Nut milk. It really is like liquid gold. It's delicious, it makes you feel good - it should really be considered a drug. Someone should definitely have warned me about it.
I rarely drink it on its own, although there is nothing like a cold glass of fresh milk to accompany a biscuit or some baked goods. Nut milk has not only changed the way I drink coffee, it has changed the way I drink fruit and vegetables, the way I cook and the way I bake. When I was younger, my mum would make smoothies with us and I remember loving them. As a young child I felt that if I memorised the key components, I could put all sorts of things into a blender and it would be guaranteed to taste amazing. Back then, these components were cows milk, fruit, yoghurt of some kind, and highly processed apple or orange juice. I think I probably even tried undiluted squash, like ribena, at some point, ignorant to the fact it would taste more like i'd made a smoothie out of wine gums than fruit. To me, this was a healthy combination up until only a couple of years ago. That's not to say it is unhealthy, especially - it just doesn't fit into my lifestyle anymore. But not only because I don't eat dairy or sugary drinks, mainly because the alternatives I've discovered actually taste better.
I now use nut milk as a base for my smoothies, and it is so creamy that you don't need that extra dollop of yoghurt. Instead, I use things like avocado or spinach to thicken them and bind the ingredients together. I still use fruit, but I use low gi fruits that are high in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, such as dark berries. And I try and get as many vegetables into the mix too. Spinach is a mild place to start, as it doesn't overpower the rest of the smoothie and breaks down nicely into a creamy consistency. But as your tastes develop, i'd strongly suggest adding cucumber, courgette or other green vegetables, either whole, grated or juiced beforehand.
Aside from smoothies, nut milks taste incredible when they're flavoured naturally. In smoothies, the milk kind of gets pushed aside as the sharpness of the frozen berries and the flavours of your super foods take over. But flavouring nut milk is my current obsession. The texture is smoother and lighter than a smoothie, and enjoyed cold, it is so refreshing. Not dissimilar to a milkshake, flavoured nut milk is one of the easiest, fastest and most delicious ways to get your intake of vitamins, healthy fats and general goodness. Conventional sugary, creamy milkshakes come in a few standard flavours, such as chocolate, strawberry and banana. If you simply take away the ice-cream and artificial flavourings, add some natural sweetener or some fruit, infuse with some super foods, healing herbs and spices and even add some vegetable juice, you've instantly transformed a traditionally life threatening drink into a tasty way to nourish your body.
A few of my favourite nut milk flavours include turmeric / goji berry / maca / vanilla and cardamom / avocado / coconut / beetroot, amongst others - some of which you can find elsewhere on the blog. Below is my bedtime favourite. Made with relaxing vanilla and chamomile, which has been used for decades as an even more relaxing sleep aid, and also to treat colds, flu, stomach issues, inflammation and other ailments, this milk is a deeply therapeutic concoction which will work to repair your body after a long day.
1 Cup Almonds, soaked
2 Cups Cold Water (or you can use store bought milk; but make sure it's safe)
1/3 Cup of Dried Chamomile Flowers or Extract (or 2 chamomile tea bags if you can't locate these products)
Pinch of Himalayan Pink Salt, optional
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Seeds
1/2 Teaspoon Coconut Blossom Nectar
Add your nuts of choice and the water to your blender and blend on a high speed for 2 minutes. Pour the liquid through a nut milk bag or a jam straining bag, into a jug or large bowl. Return the strained milk (save the pulp for baking, for smoothies or to dry into almond meal) and add the vanilla. Blend again until everything is smooth and pour through a fine sieve into a large saucepan. Heat the milk on a medium heat and add the chamomile flowers, extract or your tea bags. Simmer for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat until it is low. Leave to infuse for 20-25 minutes. Remove the flowers or tea bags, add your choice of sweetener towards the end, mix to combine and strain one last time before serving.
Serve hot off the stove, just before bed, or store in the fridge and enjoy cold.