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.