The world of wellness can be pretty overwhelming.

    I'm here to make it less about stress, calories, and scales - and more about living, growing, and thriving. To that end, I'm thinking it might be time for a little make your own magic.

    Through a new series I'm calling Make Your Own, I'm bringing this wonderful world to you. Sharing my journey, the things I'm learning along the way, and - most importantly - helping to ease you into a life of greater health and happiness. Why? So you can thrive. So you can live. So you can do everything you want to do.

    One of the most important elements of living well is understanding that how we choose to fuel our lives is ultimately up to us. Too much is missed in school, in the media, in the textbooks - about the power of plant-based nutrition. And there is still so much to learn. 

    This one goes out to all my health-conscious peeps trying to make better choices and buy responsibly. You've heard about the dangers of consuming conventional milk, and you want to do better for yourself and your family. So, what'd you do? If you're anything like me, you headed on over to the Whole Foods and swapped it for a box of almond milk, rice milk, or soy milk. A great idea, in theory, but - as usual - there's more to this story.

    Many of these boxed milk alternatives come with unwanted guests. Preservatives and additives that may not be the safest of options when it comes to our health. One of those additives is called carageenan. It's the concentrated extract of Irish Moss (which, in its whole form, has many health benefits), and it's been linked to gastrointestinal inflammation, lesions, and even colon cancer. And friends, who wants any of that?

    So, today I'll show you how to make your own {MYO} almond milk! It's delicious, better for you, and super easy. But first, a few tips for when you feel you must go with store-bought. First, always choose organic. Second, opt for the "original" flavor over vanilla or chocolate. And third, read the ingredients list. (This is the most important!) Most brands use carageenan. It's used as a thickener/emulsifier in many products. If you see it listed on the back of the box, put it back and keep looking. Your gut will thank you. Deal? Ok, good. Now, let's get milking.

    1 cup raw almonds, unsalted
    soaking water
    4 cups fresh water
    2 dried medjool dates, pitted
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    pinch of salt
    large bowl
    nut bag (yup, you read that right)/fine mesh strainer/cheesecloth 

    • Start by soaking the almonds. Cover the almonds with one to two inches of water and refrigerate. Six to eight hours is pretty standard. Overnight it great, too. This will make blending the almonds easier. It's also gentler on your digestive system.
    • Rinse the almonds well and discard the soak water.

    • Add rinsed almonds, four cups of fresh water, and two pitted dates to the blender. Blend until well combined - about one minute should do it.
    • The next step is to strain the almond-water-date mixture. Place a large bowl on the counter, and begin to pour the mixture through the nut bag, straining out the almond/date pulp. This takes a couple of minutes. Be sure to squeeze out all the liquid.
    • So that all you've got left is a bowl of milk and a bag of pulp. Save the pulp for granola, bread crumbs, or even to make your own natural face scrub/exfoliator.
    • Now, pour the milk back into the Vitamix, add the vanilla and pinch of sea salt. Blend well. Transfer to storage container, and refrigerate. It will keep for two to four days. Enjoy!

    Sidenote: You can easily swap out almonds for cashews, hemp hearts, and other nuts and seeds to create a different variety of nut/seed milk. 

    If you liked this post - and you'd like to see more of the Make Your Own series - then "like" this post and tell me what you think in the comments below. Looking forward to more make your own magic!