One of the challenges in my cooking is that I am lactose intolerant. I've been that way as long as I can remember though, so I've had a lot of practice getting around it.
© Nick Moase Photo
There are different levels of severity when you are lactose intolerant, and I think mine would be mild to moderate at worst. Mostly it's just an annoyance.
It probably is in part why I learned how to cook too. Many pre-packaged foods are made with milk solids, which actually contain a higher amount of lactose than straight milk.
Basically, when you are lactose intolerant you learn what foods you can handle and what to avoid. For me, I can handle milk in baked goods, mild cheeses and butter. All of those have low to no lactose levels compare to straight milk because of the way they are made.
I still like to have a bowl of cereal for breakfast though.
Twenty years ago there were few options for those with lactose intolerance. Now though there seems to be a wide variety of options. Those include:
Goat's milk - which has a different type of protein that some people can handle.
Lactose free milk - I can use this for cooking, but it still has something in it that bothers my stomach in cereal.
Soy Milk - not really milk, and quite a bit different. It takes a little getting used to, but it's not bad and you can use it in baking. You can't use it for anything savory though, like a cream sauce.
Nut Milk - Almond, coconut, sometimes even hazelnut and cashew milk have all been hitting the shelves over the past few years. Almond milk is what I switched to last year.
Nut milk quite versatile too. You can use it in anything sweet that calls for milk, mix it with milk for homemade pudding (you need some milk fat) or use in place of regular milk in milkshakes for a deeper flavour.
Though nut milks sound exotic, they are actually dead simple to make. If you just want almond milk, it is cheaper to buy it in the store. But if you want to try something different, or have leftover nuts and no idea what to do with them (like I did), it can be a fun experiment.
Here's what you need:
4 cups room temperature water
2 cups nuts of choice, raw and unsalted
1 tbsp salt
3 cups filtered water
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
sugar/honey or any other sweetener to taste (optional)
Soak the nuts overnight in the room temperature water and salt solution, a minimum of eight hours up to about 12 hours.
Drain and rinse the nuts. Put them into a blender with vanilla and sugar if using, and add three cups filtered water.
Blend on high for about two minutes, or until smooth.
In a fine mesh strainer or sieve lined with cheesecloth, pour in the contents of the blender.
Either press with a spatula, or if using cheesecloth squeeze out the liquid.
And that's it. The milk lasts for four to six days in the refrigerator.
But wait! Don't throw out the bits left in the sieve or strainer. You have essentially made nut meal/flour with the leftovers. It can be used in gluten free recipes like quick breads, and coatings for chicken and fish. The nut meal lasts about a month in the freezer.
I've never baked with nut meal before, though I have used it as a substitute bread coating, but now that I have a couple cups worth I'm going to give it a try. Stay tuned for the results.