Over the last few years, I have tried my hand at blending and juicing just about every nut and seed available in search of the creamiest plant-based milk that satisfies my two basic requirements: (1) is simple and easy to make, (2) produces minimal waste.
Alas, I have met my perfect match.
Behold, the cashew.
Cashews are a unique nut, with a soft texture and containing less fat than most others. And when soaked and blended with water, these nuts become so velvety smooth that absolutely no straining is required to produce a perfectly drinkable texture, meaning that a batch of this milk (or a triple batch, if you’re anything like me) produces zero waste, AND no more dealing with messy nut-milk bags in the way of your morning coffee.
Speaking of coffee, this milk is perfect for foaming. Simply heat as much as you need in a microwave-safe mug on 30-second intervals (stirring in between intervals) until hot, and froth with a blender or hand-held frother until light and fluffy. Works extra well with a scoop of collagen powder.
Cashew milk, especially this recipe, is so creamy and rich, it lives somewhere in between the textures of whole milk and cream, which I lovveee for tea lattes, rich smoothies, decadent desserts, and that coffee foam I mentioned earlier.
However, for a sipping milk or to pour over cereal, you may want to thin it out just a touch. Feel free to play with this recipe until you find your own favorite version.
Makes 32 ounces, 2 full 16-oz canning jars
1 cup raw cashew pieces + filtered water to soak
3 cups filtered water
2 tiny pinches of pink sea salt, divided
1 tsp vanilla bean powder (or 2 tsp vanilla extract)
2 dates (optional), soaked in hot water for 5 minutes and drained
Measure out and place your cashews in a large glass bowl. Soak using one of the following methods:
Completely cover the cashews with cool, filtered water and a pinch of salt, and leave on the countertop overnight to soak (or at least 6+ hours)
Completely cover the cashews with very hot filtered water and a pinch of salt, and leave on the countertop to soak for 20 minutes
After soaking, rinse and drain the cashews and add to a blender with the additional filtered water, pinch of salt, vanilla bean powder (or extract), and dates.
Begin by blending on low, and then gradually increase the speed to the highest setting. Blend until mixture is completely smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. You may need to stop the blender and check for consistency. I usually dip a spoon in and see if any gritty or grainy texture remains.
Transfer the milk to two 16-oz canning jars or a 32-oz pitcher with tightly fitting lid, and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
For savory recipes, omit the dates and vanilla bean.
This milk is extra creamy and resembles the texture of whole milk. To thin it out, add additional filtered water as needed to reach your desired consistency.
By now you might already know how much I love cashews for culinary uses, but additionally, they are also near and dear to my heart for their nutritional properties.
Cashews are among the richest plant-based food sources of tryptophan, which is an essential amino acid and precursor to serotonin, critical for keeping moods stable, regulating sleep patterns, and protecting us against mood disorders like depression and anxiety. Tryptophan can also be used to produce niacin (vitamin B3) if our dietary intake and physiological levels of B3 become dangerously low.
Tryptophan is an essential amino acid, meaning we need to consume it from our diet regularly to keep enough inventory in the body to build proteins and carry out the functions mentioned above. People following a plant-based diet may get much less tryptophan in their regular menu than those who eat meat, so it is especially important for plant-based eaters to consume ample sources of tryptophan.
Other food sources of tryptophan include: soy beans (and other beans), pumpkin seeds, oat bran, whole-grain oats, buckwheat, lentils, tempeh, and sunflower seeds (and other seeds).
Just 1/4 cup of raw cashews contains roughly 98% of the recommended daily intake of copper. Copper is a cofactor, or essential component, in the production of the antioxidant superoxide dismutase (SOD).
Have you heard of Lou Gehrig’s disease? (Also known as ALS.) Research is now attributing this degenerative neurological disease to low / under-functioning SOD, that important antioxidant I mentioned above that relies on copper for its production.
To keep your neurological health strong, and reduce your chance of developing this disease in your lifetime, be sure to get your daily dose of copper from one of the following whole food sources:
Sesame seeds, cashews, soybeans (organic, GMO-free), shitake mushrooms, sunflower seeds, tempeh (fermented whole soybeans), garbanzo beans, lentils, walnuts, and lima beans.
You know what else makes us happy? Dancing.
Have you gotten your fill of sweet dance moves in yet today?
Maybe you will after trying this heavenly cashew milk in your next tea or coffee. Or maybe you will right now to this groovy and totally outdated Adele song. (#LoveHer)
Peace and cashews, my friends!