Tuesday, October 21, 2014

We're Going Nuts! Week 1 on the 21 Day Sugar Detox and All About Almonds!

I'm just finishing up my first week on the 21 Day Sugar Detox and I thought I'd delight you all with a little update.

What a crappy week. Really, it was a crappy week. I developed a miserable head cold, and I have this wonky shoulder thing going on. I have to do push-ups from the knees. Not that there is any shame it that, but do you know how hard I worked to get to full-form push-ups?? HARD. I worked hard. And now I'm on my knees. Harumph.


Anyway, this week was a good indicator of how often I tend to comfort myself with food. 'Oh, I feel lousy. I'll have some dark chocolate/greek yogurt with maple syrup/carby yumminess, etc.' No can do on the 21DSD. So I've had to stare down my addiction.

But the good news is, I'm winning! Cravings have diminished and... I've lost 3lbs. So that's nice.

I've also become quite intimately acquainted with the almond....


Almonds are nutrient rich and very versatile. You can make 'milk' from almonds, as well almond meal, which can be a substitute for grain flour in baking. Growing them apparently sucks up a lot of water, which was kind of an issue for California almond growers. They had a crazy bad drought out there this summer.

Anyway, I've been keeping almond milk in my fridge for a few years now. I never drink it straight, but use it in place of cow's milk pretty often. I'd never tried making it on my own before, but since I'm not eating sugar, I have a little more time on my hands. (That's sad. I know.)

Here's how you do it:

Start with two cups of raw almonds.

Soak almonds in water for about 8 hours. This may seem like an unnecessary extra step, but soaking the almonds disables the anti-nutrients. Nuts contain enzyme inhibitors, which can make them difficult to digest. They also contain a component called phytic acid, which binds to minerals, preventing your body from properly absorbing them. If you're just grabbing a few nuts as a snack, it's probably not a big deal, but if you're consuming a lot of nuts, it's a good idea to soak them first.

Mix 'em up! After soaking, drain the water, rinse the nuts and place them in a high-speed blender with three or four cups of water. (The 21DSD recipe calls for three cups, but my mixture was really thick, so I added a little more.)

Blend until smooth. I recently bought a Vitamix, and it worked great for this! I'm not sure how this would fly in a regular blender, so... blend at your own risk.

Next, you strain the mixture through cheesecloth or a nut milk bag. If you think you'll do this a lot, I'd highly recommend a nut milk bag. I bought this one. It's makes the whole thing much easier. And, as you'll see, it has other uses, too.

Squeezing out the nut milk is probably the hardest part of the whole process, and it's really not that hard. It's also great for developing grip strength. Silver lining!

You're left with the pulp in the bag, which you can dry out in an oven or dehydrator. Pulse it a few times in a food processor to break up any lumps, and you can use it as almond meal in a host of grain-free baking recipes.
I found texture to be a bit different from store-bought meal, but I'm still working on it. I think I dried the living daylights out of it. Oops.

Well, I had so much fun making my almond milk, that I wondered...

How it would be as yogurt??

I've been making my own yogurt for years, but I'd never tried it with anything other than cow's milk. I found these directions online and gave it a whirl. The only thing I'd add is to strain the finished yogurt through cheesecloth or nut milk bag for up to 24 hours, depending on how thick you like your yogurt.
I tried using a fine-mesh strainer (which is what I use to make a Greek-yogurt consistency with cow's milk yogurt) and it did not work. You need something even finer than fine-mesh.

Of course, I can't add my beloved maple syrup to my almond milk yogurt right now. So I'm using it in my 21 DSD smoothies. It makes them almost like ice-cream!

'Almost' being the key word.


If you're an almond milk drinker, I highly recommend trying the DIY route. It's way creamier than store-bought, and cheaper, too.

Before I go, I do want to mention an everything-in-moderation caveat to nut consumption. Properly prepared, nuts can be a great addition to a healthy diet, but be forewarned--if you're using lots of nut flours and milk, you could be consuming kind of a ridiculous amount. Almonds contain polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), and most of us get plenty of PUFAs already. Not that PUFAs are bad, you just don't wan to consume too much... like so many other things in life.

So, there you go. Enjoy, but don't go... well, nuts. (sorry... couldn't resist...)

1 comment:

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