Nut and seed milks are a great alternative to dairy and soya milk. They are raw and chock full of good quality fats, minerals and protein. Nut and seed milks make an excellent base for green smoothies as an alternative to plain water.
Nut and seed milks can be made two ways. The long way and the short way.
The short way is to blend nut butters with water for instant milk; the long way involves soaking nuts/seeds, blending them with water and straining the contents to separate the fibre from the milk.
Soaking nuts and seeds is the healthiest option. Soaking helps to deactivate substances that are stopping the nut/seed from growing, particularly protease inhibitors (protease is an enzyme that helps break down protein). Soaking also aids the removal of anti-nutrients like phytates that can interfere with mineral absorption; however phytates are more of an issue in grain foods.
When soaking grain foods for cooking like rice and quinoa, the addition of an acidifier helps with the phytates such as whey or lemon juice. For nuts and seeds, the addition of salt to the soak water helps with the removal of the enzyme inhibitors. Eating nuts and seeds after they have been soaked is more kind to our digestion and improves nutrient availability.
There is no real consensus to how long to soak nuts and seeds and some say not to bother with the very fatty nuts like macadamias. If you have the time, soak from morning to evening or overnight. I recommend limiting the soaking of cashews to about 4 hours as they can go a bit slimy and please use them straight away as they can go off quickly. Other soaked nuts and seeds will be ok for a day in the fridge, however I suggest using them asap whether you choose to make a milk out of them or dehydrate them (in a food dehydrator at 45 degrees or in an oven on the lowest setting with the door ajar for up to 24hrs).
You can soak the following raw nuts and seeds to make milk: Almonds, Brazil nuts, Hazelnuts, sunflower, pumpkin/pepitas, sesame, macadamia, pistachio, pine nuts, pecans, walnuts, peanuts and cashews.
For hemp milk, don’t soak; just blend the seeds straight into water from 2 Tbs up to 1/2 a cup to 4 cups of water.
You can keep the whole nut and seeds in the water for richer milk, however for everyday use this is quite heavy. I recommend using the whole nut occasionally for the texture such as a decadent dessert smoothie. Macadamias are the best nut to use without straining as they are a much higher in fat (and hence less fibre)
For the quick version of nuts milks, simply blend a nut or seed butter into water at a ratio of 1Tbs per 1 cup of water. For the purposes of making green smoothies, just add the nut butter straight into the smoothie in ratio to amount of water used.
Nut butters can be made at home raw or by lightly roasting/toasting the nut/seed first. If you have a Blendtec, Vitamix or Thermomix, following the instructions provided to make delicious butters like tahini and nut spreads like almond, macadamia and hazelnut.
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