Updated: May 8, 2019
If you've been following along on my Instagram lately, then you probably noticed me obnoxiously commenting on my goal this year to reduce my waste and carbon footprint. It's something I've been extremely passionate about since I was a wee child (AKA 16 years old in my high school's Environmental Science class), but the only action steps I've taken since that class is saying no to plastic water bottles as much as possible and eating predominantly vegan for 8+ years. While these are excellent steps toward a minimal waste life, there's still SO much more to be done.
I feel extremely grateful to have grown up with a dad with a green thumb. Since before I can even remember, I was tossing our leftover food scraps in our yard and picking vine-ripened tomatoes off the mini tomato vines in our backyard planters. So when I finally moved out of LA last year and back to San Diego (where I'm from), I decided to start composting again.
I know what you're thinking. Living in a city is no excuse to not compost. But honestly, I didn't have that much produce waste while I lived in LA because I ate out so often. I was, however, the backbone of my LA household for recycling needs. I would literally pull things out of the garbage and place them in recycling multiple times a day, or take recyclables from my friends and siblings house if I saw them in the garbage only to place them in my own recycling.
Any whooo, I noticed that an easy fix (and rather a therapeutic one, a bonus I must add!) would be to cut down on the packaged items I buy at the grocery store and start making them from home. The first item I tackled? Nut mylk. This was first on my agenda for a number of reasons:
1. Store-bought nut mylks typically have SO many additives like carrageenan, guar gum, gellan gum and natural flavors that can all cause bloating or digestive issues
2. My top nut mylk options at the store are almonds, cashew, coconut or pea mylk and I consume all of these so much already in their natural form, I wanted to switch it up to another nut or seed for a variety in nutrients. Plus, the pea mylk at the store is SO good but has so many nasty additives and it definitely upset my stomach in hindsight.
3. Waste! I would go through 1-2 cartons of nut mylk each week. I could minimize this entirely and spend less by purchasing pumpkin seeds in the bulk section with a reusable bag. It's like $3 for 1lb of pumpkin seeds, which can make enough pumpkin seed mylk for 3 weeks (in my household at least)! So cheap!
Pumpkin seeds are also rich in zinc, an essential nutrient for thyroid function. As someone who struggles with a lazy thyroid, this was major for me. Plus, zinc boosts your immune system, almost more so than Vitamin C! Pumpkin seeds are also high in plant-based protein, magnesium, copper, iron (great for vegans or vegetarians!) and additional key nutrients we need on a regular basis to function optimally.
So, here's how I make my homemade pumpkin seed mylk.
Ingredients - Makes 4 Cups
2 cups of raw pumpkin seeds
3.5 cups of filtered water
1 tsp of sea salt or Himalayan pink salt
1/2 tbsp Lakanto 1:1 classic sweetener (use ISATALES15 for 15% off) - you can also sweeten with 1 medjool date
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
Cheesecloth for straining (this step is optional, but necessary if you don't want chunky/grainy mylk)
Place 2 cups of raw pumpkin seeds in a measuring cup and fill the same cup with water so the pumpkin seeds are just barely covered in the water. Let them soak overnight or for 4-6 hours. I haven't tried skipping this step yet, but if you're in a rush, you can try. I find that soaking the pumpkin seeds overnight makes for a frothier mylk.
Drain the soaked pumpkin seeds in a strainer.
Place the rinsed pumpkin seeds in a blender with 3.5 cups of filtered water, sea salt, vanilla extract and sweetener. Blend on highest speed for 2-3 minutes or until you stop noticing seeds flying around in the blender.
Place a cheesecloth over the mouth of the glass container you'll be storing your mylk in. Filter the mylk through the cheesecloth. You may have to do this a few times, removing the pulp build up each time. I save my pulp in the fridge to add to overnight oats or baked goods. You can also compost your pulp by digging a whole in your yard and burying it :)
That's it! See? So simple! I haven't kept the mylk in my fridge for longer than 1 week because I tend to finish it rather quickly, but you can try! None of the ingredients are that perishable so I presume it would last about a month before it gets gross and soggy.
As always, tag me or send me photos of you making the pumpkin seed mylk! I love seeing you guys make my recipes, it is so much fun!