Over the past few months, I’ve tried adding smoothies to my breakfast menu. I don’t always have time with the hustle and bustle of morning prep, lunch-making, helping the kids with morning routines etc. But when I have a couple of spare minutes, I’ll often head for the blender. We’ve featured a few of our smoothies here in the blog… Refreshing Melon and Strawberry Smoothie Recipe, Delicious Green Smoothie and Pack-a-Punch Blueberry and Spinach Smoothie.
The sky’s the limit when it comes to ingredients for delicious smoothies. In many cases, they’re like a healthy dessert… hard to believe, right? Some of the smoothies I make at home are made with almond milk as the liquid base instead of cow’s milk or juice. I use almond milk because I enjoy the flavour. The health benefits are just a bonus. For some folks, milk isn’t an option, either by choice or because they’re intolerant to dairy products. Either way, you can make very tasty, creamy smoothies without cow’s milk. I won’t be getting into the cow’s milk vs alternative milk war, or what milk alternative is best for you. I’ve read up a bit on this topic and I don’t think I understand the science behind many of the claims well enough to make a well informed decision on what you should be drinking. I do know that with almond milk you get essential vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, calcium, fiber, potassium and some other good stuff… and of course, going back to my first point… it tastes good! 🙂
One thing I quickly noticed when I started buying almond milk was the price… sheesh! Does healthy always need to be so darn expensive? After a little bit of research, I realized that the almond milk you buy at the stores are just water, almonds and in some cases extra flavouring additives or some sort of sweetener. My next thought was, why not make it at home and save some money… but would it taste the same? I’ve never compromised flavour just to save a few bucks. A little more research brought me to hundreds of recipes. Fortunately for me, most of these had a very similar base. So making my own version was just a question of tweaking quantities and adding my own flavour twist. If you’ve followed our blog for a while or looked at our website address “.ca”, you may have guessed we’re from Canada, eh! 🙂 Like a good Canadian, I like many of our staple foods… bacon, poutine, maple syrup, etc. Since bacon and poutine probably wouldn’t mix well with almond milk (or would it???), I decided to make this version a Maple Almond Milk. The maple syrup adds a little sweetness and works well with the almond flavour. If you want to avoid the extra sugar, feel free to leave it out. It’ll still taste very good.
Almond milk is easy to make. The most time consuming step is soaking the raw almonds. This isn’t a big deal because you can leave them soaking over night or while you’re at work (I tried this recipe without the soaking step and it didn’t work well for me. It’s a little too grainy for my taste). You will need a pretty decent blender to pulverize the almonds and get the milk as liquidy as possible. Once the almonds are blended with water, you have one last step. This is where you have to make an important decision. The more you strain the milk, the smoother it is. If you strain it less, it’ll be a bit more grainy but higher in fiber. It’s all a question of personal preference and you can tweak this to suit your needs. I usually run mine through a sieve a couple of times and then through a cheese cloth… I like my milk smooth. I might be investing in a nut milk bag in the near future. They do a great job straining and they’re reusable.
One last thing, is that once you place your almond milk in the fridge, you might notice liquid separation after t’s been sitting for a few hours. This is normal and you just need to give it a stir before pouring your next glass. This milk is perfect for cereal, smoothies and even as a cold glass of milk on it’s own. So go ahead and pour a glass… drink well, friends!
- 5 cups of water
- 1¾ cups raw almonds (soaked in water for at least 8 hours)
- 3 tbs maple syrup
- 5 ice cubes
- Soak almonds overnight or during the day.
- Add all ingredients to the blender in the listed order.
- Blend on high for 2 minutes.
- Place a sieve over a medium size bowl and pour some of the milk mix into the sieve.
- Move the almond pulp from side side with a large spoon until all the liquid flows through and the almond pulp is pretty dry.
- Dump the almond pulp (some folks use this for other things like baking... feel free).
- Rinse the sieve and place it on a second medium bowl.
- Pour the milk through the sieve again.
- Once again, move the pulp from side to side until all you have left is the pulp.
- Place the cheese cloth over your wide mouth milk jar. I use an elastic band to hold up the cheese cloth Make sure you have a dip in the cheese cloth and start pouring the milk.
- Just like the sieve, move the pulp aside to let the milk flow through.
- Using the spoon, press a little into the pulp to get those last few drops. Some folks like to squeeze the bag, but I don't to keep the milk as smooth as possible. You can do what best suits your preferred texture.
- Remove the cheese cloth and refrigerate or have a glass!