I recently read somewhere that February is Dairy Free Month. Dairy Free Month or not, I have found going COMPLETELY dairy free the hardest part of my vegan-ish transformation. I have been trying so hard to try new products and different alternatives to milk and cheese and feel like I’m still constantly searching for something better. I recently tried “Oat Milk” in Maui this week and absolutely loved it, but am not sure if it even exists in Canada?!?! I’m still hit or miss when it comes to store bought soy milk and almond milk …. it doesn’t QUITE hit the spot for me.
I follow Erin Ireland on Snapchat (if you don’t already, you should) and saw that she was making her very own almond milk at home … it looked SO easy, I had to try! I honestly couldn’t believe it, it only took me about 5 minutes and was the best tasting alternative I have found yet!! If you have the Oh She Glows cookbook that’s the recipe that I used. OR follow along with Erin below and in a few simple steps you will have the best tasting almond milk and a great dairy alternative!!!!
1 c. raw nuts
1 L filtered water
3 pitted dates (optional)
1/2 tsp Himalayan salt (optional)
1 tsp vanilla (optional)
1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)
1. Soak Your Raw Almonds Overnight: It’s important to buy raw (as opposed to roasted). Find them at most natural or gourmet grocery stores like Choices or Whole Foods. Place one cup of nuts in a bowl and cover with water (filtered is best) overnight or for at least several hours.
2. Drain and Rinse Your Nuts: Once your nuts have soaked, dump them into a sieve to drain the water. Rinse with fresh water. Now, add them to your high-powered blender (like a Vitamix or a Torrent) along with a litre of filtered water. I hear other less powerful blenders can do the drink – but you may have to blend longer.
3. Customize Your Nut Milk: If you like your nut milk a bit sweet, add a few dates (I usually use three). You can also use maple syrup or any other sweetener. I also like to add a bit of vanilla (vanilla bean is best), cinnamon and sea salt. You could try anything though! Lavender, cocoa powder (chocolate milk!) and strawberries would be fun. You can even mix up your nuts: for example, half almonds, half hazelnuts.
4. Blend Soaked Nuts with Fresh Water and Flavouring: Blend your soaked nuts, water, dates and anything else you’ve added on high for a good two minutes until it’s smooth and frothy. Have a taste and add more sweetener or flavouring, if you like.
5. Time To “Milk”!: If you like your milk kind of grainy, you can skip this step and drink your almond milk as is. Would be great like this on oatmeal! But if you’re using it for coffee (like I do) you’ll probably want to strain it to achieve a super smooth milk. Grab a big bowl and either a thin t-shirt, cheesecloth or a nut milk bag (I like this one but any will work). Lay your t-shirt (or strainer of choice) over the bowl and pour about a quarter of your nut milk into the middle of the shirt. You could strain it all at once, but I find it easier to do in stages. Gather the edges of the shirt, lift up and begin milking. Keep going until every last drop of milk is in your bowl. Save that leftover meal to make Almond Pulp Crackers.
Enjoy! Your milk should last in the fridge for up to five days – maybe more.
After being “veganish” for almost 6 months now, I have come up with a list (with the help of Erin Ireland) of my favourite dairy alternatives. If you don’t have the time to make your own almond milk or nut cheese any of the following are also great options.
TOP 8 DAIRY ALTERNATIVES:
- Nut milks from smaller local companies. In Vancouver: The Juicery Co., The Juice Box, Juice Truck and Glory Juice are by far the best tasting options.
- Almond or cashew milk from Silk or Earth’s Own (thinner than the above) is perfect for smoothies and in cooking or baking. You can get them at almost any grocery store …
- So Nice For Coffee – the smaller brown carton. I realize some of you may disagree with soy, but it’s fine in moderation.
- Nut cheese by Vancouver-based Chef Karen McAthy – or you can make your own with her recipe!
- Miyoko, Fauxmage and Vtopian (for sale online at vegansupply.ca, a Vancouver company who ships far and wide!)
- Nutritional yeast – this is not a cheese, but provides a wonderfully cheesy flavour to sauces, popcorn, pastas etc.
- Daiya – available at most grocery stores — and though their ingredient list includes some items I can’t pronounce, I still think it’s better than dairy
- Luna & Larry’s Coconut Bliss OR SO Delicious Coconut ice cream – both available at most grocery stores!!
For a FULL more detailed list of vegan alternatives to meat and dairy head over to Erin Ireland’s site here.
Jilly & Erin Ireland