They come together quickly with a blender. You can drink them as is or add them to smoothies or oatmeal with delightful results.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup of almonds or cashews, pre-soaked for 2+ hours if not using a high-power blender.
  2. 4 cups of filtered water
  3. 2 medjool dates, pitted
  4. 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla bean power or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  5. dash of cinnamon (optional)
Tools needed
  1. Blender
  2. nut-milk bag, fine mesh strainer or folded over cheese cloth to strain fine pulp
  3. Bowl or jar to strain milk into and for storage
To make the milk
  1. Pre-soak your nuts in the refrigerator for several hours up to a couple of days, if you haven't already and rinse. If using a high-powered blender like a Vitamix, you can skip the pre-soak
  2. Add the nuts, water, dates, vanilla, and optional cinnamon to the blender and blend until as smooth as possible.
  3. Holding your nut-milk bag over a bowl or jar, pour the milk into the bag slowly. You will not be able to pour it all at once, do it in batches, squeezing the milk from the bag with your hand to separate the pulp from the milk. Repeat until all milk has been strained. Drink or store for up to 5 days.
Notes
  1. Homemade milk does not last as long as store bought because it doesn't contain all of the additives, you'll know if it went bad by the smell. Shake before serving since homemade milk will separate.
Cara Schrock http://caraschrock.com/