Saturday, November 14

Everything You Need to Know About Milk Alternatives

A couple of weeks ago I gathered practically every faux-milk I could possibly get my hands on and did a massive taste test of purchased versus homemade (coming soon, I swear)...and if you're a nerd like me, that's the ultimate showdown battle. While I wasn't surprised that homemade milk was the Rocky Balboa of the scenario, I was kind of impressed by how incredibly simple it is to make. Milk has never been a favourite of mine. Growing up I remember the curiosity I felt when watching my brother and sister drink it by the glass. Whywouldyoudothat?! Even to this day my little sister will get the hankering for a cup, and as she drinks it, I'll look on in horror. 

But lo and behold!!!

This little experiment had me making a heck of a lot of milks - ones that needed cooking, soaking, or used fresh seeds and nuts. And surprise surprise, they weren't as time consuming or annoying to make as I thought. While like many of you I had my stints at making homemade milks, I would usually give up on it after a couple of weeks and think I'll just buy this. Although in the past I've often purchased almond milks, I have kind of been put off lately and have been skipping them altogether. But through this I learned that if you steer clear of nut milks, they basically cost pennies to make!  And while they often mean planning ahead to soak your ingredients the night before, they only take about 2 minutes to make...much less time than trekking to the store. And best of all, they taste amazing!

To help you get started on your nut milk extravaganza, I've outlined a few key elements - ratios, ingredient options, and flavours. Most importantly, just have fun and play around! 

Need to Knows...


Being deliciously homemade, without the addition of stabilizers and preservatives, means that this stuff wont last as long as the store bought versions. But in all honestly, they taste so darn good, I doubt you'll have any issue with them lasting that long. I like to keep my milk in a sealed jar (think mason or my beloved weck) to prevent any weird fridge smell from permeating. I usually give them all about four days in the fridge to be safe, but five should be just fine. And if you make too much, or are just one of those super organized folks who plan ahead (I know you're out there!), you can freeze extra in ice cube trays for hot chocolates, or to pop into your favourite dish. 


If you chose to take this route, there are two main ways to sweeten your milk. Firstly, is the dried fruit method. For this one, I often stick with dates, but raisins would also do the trick. They are best to add along with the nuts or seeds, and pureed together. Dates add a subtle sweetness and caramel flavour which I really enjoy. Start with only one or two and taste as you go, and remember to pit them first, or poor Vitamix... 

Second is the liquid sweetener version. This one can me made with loads of different options: honey, maple syrup, date syrup, yacon, brown rice syrup, really whatever! The nicest part here is that you add these after the milk has been strained. This allows for more control over the flavour than the dried fruit version, and doesn't contaminate the pulp. Start with a teaspoon and add more to taste. And don't forget, adding a pinch of sea salt will help bring out the flavours. 

Add In

Here's where you can get as creative as you like! Add vanilla (powder, extract, or beans), raw cacao, cocoa, berries (hello strawberry milk!!!), spirulina, chlorella, reishi, or anything you can dream of. 

To Compost, or not to compost....

Well, that's not even a question here. When it comes to making your own milk, you may cringe at the price of almonds, but looking at the bigger picture, you'll see that it's not actually that expensive because it's a zero waste procedure! That's right, no leftovers here. The pulp left behind from oat, rice, and quinoa milk can be stirred into pancakes or cooked and eaten as a porridge. Nut pulps like the almond pulp can be stored in the freezer if you're not using it right away, added to your next baking endeavour, or dried in the oven at a low temp and used as flour. Finally, coconut can be toasted and makes the perfect topping for curry or oatmeal.

P.S. I haven't found much use for soy bean leftovers yet, but if you do, please share!
Correction - I've now learned this is called okara, and can be added to vegan burgers!

The Basics

No matter what your budget or dietary need, there is a milk alternative for you out there. Here are the five main groups to choose from. And don't forget you can mix (coconut almond milk, anyone?)


Choose from Almonds, Hazelnuts, Cashews*, Pecans*, Walnuts, Macadamia, or Brazil.

1. 1 Cup nuts to 3-3 1/2 Cups water 

2. Let the nuts soak overnight. 

3. The next day, rinse them well and place in blender along with the fresh water.

4. Puree until smooth, then strain through cheese cloth, nut milk bag, or yes, even hosiery (clean ones, though).

*Nuts like the pecans and cashews are too fine to sieve out, and are better left in the milk.  


Choose from Sesame, Hemp hearts*, Pumpkin Seeds, or Sunflower Seeds.

1. 1 Cup nuts to 2 Cups water 

2. Soak all the seeds overnight except for hemp (no soaking needed). 

3. The next day, rinse them well and place in blender along with the fresh water.

4. Puree until smooth, then strain through cheese cloth, nut milk bag, and that hosiery.

*Seeds like the hemp are too fine to sieve out, and are better left in the milk.  


Soy Beans!

1. 1 Cup dried soy beans, soaked overnight

2. The next day drain and rub the beans together to remove the casing (the beans will split into halves). Discard the casings.

3. Puree along with 4 cups water until smooth. Pass the mixture through a cheesecloth or nut milk bag.

4. Bring the milk to a boil and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring often. Spoon off the milk skim that forms on top, then once cool you can season.


Choose from Scotch (Steal Cut) Oats, Rice, or Quinoa.

1. 1/2 Cup raw rice or quinoa (you will cook it) to 2 Cups water. Or, 1 Cup raw steal cut oats to 3 Cups water.

2. Cook the rice or quinoa and once cool, combine with the water. Let the oats soak overnight, then like the others, rinse before pureeing with fresh water.

3. Puree until smooth then strain.


This includes the delicious odd ball, Coconut.

1. Combine 1 Cup dried coconut along with 4 Cups water.

2. Puree until smooth, then strain.


Golden Milk Latte
Serves 1

Personally, I like to call this both a 'warm hug' and a simultaneous 'kick in the ass'. It's spicy and warming, and lightly sweet. The perfect balance of invigoration and comfort.

1 1/2 Cup Milk 
1 tsp. Ground Turmeric
1/2 tsp. Grated Ginger
1/8 tsp. Cinnamon
1 tsp. Honey, or sweetener of choice
1/2 tsp. to 1 tsp. coconut oil

1. Combine all the ingredients in a pot and whisk together. Bring the mixture to a simmer and serve warm.

Dandelion Mocha

Serves 1

If you don't want such a rich drink, try skipping the cacao and sugar and just go for a traditional dandelion latte (that's not a thing yet, but hopefully one day soon).

1 1/2 Cups Milk along with 1/4 Cup Water
2 Tbsp. Roasted Dandelion Root
2 Tbsp. Cacao Powder
1 tsp. Maca
1/2 tsp. Reishi Powder (Optional)
Pinch Sea Salt
1 Tbsp. Coconut Cream (Optional)
1 Tbsp. Coconut Sugar

1. Combine the milk and water in a pot and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and add the dandelion root. Steep 5 minutes then strain out the dandelion roots. Add the milk back to the pot along with the other ingredients and bring to a simmer. Enjoy!

xox Sophie

Thursday, October 29

Powerhouse Squash Soup

I've been sitting on this post for more than a week now, unable to take the time to sit down and put it all together. But here I am finally, curled up with a warm cup of milky tea, ready to type. The curser blinking in anticipating. As of late, I've been failing to keep up with regular blog posts (um, I guess you kind of noticed that). Yet the funny thing is, it's all I want to do. My pockets are full with recipe ideas scribbled down on crumbled debit receipts. My endless notebooks are reaching full capacity. And I'm getting so excited to make, create, and share it all with you!

Currently, I'm staying with my little sister in her teeny tiny bachelor apartment - equipped with bar fridge and all. How anyone ever manages to cook in a postage sized kitchen, I will never know. Rachel Khoo, you're my hero in more ways than one! After a couple attempts at creating a post that went horribly wrong (lets say bar fridge freezing kale, and a freezer that refuses to keep things frozen), I turned to one of my most simple, most adaptable, and favourite recipes. Well, actually I can't take credit for this one, but that won't stop me from sharing it. 

This soup was an essential weekly dinner back when I was in my early twenties and in the midst of college. Our house was small, and crowed, and there were always extra hungry bodies to feed. When autumn would come around the boys would bike down to the local market and stock up on local squash. No matter what variety was on sale, we'd turn it into a variation of this nourishing soup. It was a household favourite, and I mean favourite. Back then we called it Phat Soup, for its rich and thick consistency, and general wonderfulness. This will date me, but we even wrote a song about it and put on MySpace. Its that good. 

I used Butternut squash in this version, but Hubbard, Pumpkin, Kabotcha, Acron, Carnical, Kuri, or Buttercup would all work. 

Powerhouse Squash Soup with Spicy Pumpkin Seeds


Roasted Veggies:

5 Cups Cubed mixed Squash
2 Cups Cubed Yam
1 Cup Chopped Carrot
1 1/2 Tbsp. Coconut or Avocado Oil
1/2 tsp. Sea Salt
1/4 tsp. Black Pepper
1/2 tsp. Ground Coriander

Soup Base:

1 Onion Chopped
4-6 Cloves of Garlic (depending on their size and your taste)
1 Thumb Sized Piece (2.5 cm/1 inch) of Ginger, grated 
1 1/2 tsp. Ground Cumin
1 1/2 tsp. Ground Coriander
1 tsp. Turmeric
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
1/8 tsp. Ground Nutmeg
1/4 tsp. Smoked Paprika
Pinch Chili Flakes
1 Tbsp. Coconut Oil or Avocado Oil
4 Cups Veggie Stock
1/2 Cup Coconut milk


Lemon Slices
Spicy Pumpkin Seeds (Recipe below)
Sliced Chili


1. Heat oven to 205 C (400 F). Toss the Roasted Veggie Mix together in a big bowl and then onto a tray. Roast for about 30-40 minutes, stirring halfway though, until the veggie are golden and tender. 

2. Meanwhile, heat a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the 1 Tbsp. Oil along with the chopped onion and garlic. Once the onions are getting translucent, add the spices, and cook on low heat for another couple of minutes. Add the stock and roasted veggies. Let simmer for 30 minutes, or until the flavours have come together. Next, stir in the coconut milk. Puree using an emersion blender, or a blender (in small batches, please!) until smooth. Squeeze a little bit of lemon or lime juice in at the end, and salt to taste. 

3. Garnish with pumpkin seeds and chili.

Spicy Pumpkin Seeds

1/4 tsp. Sea Salt
1/4 tsp. Ground Cumin
1/8 tsp. Ground Ginger
1/8 tsp. Cinnamon
Pinch of Cayenne
2/3 Pumpkin Seeds
3 Tbsp. Coconut Sugar 

1. In a heavy heavy bottom frying pan, heat the seeds and spices until the seeds begin to brown and pop. Add sugar and stir constantly. Once the sugar has melted, remove from the heat and spoon onto a plate to cool. 

xox Sophie

Friday, September 4

Whole Hearted Guide to NYC

The last four months have been a total whirlwind, flying by at an incomprehensible rate. I guess that's always the complaint of going on 'vacation'. While my stint in New York wasn't all lollygagging and sightseeing, I did get to spend quite a few of my waking moments away from my internship, and in full-on tourist mode. Knowing that I had such a limited time in the city, I wanted to make sure that I never missed a beat (I know, an impossible task in a city that never sleeps). Although, I wasn't always able to go to every spot on my list, I would sometimes spend days on end eating every meal at home so that I could budget to go out for a nice bite to eat. And boy was it worth it! The thing about New York is the longer I stayed, the more I found out about, and the larger and larger my list grew, leaving it in the end looking basically untouched.

While this is in no way an extensive list, I have complied a few of my (and my buddies) favourite spots that we'd routinely visit for light meals and coffee. Please add your own recommendations so  that I and others can add to our overgrowing "next time" list.


  • Happy Bones - Beautiful and minimal coffee shop with little seating, so don't expect to get your drink "for here", but perfect for take-a-way.

  • Stumptown - Some of my favourite coffee around, Stumptown serves an array of cold brew drinks with some of my favourite beans. Best of all, it's super close to Washington Square Park, the best spot for people watching. 

  • Sweatshop - Fact: Aussies make the best coffee in the world (um..wikipedia told me??). Originally, I was put off thinking this place looked too cool for me, by once I got past the hip factor, I found some of the nicest staff and yummiest coffee around. 

  • Homecoming- Part cafe, part flower shop, part cute bibelot store, all around adorable. 


  • El Rey Luncheonette - My most visited eatery in the whole city, this small luncheonette has top notch coffee, the best kale salad and other beautiful light meals with an interior that reminds me of my beloved west coast. 

  • Two Hands - Another Aussie coffee shop which offers wonderfully fresh and healthy light meals. Highly recommend is the avo toast and a flat white - pure bliss! 

  • Dimes - Like El Rey, Dimes has healthy California style meals in a bright and colourful interior (I detect a theme here). A little out of the way, but worth it!

  • Sun in Bloom - Gluten free, raw, and vegan, this Brooklyn cafe offers casual dining that doesn't weigh you down (the shiitake bacon B.L.T. in a collard wrap is near perfect). 

  • Superiority Burger - Super compact and only open for dinner, this burger joint offers vegan and veggie versions of all your greasy fast food favouirtes. Get it to go, and hang out in Tompkins Square Park for a true NYC experience. 

Markets and Shops

  • Black Seed Bagel - I'm a sucker for Montreal style bagels (sorry NYC) and these come pretty close. Small and chewy and baked in a woodfire oven, the are the best in the city. 

  • Life Thyme Market - Cute little health food story that Amy Chaplin recommended, its one of the few places in the city I could find things like Coyo Yogurt. 

  • Home of the Brave - Greenpoint home store that will leave you wishing you had unlimited credit cards.


  • Ovenly - Salted Vegan Chocolate Chip, need I say more? 

  • Zucker Bakery- Recommended by the lovely Izy, this place offers up wonderful little sweets hand made with love. Date Cinnamon bun, anyone?!

  • Van Leeuwen Ice Cream - Cashew and coconut milk ice cream as well as dairy versions. I'm a big fan of the ginger, earl grey, and salted caramel. Oh yeah, and the chocolate...and the chocolate chip mint.....and the peanut butter chocolate...

  • Four and Twenty - I may be a little bias as I've had multiple roommates who've worked here, but I'd say its the best pie in the city, hands down. And their cookbook is divine!

xox Sophie