While holding one little almond in your hand can you imagine that a whole tree can grow out of it? Can you imagine how much life force is being captured inside this tiny seed of life?! And now imagine taking this amazing force into your body giving you its energy and nutrients by sipping a glass of silky, thick and sweet milk? I’m not talking about any kind of milk, rather about completely different sensation of enjoying this amazing drink milked out of almonds.
After giving birth in December, this was on top of my list of foods to regain my strength. It is nurturing, rich in vitamin E, good quality fats, proteins, it is alkaline and easy to digest. Just what I needed! However, store bought almond milk is far from experiencing the taste of your own home made drink. And it’s not just about joy of making it on your own, or controlling ingredients in it, but it’s mostly about getting maximum benefits from this amazing food. What am I talking about? Energy, sprouting, life force, milk…?
Here is the thing – an almond contains everything it needs for growing a whole tree when conditions are appropriate. If you leave it on a kitchen counter and you wait long enough – nothing will happen! It’s because almonds, just as any other nuts, seeds and grains, contain enzyme inhibitors, amongst other biological chemicals, that protect them from being digested by animals (thus humans as well!), from being damaged by the weather and in general premature sprouting until conditions in natural environment are appropriate. However, by soaking almonds we can mimic germination process allowing its vital force to become available to us.
- neutralizes enzyme inhibitors
- nuts are easier to digest
- nutrients and essential minerals are easier to absorb
- promotes the production of beneficial enzymes, increase in many vitamins, especially B vitamins
- makes almonds suitable for Vata predominant dosha
Almond milk has been used for thousands of years, as found in Ayurvedic texts. Original recipe calls for eight to ten almonds soaked overnight, peeled in the morning and blended along with cow’s milk and sweetened with jaggery or honey. It’s been recommended for lubricating the skin and the micro-circulatory channels, supporting all the seven tissues, especially reproductive tissue and the overall vitality.
For everyday use this recipe calls for water instead of milk. You can adjust sweetness to your taste and experiment with different flavorings. Enjoy!
SPROUTED ALMOND MILK
Yields 1 liter of almond milk
- 1 cup raw almonds
- water for soaking
- a pinch of Himalayan pink salt or sea salt
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
- 4 cups water
- seeds from ½ a vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2-3 dates
- raw honey, maple syrup or rice syrup, adjusted to taste
- 1 teaspoon spices you like such as cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, turmeric…
To sprout almonds, place 1 cup of raw almonds in a bowl and cover with twice as much lukewarm water. Add a squeeze of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar and salt to enhance the neutralisation of the phytic acid, the main enzyme inhibitor. Cover with a breathable kitchen towel and soak for 8 to 12 hours. I will usually leave them overnight. Drain and rinse several times. If you’re in a hurry, proceed with the recipe and use the almonds for making milk or eat them as a snack. If you really want to go whole hog and get maximum energy from almonds, repeat the soaking process for another 4-8 hours or until little “tails” start to poke out of the end of the nut. Now they’re “alive”. Drain and rinse well several times.
Next step is peeling the skin off the nuts. After soaking this is an easy job but a bit time consuming. Yes, you can skip the peeling. BUT – the texture of milk will be much more silky and frothy, and milk will be easier to digest, especially for people with Vata predominant dosha (think of dry skin and hair, brittle nails, tendency towards constipation and digestive issues as main features of Vata predominance).
To make almond milk, place almonds, 4 cups of water and flavoring of your choice into a high-speed blender. Blend until smooth and frothy. Strain the milk through the nut milk bag (hello geeks!) or simply use sieve, cheesecloth, jelly bag or even pantyhose (clean one, please!). Gently squeeze the milk out to separate the pulp from the liquid. Store the milk in a bottle or any airtight container in the fridge and use within 3 – 5 days. Since it doesn’t contain the emulsifiers, simply shake the bottle before using.
The leftover pulp can be used to make almond flour and later be used in desserts in place of ground almonds. Spread the pulp on a baking sheet and place in oven on lowest temperature for 10 to 15 minutes. Keep an eye on it since it can burn easily. You can also dry the pulp in a pan over low flame stirring all the time. It has to be completely dry and slightly golden in color. Grind the pulp into fine powder using the blender, food processor or coffee grinder and store in an airtight container.
Vata (-) – use dates and spices to flavour the milk
Pitta (-) – go easy on spices if this is your sensitive dosha
Kapha (-) – use raw honey and spices to flavour the milk