We have experimenting with nut milks for a while now. Actually, more seriously since our regular cow has gone on maternity leave…since then I have been experimenting with different bought milks, like almond, soy, rice and oat.
Each week I buy lots of different nuts, from our staples like Almond and Cashew as well as smaller quantities of hazelnut, pecan, brazil and walnut. These I generally turn into treats or I activate and roast them. But with all those nuts I have in my fridge, it just seemed silly to keep buying nut milks too. Apart from the cost, freshly made milk just tastes so much nicer! And as you may know by now, all taste testing is done by fusspot child no 2, so if he gives the ok, its a keeper.
Since he has gone diary free, I have had some major wins! He is now letting me put almond milk into his porridge and he’ll sometimes even drink a raspberry/almond smoothie. You can just hear the nutrition geek in me jump around the room….yes, I did. Internally. I mean, how good is that?
Then it occurred to me that we had tried almost every nut except Cashew. Cashew I reserve for special raw treats, like creamy raw cakes and slices. Cashew is such a soft and creamy nut already, so turning it into milk just enhances this creaminess. And it is just that. Absolutely divine, creamy like full fat milk. And no need to strain either. Simply soak 1 cup over night, blend and serve. We made banana and chocolate smoothies and almost finished the first batch already. Big milky moustaches and all. Cashewlicious!
A few geek facts for you? As with all nuts, they are high in calories, so while they are nutrient dense and chock block with minerals, fibre and healthy fats, do go easy. I find that sometimes it is tempting to overindulge in something new and super healthy. Just because it is so good for you, a little bit goes a long way….
What your cashew milk have is ‘heart-friendly’ monounsaturated fatty acids. They lower your bad cholesterol, whilst making friends with your good cholesterol. Having had high cholesterol myself, I think that is ace
Then we have the army of minerals, like manganese, zinc, selenium, copper, iron and magnesium. Just a handful of nuts a day will help your body to prevent deficiencies of these minerals. I said a handful, not bagful….right? Cashews also contain vitamins (B5/B6/B1 and K) which are good for so may reason. Think skin, eyes and nails. Pretty cool.
So, after singing all its praises, here is what I did with my nuts.
creamy cashew milk
- 1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight in filtered water
- 1/4 vanilla bean
- pinch of sea salt
- 1 date (optional)
Blend your soaked nuts in 3 cups of water with the whole vanilla (if you have a high powered blender), salt and date. Chill.
To the milk, add some banana, raspberries, raw cacao, or whatever you fancy for a smooth, creamy breakfast smoothy. Truly yummy, filling and oh so nourishing. I also add it to porridge, my herbal coffee in the morning (teechino, super yum, go and find it!!), or to make a scrumptious frittata or scrambled eggs.
More nut milk ideas? Try these:
A note on calories/quantities and a whole food diet:
This is something that I have started thinking about only recently. I know, I am a slow learner and maybe you already know that. But for newbies to this kind of eating and cooking, it might be a good thing to ponder on.
A whole food diet, wether you choose to eat animal protein or not, is in itself nutrient dense. Additionally, we are also in the unique position to be able to access the entire range of natural ingredients. You can very easily stock up on every available nut, brazilian super food berries, bee pollen. Everything you can make from coconuts, from flour to sugar and syrups we can get. All kinds of flours and ready made raw treats. All is at our fingertips, without us having to go hunt or gather for anything.
So, teleport yourself for a minute to your hunter/gatherer self. The energy used to climb trees, roast, shell and prepare the nuts and seeds. The days spend hunting that one boar, then having to shlepp it back to the tribe to then be processed into various meals or cured for the winter months. Some tribes in the Amazon would have had a bounty of berries, nuts and plant foods. While others would never see a nut or berry, but had access to animal protein and roots and indigenous nuts. Can you see a trend? The energy expenditure was far greater, when you had to actually work for your food. The variety was entirely dependent on location, season and skill. Today, we eat from the entire global menu. Everyday. Like, one smoothy contains what one gatherer would find in a week! We eat so many nuts, it could feed a village!
So, these are just my thoughts, but I think its worth remembering that thanks go our globalised world, we are blessed with everything this planet is offering. The food is nutrient dense and high in calories. Which is a good thing. It means it satiates us, nourishes us and gives us incredible energy and health. Our modern processed diet is comparatively empty, and we require much more food to give us the same amount of energy and satiety level. Hence, 3 full meals and snacks are required to fill us up….What I am saying is that if you do consciously switch to a whole food diet, take advantage of the bounty of nutrition available to us, then you realise that in this case, less is more. You find that you need less food to feel good. So your overall calories might be higher, but the amount of food you consume is less. Makes sense?
The trick here is however to train our brain to see it that way. Since we have lost that ability to listen to our bodies, this is something we need to learn once again. After a smoothie containing berries, nuts and greens, you will not feel hungry till lunchtime, but your habits will ask you to go and stuff your gob with that wholesome muffin you made for the kids for morning tea, or simply have a big handful of nuts, because nuts are good for you. Then there is lunch, arvo tea and dinner. And a nutrient dense after dinner treat. That is more food that your average joe hunter would have seen in a week….
Thinking this through makes your brain hurt and goes against all our cultural norm, but try it. I have discovered (gasp!!) that I am truly not hungry until about 1pm after a protein rich smoothie. Of course, each metabolism is different and you do have to listen to your cues, but it really struck me. I would nevertheless have a snack at morning tea and then lunch. For my metabolism, I don’t need any topping up for hours. So think of all the extra calories I have been taking in and not burning off by going on a wild boar hunt. Pfffff!
So, I will leave you with these thoughts for next time you make a super nutritious breakfast and I challenge you to really listen to your body and consider the hunter gatherer ancestors and their eating habits….