Plant-based, vegetarian, meatless, vegetarian advice, vegan., Uncategorized

Nuts About Milk

Remember the days when the nightly phrase at dinner was, “Drink your milk!”? Oh, how I dreaded those words. Luckily for me, my mom gave up her attempts to get me to drink milk upon realizing the only way I could swallow cow’s milk was if my glass was filled half way with chocolate syrup. I hated the taste of it, and as it turned out my body was rejecting cow’s milk as well, in the form of exzema and digestive issues.

When I first ditched dairy, non-dairy milk choices were slim. Our local market had a specialty aisle; nestled into the corner of said aisle, were  a few dusty cartons of EdenSoy and rice milk from which to choose. Times sure have changed. These days, I am blown away by the array of non-dairy milks available at every store I visit. How convenient!

There are several  uncomfortable truths  about the store bought nut milks, though; they’re mostly water and thickener, and are  often high in added sugar. Homemade nut milk only takes a few minutes; it’s  higher in protein, minerals, and flavor.

Nuts are a great source of protein. Protein  is the building block of our tissues, and is reparative as well.  Nuts are high in minerals such as: Calcium, Copper, Iron, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Selenium, and Zinc. Minerals are important for nerve and muscle function and  immunity.  Some are cautious regarding nuts because they’re  fairly high in fat. While excess  is unhealthy, fat is a necessary macronutrient essential for the good health of our skin and other cells. Fat also helps in the transport of fat-soluble vitamins (A,D,E, and K). Homemade nut milk is creamier  than store bought, and making nut milk at home helps you to avoid excess sugar by allowing you to control the sweetness.

There’s a commonly agreed upon ratio of one cup  unsalted nuts to three cups of water, but you may make a lower fat milk by adding an additional cup of water. The recipe below creates a basic neutral milk for use in sauces, mashed potatoes, baking, cereal, and smoothies. Although, you’ll likely want to skip the vanilla for certain uses! The most commonly used nuts are almonds or cashews. Almonds create a lighter milk that’s lower in fat, but MUST be pre soaked overnight even if using a Vitamix. Cashews result in a richer result and don’t require soaking.

Cashew Milk

1 cup of unsalted (preferably raw) Cashews

3 cups water

3-5  Dates

1 tsp Vanilla extract  (optional)

Place in high speed blender, and blend on high for about two minutes. Chill for 30 minutes before drinking (unless you’re adding it to a hot recipe).

This cashew milk keeps in the fridge for up to five days. Shake before using.

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Plant-based, vegetarian, meatless, vegetarian advice, vegan., Uncategorized

Vanilla Date Bread

While I  make just about everything else from scratch, my lack of baking expertise has found me buying pre-made baked goods for my husband, and as a result feeling like a partial failure as a wife.  I’m sure I’d have long  been capable of baking a cake if I went the classic “eggs and sugar route”, but you know us plant-based folks,  we’re commited to finding  healthier alternatives, and it’s not  always simple when it comes to baking.

I’ve certainly  tried my share of online recipes with  alternate ingredients, but I haven’t  enjoy many of them.   As much as I love chickpeas and  brownies, it’s been my experience those two shouldn’t be together under any circumstances.

Not long ago, I finally created a baked good I was proud of. My husband , a self-proclaimed sweets connoisseur, raved over it, and asked me to make it for his birthday. I was nervous about baking it for guests, two of which had professional baking experience. As it turned out, the bread was a hit. This recipe is sweetened entirely with fruit, meaning there’s no white sugar.

One  challenge of baking sweets without unhealthy ingredients has always been the frosting .  Most homemade  frosting is made with large amounts of butter and powdered sugar. That’s usually the best case scenario, as frosting from a can contains synthetic colors, and flavors, as well as hydrogenated oil.  If you’d rather not put  any of the above into your body, but still love frosting, there’s a healthier option here. This frosting was adapted from a recipe found in the book, “Nourishing Meals”. Although  I’ve made some changes to their recipe, I must credit the authors of this book with teaching me an entirely new way to make frosting!  

This recipe yields about sixteen servings. This is a special occasion treat for us.  Each frosted slice contains approximately 15 grams of fat. I usually eat two slices per sitting, hence the special occasion designation! The fiber and protein conten, paired with the abscence of refined sugar ensures this sweet treat will not cause cravings or the dreaded sugar crash. It’s the only dessert I’m willing to eat for breakfast. I hope you’ll enjoy this recipe as much as we have.

 

Vanilla Date Bread

Dry Ingredients:

3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda

1 tsp salt

Wet Ingredients:
2 c.  Date Paste (2c dates to cup of water)

1 1/2 c. Milk of your choice

1/2 c. Butter (dairy or non-dairy)

1 tbs. Vanilla

Directions:
*Preheat the oven to 350
*Whisk the dry ingredients together.
*Place all wet ingredients into your high speed blender and blend until smooth.
* Using a fork mix the wet and dry blends until they just come together; the batter will be dense and sticky.
* Scoop the  batter into two greased loaf pans or one 9×13 baking pan.
*Bake for 22 to 24 minutes.
*While the cake is in the oven, wash out the blender,  you’ll need it to prepare the frosting.

Vanilla-Cinnamon Frosting

1c. Cashews

1/4c. Water

1/2c. Dates

1/2 c. Coconut cream (Thai Kitchen is my preferred brand)
1 tbs. Vanilla
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon

Directions:

*Place all frosting ingredients into your high speed blender. Blend on high for three minutes until everything forms a cream consistency. You may need to scrape down the sides with a spatula once or twice.

*Transfer the frosting into a container and chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

*  Once the cake has cooled, frost it using a silicone spatula.

*Source: Segersten, Alissa, and Tom Malterre. Nourishing Meals: 365 Whole Foods, Allergy-free Recipes for Healing Your Family One Meal at a Time. New York: Harmony, 2016. Print.