I wanted to take a brief moment to send you and your family warm wishes for happy and healthy holidays. I love Christmas and all that goes with it. Despite all the cooking, planning and running around we continue to make
our own almond and coconut milk to enjoy in our coffee, chai teas and egg nog.
We stopped using cow milk a long time ago. In fact, it started when my sister was little and had chronic asthma and suffered from ear infections. I also had reoccurring strep throat. My mother was concerned that my sister needed tubes in her ears and that my tonsils be had to be removed. Our neighbours at the time, a lovely Seventh Day Adventist family following a strict vegan diet, suggested eliminating milk from our diet. Not an easy task for my mother whose children were used to eating cereal and milk for breakfast.
My mother managed it by making cashew milk. Non-dairy milk alternatives were not readily available in stores yet and she somehow made this milk without the super-powered blenders of today. (God bless her heart.) Within two weeks of being off milk my sister’s asthma was nonexistent, and so were the recurrent ear and throat infections in our family.
Fast-forward many years and we still are very weary of milk products – especially non-fermented, non-organic ones. So, at my house my husband and I make almond or coconut milk almost daily. It is not only easy when you have a good blender, but these beverages are delicious and healthy.
Why aren’t we buying the carton almond and coconut milks available at all stores now? Well, in a word they are not real. Conventional almond and coconut milk contain many synthetic ingredients that make them smooth, thick, and shelf-stable. Unfortunately, our bodies do not recognize these additives. That means they have to work harder to process them. Many of these ingredients are also inflammatory, disrupt our digestion and some are downright toxic. I am particularly concerned about the thickeners such as locust bean gum and carrageenan. Carrageenan is the key reason I make my own almond and coconut milk. It is an allergen derived from seaweed. It is also known to be highly inflammatory and is associated with gastrointestinal disorders. Definitely avoid it if you have any digestive issues.
Finally, and most surprisingly most nut milks contain less than two percent nuts . As a result, they are pumped full of “natural flavour” (whatever that is) and sugar. UGH!
Meanwhile homemade milks are real and nutritious. I am happy to share the group of vitamins and minerals present in these beverages, if you are interested please leave a comment below. For now, I wanted to share how we prepare these milks.
You will need a high speed blender (I use a Blendtec ) and a nut milk bag to strain the almonds (I bought mine at the Sweet Potato in the Junction (Toronto). A package of three bags cost me $10. You can also use a cheese cloth but it is messier I find.
1 cup of almonds (preferably organic)
2-3 tbsps hemp seeds
4 cups of filtered water
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp honey or more, if you prefer a sweeter milk (or use 1 date)
Pinch of salt
1. Soak the almonds overnight in filtered water. (This is a key step. By soaking them you are breaking down the phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors found in the nuts. This allows for their proper digestion.) It also allows them to be properly blended to create the milk.
2. In the morning, rinse the almonds thoroughly
3. Throw the cup of rinsed almonds in the blender with 4 cups of filtered water, the vanilla, honey and salt
4. Blend on high for 50-60 seconds
5. Pour through a nut milk bag to strain the almonds and squeeze out the liquid
6. Enjoy in your coffee, matcha, chai tea or on its own
Please be sure to refrigerate. Homemade almond milk has a shelf life of 4 days, although ours is usually consumed the day it is made.
I got the idea to replace the almonds with shredded coconut when I forgot to soak my almonds one night. Almonds are also very pricey, whereas shredded coconut is not.
We generally make almond milk on weekends and coconut milk during the week. The recipe is the same as for the almond milk. I just swap one cup of soaked almonds for one cup of shredded, organic coconut. Everything else is the identical. My husband and I figured out that we get close to 1.3 litres of this milk for a dollar.
The coconut milk is also a wonderful a base for hot cocoa. Heat the milk, add some raw cocoa, honey to taste and voila – a dairy free, creamy, healthy, hot chocolate. My kids love it!
Coconut Milk – Egg Nog
If you are looking for a healthier, dairy-free egg nog for this Christmas season, your homemade coconut milk is a nice base. Throw in two cups of it into your blender, add two eggs, 1-2 teaspoons of honey to taste, a touch of vanilla, a sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg and blend on high. Once blended transfer to a pot, and let it thicken on low, being sure not to let it boil. Transfer to the fridge and, if you like, whisk in some brandy or rum prior to serving.
I hope you try these recipes. They really are easy and delicious. I no longer miss cream in my coffee.
Have a wonderful holiday and many blessings to you for the New Year.