So I’ve done this the one time so far. But it was a moderate success.  I’ll start at the beginning.

I used to live in San Diego. Southern California is a very good place to be if you’re wanting fresh organic anything. There are health food stores and farmers markets all over the place. Some chains like Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s were no more than 10 minutes away.  Where I am right now, the nearest store like that is round abouts an hour away.   Wal-Mart is pretty much my only shopping option.  I cannot settle for any kind of almond milk they sell.  This is largely a matter of personal preference I’ll admit.  I guess I was spoiled in San Diego with nice organic almond milk with no preservatives, additives or anything like that. The sweetened almond milk was even sweetened with dates instead of sugar! My dairy is already pretty scaled back, but if I had some usable almond milk that would go a long way with my upcoming 30 days of Paleo.  (And for future days of continued reduced dairy of course!)

So I figured if I made it myself at home, organic almonds, no random additives, dates for sweetness if I chose, it would be the next best thing.

However the next problem I ran into is that I don’t have a very powerful blender, and straining out the almond meal seems like a huge pain in the butt.  Granted lots of people do it out there everyday, so it can’t be that horrible, but at this point in time I just know it’s not something I could commit to. I’ve seen some tutorials/how-to’s that say if you have a Vitamix you don’t even need to strain out the almond meal.  That’s not in my budget anytime soon. Maybe in a month or two if a miracle happens.  Then one day I happened to find a video of someone using almond butter to make almond milk.

I finally got around to attempting it last night. I did not splurge on super nice organic raw almond butter (sticker shock) but I got something from Wal-Mart.  Also bought some Sunsweet pitted dates.  It was passable! Until I accidentally added a dash too much of salt.  However I think with better almond butter and dates it could actually be all the wonderfulness I want it to be.  To be fair I don’t think it’s cost-effective compared to making it from whole almonds, but it’s less effort and that’s what I care about right now. If I wanted to save the bucks I would just as soon as not have it at all than put in the extra effort.  It’s lazy I know.  But when I’m feeling too exhausted to function 60-80 percent of the time it seems like the better option.  Work smart not hard.

Basically I didn’t really do anything different from what was in the video I linked, so be sure to check that out if you’re curious. I’m just here to say it’s actually not bad. Time will tell if I ever decide it’s better than making it from whole almonds, but it’s a totally viable alternative. Next time I try it if I make any tweaks I’ll be sure to share!

Cutting out dairy.

July 2, 2013

About a year ago or so I cut back on my dairy.  I started using almond milk more often. Sometimes in baking, mostly in my coffee.  I’ve also tried hemp milk and coconut milk.

I am not now, nor have I ever been, completely dairy free.  But it’s drastically reduced. I still have cheese once in a while, ice cream once in a while, and butter.  I also don’t really worry about “hidden dairy” like what might be in chocolate or breads and things like that.

I did it for 2 reasons. First reason was because I’d been reading experiences of people whose allergies/sinuses cleared up after reducing or totally cutting out dairy. Second reason was seeing the experiences of people with acne that saw great results from reducing or cutting out dairy.

Now “officially”  studies show that dairy doesn’t have anything to do with either one. I’m not one to argue with results though.  I don’t tend to believe studies that seem to contradict the results other people see.  The manufacturing world wants you to buy dairy, and if you have allergies then also allergy meds.  Or if you have acne, keep drinking the milk and pay a ton of money for acne meds.   There was a picture I saw a while ago, with a quote on it “If a drug company finds out that celery juice lowers blood pressure and if they tell it to people, they can’t sell their drugs. They get three bucks for a pill. Why should they tell you to use celery juice? – Jacque Fresco.”  I don’t want to go on and on about the ‘evils’ of big pharma here.  Or give the impression that I think all medicine is bad.  I’m merely trying to point out that sometimes these “studies” aren’t accurate, because they’re often biased.  It can go both ways also, sometimes they’re some spot on accurate. Research, research, research.

Benefits I saw from reducing my dairy were more easily managed allergies, and my skin cleared up.  I have year round allergies, they’re bad enough that I’m supposed to use a nasal spray but I hate them. So I stuck with taking a pill every day, for years.  When I cut back dairy, it was no longer was necessary to take it every day.  I could get away with only taking allergy medication on particularly bad days.  On occasions when I had a lot of dairy and a day or two later like clock work I’d have an allergy attack.  For the acne, I’m lucky it’s always been mild but lets face it, it gets pretty annoying no matter how few or far in between.  Usually it was that I’d have at least one breakout, most of the time.  Maybe a few days to a week in between on healing and a new one bubbling up.  Sometimes it got worse.  When I’m cut back on dairy, it’s more like I go weeks and weeks without a breakout.

Those are the only changes I really noticed, and really they were the only ones I was after. I didn’t have all that much dairy in the first place.  I don’t eat bowls of cereal for breakfast or have glasses of milk  regularly. Most of my meals don’t involve cheese, etc.  Most of the dairy I was having was with my coffee.  Apparently coffee isn’t technically Paleo, and…well…I don’t care. I’ll be having it anyway, haha!  I’ll give up coffee when I’m pregnant (by personal preference) and not one minute before!   I am however willing to stick with nut milks and finding a non refined sugar so that I’m at least not adding anything non-paleo to it.

Oh nut milks, delicious nut milks.  In Southern California there was a very nice organic brand of almond milk I could buy.  The vanilla almond milk was even sweetened with dates.  I have found nothing even close to comparison since we moved, not in quality OR taste.   When people tell me they don’t like Almond milk, and all they have available is Silk or Pacific, I don’t blame them.  I find those brands completely unpalatable.  I’m going to try to make some cheater almond milk.  In researching the best way to make almond milk at home, I found one method where you take almond butter and just blend that with water. Ta. Da.  I figure if I go for a really good quality organic raw almond butter, it’s worth a shot.  It might not be the cheapest option, but it might be the easiest.  I know the whole soaking/blending/straining bit isn’t THAT hard, but it’s not something I can see myself doing on a regular basis. Some day when I can afford a vitamix or a blentec or something, maybe then.  Plus I need almond butter for a really tasty sounding zucchini noodle recipe I found, more on that when I tackle it!

Lastly, I’ll mention what I think of the different kinds of non-dairy milk I’ve had.  Almond milk is by far my favorite, when I could get a good brand anyway.  It’s not as thick as milk. so it requires some fiddling to use it in some recipes, like adding less water to compensate for the more liquid nature of almond milk.  Coconut milk is thick and creamy more like normal milk.  I’d say it is definitely easier to bake with. The hemp milk I had may have been Pacific brand, I don’t recall.  It tasted a LOT like diet/meal replacement shakes taste. If you don’t know what a diet shake tastes like, then take my word for it.  It was the only time I’ve ever seen hemp milk, so I don’t know if that’s just how that brand was, or if it’s just the way hemp milk usually tastes.  Or maybe I’m just crazy and am the only person who finds the tastes similar.  As soon as I try this cheater method of making almond milk, I’ll be sure to make a post about it!