I recently decided, in an attempt clear my skin and improve my overall health, to eliminate all dairy products, refined sugar and coffee from my diet, and while I initially thought I would fail, as I do most times I get up in the morning and say to myself, "No sugar today, Liz," or, "You can't eat ice cream for breakfast, Liz," etc. etc, this time, I've - so far - managed to succeed.
I have been loading up on dates, raisins, and currants, as my sweet tooth still calls to me powerfully, and though I feel that, ideally, I should cut out such luxuries and convert to stevia (which I have never really liked, unfortunately) and really go sugar-free, I'm taking this one day at a time, and may even get there yet. I'm still surprised that I've made it this far - I thought it would be impossible for me to refrain from tasting all the cakes, brownies, and cookies I make at work. Say no to the cheesecake that always clings to the knife after you've cut it? Don't lick the spoon covered in chocolate ganache? Inconceivable! And yet, just saying "no" has turned out to be the easiest of solutions. Before I always allowed myself to give in, thinking, "Oh, I'll just have a little bit," or "I need to know what it tastes like so I know it turned out." There was no real commitment to not eating sweet things. I thought I wouldn't be able to live properly if I couldn't eat desserts. They're my thing, how could I give them up? I'm pretty sure that most people at my university were convinced that I lived off cookie dough. I can honestly say, though, that this feels like one of the best decisions I've made in a while. I feel so much more in control over my diet and my body, which, ironically, gives me a feeling of relief. Even freedom.
But enough of poetic waxing. This is not me telling any of you that you have to quit eating and drinking all dairy, coffee, and sugar. I would never tell anyone that. My current job rather depends on people not doing that. This is a choice I've made for personal reasons, although of course I will gladly lend my encouragement to anyone out there who's trying to do the same. We can cry together about the coffee we used to drink in the morning with cream and sugar, walk past local bakeries to stare at the croissants, pastries, and pies in the window, and mourn them like lost relatives. Because however much I may enjoy experimenting with alternative and healthy options, some things just don't compare.
Like coffee. Nothing can replace coffee but coffee. I once tried a coffee substitute, and it was absolutely, utterly disgusting. Tasted nothing like coffee. More like bitter, slightly chocolatey (in a bad way, believe me) water. To even refer to this substance as a coffee replacement was an insult even to bad coffee. Now, I do like tea, but in the past few days since I've commenced this (I refuse to say "journey") experiment, I have been sorely tempted to make myself a good strong cup of coffee, many times. I only just posted about discovering how to make an awesome cup of coffee
the other week! It feels almost twisted.
But I cannot conceive of giving up coffee totally and forever. No. That future is much to bleak. So, depending on how all of this plays out, when I do reincorporate coffee into my diet, I may very well have my coffee with cashew milk, which I have been making all this past week, to add the smoothness and richness of cream, and a little sweetness, like sugar.
You can use this cashew milk in place of regular milk for pretty much anything (except for baking). This would make an especially excellent chai latte. Just add the spices and heat up in a pot or in the microwave, sit back, and enjoy.
1/2 cup Cashews, soaked
2 - 4 cups Water, filtered
4 - 6 Dates, soaked (optional)
1/2 tsp Sea Salt
Makes 1 litre
1. Soak cashews overnight, or, if you're lazy and or forgetful like me, pour boiling or very hot water over them and let sit for 10 - 15 minutes.
2. If you've pre-soaked your cashews, place your dates in a container and cover them with boiling water, and let them soak until soft and squishy. You can also include this step in step 1 and soak the dates and cashews together.
3. Drain cashews and dates, then place in a blender. Add 2 cups of cold water and blend on high for 30 seconds to a minute. If you want to make cashew cream instead, decrease the water to at least 1 cup. You can adjust the ratio of cashews to water however you like, depending on how thick or thin you want the cashew milk (or cream) to be.
4. Pour blended cashew milk into a pitcher, then add remaining 2 cups of water. Stir or shake well to combine. Store in refrigerator. The cashew milk should keep for up to five days. Make sure to stir or shake well before serving.