Almond Meal and What to Do With It

When I posted the recipe for almond milk, I said to make sure not to throw away the almond meal. In this post, I am going to tell you what to do with it.

What to Do With WET Almond Meal

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When you’re done making almond milk, you will be left with about 1 and 1/2 cups of moist almond meal. There are many uses for this meal. You can store it for several days in the refrigerator and use it as a mix-in for smoothies. It will add fiber but not a lot of almond taste so it can go into just about any type of smoothie. A little goes a long way though.

You can also mix it into pancake or muffin batter to add some fiber and texture.

If none of these uses appeals right away, then you can also dry out the almond meal so that it can store longer. There are a variety of uses for dry almond meal.

What to Do With DRY Almond Meal

The process to dry out the almond meal is simple. Spread it out in a thin layer on a baking sheet (I lined mine with parchment but you don’t have to) and place in an oven at its lowest temperature – usually this is between 150 to 180 degrees. Leave the oven door slightly ajar to allow moisture to escape.

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Leave the almond meal in the oven for 2 – 3 hours. Go for a run or something. When time is up, remove from oven. You now have almond meal that can be used as a crunchy, nutty coating to oven fry fish or chicken, in place of bread crumbs.

You can also make it into almond flour.

How to make almond flour

To make the dried almond meal into almond flour, simply place in a food processor using the chopping blades attachment, and process until the meal achieves a fine floury consistency. A minute or two should do it.

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Place the processed almond flour into a glass jar and cover tightly to store.

Almond flour can be used in baking either mixed in with your usual flour, or on its own in certain recipes. A well-known use for it is in French macarons, which are made primarily from egg whites, sugar and almond flour. And buttercream filling. That’s sounding pretty good right now so you can probably look forward to seeing them in a future recipe!

Have you ever made almond flour? How do you use it?

Almond Milk

Let me get something out of the way here. I like cows milk. I prefer it to most of the alternative milks out there, and I think as long as you aren’t actually lactose intolerant, buying organic milk is the way to go. It has protein, calcium, vitamin D – all good things.

It is my preferred cereal moistener, coffee whitener, and cookie chaser.

However, I learned something about milk a couple of years ago that I previously didn’t know, which is that milk can interfere with iron absorption in iron deficient people. And since at that time I had a small child who was iron deficient, I investigated the different kinds of alternative milks, in hopes that one of them might be a better choice than dairy.

Almond milk was the main alternative I was willing to consider. Unlike soy milk, it doesn’t have a lot of plant estrogens in it. It’s not watery like rice milk, and it has a lot of vitamin E and iron in it from the almonds.

The main downside with it as compared to dairy milk is the packaging and preservation. Most almond milk comes in TetraPaks, which can stay shelf stable for months. The way this is accomplished is through ultra pasteurization. Most of the nutrition that would otherwise be in there is cooked out during that process. Plus it is full of additives. Some of the additives are okay, such as the vitamin E that they add back in to replace the vitamin E that leaches out in the preservation. But others are just unnecessary.

Ultimately, I decided that we would stick with milk but that we would only have it on cereal or with coffee or cookies. Otherwise, we generally do not drink milk. We have other dairy – yogurt and cheese mainly. We get our calcium and vitamin D from these other sources, my kid gets his iron without interference from the calcium, and it all works out.

Recently though, I learned that you can get around the problems with the almond milk you buy at the store by making your own. I always thought that making it must be really complicated, but it turns out it is the easiest thing ever.

All you need to make it is milk and almonds. Maybe a little salt and vanilla too, if you like. But neither are necessary.

Here’s the recipe and step by step.

1 cup raw almonds
1/2 tsp. salt (optional)
2-3 cups water for soaking
4-6 cups water for making milk
1/2 tsp vanilla (optional)

In a small cup or bowl, soak 1 cup almonds in 2 – 3 cups water, along with salt if desired. Soak at least 8 hours or overnight.

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The almonds will about double in size, and the water will get a bit cloudy.

Drain off the water.

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Measure the almonds. You should now have about 2 cups of almonds. Put them in your blender. Add double the amount of water as almonds. I.e., if you have 2 cups of almonds, add 4 cups of water to the blender.

Turn on the blender and blend for about 2 minutes.

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Place a strainer over a bowl, and line the strainer with 2 pieces of rinsed cheesecloth. Pour the blended almond slurry through the cheesecloth to separate the almond meal from the milk.

You can also use an item called a “nut milk bag” to make this or any other kind of nut milk. I have never seen one. I just know they exist. I also think that the phrase “nut milk bag” sounds like a really bad insult – as in, “you nut milk bag!”

Sorry. I digress.

Back to the recipe. We were straining our nut milk (heheh). Periodically gather up the edges of the cheesecloth and squeeze out as much milk from the almond meal as possible. Place the almond meal into a jar or plate, rinse off the cheesecloth, and continue repeating this process until all the milk has been separated from the meal.

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Pour the strained milk into your 1qt. storage container. Add the vanilla if desired, along with any sweetener. Shake, and store in the refrigerator. It should keep for 5 – 7 days.

Your final product will be about 4 cups of almond milk (if you started with 4 cups of water – more water will mean more almond milk) and about 1 and 1/2 cups of almond meal.

DO NOT THROW OUT THE ALMOND MEAL. There are many uses for it – if you dry it out in the oven it can be turned into almond flour and used as a gluten free substitute for wheat flour in baked goods. In a future post I will feature how to make almond flour as well as some of the uses of this almond meal.

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This is a less processed version of the nut milk you buy at the store. One knock against it is that it is somewhat more expensive than buying it in the TetraPaks, but given the expense of almonds, one wonders how the manufacturers are making it so cheaply. Not many almonds and a lot of chemicals is my guess.

One way to reduce the cost is to add more water, but be aware that this is essentially just diluting the milk – it also dilutes the nutrition. If you want to maximize the nutrition from the almonds, the best bet is probably to make it full strength.

Another way to reduce cost is to find an inexpensive source for the almonds. I got mine at Costco in a 3 lb. bag for about $15. That’s $5 a lb. There should be about 3 cups of almonds in a lb., so that means it costs about $1.60 to make a quart of almond milk. However, since I love almonds, I am not sure how many will become milk and how many will go straight into my face. Because of this, it’s hard for me to say with any certainty how much it costs to make almond milk.

The main thing is, I like it, it’s easy to make, and I know it’s healthier to make it myself without the preservation and additives.

How about you? What do you think about alternative milks like nut milk and soy milk? Do you like them?

Restaurant Review: Susumu Restaurant

Normally, Friday night is pizza night. But I guess we were all feeling like we needed a change of pace (and maybe some cheering up after a tough week), so we decided to do something new with the kids. Something new involving setting fire to food before their very eyes.

We decided to go to Susumu, a venerable teppan-yaki place in Lynnwood off 196th. Before we had kids, this and BeniHana in Seattle were favorites of mine. There is just something so fun about having the food prepared at your table, especially if they set fire to it. Also, you can order drinks in a ceramic geisha. Or sumo wrestler. Who doesn’t want a ceramic geisha? Or sumo wrestler?

Okay. I know, it’s cheesy. But I like a good show, what can I say?

We hadn’t been to Susumu in years, but it was just as we remembered. Same Japanese samurai dolls behind glass, same slightly sketchy entrance, same smell of cooking oil lingering in the air, same waitresses in shortie kimonos. Same vinyl club chairs on rollers gathered in groups of 8 around the cooking grills.

As you walk in, you begin to wonder, have I made a mistake in coming here?

But as soon as the grill is turned on, and the chef comes out to your table, something magical happens. All Susumu’s faults begin to fade into the background as your senses are overtaken by fire and smoke and the metallic clanging of sharp knives as they transform simple vegetables, eggs, rice and meat into dinner with a show.

Susumu isn’t the best food you’ll ever eat, although it is quite tasty – especially the shrimp appetizers. It’s definitely not healthy, as Susumu’s take on cooking meat seems to be that butter makes everything better. And given the flavor of the end product, I would argue that they are not wrong.

Susumu is also not cheap, nor is it overly expensive. Dinner for 4, including 2 kids meals, a couple of adult beverages, splitting an entree of lobster and filet with a side of chicken, came out to around $100.

That’s pretty expensive for Lynnwood, but not outrageous. In any case, despite its flaws we had a great experience at Susumu.

What sets Susumu apart is the show. There really isn’t anything else like it in Lynnwood, or anywhere else in Snohomish county (though there are plenty of teppan-yaki places elsewhere in the world, to be sure). The chefs are fun and personable, and very skilled at what they do.

But the best part was watching our kids faces as they marveled at what the chefs were doing on our grill. From the “egg roll” trick to the fiery onion volcano, they were transfixed the entire time. Considering that their favorite restaurants are Chuck E. Cheese and McDonalds, the fact that this technology- and Playplace-free zone was able to hold their interest through our entire meal is saying something.

Susumu did what it does best – which is setting fire to your dinner in the most entertaining way possible.

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Susumu Japanese Steakhouse
http://susumusteakhouse.com
5621 196th Street SW, Lynnwood WA 98036
(425) 670-0176

Restaurant Review – Milltown Lounge

We have a new restaurant review feature here at the EatandRunmom. These reviews are made possible by our local YMCA’s Parent’s Night Out program.

Once a month on a Friday, my husband and I tell our kids it’s Kids Night Out. They get to go to the YMCA and play in the pool, eat pizza and pretend to be superheroes or knights.

We get to go on a date.

Last night was Kids Night Out – or Parents Night Out, if we’re being honest. Fortunately, my kids can’t read well enough to know I’m misrepresenting this to them yet. So we dropped them off, and set off on our date.

We didn’t really have a specific plan in mind, but we knew what we were looking for. Someplace cozy and warm, not too far away, not crowded or expensive, with a good happy hour and tasty food.

We found it in the Milltown Lounge in downtown Edmonds. It’s located in the recently renovated Milltown center on 5th street. The front of the center still has it’s “old west” feel but has been modernized with new paint, signage and landscaping. It is much more attractive than it once was.

Inside, the Milltown Lounge has a classic bar, and a separate dining room. The decor is red, black, wood and leather. It has sort of a dark European cafe sort of feel.

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We arrived in time for happy hour, which features $1 off draft pints and glass pour wines, and $5 classic cocktails. We decided the classic cocktails sounded good, so I ordered a Sidecar, and my husband ordered a Greyound. Both were tasty. Mine was nicely presented with an orange peel strip and sugared glass rim. So pretty.

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As an appetizer we ordered the smoked Gouda with Baguette, also $5. It was served promptly, the baguette thinly sliced and lightly spread with garlic butter.

For dinner, I ordered a Cuban sandwich, served with a side of green spring mix salad with vinaigrette. The Cuban’s marinated pork had just a hint of Jamaican jerk spice, and was served on a ciabatta roll, complemented with jalapeƱos, tomato and aioli sauce. The sandwich was slightly sweet and fairly spicy.

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My husband ordered Roasted Garlic Prawns from the small plates menu. The prawns were rubbed lightly with cayenne and roasted with garlic lime and olive oil. He requested some additional bread to soak up the juice from the prawns. He said his dish was very good, but next time he wants to try the bacon wrapped shrimp tacos.

The Milltown Lounge has some interesting choices on its dessert menu. I decided to try the Buttermilk Sorbet with Cabernet syrup, my husband opted for the Belgian Chocolate Fudge Tort with raspberry cream. Both were delicious, although I found that the sorbet was a little bit gritty with granulated ice.

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Our overall experience was very good. Service was friendly if not Johnny on the spot with water refills (after my first cocktail I switched to water as I had a race in the morning), and the prices were very reasonable. Our total bill was less than $65 including tip, for three drinks, a small plate and sandwich, plus two desserts.

I would recommend the Milltown Lounge for drinks, happy hour with friends or a date if you are looking for a low-key, friendly place with good food and drinks, and reasonable prices.

203 5th Avenue S., Suite 204
Edmonds, WA 98020
425-712-0300
Www.milltownlounge.com

On Sugar, Carbs and Moderation

Often times, when I need to post something to the blog, I scour my social media accounts to see what people are talking about out on Los Internetos. Today I happened across this interesting article by marathon training guru, Hal Higdon that my friend W “liked” on Facebook.

The article was about carbs – and the fact that runners need them.

This startlingly obvious fact (obvious if you remember high school biology, where we all learned that muscles make glycogen from carbohydrates, and glycogen = energy) sometimes gets lost in the shuffle of all the hype that exists nowadays around high protein / low carb diets.

It sometimes seems like you can’t shake a stick without someone telling you they eat Paleo, are are on a no sugar challenge, or are trying to convince you that their pizza crust made from cauliflower tastes good.

To which I say No. No, it doesn’t. And if you want pizza, have pizza, but have it with a salad and eat one slice like a reasonable person.

Notice I said one SLICE, not one pizza. This is the kind of detail that can get people into trouble.

I do think there is definitely some benefit to consuming less sugar, especially as compared to the diet of the average person in North America. Our food is full of ingredients our bodies didn’t evolve to handle in the quantities we are consuming.

But as with most things, moderation is key. Your body may not really need to be eating the amount of carbs that is typical here in the United States, but it does need some, especially if you are an athlete.

“Athlete” being defined as someone who places a large energy demand on their body (works out) on a regular basis. I always feel funny thinking of myself as an athlete – but I do work out 1 – 2 hours a day, as hard as I can stand. It is a big energy demand, even if all that work doesn’t pay off in speed, necessarily.

I’m an athlete – a slow athlete! But I’m working on it.

Anyway, the big question really is how much is the right amount of carbs to be eating, and what kind of carbs are we talking about. Hal’s article tackles this subject really well, so I won’t repeat it – you should read it.

But aside from knowing your caloric needs, and percentage of total intake and carb needs based on weight and activity, another really good guideline is to listen to your body. How are your moods? How often do you find yourself craving sweets? Eating too much sugar can lead to craving more, as your body experiences swings in blood sugar.

Are you having trouble finding the energy to get through your workout, or even just your day to day activities? Maybe you need to eat more good quality carbs.

My own philosophy on carbs generally, and sugar in particular, is that there really isn’t any food that is inherently good or bad. Most of the issues people run into with food have more to do with portions and how much we are eating, versus specifically what.

Even sugar (the refined white kind that people love to hate on) is not inherently bad, it’s more that the amount of it we are eating these days is way out of whack with what our calorie needs are, and out of whack with the intended purpose of sugar is. More than a teaspoon or two a day, is probably too much.

Sugar is a treat, a sometime food as Cookie Monster would say.

So my take is, I try not to get too worked up about the whole sugar thing, but also keep an eye on it. I have rules. My rules are:

1) I read labels to make sure that sugar and high fructose corn syrup are not in foods where they should not be. Or if they are, at least I am aware of it.
2) I try to ensure that when I do eat carbs, I balance them out with a protein of some sort (a cookie and milk, for instance). Fat tends to take care of itself.
3) I try to keep the refined sugar to a minimum without being obsessive about it. I’m not drinking my coffee without a little sprinkle of it. Neither am I going to pour in a giant pile of it.
4) I try to avoid sugar before noon – except for the coffee.
5) Treats are okay, but they can’t be an everyday, all the time thing.

An example of the philosophy is that we do eat cookies at our house, but when we do I try to make them myself vs. buying store bought since it is all too easy to let cookies become an all the time thing when it’s so easy to bring a dozen home from the store. Plus, if something is a treat, let it be a real treat – nothing is better than a homemade chocolate chip cookie. Maybe two. But not the whole batch.

Which is why I make them, we eat a few, and the rest I try to pawn off on other people.

What is your approach to carbs and sugar? Do you have rules. Do you do the Paleo thing?

Holy Guacamole!

In honor of Cinco de Mayo (or Cinco de Drinko, if you prefer), I thought I would share my famous recipe for guacamole. It is one of my favorite foods. It’s like Franks Red Hot – I put that shit stuff on everything.

Note: I have kids so I do not, in fact, put Franks Red hot on anything. I’m more of a Tapatio or Sri Racha girl anyway.

Also, my guacamole is only famous at my house.

Okay, so not actually famous, but good.

Here’s how ya do it.

Holy Guacamole

2-3 avocados
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 cup salsa verde, any brand
1/2 cup of either sour cream, mayonnaise or fat free Greek yogurt
2 Tbsp. Fresh chopped cilantro leaf (optional)
1/4 cup chopped sweet onion (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste.

Gather your your ingredients.

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Cut your avocados in half, remove the large pits, and scoop out the soft green flesh into a bowl. Use a fork to mash it up. You don’t want it completely smooth, you want to leave lumps about the size of a small pea in it. Lumps make it good.

Squeeze your limes into the bowl and stir. In a pinch you can substitute lemon but you’ll need to add extra salt and pepper. The citrus is important as it adds tart flavor and prevents oxidation (that’s when your guacamole turns all gross and brown).

Add the salsa verde and either the sour cream, mayonnaise or Greek yogurt. One of – NOT all three. Personally, I like the taste with mayonnaise best, but the Greek yogurt is also good, and I wanted to be a little healthier today so that is what I used.

Now’s the time to add cilantro and onion if you’re using them. You don’t have to and I usually don’t. It keeps better without them because the cilantro turns black after about a day, and the onion makes it a bit watery in my opinion.

Add salt and pepper to taste, grab a bag of corn chips and eat! It’s also great on burgers, tacos, burritos and with veggies as a dip.

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

What’s your favorite kind of hot sauce? Other favorite condiment?

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Nutella Fruit Dip

Here’s a yummy, easy snack idea that’s pretty healthy, or at least as healthy as something that contains Nutella can be. It’s reasonably low in fat, with lots of protein. The fruit brings in vitamins and fiber. Great for sharing with kids.

1/2 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt
1 heaping Tbsp Nutella
Sliced fruit of your choice (bananas and strawberries are great with this)

Stir the Nutella and yogurt together until it reaches a smooth, pudding-like consistency. In fact, you could just eat it by itself as if it were pudding. You could also just eat Nutella straight from the jar.

Not that I would know from personal experience or anything.

Apparently, you could also substitute peanut butter for the Nutella. I don’t know why you would want to do that, but you could.

Place your dip in a bowl and surround it with fruit for dipping, and go to town.

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