About a year about my husband and I changed our diet pretty drastically. We cut out a whole list of things, but to us the most important thing was to cut preservatives and additives. If there’s an item on the list of ingredients that sounds mysterious or I can’t pronounce, we avoid it. We’ve had ups and downs over the last year and we’ve learned a LOT about how easy it is to make things at home with no “funny business” required.
*Side note: I’m 21 weeks pregnant at the time of writing this…which does NOT make it easy to say goodbye to many of those store-bought convenient (and delicious) items. (Like that three week period when I ate my weight in Easy Mac – I avoided reading the label at all costs – and it tasted soooo good.)
The other thing we learned is that buying food with less “stuff” in it, usually costs more money. It’s mind blowing, angering, and it’s pushed me to learn DIY versions of a lot of our kitchen staples so that we could stay on our tight little budget.
Two things we consume (in high volume) are almond milk and almond butter. I found it to be significantly cheaper to make my own. In fact, I can buy a 3lb bag of almonds for less than 1 jar of almond butter at Costco. I really can’t take the credit for these recipes, I learned from a few good friends and they quickly became part of my regular routine.
Some of you read the title and immediately thought, “Make my own milk? Who do you think I am, Laura Ingles Wilder?!?” I can assure you, this process is INCREDIBLY easy and takes no time at all.
Step 1: Soak your almonds. Cover 1 cup of almonds in water and let it sit for 4 hours or overnight. This is the hardest part of the recipe for me, because it means that I have to plan to make almond milk a day in advance. In a pinch you can soak them in boiling water for as little as 30 minutes to speed up the process.
Step 2: Drain the almonds. They should be kind of waterlogged and look nice and plump.
Step 3: Add the almonds with 4 cups of fresh water to a blender. This does not require a high powered blender – my cheap little guy works just fine.
*Side note: you can optionally add 3-4 dates for a little sweetness, and/or a dash of vanilla extract for flavor. (I like it a little sweeter so I always add the dates, even if I use the milk for something savory.)
Step 4: Blend. It will turn white and frothy.
Step 5: Strain. I bought a “paint strainer bag” from Home Depot to use for this step. Thanks to Pinterest I found out that this little gem works wonders. It cost less than $5 and is very fine mesh to strain out the pulp (aka chopped up almond bits). I’ve also used cheese cloth before. It works well, but I couldn’t rinse it out to my liking so I have to use a new one for each batch. The strainer bag washes up really easy so it’s reusable. Pour the contents of the blender through the bag into a bowl and squeeze out the excess liquid from the bag.
Step 6: Transfer milk to a sealable container and enjoy! Keep your milk in the refrigerator (mine lasts about a week). It settles quite a bit so give it a good shake before each use!
This is another incredibly simple recipe. If the hardest thing about making almond milk is remembering to soak the almonds, then the hardest thing about almond butter is washing the food processor after your done. I promise it’s that simple.
Step 1: Roast your almonds. Place almonds on a flat baking sheet and roast about 10 minutes at 400 degrees or until they start to brown and become fragrant. I usually do somewhere around 3 cups at a time. My food processor recommends no more than 4 cups. (Yes, I was so excited to receive a food processor for Christmas that I read the owners manual!)
*Side note: You don’t have to roast the almonds first – I just think it adds a nice flavor to the butter.
Step 2: Put the almonds in the food processor, turn it on, and walk away.
Your almonds will go through three stages: 1) powdery 2) doughy 3) creamy.
The key is just to let the machine do it’s work until the almonds have broken down enough to become creamy. The time varies depending on the quality and amount of almonds. I’ve made a small batch in as little as 8 minutes, but this larger batch took 19 minutes. Sometimes I catch myself staring at the food processor just waiting for the creaminess to emerge, but it seems like just when I look away it starts to sound a little “sloshy” and it looks like liquid. I make myself wait another 2-3 minutes before turning it off just to make sure it’s actually as creamy as I want it. The longer it runs, the creamer it gets.
*Side note: Some people like to add salt or even coconut oil to the butter. It’s yummy that way too!
Step 3: Enjoy!!
Kendra Collins | New Song Cool Springs