Nuts About Almonds: 4 Uses for Almonds
This handy guide will explain how to make homemade almond milk, almond flour, almond meal, almond butter, and more!
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When you think of almonds, you generally think of enjoying them in chocolate bars, nut mixes, or on their own. However, almonds are actually a very versatile nut. With nothing more than water and a food processor or blender, you can turn a bag of almonds into baking ingredients, butter, and dairy free milk! These tricks are great for anyone trying to eat clean or that likes to know exactly what they're eating. Since they're homemade, none of these recipes have any added preservatives. After trying some of these tricks, you'll never look at an almond the same again.
Try using your homemade almond flour and almond butter for these Perfect Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies
How to Make Almond Flour
Traditional baked goods often use all-purpose or cake flour to give their desserts a fluffy texture. When you follow a gluten free lifestyle, either by choice or for health reasons, traditional grain flours don't really fit into your diet. There are several delicious substitutions, but sometimes they can get pricey and almond flour is one of the most widely used gluten free flour alternatives.
Start by blanching (removing the skins) of your almonds. To do this, bring a pot of water to a boil and carefully add your almonds. Boil them no longer than a minute, dump into a colander, and rinse with cold water.
When the almonds are cool enough to handle, simply squeeze the skin on the almond (carefully!) until the meat of the almond pops out. Repeat with the entire batch, and let the almonds dry completely.
Once the almonds are completely dry, add them to a food processor or blender and pulse in 10-15 second increments. Pulse to your desired consistency, or until it is ground into a fine powder and resembles flour. Be careful not to pulse too much, or you'll end up with almond butter!
If you would like your almond flour to be a very fine texture, feel free to sift it in a flour sifter and discard the large pieces.
For another way to use your freshly made almond flour, try these Chocolate Banana Muffins.
How to Make Almond Meal
Almond meal is made from raw almonds that have not had their skins removed, thus the darker color. Almond meal makes a great gluten free substitute for breadcrumbs because of its grain-like texture. It can be used in baking, but your baked goods may end up being a little more dense than had you used flour. Depending on the recipe, this could even be a benefit! With almond meal, you have the choice of soaking or roasting the almonds beforehand (but leave the skins on!) or using raw almonds.
To make it, simply add your almonds to a food processor or blender and pulse until it is ground to your liking. That's it!
How to Make Almond Milk
For anyone that also follows a dairy free diet or doesn't like dairy milk, almond milk is a sweet alternative. Almond milk is a great way to add protein to smoothies and shakes. Many people blanch their almonds before blending them into almond milk, but it's entirely up to you. Leaving the skins on may just require you to strain the milk a little bit more.
Soak your almonds for at least 12 hours (24 hours is preferable). Drain.
Add the soaked almonds to a blender or food processor with several cups of fresh water. If you would like to flavor your almond milk, now would be the time to add extracts. Blend until smooth.
With a cheesecloth or a thin mesh strainer, strain the pulp from the almond milk. This step is imperative so that you have smooth milk. If you like pulp, then feel free to skip this step.
How to Make Almond Butter
While peanut butter is one of the most popular nut butters, almond butter is quickly gaining more popularity. This homemade spread is great on toast or fruit breads or as a dip for pretzels or crackers.
Typically, almonds are roasted prior to being made into butter. To do this, spread almonds in a single layer on a cookie sheet and roast for several hours on low heat (less than 200 degrees F), and then let cool.
Add the cooled, roasted almonds to a blender or food processor and blend until the almonds begin to form a paste.
As the nuts are broken down, they will release oil which will help bind the almonds into butter. If the mixture is too dry, add a little bit of oil. Coconut oil, olive oil, or another nut oil work well for this.
It may also be helpful to scrape the sides of your blender or food processor periodically to mix everything evenly. Once everything is thoroughly blended, store in an air-tight jar in the refrigerator.
To make raw almond butter, skip the roasting and follow the directions as detailed above.
For a healthy breakfast using your homemade almond butter, try this Quinoa, Apple, and Almond Butter Breakfast Bowl.
For an easy snack, try making these Almond Butter Balls
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