I am learning so much in my journey to becoming vegan. I was never much of a milk drinker, but I do like to have cereal once in a while. And certain recipes call for milk, but I just assumed when I became vegan, I would stop eating those items. I know there are alternatives to dairy milk at the market, but I just assumed they would be watery, and not taste right. And with only two of us in the house, we usually ended up throwing most of the milk away because we didn’t it drink it all by the time it expired.
Then I found out how to make our own milk and cream sauce from nuts! We love almonds and cashews so I was thrilled to find these recipes to try. It is so easy, and delicious and we can make as small of a batch as we want to, so we are never wasting it anymore. This new eating lifestyle has more benefits than I originally thought!
Here are two of our favorite vegan milk recipes:
Awesome Almond Milk
(Adapted from: Healthyblenderrecipes.com)
To make unsweetened almond milk:
• 1 cup raw almonds soaked for 12 hours
• 3 cups filtered water
1 To soak the almonds, place the almonds in a glass bowl or large jar, and cover with filtered water and 1 teaspoon Celtic sea salt for about 12 hours. Once soaked, drain and discard the soaking liquid (do not use this to make the milk). Rinse the nuts several times to remove any of the anti-nutrients and enzyme inhibitors.
2 Throw the rinsed almonds and water in your blender and blast on high for about 60 seconds until completely pulverized. You can drink this without straining if you like rustic whole milk. It has more nutrients and fiber not strained. But, for a more commercial-style milk strain, if desired.
3 Store in a glass jar in the fridge. Activated almond milk (made with soaked almonds) will keep for 2 to 3 days in a very cold fridge. Unsoaked almond milk will keep for 5 days.
To make sweetened milk:
Use the basic recipe above and add:
• 1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract or a few drops of natural almond extract
• 3-6 pitted dates, 2 - 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup, or other sweetener
For a richer, creamier milk add:
• 1 tablespoon coconut butter or raw almond butter
• 1 tablespoon non GM soy or sunflower lecithin
Bowties in garlic cream sauce
(From: Chloe's Vegan Italian Kitchen: 150 Pizzas, Pastas, Pestos, Risottos, & Lots of Creamy Italian Classics)
• 1 pound farfalle (or gluten-free pasta)
• 1/2 cup finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 large onion, chopped
• 4 garlic cloves, minced
• 1/2 cup raw cashews or blanched almonds
• *2 cups water
• 1 tablespoon lemon juice
• 2 teaspoons sea salt
• 1 pound sliced mushrooms
• Freshly ground black pepper
• Chopped fresh Italian parsley for garnish
*If you are not using a high-powered blender, such as a Vitamix, soak cashews or almonds overnight or boil for 10 minutes and drain. This will soften them and ensure a silky smooth cream.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add farfalle and cook according to package directions. Right before draining, add sun-dried tomatoes to the boiling water. Then drain and return to the pot.
Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and let cook until soft. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Remove from heat.
In a blender, combine onion, cashews, water, lemon juice, and salt. Process on high until very smooth, about 2 minutes. Set aside.
NOTE: If sauce thickens too much as it sits, reconstitute the pasta by adding a little water or non-dairy milk. Stir over medium heat until smooth. Adjust seasoning again to taste.
In a large pot or skillet, heat the remaining 1-tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and cook until soft and lightly browned. If needed, add more olive oil. Add cream sauce and reduce heat to low. Cook 1 to 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add sauce to pasta and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately.
Before I had become vegan, I was trying to eat healthier and hadn’t had a cream sauce on pasta for a long time; I would always have a tomato-based sauce. When I saw this recipe, I just had to try it, and it was so delicious. You really get the creamy texture without all of the saturated fat and added calories (or dairy!).
We are also making our own nut butters now. We have a Vitamix blender that is so powerful; it will really crush just about anything! We just buy unsalted, natural peanuts and almonds; put them in the blender and blend until smooth. We had already made the shift to all natural peanut and almond butters before becoming vegan, but we bought it at the store. It is so easy to make at home, and again we can make as much or as little as we want at a time, so it is always fresh. I can’t imagine eating the kind of store bought peanut or almond butter that has sugar added; the taste of the natural is so much better!
I am really enjoying all of the new discoveries I am making while looking for vegan recipes to cook. I was stuck in a rut, eating the same things over and over again, and I never would have found these great alternatives if I hadn’t become vegan!
Are there any substitutes you have used in cooking some favorite recipes that make them healthier? Would love to hear some new ideas I can try!