How To Make Almond Milk

Home-made almond milk is so much tastier than that bought in cartons and is easy to make, especially if you have a high-speed blender. We use the Optimum 9200 from Froothie easy to use, easy to clean. The Retro Super Blend can also cope well with nuts, but we tend to use that for smoothies and the Optimum for milk as it has a slightly larger capacity.

Almonds are the king of the nut world in terms of nutrients: they are alkaline and full of vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins, Calcium and Vitamin D.  1 oz or 28g (a small handful) contains about 6g of protein. Most of the fat content is the healthier mono-unsaturated type.

So, have a go at making your own, it is a very satisfying activity. Because it is a very hands-on exercise, do make sure you wash your hands and nails thoroughly before starting.

All ingredients are organic where possible. This recipe makes about 1 litre.

You will need something to strain the milk, we use a nut milk bag bought on Amazon and still going strong a year later. It is easy to rinse out afterwards, do it straightaway under running hot water and hang up to air dry.

Method

Soak 1 Cup Raw Almonds overnight in enough filtered water to cover them.

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They will look plump after soaking.

Drain and rinse. The rinse water removes phytates which bind to minerals in the body and prevent absorption.

Pour the soaked almonds into the blender with:

3 or 4 Cups Filtered Water, depending how creamy you like it

1 or 2 Pitted Medjool Dates, depending on how sweet you like it

A good pinch of Pink Himalayan Salt

Optional: 1/2 Tsp Vanilla Extract

Blend on Fast for about 60 secs.

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Strain gently through a nut milk bag or muslin cloth into a large jug.

Let it run through first, then very gently begin to squeeze. Don’t be too enthusiastic about this or you’ll end up with more on you and the work surface than in the jug! Be patient. It’s worth it.

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It can keep up to 4 days in an airtight jug or glass bottle (see Grip & Go below) in the fridge, but I doubt you will manage to make it last that long! It’s too good.

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Ps You can dry the pulp on the lowest setting of the oven and use it as flour, in veggie burgers, or as it is in raw treats etc. See here for my Raw Pitch Dark Figgy Almond Slices.

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Juicing Accessories I Can’t Do Without!

As a regular juicer for over 2 years, I’ve acquired a few accessories that I wouldn’t want to do without, so I thought I’d write a post about my juicy recommendations. Naturally, there are other brands of similar items available but these are the ones I actually use and which I’ve had for the most part for all of that time.

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After the juicer and blender, the first thing I bought was a couple of metal juice flasks. These are great at keeping juices fresh in the fridge and help them last longer by keeping them cold and away from light and air, thereby slowing down the oxidising process. Always fill up to the top to prevent air spoiling the juice, adding ice chips helps too. They are good for carrying around so long as you don’t leave them in the car getting warm. This one is from Juicemaster and is the 0.4L size. It also comes in 0.6L  and there is a Sigg equivalent too.

The next thing you need if you are using flasks of any kind is a long-handled flexible brush that will reach right down and clean them out properly. Good hygiene is essential when juicing, all equipment and accessories need to be thoroughly cleaned to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.

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Again, this one is from Juicemaster and still going strong after two years. While we’re talking brushes, I’d also say you need a good vegetable scrubbing brush too so you can leave the skin on your veggies.

It is always best to drink your juices through a straw to protect your teeth, but I have a problem with plastic straws: I don’t like ingesting chemicals, plastic is bad for the environment and you have to keep buying them. Instead, I found some stainless steel ones that come as a set of 4 (somehow one has disappeared!) with a tiny spiral brush for cleaning them.

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They are available on Amazon and currently cost around £4. They can be placed in the dishwasher and sterilised.

Once we mastered juicing  we moved on to making our own nut milks (see here for Nut Milk, Shake & Smoothie Recipes), and my next must-have accessory is a nut milk bag for straining the milk from the pulp. There are several different kinds and shapes available, I got mine on Amazon. It is easy to rinse through under the tap and hang it by the drawstring to air dry. Always rinse it out straightaway to make sure it is completely clean – don’t let the pulp dry in the bag, it will be so much harder to remove.

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Once we started making nut milk, we needed something to store it in! I prefer glass to plastic and we found a great 500ml glass bottle by Grip & Go on Amazon which, if you’re like me and have a dodgy grip, is so much easier to hold: it has a thinner middle around which is a textured silicone grip. You can get them in many colours and two sizes, they are dishwasher safe apart from the lid and they don’t leak. I originally had a glass jug with a plastic lid, but it was neither airtight nor leakproof so the milk went off quicker and you couldn’t shake it up without getting splashed.

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I bought 2 x 500ml bottles after finding the 1L bottle too heavy. They fit easily in the fridge door and look good too. The company also do a quirky twisty glass bottle that looks even better for those with grip problems like me. Great for juices too!

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Gadgets Anonymous – My Family of Blenders

I have never particularly liked gadgets. I didn’t get a mobile phone until about 5 years ago – under pressure from the family – and I still have the same non-smart keyboard phone with text-only plan.

Today, however, I realised I have a problem. I have succumbed to gadget mania. You see, I just realised that I now have an ever-expanding collection of kitchen gadgets and I feel an intervention coming on next time my minimalist daughter pays a visit.

To be more specific, I own 3 juicers, 6 blenders (I know, I know), a food processor, a chopper and a spiraliser! Of course, this is in addition to the usual toaster, kettle, handheld mixer and breadmaker. In my defence I do not own a dehydrator – yet. Nor do I have an espresso machine or ice-cream maker. I did once have a yogurt maker and used it for many years. I actually don’t recall what happened to it – my son’s miffed that it isn’t still hiding at the back of a cupboard somewhere.

My husband uses the gadgets of course, but I have to take full responsibility for our ownership of them as I am the one who initiates their purchase – one of the side-effects of becoming a keen juicer and raw foodie!

  But I hear you getting restless. Go on, ask the question: ‘Never mind the rest, what on earth do you need with six blenders?’ you ask in wide-eyed disbelief.

Well, as I explained to my daughter, they all perform a different function.

Sort of.

So, let me introduce you to my family of blenders – but like any mother, don’t expect me to choose a favourite!

The oldest is the ever useful Braun stick blender with grinder attachment, variations of which we have been using since making baby food and more latterly for blending soup. But its functions are obviously limited. It needed a hand with the bigger, tougher, strong-arm jobs. And you can’t get much bigger, tougher, stronger (or faster) than this:

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This powerful large Optimum blender from Froothie is used principally for making nut milks, raw soups, nut butters and larger quantities of smoothies. It is fast, it can cope with anything, including ice cubes, makes the smoothest smoothies in no time at all and is easy to assemble and clean. (By the way, Froothie have one of the most helpful and responsive customer service teams I have ever dealt with).

In between we have the handy flask-size blend-and-go type blenders, 2 of which are Fusion boosters – yes, I have two! (Covers face with embarrassment). One was a replacement for the first which had a fault, but they both still work. Great for smaller quantities that you want to make quickly and go. Light, twist and go action, BPA-free, pouring lid. Its drawback is that you keep having to renew the rubber seal. Frustrating and expensive. 

Recently, however, on discovering it was no longer manufactured and therefore the parts no longer available, I bought a lime green similar type from Breville – the Blend Active – because it looked cheerful, was a great price (£20) and had great reviews! And it came with a spare flask and pouring lid. A one-button action. 30 seconds and you’re done. It has a small motor, just 300w and you have to keep your finger on the button while it blends, so it is just used for small quantities of easy-to-blend ingredients when in a hurry.

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I was very happy.

Until I received an email from Jason Vale informing me he has just brought out a new Retro Super Blender to match my Retro Juicer and – wait for it – it is being sold for half price for one day! And it has 15 parts, extra flasks large and small, a grinding blade, lids, drinking rings, all sorts! Plus, it’s twice as powerful as the Breville and it too can make nut milks etc.

What’s a girl to do? I am a marketing manager’s dream customer. I admit it. I am the daughter of a sales manager, I know all the tricks of the trade. I fall for them with my eyes wide open.

And so, the Retro Super Blender has duly joined my stable of kitchen gadgets! (see review here – hint: I love it!).

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Ps I am now on first name terms with all the delivery drivers such that they have been added to my Christmas ‘thank you’ list!

PPs I can no longer claim the moral high ground over my husband’s shed full of bikes and I daren’t tell him I think we need a new sprouter!

PPPs One of the Fusion boosters has gone to the charity shop.

(And, just to be clear, some were gifts!)

http://www.froothie.co.uk http://www.juicemaster.com http://www.breville.co.uk

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Retro Super Blend – Review

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If you are new to juicing, you will soon realise you need a good blender as well as a good juicer for adding avocado, banana, super greens or protein powders.

There are so many blenders available and everyone has their favourite.

I thought I did too after I bought Juicemaster’s Fusion Booster. It was used every day, two or three times, and was so easy to use: no buttons or settings, just press down the flask, turn clockwise and it goes. It was light, portable, took up hardly any space, was BPA-free and could go in the dishwasher. Perfect for blending-to-go.

Unfortunately it had one serious flaw: the separate black rubber seal on the lid of the blade soon perished and would need replacing every few weeks. It wasn’t very pleasant when I found chopped up bits of rubber in my smoothie! I complained and complained about this design flaw. Customer services were excellent, patiently listened and sent out several free seals – until it was out of guarantee and no longer manufactured. I was so disappointed.

But, someone at Juicemaster* and Retro* was obviously listening! They have just brought out the Retro Super Blend. It matches the Retro Juicer in style and available colours and for me it was love at first sight! In fact, I loved it so much, I bought one for myself and one for a gift, sight unseen.

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There are so many parts and functions, it seems overwhelming at first, but it couldn’t be easier to use. There are 3 large blender flasks, 2 blades – 1 for blending, 1 for grinding – 2 smaller blender/grinder flasks/cups, pouring cap, 2 screw-on rings for drinking, 2 screw-on lids and a shaker lid. And dishwasher safe. Ideal for family smoothies. Oh, and it has suction feet so it doesn’t travel when in use.

The best thing of all for me is that they have retained the twist and go action of the Fusion Booster. There are no buttons or settings, you just press the flask into position, turn clockwise and off it blends.

I was a little concerned at first about the large diameter of the flasks, it seems they are designed for a man – I can only just get my hand round them – and I thought it might take more pressure to put them in position on the base before turning, but this is not the case.

Everything is so lightweight and simple to use.

We used it first to make cashew nut milk. The Super Blend has a powerful 700w motor – more than twice as powerful as the Breville Blend-Active, a similar design to the Fusion Booster –  and in less than 30 seconds, we had ultra smooth and creamy milk.

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It made just under a litre of cashew nut milk, some of which we used to make a version of Happenin’ Hemp Protein Smoothie from the enclosed recipe booklet. Again, it took less than 30 seconds, and no bits.

The blender managed the ice cubes in the smoothie with no problems at all.

We have only used it twice, but so far we love it. It will be put through its paces regularly, so watch out for future updates – hopefully, I’ll have little to write but ‘as above’ or ‘still going strong!’

Available in several colours.

Update: A year on, it is still in regular use, often 2 or 3 times a day. We’ve had to replace the seal once, this was provided free of charge. I’ve just bought another at half-price during April (2017). It makes an excellent gift. We gave one to a family member who is a student and she loves it. It has made a healthy improvement to her diet. It’s become our everyday blender. (We use a larger Froothie Optimum 9200 Blender for making larger quantities of nut milk, for instance, or when making smoothies for a few people).

Highly recommended.

*http://www.juicemaster.com

*http://www.retrojuicer.com

Copyright: Chris McGowan