In spite of my love for baking and an incurable sweet tooth, I generally tend to stick to a pretty strict, no-sugar, low-carb diet (…that went totally awry during the holidays, but let’s forget about that).
It’s actually pretty easy to eat nourishing, healthy meals, but when I find myself in the mood to snack, the choices can be pretty limiting. (Who wants to munch on a pork rind?) There is, however, a perfect snack food that fits my low-carb diet and satisfies my need to crunch on something: almonds.
Probably the healthiest nut ever is the almond. Almonds are ridiculously nutritious and paleo-friendly. They have a very low glycemic index and yet there is natural sweetness to them. I love to eat them roasted and salted as a mid-afternoon snack.
But instead of talking about the usual uses for almond in baking and cooking, why not try and make some of your own almond milk? Almond milk is a great alternative for those with lactose intolerance or dairy allergies, but I have a lot of trouble finding pure, unsweetened almond milk in stores. Thus, I decided it was probably better to make it myself.
Almond milk is incredibly easy to make and yields fantastic results. Did you know that raw almonds are also pretty inexpensive when you buy them in bulk at Amazon? Even more economical and wonderful: after making your almond milk, you can dry out and grind (either in a food processor or spice grinder) the leftover pulp to recycle it as almond flour, which can then be used in any number of sweet and savory treats. Nothing goes to waste.
Raw Almond Milk
1 c raw almonds
Blanch your almonds and remove their skins. Soak them in water for 2-8 hours. Strain and rinse well.
In a blender, blend together three cups of water for every one cup of almonds. Blend until the almonds are broken down.
Strain though a fine mesh strainer, cheese cloth, etc. (my personal preference is a nut milk bag – it works wonderfully).
Store milk in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
And here is a super-healthy substitute for chocolate milk that involves neither chocolate nor milk:
Carob Almond Milk
2 c almond milk
1 tbs carob powder
A teeny-tiny pinch stevia
A pinch of sea salt
1 tbs coconut oil or 1/2 c of sliced avocado for creaminess
In a blender, combine together all ingredients. Feel free to throw in fruit if you wish (banana or raspberries would be divine) or other great spices like cinnamon, vanilla, or nutmeg for some added dimension. For those who want some protein, this milk goes great with any protein powders you want to throw into the mix as well.
A NOTE ABOUT STEVIA: I cannot stress how, with stevia, less is more. Stevia is ridiculously sweet, and carob is naturally sweet in and of itself. So go with an incremental amount of stevia in this drink at first. You can always add more later, but you can never subtract.