All About Almond Milk

A couple of weeks ago I decided that it was finally time to try almond milk. I typically buy milk from Homestead Creamery and I occasionally pick up soy milk instead of cows milk. Lately I have tried to make more conscious decisions when it comes to animal products, and I have found myself substituting soy milk a lot when I am unsure of the source of the cows milk that is available. However, soy milk is not the only non-dairy option. There is also rice milk, coconut milk, almond milk and probably some more milks that I am not even aware of. I’ve heard good reviews of Almond Breeze almond milk, so I used a coupon to pick some up at the store one weekend.

Almond milk is made from ground almonds and water. Some brands add sweeteners and flavors so it is always best to check the ingredient list to make sure you know what you’re getting. People have been drinking almond milk for centuries. It was a staple of Medieval kitchens because animal milk spoiled too quickly. Historically it has been used as a substitute for animal milk during times of fasting in many cultures and religions. It is lower in cholesterol and saturated fats than cows milk, and it has no gluten or lactose. Almonds are high in magnesium, potassium, vitamin E and calcium, and so is almond milk. The downsides I found in research were that almond milk is a little high in sodium and it has much less protein than soy milk or cows milk.

I did a little experiment and tried the almond milk in several different things throughout the week to see how versatile it was. I first tried it plain, and found it to be a little watery, with a pleasant nutty taste. Here is a rundown of all the other ways I tried almond milk.

In Coffee: I usually take my coffee with milk or cream and no sugar. I subbed in some almond milk and wasn’t a fan. The almond milk did not add to the black coffee that slightly creamy texture that I get from soy milk or cows milk. It was very watery, and while the flavor was nice, I felt that I might as well have had black coffee because the almond milk failed to cut the acidity. Take it or leave it? Some people love it in coffee, but for me: leave it.

In Tea: Tea was a completely different story for me. I made a vanilla spice tea latte with almond milk instead of regular reduced fat milk and it was divine! I loved the almond flavor in my tea latte. It worked really well with the vanilla, honey and spices. I will definitely try this one again.

In a Smoothie: I added almond milk to this chocolate cherry smoothie and it was so amazing. Although I think any milk would have been awesome in this concoction (recipe coming soon). I like the nutty flavor in the smoothie, but I am on the fence about doing this again in the future. I usually add milk to my smoothies for calcium and protein and the almond milk falls a little short. Calcium? Check. Protein? Lacking. I found a way to make it work by adding protein powder to the smoothie, so this may become a regular addition to my blender.

In Cereal: I poured some almond milk over my Kashi Golden Goodness cereal, and it was a hit. I don’t know how this would work with super sugary cereals, but I don’t eat froot loops so I’m not too worried about it. All I know is that I would like to give almond milk an award its performance in a supporting role alongside whole grain and granola cereals. The flavor is a great addition to your bowl. I will definitely be doing this again, in cold and hot cereals.

Overall, I would recommend that you try almond milk if you get the opportunity. For me, it works in some things and not in others. Maybe you will reach the same conclusion or maybe you will love it or hate it in everything. Different strokes for different folks, people. I say it’s worth a try.

Ten Things I Learned About Nutritional Yeast

It seems like it has been awhile since I’ve shared a new ingredient, doesn’t it? I guess that’s because I’ve been saving up some good ones to test their versatility. One such ingredient is nutritional yeast. I have read about it on a few different blogs, but this is one that I haven’t seen on restaurant menus or salad bars yet, so it was kind of a mystery to me. I first tried it in Mama Pea’s potato and white bean burger recipe on 4th of July weekend.

And then I had an almost full container of nutritional yeast sitting in my refrigerator so I decided to do a little research to figure out how any why I should use it. Here are some things I learned.

  1. Nutritional yeast is created by culturing yeast with a mixture of sugarcane and beet molasses.
  2. It can be described as nutty, cheesy, and creamy in taste.
  3. It is a complete protein like quinoa, meaning it contains an adequate proportion of all nine essential amino acids that are necessary in our diets.
  4. It is an excellent source of vitamin B12.
  5. It is low  in fat and sodium, despite having a salty taste.
  6. It comes from the same species of fungus as brewer’s yeast and baker’s yeast but the culturing method is different, which results in a more flavorful product.
  7. While active brewer’s yeast and baker’s yeast are live, nutritional yeast is deactivated during processing.
  8. Some movie theaters provide nutritional yeast along with cayenne pepper to sprinkle on popcorn. I ran into this fact over and over again during research, which begs another question: where do I find these movie theaters?
  9. It is often used as a homeopathic treatment for the prevention of fleas in cats and dogs, so it’s allegedly okay to share with your furry friends (although I won’t be trying that anytime soon).
  10. There are many different ways to enjoy nutritional yeast. Here are some of the suggestions I have come across for adding nutritional yeast to everyday foods:

Mashed Potatoes

Frittatas

Baked Pasta

Summer Vegetable Stir-fry

Cheese substitute in Mac n’ No Cheese

Vegetable Soup

Garlic Breadsticks

Egg Salad or Tofu Salad

Veggie Burgers

I chose to use it again in an adaptation of Mama Pea’s burgers with the following changes:

  • Substitute sweet potato for Yukon Gold potato
  • Substitute black beans for white beans
  • Substitute cilantro for basil
  • Add cumin into the burger mix

They were a big hit!

I am sure that I will soon try this out in a lot of my favorite foods. At first I was skeptical of what looked like a container of fish food, but now I’m convinced that I’ve stumbled upon a super food!

Veg:ology Turns 1 Year Old!

Happy blogiversary to me!

It’s true, exactly one year ago I wrote my first post for veg:ology. You can read my very first post here. Hello world.

Over the last year, I have given readers a glimpse inside my tiny Richmond, VA kitchen as I have stretched myself to continue my culinary education, a skill developed largely by means of trial and error. As I look back, I remember flying by so many milestones along the way, and I am fascinated by how I got here. There are too many memories to list here, but a few stand out. Increasing the occupancy of my one bedroom apartment by one (Hi Kyle!). Throwing my first brand sponsored dinner party (thanks POM). Receiving my first advertising payment from FoodBuzz. Writing my first guest post for another blog. Spending hours in the kitchen cooking for a sick family member over several difficult weeks (an experience undocumented on the blog as of yet). Expanding to Facebook and Twitter. Making dozens of friends through the food blogging community whom I’ve never met in person. Having my recipes republished on other Richmond blogs and websites. Completing a year of experimental cooking without one smoke detector being set off.

As I have been reflecting over the last year’s worth of blog posts, I have also been crunching the numbers. I thought you might be interested in what we’ve been doing here at veg:ology since June 2010. So here you have it, the Veg:ology Annual Report for year one.

  • Different farmers’ markets visited: 6
  • Happy Hour drink recipes and reviews: 15
  • Baking total failures: 3
  • Baking total successes: 5
  • Site visits resulting from the search term “zucchini”: 71
  • Fellow food bloggers met in person: 2
  • Garden plants planted: 6
  • Garden plants survived: 5
  • Different cities’ food scenes explored: 10
  • Ingredients used for the first time ever: 21

I started veg:ology as a creative outlet and as a place for me to chronicle my adventures with new ingredients and new cooking techniques. Here are all of the ingredients I used for the first time and recorded over the last year:

Beets, bok choy, cranberry beans, dumpling wrappers, eight ball zucchini, escarole, fennel, heirloom tomatoes, patty pan squash, persimmons, plantains, pomegranate, pumpkin (whole), purslane, seitan, shelling peas, tempeh, tofurky roast, tomatillos, whey protein powder, whole wheat flour

So what is on the agenda for next year?

I’ve been thinking a lot about my goals for the next year of veg:ology and my preliminary list is as follows:

  1. Try 25 new ingredients
  2. Try 5 new cooking techniques
  3. Attend at least one blogger conference
  4. Add another form of media to the world of veg:ology
  5. Spend more time learning from the experts

Thank you to everyone who has been reading over the last year. I appreciate all the support from my family and friends, old and new. It has been truly wonderful to meet so many new friends in this space as I find my place in the food blogging community.

XOXO, Lauren