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nut and seed milks
by Sarah Best
Nut and seed milks are a tasty, easy, cheap and healthy alternative to the white stuff that comes in a carton. They couldn't be simpler to make.
Ingredients: nuts (or seeds) and water. Just blend then strain the mixture and it is ready to drink. But if you're after something a little more exciting, you can embellish this nutrient-packed base by adding the sweeteners and/or flavourings of your choice. There is a world of possibilities waiting to be discovered!
You'll need a blender and something to strain the milk with. A fine mesh sieve will work, but a nut milk bag is more convenient.
Basic almond milk
1 cup almonds, ideally soaked for at least 8 hours
3 cups water
Discard the soak water from the almonds, rinse, then put them in the blender with the fresh water. Blend well. If using a sieve or strainer, position it over a bowl and pour the mixture in, using a spoon to press the liquid through. If using a nut milk bag, place it around the top of a jug before pouring. When the bag is around two-thirds full, close the top of it, squeeze the liquid through, and continue squeezing until no more comes. Your milk is now ready to either drink or use as a base for more elaborate creations. If you are drinking it as is, you may want to sweeten it by blending in a little agave nectar or yacon syrup or a raw date or two.
This basic recipe works just as well with pecans, Brazil nuts, cashews and macadamias. Alternatively, you can make seed milk, substituting the nuts for hemp, sunflower, sesame or pumpkin seeds. Each milk has its own distinct flavour, so experiment to see which you like best as a stand-alone drink, and also as a base for your favourite smoothies and shakes. Almond milk is a staple among raw food fans everywhere because it has a subtle taste that would be difficult not to like and also marries well with any other flavours you care to pair it with. Milks with a more distinctive, either-love-it-or-hate-it flavour include hemp milk, sesame milk and Brazil nut milk.
You can make your milk as 'watery' or as 'creamy' as you want. By playing around with the proportion of nuts to liquid you can create anything from 'skimmed milk' to the fullest fat version. You can even make whipped cream if you blend soaked cashews or macadamias with an equal volume of water.
Why not blend up a big batch of your favourite raw milk every few days and keep it in a sealed container in your fridge? That way you will have it on hand whenever you fancy a nutritious and satisfying drink, or need some of the white stuff as a base for a more complicated recipe.
I want to start my raw milk bar going now but I don't happen to have any soaked nuts or seeds lying around. Do I have to wait eight hours?
No! Soaking does make the nuts and seeds more digestible, as it releases the enzyme inhibitors. It also softens them up a bit so you'll get a slightly smoother consistency and fewer bits left over after straining. But if you want to whiz up some nut milk and you haven't taken the preparatory step of soaking, don't let that stop you. And if you're really in a hurry you'll want to make….
"Ready in seconds" raw milk
Simply blend one tablespoon of raw almond butter with a cup of water and sweeten to taste. This can be done with any raw nut or seed butter, including tahini, cashew butter, macadamia nut butter, and - oh, the possibilities are endless!
Shakes and smoothies
Nut and seed milks make an excellent base for shakes and smoothies of all kinds. You can add flavourings such as coconut butter, vanilla, carob or mesquite powder, and you can blend them with fruits, and/or with a mix of superfoods such as maca, blue-green algae, tocotrienols (a rich source of natural vitamin E) or any high-quality powdered green supplement (to name just a few).
This is the abridged version of an article which appeared in the Spring 2008 issue of Get Fresh! magazine.