The amygdala is a structure of the brain that processes emotions.
It is shaped like an ______!
The amygdala is shaped like an almond!
For years I have been intrigued by the idea of making my own nut or seed milk, I just never got around to doing it, until now. High in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, homemade almond milk is more nutritious than fortified, commercially purchased non-dairy milks that have added preservatives and stabilizers to increase shelf life. It’s also delicious, super easy to make, and quite versatile.
What I find most fascinating about almond milk is that you can actually draw “milk” from a nut. When did that become popular? I decided to investigate. Historically, almond milk was called amygdalate. In the Middle Ages it was consumed over a region stretching from the Iberian Peninsula to East Asia. Le Viandier, one of the earliest and best-known recipe collections of the 14th-century, contains a recipe for almond milk and recommends its use as a substitute for animal milk. Medieval recipes frequently called for almond milk because of its high protein content, and its ability to keep longer then dairy milk. Almond milk has also always been a popular beverage in the Middle East.
Fortunately modern blenders help to blend a finer consistency of milk, making the composition much nicer than it would have been in the middle ages.
The process I used for making homemade almond milk was straightforward—soak almonds in water, blend, then strain—and here’s where I was amazed. With a childlike sense of wonder and discovery, I watched milk being strained from ground nuts for the first time. To see almonds transform to almond milk was, to me, amazing and was as if I was watching the world through the eyes of a child. That feeling alone was an unexpected gift and definitely worth every minute it took to make this historical drink.
Light and delicate in flavor, homemade almond milk is essentially like a blank slate that can be made to suit any taste. Its flavor can be enhanced by adding vanilla, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, or sea salt and can be sweetened with dates, maple syrup, honey or agave. The possibilities are endless.
As an added bonus, leftover nut pulp can be used in a variety of ways to make hummus, bread, cookies, granola, muffins and more. I will have to experiment with the pulp and let you know if I find any fantastic recipes. Until then, if you have any great and creative uses for nut pulp, I would love to hear from you!
1 cup raw, unprocessed almonds
2 cups filtered water, or more if you prefer
2-4 Medjool dates, pitted
1 whole vanilla bean (or ½ teaspoon vanilla extract)
A pinch of fine grain sea salt
Place almonds in a bowl, cover with water and soak overnight (or at least 8 hours). The longer you soak them the creamier the milk will be.
Drain almonds and rinse several times until water is clear.
Using a high-speed blender, combine almonds with filtered water and blend until smooth, about 1-3 minutes.
Strain the mixture through a nut milk bag.
Rinse blender and return the milk to the blender. Scrape the inside of the vanilla bean and add the seeds to the blender. Add sea salt and dates, blend until combined. Taste and adjust the flavor to suit your taste.
Pour into a glass jar to store in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. Shake jar very well before using as the mixture may separate.
Notes: For my first attempt at making almond milk, I used a double layer cheesecloth to strain the almond pulp from the milk. I had a hot, hot mess! Instead, I would highly recommend the use of a nut milk bag, a nylon bag used for juicing, sprouting or making nut and seed milks. I’m sure there are those who can handle cheesecloth with finesse, but a nut milk bag makes the whole process so much smoother. The use of a very fine mesh sieve may also work, although you might have to strain the milk a few times to get similar results.
Also, I also recommend using a high-powered blender or food processor. I used my Vitamix.