Raw Voilà Recipe: Almond Milk

Almonds are an excellent source of vitamin E, magnesium and phosphorus as well as heart healthy monounsaturated fats. Though referred to as a nut, they are botanically characterized as a fruit, and are a cousin of the apricot, cherry, nectarine, peach and plum. Almond is just one of several types of plant-based milk that I enjoy. I have an affinity for Brazil Nut Milk, though I also like pumpkin seed and hemp seed. There is also hazelnut, cashew, pecan and sunflower seed among others, not to mention the various blends that can be created—all of which are wonderful additions to smoothies, soups, puddings, dressings, sauces and so much more.

‘Almond Milk’

Creamy, simple and versatile.

3 cups pure water
1 cup raw almonds, soaked and sprouted (preferably one full day)
1/2 of one very large date, pitted
1/16 teaspoon pink crystal salt (fine grind)

Using a high-speed blender, first blend together the almonds and water until creamy. With either a tightly woven cheesecloth or a fine-mesh sieve, separate the almond pulp from the liquid and pour the milk back into the blender. Add the pitted date and salt and process until the date has been completely broken down. Separate the date fiber from the liquid and pour the almond milk into your choice of airtight container. The finished milk should be stored in the refrigerator and used within 3 to 5 days.


A few tips…

Double or triple the recipe as needed.

The almonds were measured after soaking.

In general, soaking nuts allows for greater availability of nutrients and less impact on digestion. Since almonds are fairly hard and have a pretty tough skin, I prefer to soak them for one full day (24 hours).

After one day of soaking, the almonds should sprout. If so, there will be a tiny white nub on the tip of each almond. While the ‘nub’ will not grow into a visible long tail, it does grow inward and qualifies as a ‘sprouted almond’.

Depending on the type of blender you have, the exact length of time needed to process the almonds will vary. When you first begin the blending process, the almonds will cause loud rattling, and as they become pulverized the rattling will lessen. It may take a bit of trial and error to gauge how smooth the pulp should be. If the almonds process for too long, the pulp will be superfine and require more time and effort to strain. However, if the almonds do not process long enough, the milk could end up watery instead of creamy. After you have made Almond Milk a few times, you will get the hang of it.

This milk is meant to be mildly sweet. In the list of ingredients, I noted 1/2 of one very large date, pitted. 1/2 of one very large date is equal to about 1/2 of one tablespoon. I chose to freely list the date to make it easier, but you can go with the 1/2 tablespoon measurement if you prefer.

If your dates are not soft and pliable, you can soak them in a small amount pure water, just enough to cover the dates, for fifteen minutes or longer until they plump up enough for ease in blending. If you store your dates in the refrigerator, they will become stiff from the cold but will usually somewhat soften up after being left out at room temperature for a while. If they still seem hard, then definitely utilize the soak method.

To ensure a silky texture that I prefer when making nut (and seed) milk, I use a tightly woven cheesecloth to separate the almond milk from the nut pulp as well as the date fiber. However, a fine-mesh sieve is also a good option.

You may notice the separation of nut fat from the water. Not to worry, that is completely normal. Just give the almond milk a gentle shake before you use it.

While it would certainly be easier to blend all of the ingredients in one go instead of through a two-step process, I prefer the latter as a plain, unseasoned nut (or seed) milk pulp is much more versatile and consistent.

The leftover almond milk pulp can be either used immediately or reserved for later. If you are not able to utilize the almond milk pulp right away, you have a few choices as to how to store it for future use. It can be stored in an airtight container and kept inside of the refrigerator for one to two days, or it can be kept inside of the freezer and thawed when needed. For long-term storage, the leftover almond milk pulp can be dehydrated until completely dry, ground into a fine flour, stored in an airtight container and kept inside of the refrigerator.

Use the leftover almond milk pulp for making breads, crackers, cookies, burgers, wrap fillings, etc. Using the pulp instead of ground whole nuts lends a wonderfully light texture to your creations.

Raw Voilà Recipe: Fauxplait

‘Fauxplait’

I originally created this recipe in the Summer of 2007, and to this day I still enjoy its simplicity.

Four basic nutritious ingredients transformed into a succulent concoction that’s surprisingly reminiscent of yoghurt and full of essential minerals, vitamins and antioxidants—a good-for-you indulgence!

1 and 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled, medium chopped and tightly packed
1 cup young coconut flesh, small dice and tightly packed (the thicker the flesh the better)
3 tablespoons raw Tupelo honey
1/8 teaspoon grey sea salt (fine grind)

Using a high-speed blender, blend together all of the ingredients until creamy, pausing periodically to scrape down the sides and help the mixture turn over. If you have a Vitamix or other type of powerful blender, the end result should be virtually seedless with a silky texture. Fauxplait can be served immediately or chilled for a couple of hours to fully set prior to serving. Fresh strawberries make the perfect garnish, though dried raw coconut flakes and fresh mint are also wonderful choices (as shown in the above photos).


A few tips…

The listed ingredients roughly amount to 16 ounces, enough for three comfortable servings or six small servings. Double or triple the recipe as needed.

Fauxplait isn’t overly sweet, however if your strawberries are quite tart, you may need to increase the amount of honey to help balance it out. And, of course, if your strawberries are pretty sweet, you can decrease the amount of honey. Keeping the mixture ‘just sweet’ was my original intention, but it’s really going to come down to your individual preference. Something helpful: Reserve the strawberry tops for adding to smoothies or salad mixes. Those precious greens also provide essential vitamins and minerals. Any unused strawberry tops can be stored in an airtight container inside of the refrigerator for 1-2 days.

Exceptionally high in vitamin C, strawberries are a great source of antioxidants as well as potent anti-inflammatory properties. To help limit your exposure to harmful pesticide residues often associated with conventional produce, try to purchase organically grown strawberries as often as possible.

If you find that the young coconut flesh is a bit too thick to easily process, add a small amount of young coconut water, a teaspoon at a time, to help loosen things up. Be mindful that the more liquid you add, the thinner your mixture may be in the end. Fauxplait is meant to be viscous rather than runny.

Young coconuts will vary from one to next in how much flesh is found inside. Some are quite young to where the flesh can be akin to jelly, some with flesh starting to solidify but still quite soft, and others more mature with flesh that is thick but pliable. Opening each one is a surprise. Since there is really no perfectly accurate way to definitely be sure exactly how much flesh is inside of each young coconut, it may be wise to purchase two to three at a time, just in case. Discovering there is not enough of an ingredient in the midst of recipe prep might not be so fun, though I will admit from past experience that it can result in an ‘exciting’ adventure!

Young coconuts can be found at International Markets as well as some health food stores. They may occasionally be found with their green shell still intact; however, they will most likely be sold with their outer shell removed and the white ‘husk’ found underneath visibly displayed. The white ‘husk’ should be smooth and not dimpled as if drying out and free of any strange pigments. Most young coconuts will have a mild and sweet flavor, though some can be rather bland, and some even a little bit salty. But they should not taste bitter.

Coconuts in general are rich in fiber, potassium and phosphorus as well as lauric acid which provides antimicrobial, antiviral and antifungal properties. The healthy fats in coconuts promote digestive healing and wonderfully boost your metabolism. Coconut water is an excellent source of electrolytes, perfect for rehydrating after vigorous exercise.

Raw Voilà Recipe: Superfood Chocolate-Banana Pudding

‘Superfood Chocolate-Banana Pudding’

A quick, easy, fun and nutritious way to indulge in raw chocolate while also obtaining extra vitamins and minerals.

Best enjoyed freshly prepared and served at room temperature.

A portion or two of this intensely-flavored pudding can readily quell even the strongest of chocolate cravings!

2 level teaspoons raw cacao powder
1 level teaspoon raw maca powder
1 level tablespoon raw lucuma powder
1 level tablespoon raw coconut butter
pinch of pink crystal salt
1/2 cup ripe banana, tightly packed
1 ounce pure water

There are a few ways to make this pudding, which are either by using a food processor or blender, a mortar and pestle, or a bowl. Utilizing a food processor or blender will result in a very smooth consistency (as shown above in the first picture). Creating the pudding with a mortar and pestle or a bowl will result in a tapioca-like texture. You can choose whichever method you prefer. If I am short on time or simply want the pudding to be satin-like, I will process all of the ingredients in a food processor until creamy, pausing periodically to scrape down the sides and help the mixture turn over. And if I instead feel like taking a somewhat rustic and alchemical route, then I will use a mortar and pestle. I present Superfood Chocolate-Banana Pudding either in dessert cups or very small bowls, garnished in the middle with thinly sliced banana.

Following are instructions for how I make this pudding with a mortar and pestle.

Place in a small- or medium-sized mortar the cacao, maca, lucuma, coconut butter and salt.

Using the pestle, combine everything until a thick paste is formed.

Next, incorporate the water, small increments at a time, and thoroughly mix until creamy.

Separately, in a small or medium bowl, mash the banana with a fork until a semi-smooth pulp is formed.

In most cases, puddings are quite silky, but part of the intent with this technique is to retain some texture for an interesting mouthfeel.

You can either transfer the chocolate mixture to the bowl of mashed banana, or add the banana pulp to the chocolate mixture in the mortar.

As you can tell by the following picture, I chose the latter option.

There’s just something magical about creating concoctions in a mortar!

Simply fold together the banana pulp and chocolate mixture until well blended.

Once blended, the pudding should have a tapioca-like texture (as shown below).

Following are instructions for how I make this pudding from start to finish in a bowl.

Place in a small or medium bowl the cacao, maca, lucuma, coconut butter and salt. Using the back of a spoon, combine everything until a thick paste is formed. Next, with a fork, mash the banana into the mixture until it becomes as smooth as possible. Last, incorporate the water, small increments at a time, and thoroughly mix until well blended. Again, the texture should be tapioca-like.

Blending the cacao, maca, lucuma, coconut butter, and salt first ensures that all of the core ingredients are properly combined. Mashing the banana into the paste nicely fluffs up the mixture and allows for a wonderful depth of flavor. For this particular method, it is easiest to incorporate the water as a final step.


A few tips…

The listed ingredients amount to roughly 6 ounces of Superfood Chocolate-Banana Pudding, enough for one medium serving or two very small servings.

In the list of ingredients, I noted 1 tablespoon raw coconut butter. The coconut butter used in this recipe consists of puréed whole coconut, not to be confused with solidified coconut oil as the term ‘coconut butter’ had suggested in past years. Coconut butter is rather concentrated but does not give an oily aftertaste. It is actually reminiscent of creamy white chocolate, perfect for desserts or for enjoying straight.

If your coconut butter is rather firm, the mixture may bead up a little. That is perfectly alright. The coconut butter should soften during the hand blending process. However, you can choose to first gently melt the coconut butter by immersing the sealed jar into a bowl of very warm water, periodically opening the jar to stir the contents.

Overripe bananas do not work well for this recipe as their concentrated flavor overwhelms the other ingredients. Bananas that have just become ripe and have small- and/or medium-sized brown spots throughout the surface of the peel are perfect (example shown below). Bananas with peels covered in large brown spots or that are completely brown are too ripe for this recipe.

In the list of ingredients, I noted 1 ounce pure water. 1 ounce is equal to 2 tablespoons. This pudding is meant to be viscous, but if you prefer yours to be thinner, feel free to add extra water a tablespoon at a time until your desired consistency is reached. Keep in mind that too much extra liquid could dilute the end result.


Tidbits…

Cacao powder is produced from raw cacao beans native to Central and South America. Almost all of the cacao powders currently found on the market are created by pressing raw cacao beans at low temperatures, separating the fat (cacao butter) from the bean. Cacao powders can also be created by simply grinding raw cacao beans into a fine powder; however, the flavor and texture will greatly vary from cacao powders created by removing the fat. Raw cacao is very high in magnesium and sulfur and is one of the most antioxidant-rich and nutrient-dense foods known.

Maca powder is produced from a root vegetable native to Peru and is a member of the radish family. It has a slightly sweet, malty flavor. Maca is an adaptogen, a hormone balancer, and an excellent source of minerals, B vitamins and protein.

Lucuma powder is produced from a South American fruit that is low-glycemic with a flavor reminiscent of a maple-flavored biscuit. Lucuma is a great source of carbohydrates as well as fiber and iron.