Easy Homemade Almond Milk for Vegans

I made a new vegan homemade almond milk.  Due to treatment of factory farm animals, I am trying to move towards a more vegan lifestyle.   We have been buying the “humane” milk; however, that doesn’t change the way that milk is produced.  Baby cows are still taken away from their mothers so that the milk can go to us, instead of the cows.  I can’t support this.  But I still crave a morning bowl of cereal sometimes.  Enter in Almond Milk.

I had made coconut milk and I still love that; however, I was left with a lot of coconut pulp that I wasn’t sure what to do with.  I do have almond pulp left over from the process, but I can easily find a way to incorporate this in more foods we currently eat than coconut.

A couple of things to consider before making Almond Milk.

  1.  Buy unseasoned raw Almonds.  Organic is preferred, however it is way more expensive.
  2.   Don’t forget to soak.  Soak for at least 12 hours.  This softens the almonds for a better texture of the finished milk.
  3.   Make sure the water to nut ratio is correct:  4 parts water to 1 part nuts.
  4.   Blend long enough and make sure you strain well.
  5.   Flavor your milk.
  6.   Use fresh nuts.

How to make homemade Almond Milk.

  1.  Soak nuts over night.  12 hours is a good average.  Your water should be murky when it’s ready to go.  Strain from water.
  2.  Rinse well.
  3.  Add nuts to high speed blender.  Add the appropriate amount of water given the ratio above.
  4.  Most recipes indicate to use cheese cloth but if you have a great strainer, that works too.  I don’t want to use cheese cloth once then throw it away so I used my metal cheese strainer and it worked pretty good.  Some of the smaller bits got through but I’m okay with that.
  5.  Store in mason jars and refrigerate.  This may be the time to add flavoring like vanilla extract, cinnamon, a date or agave extract.  Source says to use it within 2 days.

My next goal is to figure out what to do with yummy almond pulp.

Bowl of Homemade Almond Milk Pulp

I will slow bake it in the oven to dry it out but below are a couple of options.

What to do with left over Almond Pulp:

  1.  Grind it finely in order to make Almond Flour.  This will be great for many baking purposes.
  2.   Coat chicken breasts and bake.
  3.   Add to salads, smoothies or muffins.
  4.   Add to cookie batter.
  5.   I am making homemade biscotti tomorrow for the first time so I’m going to add a bit to the dough before I bake it.
  6.   Add it to crusts, make crackers or add it to facial scrubs or homemade soap as an exfoliator.

I would love to hear your experiences in making Almond Milk.  Have you made other nut milks?  What is your favorite?  And please, I would love more ideas on what to use almond pulp for.

Turn the Castoffs of Coconut Milk into Coconut Flour

I have made my third batch of coconut milk this weekend.  In my quest to go trash and plastic free, this is one change that has also been cost effective.  I can easily spend over $4 for a half gallon of unsweetened coconut milk.  This store bought coconut milk comes in a vessel that is non recyclable in our city, so it ends up in the trash.

By making coconut milk, I end up with the scraps of coconut that didn’t make it through the colander.  Some of what I made with the castoffs were these Energy Balls.  But I wasn’t going to be able to keep up with this leftover coconut.

So, I made coconut flour.  This will make many baked goods gluten free; if you replace regular flour with this.  It’s really simple too.  When you strain the coconut milk from the coconut, make sure to squeeze out as much liquid as you can.  You will have to dry the coconut on the counter for awhile or you can dry it in the oven over a few hours.  I actually opted for both.  I have cats so I can’t leave anything on my counter.  They have a growing like for coconut milk too so I needed to overnight dry the coconut in the oven.  I just left it in there with the oven off.

The next day, I used Wellness Mama’s advice and popped it into the oven at the lowest setting for about 3-4 hours.  I put the pulp on cookie sheets and I checked on it every hour or half hour to ensure it’s not browning.  At about 3.5 hours it was ready to come out.  A few flakes had a touch of brown on it but that didn’t matter.

Coconut Pulp

Then I put it in the food processor and to grind it up as finely as possible.  Mine never got to a powder consistency; however, it’s going to work for me.  Our food processor got warm when I ran it for more than a few minutes so I had to give it a few breaks to cool down.

coconut flour

I have my flour stored in a mason jar on my counter currently.  I found a site, Coconut Mama that has quite a few 100+ Coconut flour recipes you should check out.  I ended up making the Coconut Flour Pumpkin Bread.  I didn’t cook it long enough, unfortunately, so I don’t have a photo of it.  But the above site would be great to save for future recipe ideas.

From making coconut milk, I will end up with lots of flour so I will need to find more uses for it.  So I made this homemade soap.  It literally took 5 minutes using the microwave and melt-able goat’s milk soap base.  I added some dried up rosemary that was for cooking that was about to go bad and I also added in some of the coconut flour for texture.  This will be good as to exfoliate.  I added in some Winter Green Peppermint essential oil for fragrance.  It looks and smells amazing.

coconut soap

My soap isn’t in a very cool shape because I don’t want to buy soap molds.  Instead I use what ever container I have around to shape the soaps.  You can use old milk containers, muffin tins or any other container you have around the house.

Do you have any grace recipes to use coconut flour.  I’d love to hear them!

Vegetable Broth Made From Scraps

I was reading the blog, The Rogue Ginger, start to finish over the course of a week recently.  I not only learned about going waste and plastic free, but I also learned that making vegetable broth is EASY.   The carton that we buy vegetable broth in is non-recyclable in our area so it would always go into the trash.  On my quest to go waste free, I happened to come across the steps to making homemade vegetable stock that I can freeze in mason jars.  This is perfect.

By the way – go check out The Rogue Ginger‘s site.  Lots of great recipes and tips.  I honestly don’t know how I found it but I am glad I did.

For the past two weeks, I collected all of my carrot, onion and celery scraps and put them in a separate container in the freezer.  I keep my compost in my freezer too (in a re-purposed metal coffee canister) until it’s full and ready to go outside. These three veggies are called mirepoix, a flavor base for stocks and broths.  I learn something every day.  You can add more veggies than just these 3.  Check out the image containing veggies to skip on the Rogue Ginger’s post.

I saved up about 5 cups worth, then put it into a pot on the stove top.  I put enough water to cover the veggies and so I can easily stir it.  Next, you add the spices.  I combined the Rogue Ginger’s herb combinations with the kitchn‘s.  I ended up adding Basil, Bay Leaves, Parsley and Thyme.  I eyeballed it; about a teaspoon of each, but it depends on how much water and veggies you have.  This will be a learning experience since this is my first try.

Vegetable Broth From Scraps

I got it to simmering, stirring every now and then for about an hour.  I let it cool for a while, then filtered out the veggies and herbs with a colander and a coffee filter.  I will be composting the coffee filter.

Store them in the freezer or in the fridge and use within 5 days.

**Update – I won’t need to strain the veggies from the broth with anything other tha just the collander.  It doesn’t matter to my husband and me if there are bits of veggies and spices left over.

Plastic Free Dishwasher Detergent

I have been obsessing over having a plastic free and trash free lifestyle.  This is a slow change in progress as I have a husband who prefers convenience; plus, he does all of the grocery shopping.  I don’t want to throw 0% waste at him all at once.  It would never happen.  So, I am trying to remove as much plastic from my life as I can in my chores by means of making things myself.

I have been using homemade laundry detergent for a while and I love it.  It is plastic free and very easy to make.  I have heard debates on whether or not Borax is safe.  Well, I have been using it for about a year or more and I haven’t had any issues: rashes or skin irritations.  However; I am going to try a new recipe next time (I am soon out) that is Borax free to see how it works.

I am soon out of my store bought dishwasher detergent (my husband bought not knowing I had planned to make my own).  I wanted to use up what we had first before making my own.  I don’t like wasting.

Store bought detergent doesn’t contain ingredient list. Claims it’s safe for the environment.

I tried finding an ingredient list on my store bought detergent, but I couldn’t find one.  Look at all of the warnings on this stuff.  This is “Eco” detergent, “Friendly to Lakes and Steams.”  It says Phosphate Free; but since there isn’t an ingredient list; I am not confidant in this claim.  I am maybe reconsidering my dislike of wasting.

Toxic Dish Detergent

I wanted to find a non-toxic, plastic free recipe for dish washing detergent.

I found a recipe I wanted to try on thank your body.  For dish detergent, I wanted something borax free for sure since you use dishes to put food into your mouth.  I didn’t want to chance it.  This recipe was easy.  I had to only buy citric acid; the rest I already had in my pantry.  Citric acid is good for cheese making too (which I learned today).  So whatever you have left over, you can use to make cheese too.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups citric acid
  • 1 1/2 cups washing soda
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 1/2 cup sea salt

Directions:

Combine all together.  Blend out any lumps.  Store in a sealed canning jar with lid.  The jar that I used had been storing canned tomatoes.  Instead of throwing out the lid, I labeled that this jar contained dish-washing detergent.  It can be reused infinite times.

Three of the ingredients of this recipe are food-based.  Washing soda is closely related to Baking Soda; it’s also known as sodium carbonate and can also be created from sodium chloride, also known as table salt.  This plastic free homemade detergent will be much safer for your dishes and for you.

Easy Homemade Energy Balls

Energy Balls DIY

After I made my homemade coconut milk, I was left with over 2 cups of coconut that I could use for anything else.  I didn’t want to waste it and throw it in the compost bin, which was my initial thought.  I searched Pinterest for recipes that included coconut and came across many yummy ones, but I didn’t want anything with added sugar or covered in chocolate.

I hit the jackpot when I found The Organised Housewife’s blog post about Healthy Chocolate and Coconut Bliss Balls.  I had to try it because I had most of the ingredients and it’s a sure way to curb cravings mid-day when I would otherwise reach for a naughty snack.  Below is the recipe I took from The Organised Housewife:

Ingredients
  • 2 cups medjool dates
  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1 cup hazelnuts
  • ⅓ cup cacao
  • 1 cup desiccated coconut

Okay, so I didn’t have all of the ingredients so I made some substitutions.  I used raisins instead of dates, and I didn’t have the 2 cups of nuts.  What I did have was about 1/3 cup of walnuts, so I supplemented the remaining with oatmeal.  I am sure it doesn’t taste AS good but it works until I can buy nuts for my next time making this recipe.

Directions
  • Combine the dates/raisins and nuts in a food processor.  I probably blended for about 45 seconds.
  • Add the cacao and coconut and blend for another 60 seconds.  After it’s done, the food processor will tell you by throwing the ingredients around in a big ball.  Scrape down the sides.
  • Roll into balls any size you want.
  • Refrigerate until you are ready to use.

I still have over a cup left of the coconut so I could use it to make the following:

  • Homemade soap and add the coconut to exfoliate.
  • Use in a breading concoction for coconut crusted chicken, fish or shrimp.
  • Make homemade Almond Joy or Mounds.
  • Homemade smoothies.

Homemade Non-Toxic Deodorant

Now that I do not plan to purchase regular deodorant anymore I needed a replacement if that one day I forgot to use my Crystal stone and it ends up being a really stressful day where I sweat a lot; I have something to fall back on.  In order to not smell up the workplace, I wanted to try to make a homemade deodorant with healthy and non toxic ingredients.

I found this tin among all of the garbage in my husband’s car and I was about to throw it or recycle it.  This is a perfect size for storing my deodorant.  Please note: I am not sure if I would travel with this container because if the deodorant does liquefy, I do not feel confidant that this container will contain what’s inside.  This is really a trial run with this deodorant since I do not know if it will work for me.  I will add an update after I give it a go for a few months.

Deodorant Tin

I won’t document the process with images or a video since there is a great video on Trash is For Tossers here.  The recipe is below.

2 Tablespoons Arrow Root powder

1 Tablespoon Baking Soda

1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil

1 Tablespoon Shae Butter

5-10 drops of your favorite essential oil

Combine all of the above ingredients and melt down in a double boiler.

Transfer into a jar or a canister that has a lid and pop in the fridge for 10 minutes to solidify.

**You can replace Arrow Root powder with cornstarch.  I had to order my Arrow Root powder online so if you already have cornstarch, use that instead.

Homemade Laundry Soap

I am now on my second batch of laundry detergent.  I have never thought powdered detergent would be effective.  But this stuff IS.   I found the recipe here.  I have a very messy husband who stains every shirt he wears daily, so I require something powerful.   Honestly, I don’t know why he owns anything but black t-shirts.

The hardest part of this recipe is shredding the Fels Naptha soap.  You need 1 bar of Fels Naptha.  You may actually get carpal tunnel shredding this thing.  I shred mine very fine; almost like a dust consistency.

Homemade Laundry Soap

Then you stir in 1 cup of Borax and 1 cup of Washing Soda.    Stir it really well.  And that’s it!  Easy Peasey!  I store mine in a glass jar with a clamp locking lid.  I shake it a bit every once in a while to ensure it is mixed thoroughly.  When it’s laundry day, all you need is one tablespoon per load.  This stuff works amazingly!

Homemade Granola

I have been looking for healthy snacks while I am at work.  My wonderful friend made me some plain yogurt, topped with fresh fruit and granola while on vacation and I wanted to make some homemade granola for this.  I came across a health granola recipe which I HAD to try since I had all of the ingredients.  That never happens at all.

Go check out Elizabeth Rider’s blog here for the recipe.  It’s easy and quick to make.

DIY Toothpaste

Every year around Earth Day I get inspired to make a change to be more environmental.  I happened to find this awesome website Trash is for Tossers, which is just what I was looking for this year.  I have always been intrigued at creating Zero Waste so to find this website right before Earth Day was perfect timing.  I am going to try making my own stuff to eliminate packaging from entering the landfill and also to save a little money and control the chemical ingredients that come in contact with my body.  Below is the recipe for making your own toothpaste right from Trash is for Tossers:

Toothpaste Ingredients: (feel free to double or triple recipe)

2 Tablespoons organic coconut oil

1 Tablespoon baking soda

15-20 drops food grade mint extract

Directions:  Mix it all together.  Store in your medicine cabinet in a cute mason jar.  Run under warm water if too hard, or put in the fridge if too soft.

Refrigerator Pickles

Growing up, during the summer months we always had a large bowl of refrigerator pickles in our fridge.  One of my parents favorite veggies to garden was the cucumber.  The nice thing about these pickles are that you do not need to can them in a hot water bath.  Thus you save lots and lots of time from canning and cleaning your kitchen afterward.

My husband and I made these once for a couples dinner night and it was reviewed very well.  This recipe I made says you only need 24 hours before you serve.  In the past, I always thought it took about a week.  In any case, they do not as long as preserving pickles.  Plus, if you have very large cucumbers, like we did…see below…they make very good refrigerator pickles.

*Update – I just tried my pickles that I made 2 days ago and they need a little extra time.  They do taste good, but I think they taste better when the edges get all curled.  That’s when you know they are done.

My husband bought this massive Ball jar that I thought was a joke.  I had no idea he intended on using this for these pickles.  But, it works just fine.  Otherwise you can just use a big bowl and plastic wrap the top.  That is what we have done in the past, but the sugary liquid, when spilled, get’s sticky.

Recipe

6 cups cucumbers, sliced

1 cup raw onion rings

2 cups sugar

1 cup vinegar

2 Tbsp salt

1 Tbsp celery seed

Combine the vinegar, sugar, salt and celery seed.  Heat to the boiling point.

Pour over the sliced onions and cucumbers.

These keep well in the refrigerator for weeks.  You can replace the onions and cucumbers as they are used.  The liquid mixture may not appear to come close to covering the cucumbers and onions but the vegetables will extract liquid so over night they will be covered.  Make sure to keep them covered.

Enjoy!

Easy Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Soup

I hate cooking meals.  I would rather bake something sweet.  But I came across this easy recipe that even I could make.  It didn’t require making a huge mess or a lot of ingredients.  It is gluten free and vegetarian.  If you like squash soup you will probably like this one too.  It has the same consistency as mashed cauliflower.

 

Ingredients

3 medium sized sweet potatoes

1 head cauliflower

1 onion

2 cloves of garlic

7 cups of water

Cut the cauliflower into smallish pieces, drizzle with olive oil and bake in the oven at 400 for 20 – 30 minutes.  Roast until light brown and but not mushy.

Chop the sweet potatoes, onion and garlic and put in water to soften.  When the cauliflower is done put this in the veggie mixture.  Once the potatoes are soften allow to cool before you blend.  I took mine off the burner and went for a walk.  Once I returned I took the hand blender to it and blended it to a lumpy texture.   Reheat on the stove until hot.  Season with salt and pepper.

My husband and I had enough for 2 full meals each.  We at it again the next day, but we added some diced ham to it.  We are by no means vegetarians and we had ham left over in the fridge.  It did add a little salt to it and it tasted like scalloped potatoes.   It was yummy and easy.

 

DIY Homemade Vanilla Extract

I hate buying vanilla extract.  It is so expensive and you only get a small amount.  Since I like to save money I found a recipe for making my own at home.  All it requires is vanilla beans, vodka, an air tight container and time.  I found some reasonably priced vanilla beans at beanilla.  They have a great assortment of varieties.  I went with the Madagascar Vanilla Beans because a friend told me they were the best.  It really only took about 4 days to receive too.

I purchased 10 beans because it had the best value.  I ordered half for myself and half for my friend.  For this recipe I used 5 vanilla beans.  This is what you need to do to make your own vanilla extract.

Find a container to store it in.  I found an old fashion mason jar.  Even a cleaned out wine bottle would work.  Make sure it’s good and clean.

Cut the vanilla beans in half length wise.  Then use a kitchen scissors to cut them down the middle, to expose the vanilla.

Put them into the container and fill with vodka.  At SimplyRecipes, my inspiration for this recipe,  they use 3 vanilla beans and added 1 cup of vodka.  For me, I had to use a little algebra to figure out I would need 1.666 cups of vodka for my 5 beans.

Then store them in a cool dark place.  I put them in a cabinet in my laundry room.  Make sure to give it a shake every once in a while.  After a couple of months it will be ready.  You will have a dark brown extract ready to bake with.

Add more vodka every so often to keep up a good supply.  I will update this blog as it starts to darken.  I look forward to saving lots of money with this recipe and using my own vanilla.  Not only do I save money, but I reduce waste.  The cap to the vanilla bean extract I purchase in the store is not recyclable.  Making my own helps me to reduce waste.

*Updated 7/15/2012.  Vanilla is now ready to use.  It didn’t take long for it to get this dark brown color, but I wanted to give it extra time to infuse into the vodka.

 

Healthy Banana Cookies

Do you ever have the problem that your bananas have gotten too ripe you can’t eat them anymore?  Sometimes when we go shopping at the grocery store we guy a bag of bananas that are too ripe to sell.  We end up with about 3 bunches for $2.99.  We never can use that many before they go bad so I just throw them in the freezer.   This is a great way to hold on to them and use them when you need them.  I take out three for this recipe at a time and let them thaw out.  It’s a great way to save money on bananas for baking.  Here is the recipe.

3 ripe bananas

2 cups rolled oats

1 cup dates (or raisins in my case)

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In medium/large bowl mash bananas.  Stir in oats, dates/raisins, oil and vanilla.  Mix well.  Allow to sit for 15 minutes.

3. Bake for 20 minutes in the oven, or until lightly brown.

Make sure to wait the full 15 minutes.  Once I baked these without waiting and my cookies were hard.  I still ate them, but they weren’t as chewy and soft as they should be.

I actually didn’t have any dates or raisins when I made them today so I just left them out.  You could also subsitutute almonds or walnuts.  If you usually bring a granola bar to work with you for lunch or a snack this is a good substitute.  I am on a low sugar diet and granola bars from stores are loaded with sugar.  For this recipe I didn’t add any sugar.  It is just the natural sugars from the bananas.