How To Make Your Own Almond Milk, Vegan Ice Cream, Mayo & Cheese

I mean, how hard can it really be to make your own nut milk? And while you’re there, throw together some truly tasty vegan versions of ice cream, chocolate dessert, mayonnaise and a cheddar cheese?
It’s been an interesting challenge. My kitchen has seen revelatory highs (hello delicious nut milk) and frustrating lows (disappointed in you, non-dairy cheese).
Plant-based eating is good for us and our planet so it’s always good to further the veggie/vegan cause. This experience has taught me that I have no excuse to buy almond milk ever again, vegan chocolate and ice cream can taste great and an eggless mayonnaise may be passed off as the real deal. And although I’ve still to come up with a vegan cheddar recipe I love enough to share, I hope you will try the rest of these ideas on your friends and family, vegan or otherwise.
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Almond milk

There is no going back. Not only is making your own nut milk ridiculously easy to do but you end up with something that is much more delicious than anything you can buy. You will need a reasonably fierce blender, and investing in a nut milk bag makes sense if you are going to make this regularly. I am so I will. Otherwise, muslin or the cut-off foot of a clean pair of tights will do just fine.

Makes around 650ml

Ingredients

175g whole almonds, soaked overnight
800ml cold water (preferably filtered)
1-2 dates (optional)

Instructions

Place the soaked, drained almonds in a blender and add 4 cups of water. For sweetness add a date or two. Blend for several minutes until you get a frothy white mix. If using a nut milk bag, place it over a jug. Otherwise, line a metal sieve with the muslin or tights and put over a jug. Pour milk through bag or lined sieve into jug. Then lift nut milk bag (or bring up corners of your chosen lining to enclose pulp) and squeeze as much milk as you can into the jug. Pour the milk into a sealed bottle or jar and store in fridge. Use within 2-3 days.

Tip: For a thicker milk, just use 2-3 cups of water instead of four.
2 of 5
Chocolate pots

I’m looking for a properly satisfying, rich fix that doesn’t sink too deep into dark chocolate world. Coconut seems the way to go here. Then I had the idea of using my homemade almond milk, plus I do really love a date. So, the result? Two easy and delectable recipes on offer. You choose.

Serves 4-8 (it’s very rich)

Ingredients

100g dark chocolate
200ml coconut cream
2 tbsp maple syrup

Instructions

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water (making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water). Meanwhile, put the coconut cream into the blender with the maple syrup and blend for 30 seconds. Add the chocolate to the mix and blend until well combined. Pour into small containers – shot glasses or egg cups are good. Cover and chill for a few hours until set.

Version 2: Alternatively, melt the chocolate as above. Put 10 Medjool dates and 200ml almond milk (or any plant milk of your choice – soya also works well here) into blender and blend until smooth. Add the melted chocolate and blend a little more until well combined. Pour into serving dishes and chill as above.

Tip: You can add chilli flakes or orange zest to either mix. Or try topping with chopped pistachios or fresh fruit.
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3 of 5
Banana, coconut and lime ice cream

I do not want anything slushy emerging from my freezer. It has to be creamy. I also want to keep things really simple, so no fancy ice cream makers or cooking up custards here. Just take bananas, coconut milk and a lime. Easy. Delicious. Done.

Serves 2-4

Ingredients

2 large bananas
1 tin coconut milk
Zest of 1 lime

Instructions

Peel the bananas, cut into chunks, place in a freezer bag and put in the freezer for a few hours or overnight.

Put the tin of coconut milk in the fridge for a couple of hours. Remove the bananas from the freezer about 20 minutes before you want to blend to allow them to soften. Meanwhile, open the coconut milk. Carefully scoop 3 large tablespoons (more if you want it richer) of just the thick creamy part of the milk into a bowl and gently whisk to loosen and aerate a little. Then put into the blender with the bananas. Add the lime zest and blend your mixture for several minutes until soft and creamy. Pour into a container and freeze for several hours or overnight. Take out of the freezer around 20 minutes before you plan to serve.

Tip: Top with coconut flakes gently drizzled with maple syrup and toasted in oven (140 degrees) for 5 mins.
4 of 5
Mayonnaise

That fat dollop of indulgence that adds flavour and a creamy, delicious finish to so many dishes. So does a vegan version work? Yes, yes and yes. Tofu triumphs in this mayo mix and using lashings of lemon and adding a few chilli flakes really makes it zing.

Makes a small serving bowl

Ingredients

100g silken tofu (no other tofu will do)
3 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp olive oil
Black pepper and a pinch of sea salt
A few chilli flakes (optional)

Instructions

Using a small blender or whisking by hand is the best way to go for this. Simply blend or whisk tofu until it’s smooth and then add in lemon juice and mustard. Still blending or whisking, drip in oil. Finish with seasonings and the chilli flakes if using.

Tip: Instead of the chillis, try crushed garlic, smoked paprika or swap out the lemon juice for lime.
5 of 5
Cashew cream cheese

I have eaten acceptable Parmesan and cheese sauce, vegan style, but am yet to discover a dairy-free cheddar I can eat without asking, "Why doesn’t it taste of anything?"

After six attempts to make my own I have to admit defeat. For me, it just doesn’t work on either taste or texture. So instead, I bring you this really easy make, a cashew nut cream cheese that is best served on bagels or toast.

Makes 2–4 servings

Ingredients

100g cashew nuts, soaked overnight
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp nutritional yeast
A little soya milk
A few chives, finely chopped
Black pepper and sea salt to taste

Instructions

Put drained nuts into a blender and add the lemon juice, nutritional yeast and soya milk. Blend until you have a smooth, soft, creamy consistency. Add the chives and seasonings.

Tip: Swap out chives for parsley or basil. Or try adding chopped peppers or cucumber for extra crunch.
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