Sunday, September 15, 2013

MoFo 2013 - Day 15 - Nutty for the Letter N

We're half way there folks. Day 15! I went a little nuts today. Pun intended. Nuts are so versatile it was hard to keep this post within reason. I'm going to post the cliff notes version. Nuts are packed full of quick and easy nutrition. They have protein, omega-3's, minerals, anti-oxidants and healthy fats. They are pretty high in fat, so use them sparingly in your well balanced diet.

The great thing about nuts is they can be eaten so many different ways. Simple can be best, especially when you are in a hurry. Grab a hand full of nuts for a healthy snack. They are often available out of the shell for convenience. Grocery stores with good bulk departments will offer raw, roasted and flavored varieties. When using nuts in raw recipes, it is best to soak them first. Spread nut butters on bread or veggies for a quick snack. PB & J's are pretty darn healthy if you chose those without a lot of added sugar. Nuts can be added to savor and sweet dishes. They make great garnishes too!

Here is just a sampling of the many nuts to enjoy. Starting from top left (going clockwise): cashews, walnuts, pine nuts (piƱon nuts), almonds, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, pecans (center).

I have been buying commercially made almond mild for a long time. Most of the brands I have been able to find contain carageenan. There are certain forms of carageenan that are suspected carcinogens, so I try to stay away from products that contain this ingredient as I am not sure which type might be in the product. I love almond milk and use it a lot in baked goods and on my cereal. While it may not be less expensive, making your own is a snap and you will know exactly what went into it.

First, soak one cup in filtered water overnight. Rinse and drain the almonds and throw them in the blender with 4 cups of filtered water and 1/2 pitted date (you can use a whole one if you like your milk a bit sweeter). Blend until well combined and no large chunks remain.

Take a nut-milk bag (this is an inexpensive nylon bag you can find at many health food stores and Whole Foods) and place it over a large bowl or pitcher. Pour mixture into bag letting it drain into bowl.

Gently squeeze the contents of the nut-milk bag until no more liquid comes out. You can dry the solid remains and grind into powder to use in baked goods. You should get a little more than one quart. I drink a little then store the rest in a tightly sealed quart Ball jar in the fridge.

Today I had to head to work after making my almond milk. I am fortunate enough to have a little kitchen in my office. My old Vitamix is there so I can whip up healthy smoothies and soups right there at work. Today I had the pleasure of using my freshly made almond milk. This quick smoothie is full of the goods: lots of protein from the hemp seed and almond milk, potassium from the banana, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants all around.

Banana-rama Smoothie

Makes 1 - 2 cup smoothie

1 cup fresh almond milk (or your favorite)
1 large banana (frozen is best)
1 tablespoon cacao nibs
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 vanilla bean, scraped or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon hemp seed
1/2 teaspoon maca (optional)
1/2 cup ice

Place all ingredients in blender. Pulse to combine ingredients, then blend until smooth. Pour and enjoy.

It's really easy to snack healthy. Make this smoothie in the morning or the night before for a great snack for work or school. 

1 comment:

  1. That smoothie really does sound delicious! I usually just used store bought almond milk, but occasionally I make my own, and it's lots of fun!