Wednesday, January 6, 2010
i'll be up front about this. for the next few weeks you won't be seeing any fancy baked goods here. or trips to the late-night belgian frite truck. or, for that matter, any french fries of any kind. because, in celebration of the new year i have pared down my diet to the bare essentials. c and i are only eating foods that are whole, that didn't come from a package or can, that don't have processed sugar, or that aren't processed in any way, really. and no extra sweeteners or salt. so that means a whole lot of very simple meals. we're talking quinoa with homemade black beans. steamed broccoli. roasted beets. cooked oats topped with apple. satsumas. green tea. water. period.
the thing is, i usually enjoy oatmeal for breakfast most days. but i like it topped with some unsweetened almond milk, and since that comes packaged (with a few additives, i discovered) that was certainly out for the next two weeks. and so the first few days of this new diet i had a hard time with the oatmeal because it was so terribly dry. but then i remembered that one could make their own almond milk. i had always assumed it would be a difficult, complicated task, but it turns out i was very wrong.
boy, is it easy to make!
i consulted a few cookbooks and online recipes (i found this one to be quite helpful), and discovered that there doesn't really need to be a set-in-stone recipe, just a few simple guidelines. the first is to either start by soaking your almonds overnight or blanching them by putting them in a pot of boiling water for a few minutes. either of these things will loosen the skins so you can easily peel them off, which makes for a less bitter almond milk. i chose to soak mine overnight because i'm lazy like that.
next, once you've de-skinned them (a process which takes a few minutes, but don't we all need a few meditative minutes in the morning removing skins from almonds while we stare out the window and mull some things over?) you just put them in a blender with some warmish water and blend until creamy and smooth. it seems that the proportion of almonds to water is up to you, but it's somewhere in the neighborhood of 1/4 to 1/3 cup almonds to 2 cups water. i wanted a bigger batch of almond milk, so i used 1/2 cup almonds and roughly 3 1/2 cups water.
next, just strain the resulting puree through a fine-mesh sieve and you've got yourself a batch of delicious, natural, homemade almond milk!
now, you can take what i'm saying with a grain of salt since i've been eating nothing but the plainest of foods for the last couple of days, but it really was amazingly delicious. so creamy, slightly sweet, almondy without being cloying... yum! but i'm thinking that even after i'm done with this little whole foods kick i'm going to stick with making my own almond milk now that i know how easy it is. wouldn't it be tasty in a nice hot cocoa? or in a fresh fruit smoothie? or, as i had it this morning, over a bowl of hot oats and banana with a mug of organic green tea to wash it down?