No Waste | Almond Pulp

So now you’ve tried making your own almond milk, you got your almonds at Costco or Trader Joe’s so your price breaks about even with the store-bought brands, and your LIFE HAS BEEN CHANGED.

But you’re making an awful lot of waste with that almond pulp that’s left over because you’re not into drinking something that feels like tasteless dirt in your mouth. That’s fair, really it is. But in this Homemade/No Waste experiment, we’re not throwing stuff out until it’s worthless and has zero other uses, right?

Here, dear friends, you have a surprising number of options, and they’re all super duper health conscious and crunchy. You do have to make a series of decisions though…so if you’re no good with that, gear yourself up. Here we go.

OPTION 1: Use the “wet” almond pulp right after making almond milk, or store in an airtight container for up to three days until you’re ready to use it. After three days, it’ll store well in the freezer for up to three months.

Uses: 1) Use in smoothies the same way you would use almond or peanut butter for protein.
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2) Add into oatmeal or yogurt, the same way you might use ground flax or chia seeds, for some added fat and protein.

3) Make these crackers. I added more salt (partly because I have an addiction), and caution you to either not roll them too thinly or to keep a close eye on them during that second toasting so they don’t get that slightly burnt flavor that’s all-too-easy to bake into them. They do have a dry texture, so try them alongside some cheese or soup.

4) Make almond pulp hummus to eat with your crackers  🙂

5) Make these brownies.

6) Make these macaroons.

These are just the ones I’ve tried. Google has many more ideas!

OPTION 2: Set your oven to 200, spread the almond pulp onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, and toast, tossing occasionally, for about three hours or until dry. Cool completely. If clumpy or otherwise deemed necessary, pulse in food processor until…not clumpy.

Uses: Anything you’d use almond meal or flour for, because that’s what you just made! (If you typically purchase ready-made almond meal or flour, this counts as a Homemade concept as well.)
1) Sub for ¼ to ½ the wheat flour in baked goods recipes.
2) Mix with cold butter and some brown sugar, sprinkle over fresh fruit, and bake at 375 for about 30 minutes or until bubbly. Yummy fruit crisp!
3) Make THESE biscuits.

Any great uses for almond pulp in your kitchen? Do share!

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Homemade | Almond Milk

In an effort to heal some health stuff that I’ve had going on, I’ve dropped dairy like a bad habit. Okay, that’s not true at all. But I’ve cut back on anything that’s not cultured (at our house we really believe in the goodness that is some great bacteria, so yogurt and kefir are welcome anytime! Also, butter. Because butter. But usually grass-fed, and I’m on a quest to make my own). I got more into almond milk a couple years after Nolan was born and I was trying to help my spitty boy. We’ve had it in the fridge off-and-on since then, and I’ve really come to enjoy it.

There are plenty of links and recipes out there that explain how to make almond milk, so I’m sure it’s hardly news that it’s a possibility. Part of the beauty of making things at home is how much less expensively you can usually do it yourself. As far as cost goes, the cheapest I can get half a gallon of almond milk for is $3.69. Now, nuts are expensive. At the cheapest I’ve found almonds, half a gallon comes out to $3.74. Paying $0.05 more and doing all the legwork yourself may not be worth it to everyone, but the fresh, super creamy taste of homemade almond milk, as well as the lack of filler ingredients makes it so worth it to me! And seriously, making two batches of almond milk (to come out to half a gallon) takes about ten minutes of time. It’s easy and quick.

I really like the recipe for almond milk found here. It’s an adorable blog with a knowledgeable author, tons of fun to comb through! I alter the recipe a bit by not adding vanilla (usually) and occasionally taking her suggestion to sweeten it with maple syrup rather than dates. And I usually forget the salt at the beginning…whoops!

Also, I’ve found regular raw almonds, rather than blanched, to be far more cost-effective than purchasing blanched. And I’ve found peeling the almonds once they’re soaked to actually be a lot of fun! I pinch/squeeze the narrow end and pop the almond out of the skin fat-side-first. Like a baby out of his mama.

Too far?

I purchased an inexpensive nut bag, but wasn’t impressed with the pulp that was left in the bottom of my bowl or mug after using that batch of milk. It was like drinking flavourless dirt. So I resorted to using a dish cloth, and was much happier with the result. If you just use a tea towel or something equally smooth, the pulp should rinse off easily (my primary concern with using a towel). My mom more recently gave me another nut bag that’s fabulous! We use this one. Recommendation: don’t super cheap-out on the nut bag. The good ones don’t cost that much more and you’ll actually use it.

Now that I’m not drinking milk at all, I’m using almond milk on my granola, in smoothies, and in my near-daily chai tea fixes, and I’m never going back to store-bought after the goodness that developed in my kitchen while making that recipe!

Stay tuned for ideas on what to do with the almond pulp/meal that you’re left with after making the milk!

Homemade | Pancake Mix

Last year I was tired of Kyle getting up and running off to work on the house before we’d even gotten a chance to see him after the long week, so I instituted a new family tradition: Saturday Morning Breakfasts. But we’re not morning people…how in the world was I going to pull myself out of bed and make breakfast every Saturday morning?

Insert: stubbornness and pancakes. Everyone loves pancakes. Pancakes are enticing. Pancakes are yummy. Pancakes know no age, like eggs benedict or some such goodness. Pancakes are a crowd-pleaser. Pancakes are easy to double in case of company. Pancakes are available at breakfast joints if we’re ever out of town and want to keep up the tradition. Pancakes are easily portable and can be made over a campfire if needed. Pancakes can be customized/altered to fit the season. Pancakes!

Pancakes also require measuring and mixing, probably pre-tea.

Insert: pancake mix.

Now, just as a note this is not my modus operandi. My mom is Tammy Circeo. I don’t buy/use mixes. But there was a gluten-free mix that came highly recommended, and then I just started trying different [read: cheaper] ones. We settled on one that we like best, and that was that, despite the twinge of shame I felt as I pulled it out each week.

Then my Homemade experiment started. One of the most obvious offenders is my pancake mix. How was I going to replace it? Gluten-free baking is hard, man!

After my first forays into gluten-free baking when I was diagnosed with a wheat allergy/gluten sensitivity at age eighteen, I’ve been gun shy. After nine months of not baking at all (which was a bfd for me), I got up the courage to try. Try I did, I tried and tried. I was optimistic and full of hope, things were tasting better and better to me as I went along, but the reviews from others were not quite as enthusiastic or hopeful as mine. The texture was different and foreign, the taste was off and didn’t make anybody want seconds, and I grew discouraged until finding that I could tolerate spelt flour quite well as long as I didn’t eat my weight in baked goods everyday (which, let’s be honest, is probably not advisable anyway). Spelt is a low-gluten grain, but for my day-to-day, it was a perfect solution. Those early days in my mom’s kitchen did not go well.

Fast forward seven years, and more recently I’ve been trying to cut down on my gluten intake (similarly to how I’ve cut down on dairy) for health reasons. Gotta get my body healed up! Truth be told, it’s less that I’ve been trying to cut down on gluten and more just hoping that it’d magically disappear from my kitchen and my life with little to no effort from me. Which is not really a thing. So I grew my courage again and have looked for some better recipes than were available in the beginning of my GF experimenting days.

Insert: Blackbird Bakery Gluten-Free. I’ve had this book for quite a while now (had picked it up years ago in a moment of severe weakness, desperately enticed by the looks-good-enough-to-eat cover), but hadn’t tried anything from it until last Christmas when I decided that I needed to take gluten-free cookies to a party (Why? Why do I do these things?). Both varieties I made were a hit!

Then it was on to the biscuits. If I couldn’t make a decent gluten-free biscuit, life was going to be much much more difficult and discouraging in general. But when I made them, my husband didn’t even know they were gluten-free. Boom…aced biscuits.

Then the pancakes. Guys. She calls them Sunday Morning Pancakes in the book, and she’s Texan, so she knows that giving something a name like that has meaning. It’s not taken lightly. These pancakes aren’t supposed to be just any old pancakes, they are SUNDAY MORNING PANCAKES. The girl means business.

We had doubts. We were skeptical. Anything with almond anything makes me wonder.

One bite and all doubts flew away. These things were really really good. All it took was one gluten-free recipe and we could change how we did Saturday mornings.

Now that I’ve got it all built up, I’ve got to say that out of respect for the author, I’m not going to post the recipe. I know I know, I’m so sorry. But writing a cookbook is hard, and it just wouldn’t be okay for me to put a recipe out there that she hasn’t yet. So go buy the cookbook. It’s worth it for the pancakes and the biscuits alone!

Usually I have a price breakdown on here for y’all, to prove to/remind myself later of how much I’m saving by putting in just a little extra work and time. This time I have less of that, but I can say that for fifteen extra minutes a month, knowing that we’re not eating powdered milk is nice.

Here’s my set up.

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I will say, I alter her recipe just a smidge by doubling the baking powder. Kyle grew up with pancakes quite literally made from a muffin recipe, so he likes them fluffy. He actually would prefer if each one would look more like a top hat, but I tell him that if he wants muffins I’ll make him muffins. These are pancakes.

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Saturday mornings all I have to do is toss the mix in a bowl with two eggs, a cup of buttermilk, and two tablespoons of melted butter. “Mix mix mix,” Nolan says  🙂

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Et voila. Petit déjeuner pour trois.

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Thanks for reading this novel of a post. Congratulations for making it to the bottom! Do you have a great gluten-free pancake recipe? Or maybe it’s not gluten-free but it’s killer? Do share!

Kitchen Art | Mama Trudy’s Recipes

Due to some weird (read: super annoying) communication things that happened with a contractor who was installing our kitchen, we landed this odd space between the top of the range and the bottom of the microwave.

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The perk is that it’s now a great place to hang some art! It took me a bit to figure out what I wanted there, but one day it struck me that I want our home to be a place where we carry on the legacies that have been left for us and where we establish our own legacy to pass on to our kids. One of the legacies we’ve inherited is from my mom’s grandma, Mama Trudy. She was a wonderful, peaceful, loving, joyful woman, and just a blessing to be around. I needed some MT in my kitchen.

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When Mama Trudy passed away in 2012, my mom took a bunch of her recipes home. I asked Mom if I could look through them and pick out a couple. We photocopied them so as to not mess up the originals, and I picked up some frames to spray paint at Goodwill. The mats were leftover from another project for which I’d bought new frames, so it was nice to have a chance to use a couple of them.

I used double stick tape squares to get the recipes to stick to the fabric, which was a remnant square I had laying around from the local fabric store.

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Then, being Goodwill frames, came the trick of hanging them. They didn’t have picture claws in the back, and weren’t terribly receptive to them when I tried to give them some. Not only that, but the teensy tiny little strip of wall I had to hang them on, above the tile and below the microwave, wouldn’t hold them well.

Bingo! Command strips! Right? Wrong. Let’s remember that this is above my stove. Where there is heat. And grease. And stuff. Frequently. Command strips lasted about an hour, then Kyle had to dig out the frames from behind the stove…

This is where I landed:

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And even this wasn’t working out great for the longest time because one of the frames took to it really nicely and the other was like, “Oh honey, noooooooo.” For months. During which time I had one frame hanging above my stove. One. Just the one. The other floated about on the counter the whole time. *eyeroll*

Now that it’s done, doesn’t it look lovely? I’m so glad to have a bit of Mama Trudy in my kitchen  🙂

Homemade | Yogurt

I can’t say enough good things about yogurt. It’s creamy and yummy and tangy and versatile, and the bacteria is so good for your belly and helps to keep so many things in check, and the healthy fat in whole-fat yogurt is excellent for like a zillion things. Fill your body with that and you won’t even want the cookies! Okay, that’s a lie. But you’ll probably want them a little bit less.

With such a love for yogurt, you can bet we’ve always had plenty at our house. Always plain, organic, whole-milk yogurt. I stopped caring whether it was Greek style or not. But even stripped down to the bare bones of it all, that creamy, tangy goodness is $5/quart! I winced every time I put it in my cart.

But then Christmas came, and oh my friends, you should have seen my face when I opened that box from my mom and there she was…

yogurtmaker

This little beauty has revolutionised my kitchen AND my grocery shopping. That sounds so dramatic, but I’m not even kidding. I make over a quart of yogurt for $1.45. Again: not even kidding.

This is my process. It’s literally all I do to save $3.50/week. Which is $182/year. Guys, I can DO SOMETHING with $182/year.

First, heat the milk.

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Different instructions will give you different temperatures to heat the milk to. All the ones I found said at least 180. I followed the instructions that came with the yogurt maker SUPER STEADFASTLY the first time I made it (Guys, I got up in the middle of the night in order to turn off the yogurt maker and put the yogurt in the fridge. That right there…that’s dedication.) and it turned out a bit too runny. Runny’s fine. Too runny is not fine. The next time I made it, I lost track of the milk while it was heating and it got a little foamy and was pulling up the sides of the pot (so…basically…it was boiling…), and my yogurt turned out so much better. So now I don’t check the temperature while it’s heating, I just wait till it’s kinda foamy, then turn off the heat and let it cool down to 95 degrees.

THAT’S THE TEMPERATURE YOU NEED TO PAY ATTENTION TO! PAY ATTENTION TO THAT TEMPERATURE!

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It should be 95 degrees. Seriously.

And it might look like this.

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Don’t worry, totally normal. Just toss that part, no big.

Then add a 6-oz. container of plain store-bought yogurt and mix it in really well. Once you have yogurt that you’ve already made, you can add a container of those instead of store-bought yogurt. Which is awesome.

Now pour it into your lovely little yogurt containers that are cute as can be.

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Try to divide it up as evenly as possible, and don’t sweat it too much if you spill some.

Transfer them carefully to your yogurt maker, put on the lid, and turn on the yogurt maker.

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Yes, so that last part: do not forget to turn on your yogurt maker. It keeps the temperature of your jars just right so the little bit of yogurt you mixed into the PERFECTLY TEMPERATURED milk can turn into a lot of yogurt for you to gobble up. And try not to move or jostle the yogurt maker while it’s culturing. Culturing’s a delicate art. Respect the art.

According to the instructions that came with my yogurt maker, my whole milk yogurt should be in the maker for eight hours. I left it longer one time because we were away from the house, and I actually liked the consistency better. So now I leave it in there for roughly nine hours or so. All that to say, you can’t really mess this part up as long as you let it sit long enough. There’s a big window between “long enough” and “too long.”

When your yogurt is done to your liking, turn off the machine, put the dandy little lids on the jars, and put them in the fridge for at least three hours. They’ll firm up a bit more and be all tasty when you go to eat them. It’ll look something like this. Sometimes mine looks a little more watery on top…don’t pour that out. It’s whey and it’s good for you.IMG_5559

 

When you’re ready to eat the goods, I recommend mixing in some peach jam or compote, and maybe some granola. Or just mix in leftover peach crisp.

I’m on a peach kick, okay? And they were all organic and home-canned last summer, so stop judging my need for peaches in February…leave me alone, man…

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So we just established that this process takes a while. The milk has to heat, then cool, then go in a cooker for at least eight hours. That’s a minimum of a nine hour job.

So here’s my tip. Start it first thing in the morning. Your yogurt will be ready around dinnertime and you can pop it in the fridge while you’re already doing other dinner clean up, and it’ll be ready for the next morning.

Don’t do what I did the first time and start making yogurt at 4pm. Unless you’re regularly up at 2am, it’s less fun that way.

So go get yourself a yogurt maker, or dust yours off, and make. this. happen.

Almond Flour Drop Biscuits

I’ve had The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook for several years and have made a few things out of it, but when spelt is an available option, almond flour is less appealing. However, in an active effort to waste less this year, I’ve been searching for ways to use up the almond meal I’m left with after making almond milk. Between that, a request for take-out pizza for dinner (to which I’m allergic), and a lack of bread in the house resulting in a much-craved sandwich being out of the question, out came the cookbook and my gumption the other night, and these biscuits appeared on my plate.

Now let’s be clear, they’re not the flaky goodness your grandma made growing up. These are different in texture, but they have their own kind of appeal. I had mine with a fried egg and some sautéed kale, and I really enjoyed the bit of sweetness they brought. The boys thought they were great, even after their requested pizza! They’re really versatile, too. You could easily sub coconut oil, increase the sweetness, add in some orange zest and dried cranberries, or chocolate chips (which I maybe tried…this child within me has zero self-control, okay?!), or fresh berries, then maybe dust with coarse sugar before baking…all of a sudden you have gluten-free scones!

I love that they’re so filling. Three is too many for me, which is saying something! I can eat one as soon as I wake up in the morning (a necessity these days…baby girl must burn through whatever I store up for overnight because we wake up grumbly!) then have a banana or a little something else at breakfast time with my boy, and I’m actually full till lunch. UNHEARD OF around here. I also don’t mind that my son loves them (at least when they’re chocolate studded) and I can feel confident that he’s actually getting a little protein punch with his sugar.

The cookbook author, Elana Amsterdam, has a helpful blog that you might want to peruse. She posted a very similar biscuit recipe on there that I’m going to try out next time.

 

Classic Drop Biscuits

Adapted from The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook by Elana Amsterdam
Makes: 8

Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ cups blanched almond flour
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, combine the almond flour, salt, and baking soda. In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, syrup, eggs, and vinegar. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry until thoroughly combined. Drop the batter onto the baking sheet in eight equal mounds about 2-inches apart.

3. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown or a toothpick inserted into the center of the biscuit comes out clean. Let the biscuits cool briefly on the baking sheet before serving warm. (If making scones with chocolate chips, let them cool on a baking sheet for longer…you may otherwise wind up with fewer taste buds than you had before…)

 

Any great almond flour/meal recipes from your kitchen? I’d love to try them out!