Any time you cook with kids expect a mess. Multiple your prep time by three. Your results may not be as pretty or as perfect. Then again, kids cooking means kids more likely to try new food, having fun/bonding, and absorbing math and science!
Would you like to see our last project? We made homemade almond milk. And with the unanticipated byproduct of leftover almond pulp, the kids made the most delicious almond granola — too tasty not to share.
Homemade Almond Milk Adventures
When the girls and I decided to try making almond milk at home, we picked up raw almonds at Specialty Produce. After soaking for a day, we ground the almonds in a Vitamix and strained it through cheesecloth leftover from my cheese-making days. If you are serious, you can buy a nut milk bag. If you just want to experiment, you can even use an old pillowcase or dishtowel to strain. It tastes really grainy if you don’t strain. But if you would like to try a nut milk that doesn’t need to be strained, I recommend cashews, like this raw cashew “horchata” recipe.
We made a batch of vanilla bean honey almond milk (sweetened with the vanilla bean honey from San Diego Honey Company) and a dark chocolate almond milk. The basic vanilla recipe I found here and would make again. The chocolate recipe used melted chocolate, and wasn’t as smooth as I would’ve liked. Next time I’ll try raw cacao instead.
Watch this video of me milking nuts, lol…
Straining the almond milk through the cheesecloth reminded me so much of making cheese back in the day! It’s been nearly five years since I posted this step-by-step pictures guide to making fresh goat cheese (chèvre) – one of my most comprehensive posts ever. Little Bird used to help add the chèvre culture and roll the logs before she was even two.
Except when you make cheese, the liquid, or whey, is the waste, and the solid is the good stuff you are going for. Making almond milk, the reverse was true. In fact, the leftover almond pulp – which could’ve been just discarded, reminded me in texture of fresh ricotta. Which got me thinking…
Leftover Almond Pulp Makes Great Granola!
We ate a bunch of the almond pulp – which really needs salt – as a snack. I thought it could be interesting as a vegan stuffed pasta filling. Not to mention, it’s a fresher version of the almond meal I buy for baking. However our winning idea was granola!
Drying Out the Almond Meal – Edible Kinetic Sand
The girls had fun spreading out the almond pulp on a baking sheet to dry it out. Use your hands! Such good sensory fun and… it totally feels like kinetic sand! Seriously, you have to try it.
You dry out the pulp in a 200° oven for a few hours, checking it and stirring and breaking it up once an hour. You want the moisture mostly gone. A little browning is fine, but don’t burn any of it.
The result is “healthy looking” aka kind of a bland, crunchy thing. But once you add all the good stuff, it blends right into the granola, giving it extra body.
Making Almond Pulp Granola
Please improvise with your favorite ingredients. We threw in whatever nuts we had in the freezer! Have fun with it.
- Approx 1 cup of pulp from making almond milk from raw almonds
- 1 cup of rolled oats or old-fashioned oats
- 1 cup to 2 cups of raw nuts and seeds (we used a mix of walnuts, pistachios, pepitas, slivered almonds and chia seeds)
- ¼ cup of unsweetened, shredded coconut (optional)
- ¼ cup of melted coconut oil
- 3 Tablespoons of maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon of salt
- First, if using leftover almond pulp from making almond milk, spread out the pulp in a thin, even layer on a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper. Bake in a 200* oven. Check it after two hours, breaking up, stirring and flipping the pulp. Bake for another 1 to 2 hours, checking and stirring periodically, until mostly dried.
- Next, allow the almond meal to cool, then add it and all of the rest of the ingredients to a medium-sized mixing bowl and stir.
- Finally, spread the mixture in an even layer on a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper. This time bake at 275* for 15-25 minutes, or until lightly brown and toasted. Let cool.
- IMPORTANT: Don't mess with it or break apart the giant granola bar until it has cooled for one hour. Then break it up into big chunks and store in an air-tight container.