by Elizabeth Gilhuly, Contributor, Health Lifestyle Coach
I'm a HUGE fan of nut milks... They are creamy and work really well with all your typical milk-using recipes and treats, from the simple bowl of cereal to smoothies and baking recipes, and even for your lattes. (They may not froth exactly the same as animal milk, but they work in a pinch). I now love to make a simple green tea latte. All you need for that is 2 cups milk, organic matcha green tea powder, raw honey, and maybe a dash of Ginger People Ginger Juice. Yum.
HOWEVER, the downside to most store-bought nut milks is they usually contain stabilizers/thickeners that are not great for your gut. If you've ever seen a not really melted, gelatinous blob of what was supposed to be melted coconut milk iced cream, you might wonder then what happens to that stuff in your gut. Yuck is what your gut says.
The greatest offender of thickeners is carrageenan. It seems innocent enough, described as a substance derived from seaweed, but the real truth is it's a HIGHLY processed substance merely reminiscent of it's original form. The molecules of this new lab creation are large, weighting on your gut lining and have shown in scientific studies to cause IBS and Crones symptoms. Yeah, it's kind of ugly. At a time when I was learning how to heal my gut, and I learned that information, I suddenly realized that the height of my gut issues began when I switched from a rice milk that did not contain this ingredient to an almond milk that did. Immediately I poured it out and reverted back to consuming the product without carrageenan, and my gut was notably better.
Since this realization, I've noted this undesirable ingredient in many foods. It's very hard to find a nut milk that does not contain carrageenan. Did this stop me in consuming delicious nut milks? Nope! This lead me to learn how incredibly EASY it is to make my own nut milks. And I've even gotten cReAtIvE and made some new ones that I could not find in a store... like chai spice sesame milk, or a mixed nut/seed almond-flax-sesame--which is super rich in calcium. There is one brand of coconut milk that doesn't use carrageenan, which is So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk. Unfortunately So Delicious uses carrageenan in ALL their other products, but this one is c-free. So wen I want to pick up some milk from the store, I use that.
Let me share with you my super secret, coveted nut milk recipe... Are you ready for this?
(makes 1 quart but increase quantities if more than 1 quart is desired)
1 cup nuts, 1 quart of water, 4-6 pitted dates, 1 teaspoon vanilla, dash of sea salt, and optional additional sweetener (like honey or coconut syrup)
Blender and nut milk bag. What is a "nut milk bag?" Click here to see one on Amazon for $6.50
1. Soak nuts in water 6 hours or overnight in the refrigerator. Seeds alone can soak for 1 hour. If mixing seeds and nuts, it's A-OK to soak seeds in same jar for same time as nuts. If you want to get technical about this there are charts online for nut/seed optimal soaking times, but these general times work fine.
2. Once nuts/seeds are soaked, drain and discard that water, and rinse seeds/nuts with fresh water. I usually soak them in a mason jar so I can just drain and then put fresh water to rinse right back in the jar, put the lid on and shake to rinse.
**EXCEPTION, cashews don't need to be soaked. If you are using cashews, go right to step 3, and you can even skip step 4 because the cashews make a nice creamy milk that's tasty enough so you really might not want to remove their pulp :) <3
3. Put the cup of soaked nuts/seeds into your blender with the water, dates, vanilla, sea salt and optional honey/coconut syrup, and blend till everything is blended.
4. Pour the contents from the blender through your nut milk bag into a large bowl and squeeze the bag with pulp inside until you get all the liquid out.
Fin. That's all there is to it: 1. soak nuts (unless cashews), 2. put nuts and other ingredients into blender and blend, 3. strain out pulp through nut milk bag (optional step for cashews).
Is that easy?
Picture from nifty blog called Tasty Yummies, Tasty-Yummies.com, where she has all these snazzy pictures and other recipe ideas!