We trotted along the Merri Creek Trail to Ceres for brunch yesterday. It’s like going on a secret hike through the wilderness (lite) to get there, and I love having to climb up the bank like a little otter (or platypus) and pass through the bike workshop to arrive at the café.
They’ve got to do something about the wait times for food on weekends there, but it’s a nice little sojourn if you’re not in a big hurry. And the green veg & tofu soba salad (not to mention the Australian bush-spice chai) was really worth it. Really.
I’ve been a non-dairy drinker for a couple of years now (and prior to this, on and off for about a decade). For the majority of this time, I had assumed that my choices were limited to good old soy and rice milk (or “beverage” strictly speaking – there are rules about using the term “milk” to describe a non-dairy based product on the shelf).
A couple of years ago, a naturopath I was seeing prescribed that I drink Almond Milk as part of my vego regimen. She wanted me to get all sorts of enzymes that I couldn’t get from soy lattes – It was an expensive buy off the shelf – $5 – $9 for a litre, and it was heat processed so as to preserve it unrefrigerated. This shelf-sourced version was kind of brown and tacky – I was largely unimpressed with the option, and cut it loose without really giving it a second chance.
When veganism rocked around in my life, as most people do, I threw myself into research and study on different nutritional options (and largely speaking – the incredible healing power of raw food). And lo and behold: one of the big things I discovered is how important raw nut milk is in a balanced vegan diet.
Again – it has to do with all important enzymes and nutrients that are destroyed in heat processing, sterilisation and life-preserving techniques. The best way to consume this delicious wonder is… fresh and raw.
So – what are a gal’s options?
The first – and by far the most decadent is to head to an organic chocolate bar – kind of like… Coco Loco on High Street, Northcote (in Melbourne’s inner-North) and drink their rapturously divine hot chocolates made with… Cashew Milk – or as they like to spell it: Kashew Mylk. It’s not as thick as traditional Italian ho-cho, but definitely just as rich, without the queasy, mucusy (yes, I just wrote mucusy) after-effects of downing a half-litre of moo. It’s light and fresh, but totally indulgent at the same time.
But we are headed into the summer months here, aren’t we? And there aint’ nothin sweeter than chilled nut milk – it’s a fantastic mid-morning (or mid-arvo) pick-me-up beverage. If you live Sydney-way, then you can order it, fresh and ready-made from The Goodness Company (featured here, before) – they do both Almond and Brazil NutMilk Mylk. Bless them! (I have got the biggest crush in the world on The Goodness Company.)
Alas, TGC does not deliver to Melbourne! Swoon! Faint! Keel over in disappointment! In Singapore, I noticed that hand-pressed Almond Milk was everywhere (there was even one place that wouldn’t serve soy in our coffee, but offered Almond instead…). It was made fresh before your eyes. Thank goodness for the local wonder-eatery that is Yong Green Food (they are the bedrock of vegan and raw gourmet in Melbourne) – for these guys press fresh Cashew Milk daily as if it were no big deal. (I’m still searching for other places that do it, so if you’ve got sources, please give us the heads-up)
But you want to know a secret? It is no big deal. It’s super-simple. After having drunk my own bodyweight in the divinity that is Raw Cashew Lassi at Yong Green Food recently, I decided I wanted to turn my own hand to “milking” the nut.
A quick bit of research led me to Living Synergy. Jenny – the incredible Australian holistic entrepreneur who helms Living Synergy does nut milk bags good. (Check out the rest of her site, too – for her incredible collection of aligned products and services, and comprehensive collection of information on raw vegan nutrition.)
I got in touch with her recently, and she happily agreed to donate a couple of nut bags for trial and… giveaway at Superéthique! We’re very excited to bring you a quick run-down of my fantabulously successful experience using the Living Synergy nut milk bag.
My finished product.
The instructions are simple – you soak your chosen nuts (I’ve done it twice with almond, and am yet to try cashew – I’ve heard, however that cashew is much creamier); I soaked both batches of almonds overnight – but you could definitely get away with a couple fewer hours if you needed to (full instructions are available on Jenny’s website). I would recommend using filtered/purified water for this.
[Soaking "activates" the nuts - makes them "living" - which in a nutshell (hah!) means that the soaking has induced in them a "sprouting" state - instead of remaining dormant seeds, they begin to germinate. Great for the gut - digestion and enzyme wise, and much richer and more flavourful on the palate.]
Chocolate Almond Milk: with raw cacao and agave nectar.
You then drain the excess fluid, rinse the nuts, and throw them into the blender with some more purified water. Experiment with how much, depending on how thick and rich you want your milk. Blend the nuts and water, and over a good bowl or wide-mouthed jug, strain the thick, gorgeous, sludgy pulp – and… milk the bag – yes, my dears – kind of like an udder.
You can then repeat these last two steps with the remaining pulp, until you’ve squeezed all the milky goodness out of the mixture.
Nut Milk Nutmeg Chai.
It’ll keep for up to 3 days in the fridge, but I recommend consuming it straight away, or chilled briefly for a cool, summer interlude. I worked out the cost of making a litre of this stuff myself – not too thick, but not watery, either – at about $3.80 – cheaper than soymilk and shelf-sourced Almond milk. There’s a comprehensive price breakdown here.
The bag can be reused again, and again, and again – and even put to use for growing sprouted seeds (I’ve yet to try this, but I’m really looking forward to it.)
Fittingly, our giveaway today is one of Living Synergy’s awesome Nut Milk Bags + recipe booklet. So, get your fine self on the mailing list to be in the running to win.
This li’l section of Superéthique has just been in Singapore for a week and busily trawled the streets for ethical and humane eating/lifestyle options.
I discovered it’s a lot easier to eat vego & vegan in Singapore than I thought it would be. For starters, there are large Hindi, Buddhist and Muslim populations, whose combined dietary restrictions equal a broad variety of culinary options, and a diverse range of businesses who cater to them.
Secondly, the heat means that everyone consumes far more super-chilled beverages. Smoothies, freshly pressed juices, iced awesomeness – these are a regular part of the day for many Singaporeans – the healthier options (even in “basic” shopping centre foodcourts) are therefore abundant.
But I had some stand-out favourites. These were:
- NutriHub – modest but replete with the good stuff, NutriHub is all about health education, and is a temple to raw & vegan.
- Lins Smoodees – run by the gorgeous, entrepreneurial super-maven, Adeline (and helmed by her mum as head-chef), Lins Smoodees started out as a home-delivery service of fresh, raw, live green smoodees for reinvigorated health. Her website is a veritable treasure-trove of green goodness, and her branding is second to none in this industry. My favourite page is Sight Effects. Brilliant. Adeline is also looking to franchise out, so if you’re interested boyz and girlz – get in touch.
- Real Food – it’s a café, grocer & bookstore. No – really. And it’s an absolute paradise. Real Food was our saving grace in Singapore – it looked different enough from the interiors of most shopping centres to make us feel a little sane, but at the same time it was comfortable, perfectly air conditioned, and the food, drink and non-edible products there were diverse and comprehensive. They even had a soft indie-chill playlist going on which included the likes of Laura Veirs, Regina Spektor, Bat for Lashes and Yael Naïm – a rare find for us in Singapore. Plus, they served Singapore’s first ever vegan ice cream, Brownice (made from brown rice – seriously delicious!) – over eight flavours’ worth (including Masala Chai!). We sat there for hours, and well – chilled.
When I am feeling spankingly organised, I like to blend my own chai. Sadly, these moments of life-lucidity are few and far between these days. However, happily, there’s an easily-come-by, quality antidote to my chaos and need for spiced tea.
I was first introduced to chai as “masala tea” made by hand at my father’s restaurant in Hobart. Our recipe was very different from the “brewed masala chai” that work colleagues used to buy me from a Brunswick Street Indian restaurant when I worked at a dodgy (and now defunct) furniture store in the early noughties.
It wasn’t until about 4 years later when I was dating a dude who was hip with all things organic and world music (hey, at the time it was a quirk) that I discovered one could brew chai at home without having to pound spices in a mortar and pestle. Magico! Enter: Hari Har Chai. I’ve been using it as my wingman for a time-challenged spice hit ever since.
I use the original blend (check out their website, they’ve expanded dramatically) with Bonsoy (bien sûr), and I sweeten it with raw Organic Agave Syrup from Loving Earth.
Hari Har is mild, because of the ratio of low-caffeine black tea to spices (I sometimes chuck in a few extra cloves, cardamom pods, star anise and ginger just for good measure), but when you brew it strong it gives your day punch and a rich, earthy kapow.
I’ve been experimenting around with flavour combining with this puppy and have found that cocoa blends smoothly and effortlessly with Hari Ha for a gorgeously decadent rainy-afternoon treat. We’re using Abundant Earth Organic Cocoa at the moment.
And finally, la pièce de résistance: the most recently discovered taste sensation (it’s blowing me away right now) is home-combined Dandi Chai. Now, you can buy dandelion chai in stores, but I’ve found many of them to be weak and, well – just a little… meh. Hari Har make a blend of Dandi & Chai themselves (as well as Chocolate Chai, I believe), which I haven’t yet stumbled across in my travels – so I can’t speak for that particular blend, and it could very well be amazeballs.
However, we have a container of Symington’s Instant Dandelion on the shelf that was originally purchased to try to wean The Husband off his 5-coffee-a-day addiction (I’ve since given up), and that I’ve since been trying to work out what to do with. I’m not a massive fan of the stuff on its own (neither, would it seem is The Husband), and I’m loathe to chuck such expensive nutritional assets out.
So, yesterday arvo, sitting still at the computer for far too long and getting a little chilly, I decided my best option for instant warmth was to jump up and down a few times and make a pot of chai. I was in a “what the heck” mood, so I dumped one and a half teaspoons of Symington’s Dandi at the bottom of my cup, along with my agave. I poured the soy-milky, spicy brew in on top, stirred rapidly and sipped. Heaven. In. A. Cup. I. Kid. You. Not.
If I weren’t careful, I could get addicted to this stuff. Hurrah for Hari Har!
- Ming-Zhu. x
Don’t forget: the inaugural giveaway is happening in three days’ time! To make sure you’re in with a seriously decent chance of winning your very ownBYO Coffee Cup (I often use mine to sip my chai on the way to yoga, en fait); put your email address in the box below. Miam, miam, miam.
My name is Ming-Zhu Hii - I'm an actor, artist, and content curator. Superéthique is an outlet for my obsession with wellbeing, good living and bleeding-edge green style. Alongside some fabulous friends, this is where I share super-ethical inspiration for life.