Cinnamon-Scented Coconut Almond Milk

Coconut Almond Milk

Oh my goodness! It’s been one of those weeks, where I haven’t had time to even make myself a decent meal. I did end up making mizuna and yams for the third time (yes, it’s that good!), but otherwise it’s been cereal, leftovers from lunches out, and eating out. I did manage to find a little time to make some almond milk, based off an amazing recipe at Square One Kitchen (a great blog!).

I like my almond milk thin, more like store-bought almond milk, so I cut the almond and coconut in half, and just used one date, since I’m not really big on sweet drinks. I also soaked the almonds separately so that I could rinse and drain the almonds to get rid of the excess tannins from the skins. Finally, I added a pinch of cinnamon, just for kicks. What I ended up with was a rich, coconutty, cinnamon scented milk that was simply divine. It was so good that I forbade my fiancé from using it on cereal, because that would be a “waste”!

Making it is so easy, just the same as regular almond milk. Cover the coconut, chia seeds, dates and cinnamon with 2 cups water in a covered container. If using extract, add it too, but if using the vanilla paste, add it after you strain the milk, so you don’t strain out the vanilla beans. Soak the almonds in a separate covered container. Soak overnight or about 8 hours. After soaking, pour coconut and water into a blender, adding another 2 cups of water to make 4 cups total. Drain and rinse the almonds, then add to the blender. Blend on high until frothy and the almonds are well blended.

Almonds and coconut soakingBlended Almond Milk.

Now here comes the fun part, or the hard part, depending on how you look at it. I have found that the best and easiest way to strain the almond milk is to use a nut milk bag. However, you can use a fine mesh strainer, cheese cloth, or any other method you can think of. Hold the nut milk bag or strainer over a large container, and pour the milk mixture in slowly. Now pick up the nut milk bag and gently squeeze it, straining the milk into the container below. Squeeze until you can’t squeeze anymore. Then squeeze some more. You should feel like you are trying to draw water from a rock. But the drier you get the almond pulp, the easier it is to turn it into almond flour (which I will make a post on tomorrow!)

Pouring Almond Milk into a Nut Milk BagSqueeeeeeeze that Nut Milk Bag!

After all that squeezing, you can reward yourself with a hand massage nice cool glass of ccinnamony, coconutty, almond milk!

Coconut Almond Milk

Cinnamon-Scented Coconut Almond Milk

Based off the recipe from Square One Kitchen

Cover the coconut, chia seeds, dates, vanilla (if using extract add at end) and cinnamon in two cups water. In a separate container, cover the almonds with water. Soak both coconut and almonds overnight or for at least 8 hours. Pour coconut and water into blender, adding another 2 cups. Drain and rinse almonds and add to blender. Blend on high, then strain using a strainer or nut milk bag.

Coco-nutty Kale Chips

Coconut Kale Chips

The best time to go to a farmer’s market is on a rainy day. There are no crowds, and the venders are eager to sell you everything they’ve got for a song. I took my parents to one of my local farmer’s markets during their trip this weekend, and we were lucky enough to have it stop raining right before we headed out, so we got the best of both worlds! We came home with armfuls of goodies, including two large bundles of kale, because one lovely vendor was having a buy one, get one free deal. It usually takes me over a week to finish my kale, so I wasn’t quite sure what I’d do with two.

My mom suggested Kale Chips, so we gave it a go! My ancient oven in my apartment is basically non-functional, so I rely on my incredible counter-top Smart Oven to do my baking. This meant I had to bake my kale chips in two batches, which allowed me to experiment with the flavors. Another challenge I faced due to my tiny apartment kitchen is that I don’t have a salad spinner, since there is no more room to store a large uni-tasking tool. I learned a trick that all you salad-spinnerless folks would enjoy:

  • Place the wet leaves on a thin kitchen towel.
  • Grab the found corners of the towel to create a little basket for the leaves.
  • Now swing your arms around in a circle like a maniac.
  • The water will be drawn out and will spray everything in your kitchen with kale-scented water.

It actually works wonderfully, but make sure to do this outside!

Make sure the leaves are as dry as possible. After I did my crazy swinging rain dance, I removed the stems and let the leaves air dry.

Kale Leaves

My first batch was just olive oil and sea salt, but it fell a little flat for me. I think I needed something to cover the still perceptible bitterness of the kale. Taking inspiration from the crispy kale bowl I made recently, I decided to add coconut and toasted sesame oil. It definitely did the trick for me!

Coco-nutty Kale Chips

  • 1 bunch kale
  • 2 Tbs shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 3 tsp olive oil
  • sea salt to taste

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.

Remove stems, wash and very thoroughly dry the kale leaves. Mix together the sesame and the olive oil. Place half of the oil in your hands, and massage it into the kale, so that each leaf is completely coated. Use more of the oil as needed. Add coconut flakes and stir well.

Spread evenly on a non-stick baking sheet, ideally covered in parchment paper (but not necessary). Bake for 15-20 minutes, stirring at least once. You may need to remove some crispy leaves early to ensure they don’t burn. Sprinkle sea salt to taste.

Coconut Kale Chips

Crispy Coconut-Kale Barley Bowl

Crispy coconut kale

I am so glad I learned to cook in the age of the internet. I have tried so many new and interesting recipes, using ingredients and combinations that I never would have tried if I was just picking out cookbooks. There is something appealing about getting a first-hand review of a recipe, rather than speculating whether the meal will actually be good or not. I don’t know about you, but I have had my fare share of cookbooks where I swear the recipe was never tested. There was actually a cookbook that was so bad, after about 5 flops I was convinced I was a terrible cook. That thing went to goodwill, but it may have done more good in the trash!

I stumbled upon this recipe on Lemongrove Avenue, and I was immediately intrigued. Kale is a relatively new ingredient for me, and I’m always excited to try using it in new ways. Plus, add coconut to anything and I’m down with it. The original recipe called for 1/3 cup olive oil, which I just couldn’t stomach. Too much oil always makes me feel drowsy headache-y. I was able to cut it down to 2 tablespoons, which means I shaved off about 350 calories! The whole meal is extremely easy, and only took me about 30 minutes. Plus it was absolutely delicious, and is going on my “must make again” list.

Roughly shred the kale. I usually tear the leaves off the stems, roll them into a cigar and cut with my kitchen scissors.

Chopping Kale

Mix the olive oil, sesame oil and soy sauce well. Pour a little more than half of the sauce over the kale and coconut and toss well.

Crispy Coconut Kale

Bake kale and coconut for 15-20 minutes, until crispy.

While the kale is cooking, pour the rest of the sauce into a blender. Add tofu, ginger, pepper and water and blend well.

Sesame soy dressing

Once the kale has become crispy, serve over grains and top with the sesame soy dressing. Enjoy!

Crispy Coconut-Kale Barley Bowl

Inspired by Lemongrove Avenue

  • 4 cups kale, roughly shredded
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 Tbs soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup lite silken tofu
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ginger or 1/8 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • black pepper
  • 2-3 Tbs water
  • 2 cups cooked barley, rice, quinoa or other grain

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the olive oil, sesame oil and soy sauce into a small jar or bowl. Shake well or whisk to combine. Pour a little over half of the sauce onto the kale and coconut. Toss well to combine, and spread evenly in a large pan.

Cook kale mixture for 15-20 minutes until crispy, stirring occasionally.

While kale is cooking, pour remaining sauce into blender. Add tofu, ginger, cayenne, pepper and water. Blend until smooth.

When kale is finished cooking, place over grains. Drizzle about 2 Tbs tofu sauce over bowl.

Serves 2.

Almond Joy Nut Butter

Almond Joy Nut Butter

Tied up pretty and ready to be gifted!

Growing up, each member of my family had their favorite candy bar. My brother liked Twix bars, I was a nerds loving fiend, my mom coveted Salted Nut Rolls, and my father inhaled Mounds bars, although he said he would prefer Almond Joy if they just used dark chocolate. My tastes have changed over the years, and while I still could eat a box of nerds in one sitting, I now usually prefer the much healthier dark chocolate.

After making a coconut butter and banana sandwich with cocoa powder sprinkled on it, I’ve had the idea for this nut butter floating around in my head. I wanted it to taste like my father’s dream version of Almond Joy, with lots of coconut and rich dark chocolate. When I got invited to a friend’s birthday party, I figured this was the perfect chance to try it out!

Almond Joy Nut Butter

Making this nut butter couldn’t be simpler. First, toast the almonds until they are hot and fragrant. Don’t cool the almonds, because their heat will help melt the chocolate and make everything blend smoothly. Place the almonds, coconut flakes and chocolate into the blender and blend on low. The mixture will first look like nut meal.

Almonds, Chocolate and Coconut

Chopped Almonds, Chocolate and Coconut

Scrape down the sides, packing the mixture down each time. Continue blending on low until it begins to liquify. Blend on high until smooth. Add brown sugar to taste. It was so difficult to part with this, but I only allowed myself a few bites. I will definitely be making this again to keep! And since I’m on a roll, I think I may need to try a nut butter version of the salted nut roll…

Almond Joy Nut Butter

  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1.75 oz dark chocolate (about 1/2 of a Trader Joe’s 3.5oz chocolate bar) OR
    1/4 cup chocolate chips
  • 2 Tbs brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spread almonds on baking sheet and bake almonds for 10-12 minutes, stirring halfway though. Roast until almonds become fragrant or begin to split. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly.

Once almonds have cooled enough to touch but still hot, combine almonds, coconut flakes and chocolate into blender or food processor. Process on low until nut mix rides up onto the sides of the container. Scrape down the sides and pack the mixture down.

Continue alternating and blending and scraping until mixture begins to liquify. Blend on high until smooth.

Taste the mixture, then add sugar to taste.


Almond Joy Nut Butter Next to Dr. Nut

Hanging out with the Dr.

My New Love: Coconut Butter

Ever since getting my beloved Blendtec, I have been making nut butters like crazy. It’s just so gratifying to be able to pour in a pound of peanuts, and five minutes later have rich, creamy peanut butter. I think we’ve been going though about a jar a week, eek!

Then we *gasp* ran out of peanuts. How would I survive without my peanut butter and banana sandwich?!? Luckily I found a bag of unsweetened coconut in the back of my fridge, and a new love was born.

Coconut butter.

Seriously, why did no one tell me it was this good? If I had known you could literally spread coconut onto your food, I would have looked into this sooner! And making it is easy as pie. Actually, much, much easier than pie…

Place about 4 cups of coconut flakes or 3 cups shredded coconut in your blender or food processor.

Coconut Flakes

Begin blending on low speed, scraping the sides as you go. At first, the coconut will start to look more like coconut flour. As you keep blending, the oils will warm and the coconut will start to stick together. If this isn’t happened, you may need to add some coconut oil to facilitate the process.

Continue to scrape the sides, and increase the speed as you go. After about 10-15 minutes of blending, the coconut butter should be extremely runny. Pour into a glass container and store at room temperature.

Coconut Butter

The coconut butter will solidify as it cools down to room temperature. If you keep your place chilly, you may need to warm it up a bit to make it spreadable.

So what do I use coconut butter on? So far I’ve made coconut butter and banana sandwiches, melted or massaged it into kale salads, made a ‘fudge’ and added it to smoothies. Poor Mr. Peanut Butter hasn’t seen any action all week. Ha!