Growing up on milk and cheese, I found giving up dairy on the paleo diet to be even harder than giving up bread. Making the switch to nut and coconut milks was difficult for me. All of the milk substitutes I found had a very bland or chemical taste, and nothing satisfied me like a glass of real milk. I then began hearing about this little ingredient called carrageenan, a thickener used in many dairy-substitute products, which can cause a whole slew of nasty intestinal problems. (You can read all about carrageenan and it's side effects here if you'd like the more information.)
I decided to try my hand at making my own nut milk after picking up a nut milk bag at my local market. You can probably find one at your local organic food store, or on Amazon. After lots of trial and error, I now have a very favorite recipe for Vanilla Hazelnut Milk. Straight from the glass, it's a creamy treat. It perks up my morning coffee, and acts as a perfect paleo base for protein shakes and smoothies.
What you'll need:
- nut milk bag or cheesecloth
- powerful blender
- 1 lb hazelnuts
- 1 vanilla bean
- 1-2 dates to taste for added sweetness
- sprinkle of cinnamon
- Cover hazelnuts with enough water to submerge all the nuts. Let soak overnight.
- In the morning, drain and rinse the hazelnuts. Pour the nuts into your blender.
- Add one vanilla bean, dates to taste (make sure to remove the pits!), and a few shakes of cinnamon.
- Add fresh water until the dry ingredients are covered by several inches. If your mixture comes out too thick, you can always add more water during the blending process. I like mine on the creamier side.
- Blend for several minutes, until all the hazelnuts have been pulverized and your mixture resembles a thick milkshake.
- Strain your mixture through the nut milk bag into a large jar or jug. Squeeze the bag, as if milking a cow, until you've forced all the liquid out of the bag. All that's left should be a dry hazelnut meal, resembling sand. I usually do this with about 1/3 of the blender at a time, as to cut down on the mess.
- Refrigerate and drink within three days!