When I tell people that I don’t eat or drink dairy, I usually get one, or some combination, of the below…
“Omg I would die, how do you survive?”
“I could never give up cheese.”
“What do you put in your coffee?”
Well, I can tell you one, I’m not dead—still kickin’, two, I learned to live without it and then discovered Miyokos cheese and Kite Hill cream cheese and ricotta, and three, I learned how to make nut milks. I stopped eating dairy all together towards the end of college. I’m not lactose intolerant, but I definitely feel much better without it. My skin is clearer and I feel 100% less bloated. One of my favorite non-dairy recipes to make is milk. It’s simple to make, 100% whole food (sans additives, stabilizers, hormones and antibiotics), and is super versatile—adjusting the ratio of nuts to water can turn cashew milk into a creamer or even an ice cream or cheese base.
To soak or not to soak—that is the question. There are two factors that determine if you need to soak your nuts. First, if you have a regular blender, I recommend soaking your nuts to soften them up so they blend easier. The harder the nut, the longer the soak to soften them. Almonds, hazelnuts, and pistachios will take longer to soften than brazil nuts, pecans, walnuts, cashews and macadamias. The second factor that determines if and how long you need to soak your nuts, is the type of nut. All nuts and seeds contain enzyme inhibitors that help prevent them from prematurely growing and sprouting. That’s great if you’re a nut surviving in nature, but for us humans, these enzyme inhibitors can cause all sorts of digestive discomfort. Soaking nuts and seeds help neutralize the enzyme inhibitors and increase the bioavailability of their vitamins and nutrients, making them not only easier to blend, but easier to digest too. I’ve also read that roasting nuts helps neutralize the enzyme inhibitor, but thats TBD for now.
For me, I keep it simple, any nut with a skin, like almonds, walnuts, or pecans, I soak. Often times I don’t bother soaking brazil nuts, cashews, or hazelnuts because their skin is sparse, but I probably should. Additionally, I splurge at the grocery store and buy the sprouted almonds, walnuts, pumpkin and sunflower seeds by Living Intentions (also on Amazon) since they are already soaked and sprouted. Yes, they are expensive, but it cuts down on my food prep time and decreases the amount I need to remember on a daily basis. It’s the little wins in life that count.
Everyone will have a different preference on this one. For me, I follow a 1:4 nut to water ratio for nut milk. The less water you have, the creamier and fattier the milk will be. So if you want more of a half and half texture, I would go for a 1:2 or 1:3 ration of nuts to water.
When I can, I opt for whole food sweeteners like dates. Otherwise I will reach for a low glycemic sweetener like coconut sugar, however honey, maple syrup, monk fruit and stevia are all great options as well. When I follow a 1:4 nut to water ratio I typically use one date. If you’re not sure how sweet you want your nut milk, my suggestion would be to make your nut milk with out sweetener first and add it in at the end.
Some people will tell you that you can use a cheese cloth to make nut milk. They’re lying. It’s incredibly awkward and difficult to use and who knows how many layers you actually need. My suggestion would be to purchase a nut milk bag at the grocery store or on Amazon.
Also, you can get away without straining nut milks made with cashews, brazil nuts, and pumpkin seeds. However, this also means that the resulting milk will be creamier than if you strained it. Simply adjust the amount of nuts or water to reach the desired consistency. For example, when I make cashew milk, I will use 1/2 – 3/4 cup of cashews and 4 cups or water.
Store in a mason jar or airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. You might be able to get 5 days out of it, but definitely proceed with caution and taste it before taking a big swig.
Basic Nut Milk
- 1 cup nuts, soaked if needed
- 4 cups water
- 1-2 dates
- pinch of salt
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extra (optional)
- Place all ingredients in a high speed blender and blend on high for 1 minute.
- Strain contents through nut milk bag.
- Adjust sweetener if necessary and store in airtight mason jar or carafe for 3-4 days.