HERMOSA BEACH, Calif. - Executive chef Ashley Oates jokes about making nut milks, something most think would be difficult to do.
"It's insane and it's so easy to make. Raw or toasted, skinned or not skinned, blanched or not blanched," she said. "It's water, almonds, and whatever you want. It's so versatile, too."
Her recipe includes organic raw almonds, vanilla bean and dates, but suggests adding chocolate, cinnamon, or holiday spices for the season.
At the Shade Hotel in Manhattan Beach, Oates caters to those interested in organic, sustainable and locally grown.
"Not only is it easy but it's so much healthier. You know what's going into your food," reminded Oates.
After soaking almonds overnight, she uses a one cup of nut and four cups of water ratio, plus her sweet and spicy extras of a vanilla bean and a few dates, and a pinch of salt to bring out the flavor.
"You'd want to blend it for I'd say about 3 minutes," said Oates.
Strain the mixture in a cheesecloth you'll find at the grocery store, and you've got nut milk, which keeps up to four days in the fridge.
And talk about no waste. Once you've strained your almonds, you get a nice little bit of leftovers that you can put in a lot of things liked baked goods.
"Bake and add to granola, your yogurt, add to muffins," said Oates.
Another nutty idea: making cashew cream.
"For the holidays, we're doing a butternut squash soup and going to garnish it with cashew cream," said Oates.
The cashew cream is made the same way but it takes one cup of water and one cup of soaked nut. It will be much thicker. It can be made sweet or savory and definitely has great nutrition.
"There's protein, so many vitamins and so many minerals," Oates added.