This recipe is a staple in our house now! About a year ago, I switched from cow’s milk to almond milk. There were a few reasons I decided to do this. First, I realized that I just felt better when I didn’t consume dairy. Too much dairy leaves me feeling bloated and uncomfortable, and almond milk does not contain lactose like cow’s milk. Secondly, a lot of cow’s milk sold in grocery stores is from cows that were given antibiotics and artificial growth hormones. I don’t know about you, but I would rather not consume those things (we still give Madden whole cow’s milk but only organic). Almond milk is lower in calories and carbohydrates (great for controlling blood sugar) than cow’s milk and doesn’t contain any saturated fat. Unsweetened almond milk also does not contain any added sugar. When I decided to make the switch to almond milk, I started buying store-bought unsweetened vanilla almond milk. I looked for brands that didn’t have Carrageenan listed as an ingredient on the ingredient label. Carrageenan is a chemical used in various brands of almond milk (and many other things- even organic products) as a thickener and emulsifier. From doing my own research, I decided that Carrageenan was one of the ingredients I wanted to avoid (it has been linked to inflammation and many GI issues). So, I continued buying store-bought brands that were Carrageenan free. As I got more familiar with reading ingredient labels, I realized there were many additives and preservatives in store-bought almond milk. I started to look for an alternative which led me to homemade almond milk. After reading up on multiple methods to make it, I came up with a recipe that our family loves. We use it in our protein smoothies every single day, and we even use it for baking and in some snack recipes. It makes our protein shakes so much creamier when compared to store-bought almond milk. Once I started making it myself, there was no way I was going back to the store-bought brands! It was that good (I don’t drink the almond milk by itself. I mix it into a smoothie and add fruit to sweeten the smoothie)!
To make unsweetened vanilla almond milk you need: Two cups raw almonds (soaked), eight cups of water, two whole vanilla beans (if you don’t have vanilla beans, you can also use vanilla extract), a blender, a nut milk bag, a large bowl, and a glass carafe or something to store your milk in once its finished. To start:
Once the almond milk is made, I store it in my glass carafe in the fridge. This recipe makes about four cups of almond milk. As the milk sits in the fridge, it will separate. It may look a little weird, but just give it a good shake before you use it. Since there aren’t any preservatives or additives in this milk, it will only last about four or five days in your fridge. The above recipe lasts our family between three and four days, so I make it twice a week. Once you get used to making it, you can whip it up rather quickly. And, it feels so good knowing there aren’t any chemicals or preservatives in our almond milk! To me, it’s very worth it. There are so many different elements you can add to this recipe to tailor it to you and your family. Dates or honey can be added for sweetness if you prefer sweetened almond milk. I’ve also seen people add cinnamon, cacao for a chocolate milk, sea salt, or whatever sounds good to you! You can experiment with it. Give it a try- I hope you like it!
The Almond Meal:
As mentioned above, I always save the left over almond meal. When almond milk is made, a lot of the nutrients found in the actual almond are filtered out of the milk and left in the almond meal. So, I make sure to save and consume the almond meal. It is full of fiber! I love to dry the almond meal out in the oven to make my own almond flour. To do this, first preheat your oven to 200 degrees. Line a baking sheet (or two depending on the size of your baking sheets) with parchment paper. Spread the almond meal onto the parchment paper breaking up any large clumps with your fingers. Place the baking sheet in the oven for two to four hours, depending on how much almond meal you have. My almond meal usually takes about three hours to dry out. The almond meal will be hard to the touch and crumbly when it is finished. If you still feel any moisture in the almond meal, it is not completely dried out. Once the almond meal is finished in the oven, I remove it and allow it to cool. When cooled, I dump all the almond meal into my blender and blend for about 30 seconds. This removes any remaining clumps and creates the fine texture that you see in store-bought almond flour. I store my almond flour in a sealed container in the refrigerator. The almond flour can be used in cookies (our favorite almond flour cookie recipe coming soon), pancakes, muffins, breads, and so much more!