Like many athletes, after a long run or a harder workout like a tempo run or intervals, my refuel of choice is the humble smoothie. Smoothies are easy to make, nutritious, and delicious. Toss in some protein powder, non-dairy milk, fruit, and boom! You're well on your way to Recovery Land.
I usually rely on a nut or seed milk as my smoothie base. Depending on my mood, my whims, and the state of my pantry, I might include almond, cashew, flax, or hemp milk. I also use nut milks in oatmeal, in sauces and soups, and for baking.
At well over $3 for a half-gallon or more than $2 for a quart, that adds up to a lot of money that I would prefer to spend on race entries. Making your own is easily more cost-effective than store-bought, provided you purchase the nuts in bulk at a low cost. Plus, DIY versions reduce wasteful packaging and taste so much better than packaged. Win, win, win.
Why the difference in flavor?
Take heed of the uber-poetic culinary adage: "Shit in. Shit out." As with most things homemade, you maintain control of the quality of the ingredients as well as adjusting the sweetness, texture, thickness, sodium levels, etc.
Though it goes without saying, I'm saying it, anyway: use only the freshest nuts. Smell them before using them. (If they smell off, toss them post-haste. Rancid nuts are no bueno.) I recommend using raw nuts instead of roasted, because they help you achieve that pure, creamy nut flavor. Chilling the homemade nut milk make it taste that much better.
You'd have to be nuts not to try making your own nut milk. It's ridiculously easy and literally takes 10 minutes of hands-on time – even less if you opt not to strain the milk. Plus, it tastes so much better and fresher than store bought nut milk.
Full disclosure: I don't make homemade all the time. (#NotMarthaStewart) But when I do, I tend to embark on a months-long DIY nut milk kick. Consider yourself warned.
Basic Nut or Seed Milk
- 3 cups filtered water
- 1 cup raw almonds, cashews, hemp seeds, or cashew seeds, soaked for at least 3 hours or overnight (You can skip this step if you are using a high-speed blender)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract or the scraped innards of 1 vanilla bean
- Optional: Pinch of sea salt
- Optional: Sweetener of your choice, to taste (eg, agave nectar, maple syrup, dates, stevia)
Makes about 4 cups (1 quart) • Vegan, gluten-free
Whiz everything in a blender until smooth, preferably a high-speed blender like a Vitamix. Add more water, if needed. Strain, if desired. (Spread out pulp to dry and use as nut meal in baking.) Decant into mason jars. Chill and enjoy within a few days.