February is all about healthy smoothies to celebrate our VEGA Giveaway with Brendan Brazier. We will give away FOUR VEGA Prize Packs, and I will announce one lucky winner every week on Facebook and Twitter.
So, in honour of this fabulous giveaway, I am going to post some of my favourite smoothies recipes using the amazing VEGA products, as well as some other treats. Brendan is extremely passionate about nutrient density and nutritional diversity in his book, THRIVE FOODS. He uses a lot of different whole grains, nuts, seeds, and superfoods in his recipes.
I am going to use a of different plant based milks as the base for many of these smoothie recipes, and it occurred to me that I hadn't posted many of the vegan milks that I use on a regular basis. I posted my homemade almond milk, cashew milk, macadamia milk, coconut milk, and rice milk recipes when I first started the blog. But, I have been remiss in not posting any more since. So, I am taking this month as an opportunity to rectify this, and post some other simple plant based milk recipes that can be used in smoothies, soups, ice creams, and desserts.
We are extremely fortunate in the U.S to have access to many commercial vegan milks, with soy, rice, oat, almond, hazelnut, hemp, and coconut milks being the most widely available. But there are so many other nuts, seeds, and grains that can be "milked" for culinary enjoyment. For example, cashews, macadamias, pecans, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, sacha inchi seeds, flaxseeds, quinoa, and millet can all be blended into delicious, nutritious "mylks."
I very rarely use commercially produced milk. Why? When homemade milks are so easy to make. They are also raw and fresh, free of additives, preservatives, hormones, and antibiotics, and contain live enzymes and nutrients. The best part is that you can completely control the integrity of the final product – the quality of the raw ingredients, the sugar levels, and the texture.
Today, I want to share one of the best kept secrets in the vegan world - Brazil nut milk. This is a more exotic raw nut milk that is not to be missed! It is absolutely delicious, nutritious, and makes an unbelievably tasty milk that is phenomenal in smoothies.
Brazil nuts are rich and creamy, and loaded with beneficial nutrients. They are one of the richest sources of selenium (about 2,500 times more than any other nut), making them a fantastic “complete vegetarian protein” with a full amino acid profile. Just two raw Brazil nuts accounts for the daily requirement! Selenium intake has been linked to heart and prostate health, as is known to prevent cancer, combat viruses and boost immunity.
Brazil nuts also contain the amino acid Methionine, which promotes antioxidant production that combats free radical damage and premature aging. They are also a good source of calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium and Vitamin B. Like all nuts, they are a good source of protein, but are about 2/3 fat with 20% of that being saturated fat, which is one of the highest levels of vegetable saturated fats of all nuts. Brazil nuts are a good source of Omega 6 fatty acids, but should be consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet.
I try to drink a few glasses (one batch) of home made Brazil nut milk a week to get my brain food fix! Or I just slip a few Brazil nuts into my mouth every day. You can make all kinds of delicious flavours by adding raw cacao powder or carob powder, berries, cinnamon, honey or ginger. YUMMO! Commercial Brazil nut milk is not yet available, and making your own takes literally 10 minutes. Just blend, flavour, and strain. Too easy.
Brazil nut milk can be used in place of almond milk in most recipes. They have a similar mild flavour and texture when strained. I know a lot of you are making raw almond milk on a regular basis. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE almond milk. But, variety is the spice of life, and it is good to mix things up a bit for nutritional diversity. Trust me, give Brazil nut milk a try and you won't be disappointed. It is absolutely DELICIOUS.
I will post one of my favourite smoothie recipes using Brazil nut milk tomorrow.
NOTE: When purchasing raw Brazil nuts: the shells contain aflatoxins, which have been linked in some studies to liver cancer. The EU have strict importing regulations for whole Brazil nuts for this reason. Always purchase raw shelled Brazil nuts from a health food store with a high turnover to ensure maximum freshness and quality; and always store Brazil nuts in a sealed glass container in the fridge, as these nuts are even more susceptible to rancidity due to their very high fat content. You can purchase delicious roasted salted Brazil nuts. But as with all other nuts, this greatly compromises the nutritional integrity of the nut and heating them produces carcinogens, which create toxins in the body.
Please note: excessive consumption of Brazil nuts can lead to selenium toxicity which can result in a metallic taste in your mouth, garlic odour in the breath, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, skin rashes and blotches, diarrhea, runny nose, cough, nerve pain, brittle nails, and hair loss. I wouldn't eat more than 1 cup a week.
Brazil nuts also contain some of the highest concentrations of phytic acid and should always be soaked and dehydrated before consumption to make them more easily digestible. For more about anti-nutrients and the health benefits of soaking nuts and grains check out my Why Soak Nuts and Grains information page.