I’m currently on the Autoimmune Protocol, a nutrient-rich elimination diet that removes foods that irritate the gut, cause gut imbalance and activate the immune system. You can read more about the protocol and why I’m doing this here.
The reintroduction stage of my autoimmune protocol adventure has finally arrived. That means I have started reintroducing foods that have previously been excluded. This is managed in a very systematic way – one food at a time, starting with things that are least likely to cause a problem (or that I miss the most!). I’m keeping a food journal and recording any unusual symptoms or changes in mood. Honestly? – it’s actually proving to be more work that strict AIP!
I love nuts. I’m for nuts. I am nuts. (Penn Jillette, ‘God, No!: Signs You May Already Be an Atheist and Other Magical Tales’)
The very first official thing I reintroduced, after adding a little fruit back into my food regime, were seeds. I had some of my Nut-Free Granola Crunch. When this didn’t appear to cause any reaction, seeds were pretty swiftly followed by almonds. Activated ones, no less. And then, I added activated cashews and macadamias. Then activated pistachios and hazelnuts. I have yet to get to brazils or pecans – activated or otherwise. But, given the results of my early experiments with nuts, I’m not anticipating any issues. [insert smiley face here]
Don’t know about activated nuts?
All nuts contain pesky things called enzyme inhibitors. Enzyme inhibitors act by binding to enzymes and decreasing or blocking them. In nature, enzyme inhibitors are of benefit to the humble nut – they prevent the nuts from prematurely sprouting. But, they can also act on our digestive enzymes, stopping their proper digestion and absorption. Especially important to consider when you have been working to fix your gut health!
Nuts and seeds also contain small amounts of phytic acid, which our digestive system can’t break down. Eating large amounts of raw nuts puts a huge strain on our digestive system. Phytic acid also reacts with many essential minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and especially zinc, and stops their absorption in your intestines.
Soaking – or activating – your nuts (and seeds) before you eat them neutralises the enzyme inhibitors that are present, and starts the production of many beneficial enzymes. As they soak, the enzymes, lactobacilli and other helpful organisms break down and neutralise the phytic acid.
If you’d like to know more, Sally Fallon talks extensively about activating nuts in her book Nourishing Traditions. An invaluable resource.
So, why am I making almond milk?
Almond milk is a great alternative to dairy milk.
The main reason I’m experimenting with almond milk is that I suspect I may have an issue with dairy (although I’m hoping that I’m mistaken), so I’m not reintroducing that back into my diet just yet. Call me ‘chicken’…
Also, my homemade almond milk has 3 ingredients – almonds, vanilla essence and water. That’s it.
And, it’s ridiculously easy to make.
Aside from the cost, commercial almond milks are full of other additives.
Here’s an example:
Sanitarium list the following ingredients in their So Good almond milk: Filtered water, cane sugar, almonds (2.5%), mineral salts (tricalcium phosphate, sodium bicarbonate), natural flavours, emulsifier (lecithin), salt, vegetable gum (carrageenan).
Did you notice it has more cane sugar than actual almonds? And that’s before you add in the lecithin and carrageenan.
“What in god’s name happened to your nuts?”
“They met a jet-powered water hose.”
“They’re already healing.”
A rare glint of amusement lit Lawrence’s eyes. “You have balls of steel.”
“You have inappropriate humour.”
(Dianna Hardy, ‘Releasing The Wolf‘)
And, if you’d like to learn more about different types of nut milk, The Raw Food Kitchen conveniently has a great post on this very subject. Saves me writing one!
- 1 cup almonds
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups filtered water + water for soaking
- You will also need a nut bag or cheesecloth for straining
- Pop your almonds in a small bowl and cover with filtered water. Leave to soak overnight.
- Pour your soaked almonds into a sieve or colander and rinse thoroughly.
- Pop your almonds into your blender (the higher powered your blender, the creamier your almond milk will be). Add your vanilla essence and 2 cups of filtered water. Blend on high for at least 90 seconds.
- Strain your almond milk through your nut bag or cheesecloth. Take your time. You'll get a good arm work out and the more patient you are, the creamier the milk will be. Set aside almond meal for adding to smoothies, thickening sauces or even drying into meal if you're feeling adventurous, otherwise discard.
- Your almond milk is now ready to serve. It will last about 5 days in the fridge.
Serving suggestions: - can be substituted for any recipe you would use with dairy milk.
The REAL reason I was so keen to experiment with almond milk was to make the BEST homemade dairy-free creamer ever…
It’s really interesting about ‘activated’ nuts. In Sri Lanka I discovered I was unable to eat more than a small handful of beautiful (plentiful) cashews, devilled or otherwise. Very occasionally though, the ‘cashew lady’ would bring a bucket of freshly picked cashews to the flower market and shuck them then and there. And guess what – no deleterious effects! What a joy! My mouth waters even now, just thinking of those crisp, delicate morsels!
A more reliable cashew fix was provided by Kaju Curry – the cooking of which was, in effect, a long and delicious activating process. When you’re back on spices and coconut milk I’ll give you the recipe if you like. 🙂
WG – I’d love the recipe! Thank you! 🙂
You always have such lovely stories…
Beautiful photos. Glad you’re enjoying nuts and their milk again!
Me too! It’s been a long time coming.
Great post! I’ve just started making my own almond milk and I’m kicking myself for not starting sooner.
Hi PPG! Lovely to see you again!
Isn’t it so easy (and surprisingly yummy – especially when compared to the bought stuff?)
I’m happy your reintroduction phase is going so well! And the photos in this post are gorgeous…
Lovely Petra – I’m always vaguely surprised when someone (usually one of my loyal followers!) comments on the pics. I am definitely a point ‘n’ shoot kinda’ photographer!
I know you understand just what a big deal this reintroduction process is. Honestly? – I’m over the moon about my success so far BUT I am scared about dairy, eggs and nightshades. They will have to wait a little longer, I think.
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