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Lindsay is a creative with a passion for a mindful and purposeful life.  Her photography is inspired by nature and color.  She shares her thoughts, passions, and interests on her blog, From Summer Breeze Lane.

Raw Almond Milk for a Healthy and Happy Brain!

"Your brain is about 60% fat.  If you don’t consume enough healthy fats, think about what this means for your brain… It’s not good."

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I use raw almond milk as the base for most of my smoothies.  Sometimes I make different bases, but I always come back to almond milk because it’s my favorite… and it’s also really good for you!  Almonds are loaded with protein, fiber, healthy fats (fats that are crucial for brain health and brain development, but more on that later), vitamin E, calcium, manganese, and magnesium… but I don’t just stop there with my almond milk.  I also include coconut oil.  Coconut oil is antiviral, antibacterial, antimicrobial, and an excellent source of energy for the body and brain.  It also lowers the risk of diabetes, is good for your cholesterol levels, and supports a healthy metabolism.

Yes, you can buy almond milk at the grocery store, but then it has been processed and pasteurized.  Unfortunately, processing and pasteurizing strips the milk of its nutritional value.  Make your almond milk from scratch to get all of the nutrients and health benefits.  The closer your food is to nature, and the less processed foods you consume, the better you will feel!  

Almond milk contains the good type of fats for your body and brain.  Studies have supported that healthy fats are critical for the developing brain and for maintaining brain health. Your body cannot create these fats on it's own-- you must get them from the foods that you eat.  Your brain is about 60% fat (giving new meaning to the term fat head!).  If you don’t consume enough healthy fats, think about what this means for your brain… It’s not good. The myelin sheath that covers the neurons in your brain are largely composed of the fat, oleic acid.  Almonds are a great source of oleic acid.  Without getting too detailed, the myelin sheath protects and insulates the nerve, and increases the rate that a message travels through the nerve.  Basically, you want your myelin to be in good shape!  It is critical and essential that babies and children consume enough healthy fats for their developing brains.  Unhealthy fats have been shown to actually cause damage to the brain in high quantities.  We want to avoid that!  Eating healthy fats such as those found in almonds and coconut oil will also protect against dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.  Almonds also contain two vital brain nutrients—riboflavin and L-canitine.  These nutrients have been shown to increase brain activity, which results in new and strengthened neural pathways.

You can drink almond milk like regular dairy milk, or it can be added into smoothies, ice creams, and even coffee.  Go wild with your almond milk!  Play around with the quantities of the ingredients to get the milk that tastes best to you.  There are no rules here.

 Raw, imported, and unpasteurized almonds & coconut oil (solid when room temperature is below 70)

Raw, imported, and unpasteurized almonds & coconut oil (solid when room temperature is below 70)

My recipe:

-         4- 4.5 cups water

-         1 cup organic almonds (soak almonds overnight or for several hours prior to making your almond milk.  I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t always plan ahead, but it’s best for optimal digestion.  Also, always buy organic and raw almonds!

-         1 heaping tablespoon of good quality raw and organic coconut oil (good quality coconut oil should smell fragrant and delicious in the jar)

-         1 whole vanilla bean (or less if you want less vanilla, or a small splash of vanilla extract)

-         Sweets: either a splash of real maple syrup, a good quality organic agave syrup, 3-4 medjool dates (remove the pits!), coconut palm sugar, or whatever else you’d like.  I do not give an exact amount because it really depends on what you like. 

-         Small pinch of salt

*Blend the almonds and water in a powerful blender until completely blended.  Strain into a bowl with a fine mesh bag.  You can either dry out the solid almond paste and use as almond flour, feed it to your dogs, or toss it.  My dogs love the almond paste!  Maybe yours will, too.  Now transfer the liquid back into your blender.  Add the remainder of the ingredients and blend!  If you want your almond milk to be chocolate, add a few teaspoons of raw cacao (raw, unprocessed chocolate) into the blender.  You will likely want to add some more dates, maple syrup, or agave if you add the cacao.  Cacao is loaded with nutrients, and a food that everyone should be eating!

Do you make your own almond milk?  If not what is holding you back?  Give it a try before you decide whether or not you like it. 

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