So apparently it’s been awhile, yet again. My new two-jobs thing hasn’t left me a lot of free time, it seems, and while I had every intention of blogging about the magical fiddlehead fern a couple weeks ago, turns out I cooked some that had gone bad and I got my first bout of food poisoning. So I don’t think I’ll ever bring myself to try them again after that experience. But I’m recovered now, and I’m here to talk about seed milks!
I don’t always make my own non-dairy milks, usually because I don’t eat a lot of cereal or do a lot of cooking or baking that requires it, but sometimes I really want to drink a cold glass of something creamy. Which is weird, because I never really liked drinking cow’s milk straight up. But add a little vanilla, or the right mix of spices, and I’m happy to oblige!
Most of the time you hear about nut milks, which I’m also a really big fan of (especially almond or brazil nut milk). Given their relatively steeper price, however, I started experimenting with recipes using less expensive ingredients as well as bases that might offer a different nutritional profile. The two I’m sharing today contain pepitas (or pumpkin seeds) and sesame seeds, which, in addition to having some protein, boast other awesome health properties. Sesame seeds are a great source of copper, magnesium, and calcium, the latter being of special importance to a vegan diet (though you’ll also find loads of calcium in leafy greens!), while pepitas are a good source of magnesium, manganese, iron and zinc, among other things, and both are thought to lower cholesterol in humans. Hooray!
When making any nut or seed milk, you want to use raw or untoasted sources for the best results. I’m sure toasted will still yield something edible and possibly delicious, but toasted sesame milk doesn’t really float my boat I’ve had plenty of luck with unsoaked sesame seeds, and pumpkin seeds only need to be soaked for 30 minutes (or longer if you like) to yield a creamy result, which is great news for those of you short on time.
These are both “sweet” milks, though you can adjust sweetness to your liking (I’m a less-sweet kind of gal) and are good for drinking plain, as smoothie or shake bases, or in the case of the Vanilla Pepita Milk, a good stand in for baked goods or desserts requiring a vanilla-flavored milk. If you don’t want a sweet milk, just omit the extra spices and sweeteners, and try adding a pinch of salt, though it might not be as “drinkable” as the sweet version. The water content variation accounts for the creaminess of your resulting milk – if you want something really creamy and thick, use less water. As with all homemade milks, some separation will occur as they sit since they don’t contain stabilizers as many store-bought milks do, but this is easily rectified with a good shake or stir. Drink up!
Vanilla Pepita Milk
This is my personal favorite, since I began looking for ways to add some extra zinc to my diet. Delicious straight up, or added to a smoothie or dessert-type shake – yum!
1 cup pepitas (raw pumpkin seeds)
5-6 cups water
1 vanilla bean (split and scraped if not using a high-speed blender), or 2 tsp vanilla extract
4-5 pitted dates, or liquid sweetener of choice to taste
Soak the pepitas for at least 30 minutes, then drain, discarding soak water. Add all ingredients to a blender jar and blend on high for about 2 minutes, or until smooth. Strain with a nut milk bag or cheese cloth if desired, and store in the fridge.
You can keep the pepita milk pulp and dehydrate it to make “flour” or add other spices and mix-ins to make raw cookies. I’ll post a recipe for the latter in the future.
Chocolate Chai Sesame Milk
This combination came about when I only had black sesame seeds at home and I didn’t want gray-colored milk. If you have regular white sesame seeds, you can make a simpler milk like the Vanilla Pepita, or this one here. It’s a real energy booster, so stick with carob if you want to avoid the caffeine, and use less sweetener for regular cocoa powder, which is sweeter than raw cacao.
1 cup sesame seeds
4-5 cups water
2-3 tablespoons raw cacao powder (or cocoa)
6 pitted dates, or to taste
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
a pinch of cloves
Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Strain if you want a smoother consistency, although this milk tends to be somewhat smoother than the pepita milk. Serve chilled, or blend with ice for an extra-cool treat (a la Lisa’s creation!).