Start the Day Right
We’ve all heard it a thousand times: breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Eating a healthy breakfast starts your day off right and sets you up for an energy-filled, successful day. Studies show kids do better in school when they eat breakfast, so that must work for adults too.
We usually start the day with a breakfast smoothie based on protein powder, frozen fruit and milk. You can find the recipe at this link. I’ve switched from using cow’s milk to almond milk. It’s one small part of my decision to include more plant-based options in our diet.
Almonds are considered by many to be the most nutritious of nuts. From a nutrition standpoint, almonds are a rich source of protein containing fiber, omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, vitamin E, magnesium, calcium, and zinc. That, and I love the flavor of almonds. I snack on them every day.
Homemade Almond Milk – Simple to Make
Almond milk is a great alternative to cow’s milk. We use it every morning for our breakfast smoothies. It’s good over cereal, oatmeal, in soups, or just for plain drinking. The best part – almond milk is simple to make.
First, soak raw almonds in clean filtered water overnight. Soaking almonds unleashes their full nutritional benefit and makes them easier to digest. It also makes them easier to blend.
After soaking almonds, drain off the soaking water and rinse. Almonds contain enzyme inhibitors that can interfere with digestion, so toss the soaking water and use fresh water to puree your almonds into milk in a high-speed blender (like a Vitamix) for 90 seconds. That’s it!
Some recipes strain the almond milk through a nut milk bag for a smoother texture. I do not. Do what suits you best. We like the texture of unstrained almond milk. It’s thick and rich. It will keep for about 3 days in the refrigerator. Upon sitting, it can get a little foamy looking on top. Just stir, shake or whisk before using.
If you want it sweetened, add a little natural sweetener like brown rice syrup or stevia. You can also add a little vanilla extract or almond extract for more flavor.
Raw and Unpasteurized Almonds
A few notes about almonds. When I started making my own almond milk I got an interesting education in almonds. Shopping at a farmers market I found Hopkins AG, a California almond grower selling raw unpasteurized almonds direct from their farm. That’s when I learned about a misleading 2007 USDA labeling practice and the importance of seeking out truly raw almonds.
The “raw” almonds you see in stores are not truly raw. They have been sterilized or pasteurized. The label must say raw and unpasteurized. Unfortunately, a 2007 USDA law requires all almonds grown in the U.S. to be sterilized or pasteurized – but there is a loophole. Growers can sell raw, unpasteurized almonds direct from their farms, but not to food distributors or markets. To get them, you must buy from a grower at a farm stand or off the internet.
What’s deceptive is that the USDA still allows these processed almonds to be called raw even though they are basically cooked or “sanitized”. Another issue, many almonds are pasteurized using PPO (Propylene Oxide) gas, which is toxic. Some growers are using a new process pasteurizing with steam versus chemicals. From what I have read it is an expensive process and the only way to know is to call and ask.
To read more, check out the links below the post.
Buy Direct From a Grower
Knowing this, I go to extra effort to buy truly raw, unpasteurized almonds, making a better health choice for my family. I just ordered 10 pounds of organic almonds from D&S Ranches in California. I also buy from Hopkins AG at my farmers market. I also learned that California grows 80% of the world’s almond supply!
As you start off the New Year with a fresh, clean plate, I hope you decide to eat more healthfully. Only you can decide what’s best for your family or yourself. Knowledge is power.
For more information on different types of “milk”, read the link below and a good article from Everyday Health.
Homemade Raw Almond Milk
Yield: 2 quarts, unstrained (approximately 2 liters) or about 6 1/2 cup strained through nut milk bag
- 9 ounces (256 grams) raw, unpasteurized almonds
- Filtered water to cover the almonds (when soaking)
- 6 cups (1.4 liters) cold, filtered water (for the milk)
- A splash vanilla or almond extract – optional for flavoring
- Place almonds in container and cover with water. Cover and refrigerate for 18-24 hours.
- Strain off soaking water. Rinse. Pour soaked almonds and fresh water into a high-speed blender with a tight fitting lid and process for 90 seconds on high. Start slow and build up the speed. Refrigerate and use within 3 days. Stir or whisk each time you use as it settles.
To sweeten or not? I do not sweeten my almond milk. If you choose to, try a teaspoon or two of agave syrup (I recommend Xagave brand because of how it is made), brown rice syrup or liquid stevia, the best choice. Another option for flavoring, try a drop or two of essential oil such as lavender or citrus. It is surprisingly delicious!
Helpful Links and Good Information:
Article from Rense.com on pasteurized almonds law
An informative article from Everyday Health on different kinds of milks you can use for your smoothies, in regards to cholesterol. What is good and not so good. Read and decide for yourself and decide what is best for your family.
Don’t Skip Breakfast, article from the About.com nutrition area.
Direct from the farm, California almonds from D&S Ranches. Good information and raw almond source.
Another source for raw, unpasteurized almonds is Hopkins AG. Their site is under maintenance at the moment but will be back up soon.
Nutrition information on almonds from The World’s Healthiest Foods site
More almond info, from Wikipedia
Click here to buy a Vitamix blender and get free shipping
For a gluten-free, dairy free recipe using homemade almond milk, try the Lemon Almond Polenta cake at this link.
About soaking almonds, from the Good Health Wellness blog
The Benefits of Soaking Nuts and Seeds, by Food Matters
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