If there is one thing that really drives me nuts it is additives that are completely unnecessary. One additive that I have taken a recent grudge against is carrageenan. Carrageenan is an emulsifier. It is technically natural as it is derived from seaweed or a type of sea kelp (I can't remember which at the moment). It has no taste, no smell and no nutritional value. The only thing it does is keep products mixed. It has been linked to ulcerative colitis and connective tissue disorders among other things. You can do your own research on it if you really want to know more.
Carrageenan is found in many products people use daily. Yogurts, cocoa mix, salad dressings, juice drinks, pudding mix and almond or other nut milks are among the products I know for a fact often contain this additive. I have also seen in on the ingredient list in candy and fruit snacks. It's not something every brand uses so you really need to read the labels.
My kids and husband all have trouble with dairy so my girls have decided they would prefer not to drink milk except on a rare occasion. Joe on the other hand is harder to sell that idea to, he loves whole milk even though it doesn't love him back. The expense of almond milk in the store is horrible. Most brands have carrageenan in it as well. I refuse to go there.
I began making home made almond milk about a year ago. I heard it was easy to make at home and way cheaper. I looked up several recipes and decided on a method that worked best for me. I buy raw almonds at Costco where it has been the cheapest place to buy so far. I have also learned that it is pretty easy to make just about any nut milk you like using basicly the same method. As of right now I will not recommend making coconut milk. I tried and what I ended up with was bizarre. Maybe some day I will get there.
Almond milk recipe:
1 cup raw almonds
1 pinch of sea salt
sweetener of your choice (sugar, stevia, coconut sugar, date sugar)
pure vanilla extract
*1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa power if making chocolate flavor
Supplies: Blender with large cup (not a bullet blender), Nut milk bag or fine cheese cloth, pitcher
Directions: Soak almonds overnight in a bowl with water covering the top of the almonds by about a half inch. Set in fridge overnight but not longer than a day. Drain soaking water from almonds. The soaking water is great for plants. Place almonds in blender and fill blender with filtered water. Place lid on blender and blend on highest speed for about 1 minute. Let pulp settle and then repeat the process several times until the pulp the settles looks very fine. At this point you have plain unsweetened almond milk that could be strained and used. I prefer the flavor of the vanilla almond milk. Before straining add each ingredient and pulse blender a couple of times. For vanilla: add 1-2 teaspoons to taste and add whatever sweetener you enjoy a little at a time so you don't over do it. My preference is the coconut sugar or the stevia. I once tried using honey and it was a disaster. Add about a pinch of sea salt of table salt. It improves the flavor but it also seems to help it last a bit longer in the fridge. If you like the chocolate I would go ahead and puree the mixture once more making sure cocoa powder is mixed well. Place nut milk bag over pitcher and strain contents of blender into the pitcher. When most of the liquid is drained gather the bag in your hands and squeeze the heck out of it until you can no longer get liquid from the pulp. Store for up to a week in fridge. You must stir or shake the nut milk before using as it does not have an emulsifier.
A nut milk bag is reusable and can be washed in the laundry. The pulp from the almond milk can be used in many recipes. There are several different ways of storing the leftover pulp if not using immediately. You can place un-dried pulp in a freezer bag, squeeze excess air and toss in the freezer until a later date, this is best used in quick breads and cookies. You can also dry on a cookie sheet on the lowest setting stirring occasionally. You must keep a close eye on it so as to not overcook it. I do not care for this method, it is far too time consuming. If you really want a dried pulp it could be done in a food dehydrator. I still prefer the freezer method.
My favorite thing to do with the almond milk is to make a pie crust. I do not have an exact recipe for this and may amend it later but for the moment here is my basic recipe.
Ingredients: Almond pulp from 1 batch of almond milk
About 1/4 cup melted butter or coconut oil (maybe more is your pulp is dry)
2 Tbsp of brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
Mix all ingredients directly in a pie pan using a whisk or fork. Press mixture into pan with fingers or the back of a spoon. Try and keep the thickness even on bottom as well as the edges. You can either toast the piecrust in the oven for a few minutes at about 350 or you can refrigerate it until it is firm. This crust is great for custard based pies. Leave out the sugar if you wish to use it as a quiche crust. As pumpkin season is nearly here I find myself looking forward to my no bake pumpkin pie for breakfast. I will be posting that recipe very soon. TTFN!!!!