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Intrepid Food Exploration

Intrepid Food Exploration

Almond Milk, Ricotta and Fruit Roll-Ups: Three Foods You Should Be Making at Home

When it comes to cooking and baking, I revel in taking the long route. Case in point: last week I handmade butternut squash ravioli, on a weeknight, for a dinner party of six. Let’s just say it wasn’t my worst idea (they were tasty), but it was far from my best (they were ugly as sin and the process took forever).

But forgoing store-bought in the name of homemade doesn’t always have to be stressful. In fact, sometimes it’s as easy as turning on a slow cooker. Below are three food items that can be bought in the store, but for reasons that run from health to homemade-just-tastes-better, I highly encourage you to make them at home. At least give it a try - you won’t be disappointed!  

 A nice cold glass of almond milk pairs perfectly with chocolate chip cookies. 

A nice cold glass of almond milk pairs perfectly with chocolate chip cookies. 

Almond Milk

Yes, almond milks of all shapes, sizes and flavors are available in abundance these days. But did you know a majority of almond milks contain the thickening agent carrageenan, which becomes a carcinogen when it meets stomach acid? Horrified? Me too. Since making almond milk at home requires zero skill, this is at least one food you can avoid the additive.

The key ingredients to success are planning and tools. Plan ahead so you have time to soak your almonds (or any nut of your choice, really) overnight. Buy a nut bag - it’s easier to use for straining than cheesecloth (though cheesecloth will do). Having a high power blender like a VitaMix or BlendTec will also make the process easier, but it’s not necessary.

My go-to recipe is Bon Appetit’s Basic Nut Milk. When it comes to flavoring, don’t be afraid to experiment. Sometimes I’ll throw in a date or fig during the blending process, instead of sweetening with honey. I always throw some cinnamon in too, but sometimes I’ll add unsweetened cocoa powder, too. It just depends on my mood and what’s on hand.

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Fruit Roll-Ups

Why make fruit roll-ups at home? Well one, they’re delicious. Two, there’s no junk in these. Three, it’s way more cost-effective than stocking up on fruit leathers. All you need is a fruit (the frozen variety totally works) sugar and lemon.

Admittedly I’ve only made these once, but that’s because I haven’t had a Sunday afternoon at home in a while. But I plan to make them again, and again and experiment with the fruit combinations. Here is the Food Network recipe that worked wonders for me!

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Ricotta Cheese

Ricotta has always been a bit of a culinary sidekick, never the star of the show. Did you know though, that it is mind-blowingly delicious spread on toast? Partner it with a little jam or drizzle with olive oil and salt, and voila, Avocado Toast has some stiff competition.

So why make ricotta at home? For me, it’s all about cost and texture. ricotta from the store runs about $8 for 16oz, but when you make it at home, you can get double that for the cost of a gallon of milk. Of course, you don’t have to use the whole gallon, but I recommend that you do.

The other big win for homemade ricotta is the texture. You can make it as liquid-y or dry as you’d like (again, bust out that nut bag for straining) and the curds maintain their texture much more than the store bought variety. Homemade also gives you the option to control the salt content, making the finished result as sweet or as savory as you like! Here is a super simple recipe from Epicurious to get you started.