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Monday, January 23, 2012

Alfalfa Sprouts At Home

I have tried many, many times to grow alfalfa sprouts in a "sprouting jar" & have had mixed results.  A lot of them not turning out too well.  I have tried lots of different sprouting jars.  But I have heard of "sprouting bags" & that they are a much better option.

I recently started making my own almond milk & I learned about "nut milk bags".  I also learned that you can use a "paint strainer bag" for much cheaper.  And I learned that this bag can also be used to sprout.

So I gave it a shot last week & had the best alfalfa sprouts I've ever sprouted.  I am beyond thrilled since I really love alfalfa sprouts & I refuse to buy them in the grocery store (even the health food store) since they are constantly being recalled.

So here's how I did it.

*Put your seeds in the bag & rinse well.  Put the bag into a bowl (dark colored bowl is best at this time) & cover with water.  Soak like this 6-8 hours or so.
*Once again rinse the seeds well & place back in the bowl (not soaking in water, but leave a little damp) & place out of sunlight.
*Keep them like this, rinsing 2-3 times per day, for a couple of days.
*Once they have little sprouts all over them you can transfer them to a clear bowl (preferably) & place in sunlight.
*Continue like this, rinsing 2-3 times per day, for a couple more days.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Home-Made Almond Milk

I've been making home-made rice milk for over a year now.  My toddler son adores it & guzzles it all day long.  I make it by the gallon & I make it a couple of times each week.  I also use it in cooking.  But I have to admit that I don't really like the flavor of it for just drinking.  It has a bit of a strong, nutty, flavor to it.  Especially with chocolate--whether as chocolate milk or hot chocolate--the flavors just don't go well together, at least for me they don't.

So a week or two ago I started trying my hand at making almond milk & I was pleasantly surprised.  I have to admit that I've never purchased almond milk in the store, as I had done with rice milk prior to making my own.  But there is a big advantage to making your own almond milk.  The ones sold in stores are pasteurized & this process kills nutrients.  So by making it yourself you will be getting far more nutrition out of it.

Perhaps the biggest issue is finding raw almonds.  I know Trader Joe's sells them.  And I also get them in bulk at a middle eastern grocery store near me.  Aside from those places, I'm not sure how accessible they are.  BUT if you really want some & can't find them, I'm sure there are sources on the internet.  I should probably look into that myself, at least just to compare prices & see if there's a better deal out there.

Before making my own almond milk I did some googling & looking at various ways that other people make their almond milk.  There's a lot of variations it seems & I'll mention them here in case you're interested.

1) Peeling vs not peeling; some say that the peel gives the milk a bitter taste, so they recommend peeling.  This can be done a couple of different ways.  You can blanch the almonds in boiling water for about 3 minutes & then when they cool off you can slip the skins right off (this could possibly negatively affect the almonds nutrition wise, similar to pasteurization I suppose).  You can soak them in water for about 4 hours & get the same result--where the skins simply slide right off.  Or you can simply not peel your almonds.

2) Straining; straining is a necessity, but there are a couple of different ways to do it.  You can do it through an average sieve with cheesecloth in the sieve.  Or you can buy a special nut milk bag on the internet ($5-$10 plus shipping) to strain it through.  OR you can save some money on that last option & go to Lowe's & get a paint straining bag (it's $1 per bag & it's the exact same thing as the nut milk bag on the internet).  I chose the last option.

3) Soaking the almonds; some soak, some don't.  I have learned that soaking the almonds for at least 24 hours makes more nutrients available to our bodies, so yes, I soak my almonds for 24 hours.

4) the amount of water used can vary; I like my milk a little on the creamy side, rather than watery, so I like the ratio I am using, but feel free to experiment with this ratio to suit your own tastes.


1 Cup raw almonds
3 Cups water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 Tablespoon chia seeds

*place all ingredients in blender & blend until well blended
*strain milk & place in jar in refrigerator
*use however you would use cow milk

As you can see it's super easy & fast to make
You can actually substitute any type of nut, so long as it's raw, to try out different flavors
I am planning to work on making a non-dairy creamer based on a nut milk in the future

Clarification on Soaking Beans

I have said many times, including in several of the recipes posted here on this blog, that I never soak my beans before cooking.  I've never noticed any difference in how they cook, so I just didn't want to be bothered with an extra step in the process.  A lot of people say you're supposed to have less gas as a result of eating the beans if they have been pre-soaked, but I rarely get gas from my beans (beans in a restaurant is an entirely different story, although I have no idea why that is), so I never cared about it for that reason either.

HOWEVER, I've been learning some new things lately & I have learned that soaking beans & seeds & nuts & grains makes them MORE NUTRITIOUS as well as making them easier to digest.  So of course I want as much nutrition as possible from the foods I eat, so I am now pre-soaking my beans before cooking.  I just wanted to clarify this so as not to lead anyone on the wrong path nutritionally speaking.

I am also frequently soaking almonds & sunflower seeds these days.  I have yet to soak any flour, but it's also supposed to make it more nutritious so at some point I will probably give it a try.