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Monday, February 27, 2017

Recipe: Chopped Roasted Almonds

Perfectly Crispy Roasted Almonds



This recipe is for plain (unsalted) roasted almonds. I pulse mine in a food blender to break them down into smaller pieces. This does two things, it reduces the baking time, and it makes this the perfect topping to spoon over things like ice cream or yogurt. Nothing against whole roasted almonds, I just like mine a little more crumbly. 

Roasted almonds are great to have on hand for adding crunch to a variety of different foods. One bonus about roasting them, is it removes some of the phytic acid. A lot of people are sensitive to raw almonds (translation; raw almonds make them toot alot) but sometimes, that digestive upset goes away when the almonds have been roasted. You can add these to homemade trail mix, cookies, or granola (recipe). My favorite way to eat these almonds is by the handful, straight out of the jar. But most often I enjoy them sprinkled on top of sliced fruit, or mixed into oatmeal. They make an easy snack for school or work, put in a container with pretzels and dried fruit. 

The baking time will vary, and it can take up to 2-3.5 hours for chopped almonds, so do this project when you plan on being home for while. The nice part is the oven does most of the work! (Whole almonds will take longer)

You will need:
1 cup of raw almonds
Water
Strainer
Food Processor or Blender

Directions:



1. The night before you plan to make these, soak 1 cup of whole, raw almonds for 12-24 hours. Put the almonds in a jar or a container big enough to hold them, covered in water by about 2 inches, plus 2-3 inches of headspace to allow for expansion.


1 c dry, covered in water
After soaking and expanding for about 18 hours
2. After the almonds have soaked for a day or so, strain the soaking water and rinse. 


After rinsing
3. This step is optional, but if you want to greatly reduce the baking time, pulse the almonds in a food processor a few times to break them down into smaller pieces. The size of the pieces will dictate how long you bake them for. Smaller pieces will bake more quickly. So take that into consideration if you're pressed for time.


Mine usually look like this after chopping



4. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F 

5. Spread the almonds out on a cookie sheet, or a preheated cast iron pan. (Don't grease the pan) Bake them in the oven at 250° for approximately 2 hours on a baking sheet, or 3 hours in a cast iron pan, stirring every 20-25 minutes. The cook time will vary depending on a few things; how long the almonds soaked for, how fresh they were prior to soaking, and whether or not they are whole or chopped. Check them every 20 minutes or so and stir/shake them around each time. If they are on a cookie sheet you may notice hot spots where they begin to brown faster in certain areas. I use a cast iron skillet to avoid this because my oven heats around the edges much faster than in the center. This will not be a problem as long as you make sure to stir them around and shake the pan regularly. Move any almonds that are browning too quickly to a cooler spot on the pan. Once you notice them beginning to brown a bit, start taste testing a few pieces each time you check on them. If they are crunchy on the outside but still soft or chewy in the middle, let them go longer. Once they are nice and crispy, making a nice "crunch" sound, remove them from the oven and let them cool on the baking sheet. After they have cooled, store in an airtight jar or container at room temperature for 5-7 days.


In cast iron pan before baking

After about 3 hours, brown and crispy

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Recipe: Zero Waste Oat Milk and Granola

Recipe: Zero Waste Oat Milk and Granola
This recipe can also be done with almonds instead of oats. See tip below ingredients list



I LOVE oat milk. It tastes good, you can use it in smoothies or drink it straight. You can add sweeteners or chocolate to it, and if you're a breastfeeding momma, it is great for your milk supply. When you make oat milk (or almond or rice milk) you soak the oats/almonds/rice for an amount of time, blend them with water, and then strain the liquid that is created from blending it all together. The liquid that you strain out is collected into a bowl, and this is your "milk." The only thing about making your own nut or oat milks, is you're usually left with some sort of "pulp" or meal left in the strainer, and you're left wondering what to do with it. This recipe is my favorite way to utilize the leftover remnants of the oats or almonds.

Large Batch (this makes about 1 and 1/2 quarts. If it's your first time and you aren't sure if you'll like oat milk, you can easily cut the recipe in half)

Ingredients:
2 cups Rolled Oats
6 cups water

TIP: This can be done with almonds instead of Oats. Use the ratio of 1 cup raw almonds to 4 cups of water. Soak almonds overnight before blending. The rest of the process is exactly the same. 

(Optional add ins, you can just choose one, or use all of these)
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 Tbs Maple syrup 
1 pitted date
1 Tbs brown sugar


Directions:
1. Soak your oats in water for about 3 hours (or overnight, if you forget to make your milk the same day, which is what happens to me almost every time :)


2. Strain the oats after they have finished soaking, Rinse.


3. Put your oats and water (and any add-in's, if desired) into the blender and blend on high for a couple of minutes until all of the oats are broken up.



4. Strain the oats over a fine mesh strainer, nut bag, or cheesecloth. Make sure to catch the liquid into a bowl or pot. This is your "milk." (I have used all 3 straining methods mentioned above and I use the strainer because, to me, it is just the simplest, quickest, and easiest to clean. Yes, the cheesecloth and nut milk bag strain out some of the finer pieces of oat, but I honestly don't mind having a little bit of oats settle on the bottom of the jar)



5. Set aside the contents left in the strainer (or nut bag or cheesecloth) as you will be using this "pulp" or oat "meal" to make the granola.

set aside

6. Pour your oat milk from the bowl or pot into whatever container you'd like to store it in. I use a 2 quart mason jar, but you could use a few pint jars or a large pitcher.



7. Store your milk for up to 3 days in the fridge.


Now, to make it "zero waste," 
don't throw away what's left in the strainer!


Oat "meal" for making granola (left) and oat milk (right)



To make the Granola


Next... preheat the oven to 250° and get ready to make your house smell like a bakery! While the oven preheats, I like to wash my blender and clean up any mess I made while making the milk so there's less work to do at the end. This recipe is for a mildly sweet granola. I try to avoid refined sugars so I use a raw cane sugar, maple syrup, and honey. To me, this tastes good, but to many people it may not be sweet enough. If you like your granola on the sweeter side, double the syrup, honey, and sugar.

Ingredients:
Contents from the strainer or cheesecloth: should be about 3/4 to 1 cup, this is the part I told you to set aside in the oat milk recipe (you can also use almond "meal" after making almond milk)
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup quick oats
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 pinches of salt
A few shakes of cinnamon
1/4 c add-ins (optional) try diced dried fruit, cranberries, sunflower seeds, roasted almonds (recipe), or whatever you like in your granola

Directions:
1. First, you need to dehydrate your oat meal just a little bit. Take the demolished, water soaked oats that were left in your strainer or cheesecloth, and spread them out evenly onto a cookie sheet. Bake at 250° for about 5-10 mins. They will still be moist and sticking together, but there shouldn't be any visible water. It's ok if they turn brown a little bit
Blended oats, spread onto pan, before baking

After baking for 10 minutes


2. Now you will have this weird oat paste stuff to work with, it might look strange, but go with it. Scrape it off of the baking sheet and put it into a mixing bowl. Preheat the oven to 375°
It will look like this after you take it off the pan and put it into the mixing bowl


3. In the mixing bowl, add the rolled oats and quick oats (if you only have one or the other, just use 2 cups of whichever you have, it'll still turn out good!) and any add-ins you'd like. Mix the ingredients around until it's a clumpy consistency. I like to use a whisk, or my hands, to break up the bigger chunks.


4. In a small bowl, mix together the maple syrup, honey, brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Try not to eat it all before dumping it over your oat mixture. STIR.


5. Pour the granola onto your cookie sheet. Break up any super huge chunks so they are all relatively the same size, this is how you keep the crispness uniform. Shake the pan to help it all stay in one layer. If you leave chunks on top of other chunks, the top ones will toast quickly and the ones underneath will stay mushy.

6. Bake the granola, checking it intermittently and making sure you're getting an even roasting. Mine usually browns around the edges faster than in the middle. So I bake it initially for about 15-20 minutes, and then check it every 10 minutes or so until it's all nice and crispy (a total of about 30-40 mins cook time) if certain areas are browning faster than others, make sure to mix it around each time you check it. And "checking" doesn't mean crack the oven door and peek at it. Take the tray out and look at the pieces, shake the pan and make sure nothing is sticking or burning.

So there you go! A great way to use up the scraps after making Almond or Oat milk.



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