Diet Hopes Day 15, Barrier #5: Using Up Leftover Almond Meal: Banana Muffins and Healthy Brownies

Tasty Waste Not-Want Not Strategies + Where Is This Story Going?

Leftover Almond Meal

Two weeks into my almond milk experiment I came to an uncomfortable realization:  Making my own nut milk was producing a lot of food waste!  I want to tell you more about why this is a problem and how brownies and banana muffins came to my rescue (along with the recipes.)

But first I want to check in:  Do you get where my almond milk story is headed?  You understand it isn’t just a story about how to make nut milk, right?  It’s about how to make our healthy eating goals, dreams and resolutions come true.  My nut milk making is just an example of the process.

Checking In:  Where’s This Nut Milk Thing Going?

It all started in September, with my post about how autumn is a perfect time to “plant” the seeds of your resolutions.  That’s when I planted a resolution to make my own nut milk.

Now it’s January, when all the talk in practically every article and blog post is about resolutions.  But before getting caught up in the New Year’s resolution frenzy, think back a minute.  Have you been disappointed in the past when your resolutions somehow vanished by February?  Wouldn’t you love to see those resolutions come true instead?

You don’t have to just hope good fortune smiles upon you!  There are definite, practical, proactive steps you can take to make sure your resolutions really do happen.  That’s what the last four blog posts were really about:  How to get around the barriers you’ll likely run up against on the road to resolution success.  Be sure to click back if you missed any.

Barrier #1:  Effort  Change takes effort.  It’s exciting to sit down and write resolutions, e.g., about eating more vegetables, less sugar or better fats.  But then comes the next week and you didn’t get to the store and don’t have any vegetables to cook for dinner, or there’s chocolate cake at the office for someone’s birthday, or you didn’t take time to figure out what “better fats” look like.  It is at those critical points when resolutions can easily begin fading.

The Solution:  Rock solid commitment  Have you really thought through why a resolution is important to you–so important that it’s worth the effort it takes to change–e.g., to shop for veggies on Sunday afternoon when you’d rather put your feet up?  Even if you’re only ready to experiment rather than make a change for life, that’s ok, but  “Get your head behind your actions.”

Barrier #2:  Frustration  Change also takes doing things in new ways.  To eat more healthfully, for example, you’ll need to buy and use new, healthier ingredients, buy and prep new vegetables; pack your own lunch instead of just dropping by a fast food restaurant; try new recipes that require different pans and tools.  What if you don’t have any of these foods, routines and equipment?  Frustration!

The Solution:  Inevitability Planning  Plan to make your success inevitable.  In other words, set yourself up so the outcome can’t be anything other than success.  For example, set up your kitchen, get the foods, have the recipes and buy the lunch containers and vegetable peelers so that you can’t help but make the healthy meals you so want.

Barrier #3:  Tedium  The first leg of a journey is always exciting.  It’s new and fresh.  But then comes a trickier part of the path.  While the newness of your resolution has worn off, it hasn’t yet become a habit that you do easily and without thinking.  Instead, it still takes some work.  It’s tedious.

The Solution:  Commitment and Time  This is when your rock solid commitment comes to the rescue again.  Dig deep and reconnect with it.  If you didn’t write it down along with your resolutions, doing so now will reinforce it.

Next, gift yourself a little time to think about ways to streamline your new and healthier meal making ways.  At first, when you don’t know what you’re doing, healthy meal making can be clunky and time-consuming.  But give your brains some space to wander and it will come up with ways to smooth out the bumps.

Barrier #4:  Taste Deep down, are you worried that after putting out a lot of effort and commitment to make healthier food, you won’t even like it?

The Solution:  Time and Practice  Let’s be honest, there’s a good chance your healthier meals won’t rank up there with pizza, mac ‘n cheese, Fettuccini Alfredo and whatever other high-calorie, low-nutrition foods you love right now.  But our tastes buds aren’t stone fixtures.  They are flexible, adaptable and can absolutely change and grow to like–and even prefer–the light, refreshing, nurturing flavor of wholesome, real foods.  You just have to give them time to adjust.

So the “moral” of my almond milk story is that resolutions don’t just happen; they take effort, commitment, thought, preparation and time. Have you put these pieces into place by now, the third week of January, so your resolutions don’t disappear by February?  If you don’t know how to set yourself up so resolution success is inevitable, please don’t let another day go by before you check out my Cook Happy | Live Healthy online course.  Three classes, three hours each and you will have the basic tools and insights to make your resolutions come true.

Now for Brownies and Banana Muffins!

There’s a mysterious side of nut milk making.  You start out with 1 quart water and 1 cup almonds.  You end up with 1 quart of almond milk–and 1 cup of almond meal!  In other words, making almond milk doesn’t really use up the almonds.  You just turn them into a meal that’s like rough-ground flour.

It’s kind of the dark side of almond milk.  Making it extracts something from the almonds to make the milk, but it leaves 99% of the almonds behind!  Do most people just toss the left-behind meal?  I couldn’t bring myself to do that.  One, almonds are expensive.  Two, I am committed to avoiding food waste for moral as well as environmental reasons (here’s one of my previous posts on food waste.)

One of our readers must have run into the same problem as she asked about this a couple posts ago.  So here are a couple ideas I’ve come up with.

Grain Add-In  Almond meal makes a flavorful and nutritious addition to cooked grains like rice, buckwheat and oatmeal.  Prior to cooking the grain, stir in 2-4 Tablespoons per 1-2 cups of grain.

IMG_1882Banana Bread or Muffins (Applesauce Option, Gluten Free, Almost Paleo)  This recipe was inspired by Kelly Schmidt’s recipe for Almond Butter Banana Muffins.  I ran across it right after my second batch of almond milk had produced yet another unexpected wealth of almond meal.  Kelly is a Registered Dietician and food coach specializing in Paleo and Primal Eating, and has been living with Type 1 diabetes for many years.  She is quick to say that real food is the key to health.  Her real food muffin recipe calls for almond butter but she encouraged me to substitute almond meal and indeed, it worked just fine.  The (non-Paleo) addition of flour was also mine.  For the recipe. . .

ChocAlmondBrownies--GF (1)Healthy Chocolate Almond Brownies (Gluten Free)  Meghan Telpner’s Butternut Squash Ooo-eee Goo-eee Brownie recipe was the inspiration for this almond meal creation.  Meghan is a nutritionist who was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, a supposedly incurable disease that she cured in a month!  She has gone on to create a small empire around healthy eating, but still finds time to share recipes, like this one that was a desperate last ditch effort to use up the butternut squash in her pantry.  My almond meal substituted well for most of the rice flour called for–and I was able to reduce the sugar by using stevia and a bit less cocoa.  In case you think “Healthy” ruins the appeal of “Brownies,” withhold judgment until you’ve tried this recipe.

One thought on “Diet Hopes Day 15, Barrier #5: Using Up Leftover Almond Meal: Banana Muffins and Healthy Brownies

  1. I feel famous! I haven’t actually made the almond milk because I could already see that you would have lots of “food waste” for the amount of milk you get. I had a similar experience making cider – there is a lot of pulp left for the amount of cider you get. We composted it but ran the risk of bears. “In the olden days” you used the peels to get pectin for your apple and other jellies. I wonder if the pulp got used up for something like apple butter? Once you press the apples, they turn brown pretty quick. Have you tried making your own mayo?

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