Thursday, January 28, 2016

Make Your Own Almond Milk

Ever since my daughter was a baby she had a problem digesting lactose.  She drank goat milk as a young person.  We got the milk from a friend who milked goats.  It is an acquired tasted that I never acquired.  Over the years we would go back to cow's milk, but there were always issues with it.  My husband doesn't tolerate cow's milk very well either, so we eventually turned to lactose free cow's milk, lactaid and now almond or coconut milk.  Milk is the same as everything else in our food supply, we don't really know what is in it.  One day I watched Dr. Oz make Almond milk.  It was super easy.  He said purchased almond milk is only 2% almonds and has stuff added to it for flavor.  It also has ingredients which probably extends the shelf life.  Have you ever looked at the expiration date on a carton of almond milk?  It lasts for months.  That is when I started to make our own almond milk.  It tastes better.  It actually tastes like almonds because it is 25% almonds and the rest is water.  Nothing else is added.  You could add vanilla or a little sweetener, but we prefer it plain.  My husband is the only person I know who eats his oatmeal plain with milk.  He doesn't add sugar, raisins, cinnamon or anything else.  To me it's like eating wallpaper paste, but that's how he likes it.  I like it loaded with sweetness.  I won't even eat it unless I can doctor it up a bit.

Almond Milk

To make a quart of almond milk you soak 1 cup of plain unsalted almonds in 4 cups of filtered water.  I use the almonds with skin on because I like the fiber in the leftover meal.  Plain blanched almonds would also work as long as they aren't bleached or treated.  Even if you don't make almond milk, almonds should be soaked to eat.  It makes them much more digestible and therefore you get more nutritional value from eating them.

Organic almonds soaking in plain water.

Let the almonds soak to soften them up.  I have read some recipes that say to soak them for an hour.  I usually soak for at least 8 hours.  You can soak them for 24 hours if you can't get to them before that.  When the almonds are soaked, drain off the soaking water and add the softened almonds to a blender.

The soaking water gets discolored so pour it off.
Add back 4 cups of fresh water.  Blend on high until the nuts are completely blended.  It only takes a couple minutes.  At this point you have almond milk with ground up nuts in it.  You want to remove the almond meal by pouring the milk through several layers of cheese cloth, a fine sieve or a nut bag.  After the milk is strained, the almond meal is left behind.  Originally I used a metal fine mesh strainer but couldn't get all the milk out so the meal looked very wet.  This is how it looked coming out of a fine mesh strainer. 


I purchased a nut bag to better strain the milk.  A nut bag is a tightly woven cloth bag designed to strain the milk, but it can also be used to strain tea, coffee, broth, or anything else you want to get the debris out of.  It washes easily.  Purchasing one was well worth it.  It cleans up easily after all of the milk is squeezed out and the meal is removed.  The instructions say to store the unused bag in the freezer to prevent any bacteria growing on the bag.  It seems like an excellent idea.

This is the brand I bought, but there are many on the market.

The finished milk which looks just like "real" milk.

The almond meal that comes out of the nut bag is much drier and dries completely quite quickly.  After it is dried, I just save it in the refrigerator and sprinkle it on yogurt, cereal or I put it in baked goods for added nutrition.

I dehydrate the meal but a low oven will dry it just fine.

The dried almond meal saved from making the almond milk.

I made a loaf of Banana Bread today and put in 1/2 cup of Almond meal.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Let It Snow

A lot of snow has fallen all over the country recently, but the one place everyone expects a lot of   snow is Wisconsin.  We haven't received much this winter.  After Christmas we had one snowstorm.  I'm not sure how much snow we got that time.  My husband wasn't feeling well and his snowblower didn't start, so we just drove over the snow in driveway to pack it down.  I don't think it was a lot.  Yesterday the weather people predicted an inch or so of snow which we don't even count as a snowfall.  When we woke up to a few inches, we were surprised.  It was a pleasant surprise.  It was beautiful.  The trees, bushes and bird feeders were blanketed with snow.

Snow on the deck railing at the break of day.

Snow on the bushes.

The snowblower is running and my husband is clearing the driveway.

There is snow on the woodpile.

A Mourning Dove is wondering where the food is.

They went to sit in the tree to wait for me to clear the feeders.

The black eyed junco is also waiting.

The water in the heated dog dish never freezes and provides water.

A deer came out of the woods to see what she could find.  She looks like her front right leg hurts.

The weather people reported we got 8.5 inches.  It didn't seem like that much so we even got out today.  A stinkin 8.5 inches of snow wasn't going to stop us.  We went on an adventure with our daughter's mother and father in law. We got a lot of great bargains.   It was a wonderful day.

More snow is predicted in a few days.  I don't mind at all. 

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow

Monday, January 25, 2016

Don't Throw Away Your Lemon Peels

About three weeks ago I blogged about a raw lemonade I made.

I warm the lemon juice and drink first thing in the morning.

I make it everyday, most of the time without the sweetener or essential oil.  We drink it first thing in the morning to get our day started out right.  Fresh lemon juice is wonderful for many reasons.  I'm not sure I believe the hype that says drinking lemon juice will cure all that ails you or cure diseases.  I do know it makes drinking water in the morning easier for me.  I drink it when my coffee is brewing which is what I really look forward to in the morning.  Drinking lemon juice is hard on the tooth enamel so I figure I am rinsing my mouth afterward with the coffee.  Coffee drinkers will say anything to justify the habit.

In the blog about raw lemonade I also mentioned how I zest the lemon instead of peeling it.  I have plenty of zest in the freezer so instead I cut the peel off and save it. 

 Be sure to wash the lemons well before you cut the peel off.  Organic lemons are better, but it isn't always possible to get them where we live.  I use 14 lemons a week.  I let the peels air dry until I have a batch.  Then I put the peels in a food dehydrator and finish off the drying process.  This same thing could be accomplished in an oven set on a low temperature or just wait until they air dry completely.  Finally when the peel is completely dried, I put them in the blender and grind them into a fine powder.  I think a coffee grinder would also work.  Some of the lemon’s richest nutritional properties are in the rind.   Lemon peels are full of antioxidants, flavonoids, vitamins and minerals.  The lemon peels have twice as much Vitamin C in them than does the fruit.  Lemon essential oil is made from the lemon rind, not the juice.  This process also work with oranges or other citrus fruit.

This powder is a completely natural source of vitamin C.  It is much better for you than taking a Vitamin C tablet made out of ascorbic acid.  At least I usually feel something that occurs naturally in food is probably better than something made in a laboratory.  I could be wrong, but I tend stay away from fake things.  I could go off on a tangent at this statement, but I will stick to my topic.

I put the powder in food or a hot drinks.  It doesn't dissolve completely but I like it very much.  I especially love it in yogurt or my drained kefir. I have been draining the whey off of the kefir.  This leaves behind a thick creamy product resembling plain yogurt but with more probiotic properties.

I realize some of my hair brained ideas aren't for everyone.  I probably won't live any longer than anyone else, but as long as I think I'm trying to do the best I can, I feel better.