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Into Shelley’s Belly: Recipes for Almond Amaranth Banana Bread and Homemade Cashew Milk

Jarred up cashew milk and amaranth bread (photos by Matthew Shelley)

Our resident voracious eater, Matthew Shelley, usually takes pretty pictures and writes pretty words about other peoples’ food, but this time he’s showing you what he can do in a kitchen. I’m sorry to report that he’s off the market, ladies. Mr. Shelley is engaged.

I am no chef. I am no baker. Now that I am absolved, let me say this, I do love to make food. I like to think of myself of a practitioner of love in the kitchen. I want my home to be a place of production, not just consumption. So I found this recipe on the Whole Food’s recipe website, but I decided to make some minor changes. I will share this with you, as well as a recipe for nut milk, which goes well with this savory and sweet loaf of banana bread.

I know the idea of making your own milk may seem alien at first, but it’s outrageously simple and I find myself beaming with pride after each batch I complete. The simplicity and joy of knowing exactly what’s going in your body is a wonderful feat of self-sustainability and cultivates a sense of personal truth and endowment of warmth and love. Enough with the mushy spiritual ideologies and onto the goods. All nut milks are delicious, healthy, and just plain kicka**. I normally make cashew milk because the cashews require the least time to soak before they are ready and don’t always require straining. Almonds need at least six hours to soak as they are some hard bodied little bastards. Lately I’ve been mixing almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seed kernels, and cashews for one powerhouse of a nut/seed milk. They can all soak together overnight for the easiest preparation. For this recipe, we are doing cashews, but it’s the same for all of them.

Rinsing the cashews
Soaking the nuts
Straining the Cashew Milk through the nut milk bag

Homemade Cashew Milk

½ cup raw cashews (or other nuts/seeds)
1 liter of clean water
1 nut milk bag or cheesecloth

Put cashews in a bowl. Add water so all the cashews are submerged. Allow to soak for at least 2 hours, but more time is perfectly acceptable. Also, soaking your nuts, (refrain your giggles) makes the nuts more bio-available and increases their healthful properties while also making them easier to digest. (Side note: sometimes cashews turn purple. Don’t be alarmed, they are still good.) Once the cashews have soaked, strain them and rinse them well. Some people like to let them dry and all that, but I don’t see the point. Put the cashews in a blender and add about a half cup of water. Start the blender on low and let it run for a minute while the mixture forms a nice creamy consistency. Add a little water if you need to. Once you have your nice creamy base, add water slowly and let it get all awesome. Once you’ve added the entire liter of water, let it blend for a moment and then stop. You can stop here and jar your milk if you’re okay with a little grittiness or you don’t have a nut milk bag. There is more protein if you leave the pulp in, but I sometimes prefer my milk to be smooth and grit free. Prepare a container and pour your new milk through the nut milk bag or cheesecloth into the container. It will take some time to strain through, and you can gently squeeze the bag to move the process along. After that, jar it and love it. This is good for about three to four days, and expect some separation when it’s sitting in the fridge.

After you’ve strained the milk, there will be a nice portion of nut pulp remaining in the bag or cloth. This makes a great substitute for flour in a baking recipe. I jar this as well and save a couple batches to get a usable amount. This brings us to our next recipe, the almond amaranth banana bread.

The banana bread and Cashew Milk
Almond amaranth banana bread, loaf of glory

Almond Amaranth Banana Bread

1 ¼ cup of almond pulp/flour (I used almond meal flour from the store as well as my almond pulp from making milk)
¾ cup amaranth flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
3 mashed, ripe bananas
2 large eggs (Bolsa Mercado has some incredible ungraded local eggs)
1/3 cup plain yogurt (I use Siggi’s Skyr yogurt)
2 tablespoons coconut oil (melted)
½ cup maple syrup or honey (I always substitute honey or maple syrup for sugar)
1 tablespoon of cinnamon
¾ cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350. Use the coconut oil to grease up the 8 ½ x 4 ½ inch loaf pan. I also like to add some cornmeal to the bottom and sides.

In a large bowl, whisk together almond flour, amaranth flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together bananas, eggs, yogurt, cinnamon, oil (melted), and maple syrup. Add the banana mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Fold in ½ cup of chopped walnuts. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and top with remaining walnuts.

Bake one hour. My oven hits the spot at 1 hour and ten minutes, but that’s for you to determine. Let cool, loosen sides, and remove the loaf from the pan. This bad boy is phenomenal when warm, especially with a little butter and jam. Pour yourself some of your homemade milk and have a ball, or whatever food fantasy comes to mind. When this bread cools completely, let’s say after 5 hours or even the next day, it only gets better.

This happy little loaf of nutrient packed bread is full of protein, fiber, and deliciousness. I hope it brings you love.