Homemade Almond Milk

Shop bought almond milk is expensive and often full of sugar/other less desirable ingredients. Yet almond milk is so easy to make, is healthier than shop bought and tastes delicious. Here’s how:-

Soak 2 cups of almonds for about 24 hours (some recipes say 12, I’ve left mine for 48 hours sometimes). Keep them in the fridge and rinse in fresh water before using

Soak 10- 12 dates in water, also in the fridge, keep the soaking water to add to the milk blend. I use Sagai dates, as they are my favourites and taste like toffees, but they are also expensive, so I really must buy some cheaper ones just for blending. They are also really sweet so I use less- 6 usually.

Throw the almonds and dates into a blender with 8 cups of water ( including the date water) and add vanilla paste/seeds (optional). Blend on high speed until all ingredients are liquified. Strain through a muslin lined sieve and squeeze as much liquid out as possible.  Keep in the fridge, I believe it keeps for a few weeks, but never lasts that long in our house.

The whole process, after the requisite soaking time, takes a few minutes.

The almond meal that is left over can be dried (on a baking sheet in a very low oven for a few hours) and used like pre-sweetened almond flour, or better still, used while still moist, to make almond biscuits, which is a lot less bother! I’ll post a recipe later.

 

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Easy Paleo Mayonnaise

imageThis really is the easiest mayo ever, no mucking about making sure all ingredients are at the same temperature, or adding oil one drop at a time. I got this from thehealthyfoodie.com

All you need are a jar and stick blender and a few ingredients:- one large egg, one cup of oil, Juice of half a lemon, generous pinch of salt. The website recommends using extra light olive oil, but I used half good quality strong olive oil and half walnut oil, I also added half a teaspoon of mustard powder and it has a great flavour.

Put all the ingredients in a jar that is just wide enough to accommodate the stick blender, but tall enough that the mayo doesn’t leak over the sides- it’ll double in size. Blend for 20 seconds with the blender on the bottom of the jar. Slowly lift the blender while still blending to incorporate the oil that has risen to the top, blend for another 10 seconds, and that’s it. Put the lid on the jar and store in the fridge for up to a week. It really is that easy! This recipe made about 200mls.

Update – it is important to use the correct size jar to mix this in. For my second batch I used a short fat kilner jar, same capacity as the one in the photo, and it didn’t thicken at all. Had the consistency of runny beaten eggs:(

Paleo Diet and black seed oil for Psoriasis

I’ve been eating a Paleo diet for the last 6 weeks in an attempt to control my psoriasis. I know mine isn’t severe, but the patches on my legs make it impossible for me to wear dresses or skirts, so my business wardrobe is halved right now 😦 and I have a patch on my foot which is visible when I wear certain trousers. I also have no fingernails on several fingers due to the psoriasis, which fortunately I’m able to cover with false nails.

I was prescribed methotrexate last year to control the psoriatic arthritis in my finger joints, associated with the psoriatic fingernails, and it did the trick, but after a couple of months I decided the risks outweighed the benefits of chemotherapy and topical corticosteroids. Since then I’ve found that taking fish oil supplements keeps the inflammation at bay, as does limiting the amount of sugar, including fruit.

So I’d been reading up on the relationship between diet and auto-immune diseases, and thought I’d go one step further than just gluten free. I have to say, I find the diet easy to follow, I don’t eat any grains, including sweetcorn, dairy (although have  ‘cheated’ twice with cheese), sugar or sweeteners (although occasionally use honey/agave syrup in recipes) and obviously no processed foods. I’m also limiting nightshades, as I’m convinced that my over use of aubergines earlier this year triggered psoriatic arthritis again, but fortunately I got it under control without medication. I do still eat tomatoes, because I love them, but never more than 1 per day.

So, after 4 weeks of eating strictly paleo and limiting nightshades, my psoriasis had reduced by about 40%, which as pretty good, I’d also lost about 3kgs in weight, and didn’t feet deprived at all. I feel generally healthier and less tired. I’ve made some really interesting dishes so will post some recipes.

Just over a week ago I read an article about the benefits of black seed oil (Nigella Sativa, also called black cumin oil)  for psoriasis, and as it’s abundant here in the Middle East, thought I’d give it a try. I’ve been taking one teaspoon twice a day for 9 days now and I’m amazed at the difference in such a short space of time. The worst plaque on my leg, which measures approx 7cmc x 3cms is now 80% healed! it’s more like a graze than a scab, and all the plaques on my torso have gone, just a faint pink mark where they used to be. I still have about a dozen small plaques on my legs, but they are much better than before and healing rather than erupting. It’s such a shame I didn’t take before and after photos.

I’ve also been experimenting with black seed oil as a topical. I’ve been using homemade body butter as a general moisturiser for months, but have been applying black seed oil for the last 9 days to the biggest plaque (mentioned above) plus the one on my foot and another one on my leg. 2 of these have healed quickly, the third one, no more so than the others on my legs – whilst the plaques on my torso, where I hadn’t used the oil, have gone completely – which would suggest to me that it’s as a dietary supplement that the oil is of most benefit. I’m also very aware that psoriasis can come and go over the space of a few weeks for no apparent reason, so will monitor the progress and update again in a few weeks.

Roma Tomatoes

The Roma tomatoes have done really well. They grew quickly and ripened quickly, each bunch weighing over a kilo. Even though it’s 40 degrees here now, we still have some flowering although it’s probably too hot for them to pollinate now. Last week I picked 7 kgs of various tomatoes. As well as using them in sauces or cooking them for breakfast, I’ve made ketchup and canned several jars ( with my new pressure canner that my friend Karen got for me in the US)Image

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The raw ingredients for my ketchup in a big saucepan. I didn’t have any fennel bulbs so used fennel seed, tasted fine.

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Tomato ketchup reducing. I’d used 2kgs of Roma tomatoes plus at least a couple of Kgs of other veg, and ended up with just 750mls of sauce. It took about 3 hours to reduce after sieving, but was definitely worth the effort. All natural ingredients, no preservatives and I used agave nectar instead of sugar. Tom loved it so much he’s eaten half of it already!

I also have 6 x 500gm jars of home grown and canned tomatoes