Recipes

Vegan Cashew Coffee Creamer

Welcome to my first recipe post!

My recipe post philosophy: Recipe first, dumb story later.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup cashews, raw and unsalted
1 cup (plus some more) water
Anything else you like – I used a splash of maple syrup just to add some “complexity.” Some recipes call for a pinch of sea salt. Whatever floats your boat.

Directions:

  1. Submerge the cashews in water and soak for at least 6 hours or overnight.
  2. Drain the cashews and place in a high-speed blender.
  3. Add 1 cup of water, plus any extras.
  4. Blend on the highest setting for a few minutes. If the mixture looks grainy, add a tablespoon more of water.
  5. You have a choice here: You can use a nut milk bag or cloth napkin to squeeze out the liquid into another container. With the cashew dregs left on the napkin, you can scrape them off back into the blender, add more water, and blend again. OR, you can just enjoy as is. There may be a grainy texture to it but it will still be tasty and get the job done.
  6. Place liquid into a container that will confuse your husband and roommate.
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“Uhh, I think something weird may have happened to your maté.”

Cool Story:

My go-to creamer since giving up dairy has been the soy creamer from Trader Joe’s. I’ve loved it soooo much, but since I’ve been looking to reduce my waste I knew the time had finally come to consider making my own creamer.

Plus, those additives manufacturers put in creamers to make them shelf-stable can become really detrimental over time. (I’m looking at you, carrageenan.)

A lot of creamer recipes call for coconut oil or coconut milk, but the truth is, neither of those ingredients is a whole plant food. And yes, I do consume those things on occasion if there’s nothing else available, but coffee is an every day beverage for me, and I’m not comfortable putting so much saturated fat in something I drink every day – especially when I can make this instead.

I’m excited to keep this recipe in my weekly routine because of how cost-effective it will be. One pint of the Trader Joe’s soy creamer is about $2.25, and I used about one per week. Over a year, that’s $117.

A 40-ounce tub of cashews from Costco, while not waste-free, is one recyclable plastic container as opposed to 52 non-recyclable Tetra-paks. It costs $21.99. It will make 19 batches of this recipe, which is about a pint if you use the extra water like I did. You would buy about 3 (or exactly 2.73) tubs to make this recipe every week for the course of a year. That is an annual cost of $60.18: a savings of almost $57!

57 extra dollars could buy a lot of something, or one pretty nice thing. If you drink creamy coffee every morning like I do, this is the cost-effective way to do it.

One thing I will say is that the appearance of the creamer in the coffee is not perfectly smooth, especially if you don’t shake it up a bit before pouring. It may look grainy. Consider if that’s really a problem for you. If it were milk or something unfamiliar, I’d be worried if my creamer looked like that. But since you saw everything that went into the blender, and you know it’s just tiny chunks of cashew, you should assume it’s perfectly safe. Just stir it up and enjoy!

Please let me know if you try this, and what you think!

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“Enlarged to show texture”

Stephy

Lifestyle

My New Year’s Resolution 2018

I spent a lot more time thinking through these personal goals that this post got really long. I think I’ll just discuss my New Year’s Resolution briefly here and then give it its own post.

My New Year’s resolution for 2018: Be a more conscious consumer.

By “conscious,” I mean my first focus is going to be on reducing my impact on the earth’s resources by NOT partaking (as much as I reasonably can) in products that can’t be re-used, composted, or repurposed, or in products that take a lot of resources to make. (Hence my specific goal of not buying any clothes.)

Next focus will be on supporting necessary products that support sustainability.

When I’ve obtained as much information as I need, we will be investing in some kind of tool that will help us compost our food waste.

Why?

I grew up in a small town. In a forest. In the 90’s, when every year the whole school would gather in the cafeteria and watch that video with the dinosaurs singing “Recycle, Reduce, Reuse!”

Recycle_Rex_-_Oh_well
Recycle Rex is kinda proud that stupid song was stuck in my head for 20 years.

One of the first rules I learned at school was “Don’t litter.” Any kind of store besides the local grocery store was about 12 miles down the hill. I did not grow up consuming a lot. I didn’t even realize that I lived my life exceptionally close to the natural world.

I went to college in a town that shared very environment-focused views. I walked everywhere. I brought my own grocery bags with me (10 years before they even made that law!). I re-used plastic produce bags and bought my kitchen supplies at a thrift store.

Then when I moved to this larger town where I currently live, with more amenities, and started making money, I started to lose it. I fell into the consumerism pit. I bought nice clothes for work. I bought so many craft supplies. (I paid off my car!) I started clicking on advertisements on Facebook and getting the things. No, Stephanie. It’s a trap!

Sometimes the silliest things can bring you back to your original principles. Luckily I know some people in the world who really hold themselves to that which we should all strive for – a life where our existence as an individual and species makes as small of an impact as possible so others (human and not) can share the space. And I saw a video about straws and how devastating they are for the wildlife in our oceans.

And then I saw a video about microplastics. (That link isn’t the video I saw, but it explains some of it.) Basically, when we throw away synthetic textiles they don’t decompose. But as those polyester jumpsuits in the landfill start to come apart over time, tiny synthetic particles get washed away into…you guessed it…our oceans. Microscopic organisms eat the particles, bigger organisms consume those and collect more particles over their lifetimes, and the particles accumulate more as we go up the food chain.

And that’s when I became horrified.

Watching “Planet Earth II” hit the nail in the coffin for me. Now there’s no way I’m not going to do everything I possibly can to reduce my personal impact.

“Zero Waste”

A childhood friend of mine is part of the Zero Waste movement – a movement where individuals reduce, reduce, reduce, then reuse, then recycle (or compost), in that order, with a goal of sending as little waste into the landfill as possible.

I’ve been checking out a number of Zero Waste blogs and Youtube videos. It’s very doable but requires a bit of work in the beginning. I’m excited to make this part of my life. I find the name “Zero Waste” a bit deceptive – it really is just about taking steps toward “Minimal Waste.”

I’m going to share some of the steps I’ve been taking and plan to take to reach this goal. (I created a very comprehensive checklist for my house – If you’d like me to share this let me know!)

Refuse/Reduce

One very big way I plan to reduce my impact this year is to not buy any clothes. New or used. I don’t need any new clothes, especially after buying all those clothes for my surgery recovery time. It takes a huge amount of natural and human resources to produce new clothing, and again can we mention the synthetic fibers in the ocean? So this year, no new clothes.

I bought one pair of flats last month for work and those are the only new shoes I will have this year. I bought some fancy secondhand sunglasses off of eBay and I’m pretty sure I’m set for life there.

I will reduce my purchasing of new craft supplies for work. I have all the supplies I will need, for several years probably, to write nice notes for my students on fancy paper.

I’m switching all of my bills to electronic statements. I took my name off the mailing list for junk mail.

Reuse

So, that closet full of clothes? I don’t wear them all. I plan to actually repurpose some of them into produce bags for myself and maybe others if my sewing skills are up to par. Brian’s old ratty undershirts are going to be rags for when the kitties have an accident.

We got two lovely sets of cotton napkins for our wedding, which have already proven not only great for traditional napkin purposes, but for tea towel purposes.

Anything that comes in a jar will be repurposed to hold raw ingredients. I plan to reuse spice jars for spice mixes. Later I will buy spices in bulk.

I’ve been using my own water bottle for years! (It’s a plastic Camelbak, unfortunately.) I like the straw for drinking water while driving…but if I lose it I’ll replace it with a steel one.

I’ve been baking oil-free muffins in silicone baking cups for months. They are amazing!

I have invested in reusable feminine pads. Unfortunately they didn’t arrive in time for me to try them, so it’s one last cycle with conventional protection. My remaining feminine products will be donated to a local shelter.

Still to Do

SO much. Including establishing a compost system, figuring out a routine for buying in bulk in our town which is a bulk bin desert, and creating little car kits for eating out. There is a lot to be desired about how we handle our pet waste.

It seems overwhelming to move toward this lifestyle, but I think we can check something new off the list fairly often. Every check is a step that reduces our impact. Everything we do is important and we have to acknowledge the small steps we take. I’ll be updating on this regularly.

Have a lovely day!

Stephy