Make Homemade Almond Milk


A few months ago I wrote about my obsession with my new Blendtec blender, the acquisition of which led to some surprising changes to my everyday cooking repertoire, like trying to eat less meat and including lots more fresh fruits and vegetables in my family’s diet.

I’ve since traded in the Blendtec for a brand new Vita-Mix. There are endless debates about which of these high-power blenders is the “best”, and for me it came down to nit-picky details. For one, I got tired of how the Blendtec would move all over the counter while it was blending up a smoothie with lots of frozen fruit – the base doesn’t seem to have enough weight to withstand its own powerful motor.

On the other hand, the Vita-Mix container is a bit harder to clean, but, still, when I turn it on I feel that I’m in the presence of a superior, heavy-duty machine. It doesn’t have the automated digital “brain” of the Blendtec but requires manual operation instead. That’s okay with me – I’m all about hands-on.

I’m still experimenting with smoothies, using any piece of available produce in my kitchen, both fresh and frozen;  red, yellow or green.

I’ve even conditioned the children not to gag when I throw a handful of parsley or spinach leaves into their blueberry smoothie – they seem to believe that the taste of green materials is undetectable and that consuming them will hone their growing, spongy brains into glowing spheres capable of breathtaking genius. That’s mommy persuasion for you! And I thought my powers were fading a bit.

One thing that I now prepare on a regular basis is homemade almond milk.  Some members of our household don’t tolerate dairy products, but still like to splash a little something on a bowl of granola in the morning. I am also one of those people who cannot stand the taste of soy milk.

That’s where almond milk comes in. Almonds do contain a respectable amount of calcium – although admittedly just a fraction of that found in cow’s milk – as well as other minerals like selenium, magnesium and potassium. I can’t tell you for sure what the nutrition value of homemade almond milk is compared to the commercially made stuff, but at least when you make it yourself you know exactly what’s in it.

I recommend filtering the milk through a cheesecloth to avoid a bit of grittiness; I usually strain mine through a very fine strainer, but a small amount of solids come through. I don’t mind that so much, but if you want a perfectly smooth milk go for a cheesecloth or the unfortunately named Nut Bag.

Homemade almond milk tastes delicious with granola – try my favorite recipe for Homemade Granola, too.

Homemade Almond Milk

1 cup whole almonds

2 tablespoons maple syrup or agave nectar

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 cups filtered water

Blend all ingredients at high speed in a blender for about 1 minute. Strain through a cheesecloth-lined colander set over a large bowl. Refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Homemade Granola

My favorite granola with yogurt

I’d never tasted homemade granola until I was in my early twenties, when my friend Dorie gifted me with some that her mother had made. I remember opening the bag doubtfully, expecting some hard-to-chew cereal product I might be temped to feed to a horse.

Just for frame of reference, this was back in 1980-something, when granola was regarded as an outdated by-product of the seventies, right up there with crocheted plant cozies made from hemp fiber and men sporting four-inch wide sideburns.

But just like Oprah, I had an “Aha!” moment right then and there. Too bad my moment didn’t foreshadow the possibility of making my fortune selling fifteen-dollar bags of granola in fancy food stores, as I’m sure Oprah’s would have.

No, it wasn’t my instinct for making money that was awakened, but my sense of what “homemade” meant. This granola was so unlike the achingly sweet stuff I was used to eating out of a box it was like a different category of food altogether. It smelled of butter and vanilla; each grain and seed tasted fresh and toasted. There were sesame seeds in there, I remember, and nice crunchy clumps of oats. I ate it all and then wanted more.

I begged Dorie to ask her mom for the recipe, but she never delivered it. Apparently that granola was a closely guarded family recipe. What is it with people and their secret recipes? I’ve never understood the urge to protect a recipe. Why not share the love?

I went on a search mission to replicate the granola recipe. I came close with one batch from Marion Cunningham’s The Breakfast Book, but it wasn’t quite the same. I finally settled on the formula below, which is based on one that I think came from an issue of Gourmet magazine circa 1990 or so (since all I have is the an index card, I can’t be sure).

This recipe makes a good-sized batch of granola; you can keep it in a covered container for two weeks or so, or be generous and give some to friends – and don’t forget to pass along the recipe.

And if Dorie is out there, I’d still love to know your mom’s secret!


4 cups old-fashioned oats

1 cup unsweetened dried coconut

1 cup whole almonds

1 cup of your choice hulled raw pumpkin seeds or raw cashews

1/2 cup sesame seeds

1/4 cup ground flax seed

1/4 cup raw wheat germ

3/4 cup pure maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/3 cup melted butter or vegetable oil

Heat oven to 325 degrees.

In a large bowl, layer all ingredients through wheat germ in order given. Pour maple syrup over mixture and stir upward from the bottom, taking care to coat the almonds. Add the vanilla, salt and butter and stir once more to combine well.

Spread the granola in an even layer on a large rimmed sheet pan, or 2 smaller rimmed pans.
Bake 15 minutes; stir granola and bake 10 minutes more or until mixture is golden and almonds are toasted.

Other FamilyStyle Favorites to try:

Homemade Vanilla Extract
Best Buttermilk Pancakes
Whole Grain Pancakes with Roasted Pears

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