Green Evolution

Green milk is a symbolically loaded concept. As a kid, it was an indicator of St. Patrick’s Day, offering an artificially festive hue to the same old swill peddled by overworked cafeteria staff everyday. To those in the Star Wars fandom or Disneyland devotes, it’s a novelty drink paying homage to the supposedly nutritious green-colored milk produced by female thala-sirens. In reality, that manifests as a non-dairy frozen beverage with tropical citrus notes.

Neither of these are the green milk that I have in mind. I can clearly remember my first encounter as a new resident of San Francisco when it stopped me in my tracks. Scrambling to find a reasonable meal between classes, I had just stepped off a sweaty, overcrowded BART ride and into the attached basement food court of the Westfield Mall. There, front and center, was the most magical elixir my young eyes had laid eyes on.

Pale pistachio in color, pouring as smooth and rich as liquid silk, every sip was like a hit of pure dopamine. Sweet but not sugary, creamy but not cloying, subtly seasoned but far from bland, it sang with the floral flavor of vanilla while silently packing in the potent nutrition of dark leafy greens. For a brief moment in time it was also offered in soft serve form which allowed additional toppings like sea salt, almond butter, and fresh raspberries (my personal favorite combination) to further enhance the experience.

While the former green milks still exist in this world, my previous Brazil nut-based green milk does not. Even more infuriating is the fact that nothing else even comes close to it. How hard is it to blend up greens and dates in that same ratio to make it taste like melted ice cream?

Not hard at all, especially if you do it yourself. Eight years later, it’s now abundantly clear that my beloved green milk is not coming back to Pressed Juicery, no matter how hard I beg and plead. Maybe it’s for the best; making my own yields bigger batches for MUCH less money, available any time the craving strikes. It’s also a snap to give it a spin in the ice cream machine for a secretly healthy frozen dessert.

What makes green milk so great?

Aside from the irresistible flavor, this unique blend of whole, plant-based ingredients has a whole lot of health benefits to offer:

  • Brazil nuts are particularly rich in selenium, providing well over the daily recommended value for adults in just one nut alone!
  • Dark leafy greens like kale and spinach are noted for their high iron, folate, calcium, and Vitamin C content, among many others key nutrients.
  • Dates are one of the best natural sweeteners around, boasting a low glycemic index, which makes them less likely to spike blood sugar levels in those who are sensitive.

Tips for success

If you’ve made nut milk from scratch before, you already know the drill. It’s easy to get excellent results without even trying, but there are a few tricks to making your best blend ever:

  • Soak the nuts overnight, whether you have a high-speed blender or not. You can skip this step to speed through the recipe, but it helps ensure a smoother texture while also making the nutrients more easily absorbed in your body.
  • Use a nut milk bag to strain the mixture. There’s nothing wrong with forgoing this procedure entirely to reap the full benefits of all that fiber, but it will create a thicker, grittier texture. A wire strainer lined with cheesecloth can also work for a more DIY rig.
  • Chill thoroughly for the best flavor. If you’re in a hurry, you can let it stand in the freezer for a bit to cool down quickly and/or serve over ice.

This drink will change your understanding of green milk forever. You might want to start buying Brazil nuts in bulk.

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Don’t Go Bacon My Heart

How can you make bacon that tastes even richer than pork? I’m not talking about other meats, but plants that are naturally imbued with deeply savory flavors. Concentrated umami brings out a bold world of intensely earthy, almost gamey notes that put animal products to shame. What I’m talking about, of course, are dried Sugimoto shiitake mushrooms.

All it takes is an overnight soak for these substantial caps to spring back to life. Transforming this humble fungus into America’s favorite breakfast food is as simple as switching out plain water for a boldly seasoned brine. Smoky, gently peppered, and subtly sweet, simple pantry staples transform mundane ingredients into something truly sublime.

Once plump and fully rehydrated, the larger, flatter Koshin variety have the perfect texture, primed for slow roasting in the oven. Gradually toasting in the low heat, the edges caramelize and become extra crispy, while the thicker centers retain a hearty, substantial, super chewy bite. It’s the best of all worlds, in both the plant and animal kingdoms.

Stock up on shiitake bacon, double down or even triple the batch, because there’s simply no dish that wouldn’t benefit from this umami bomb topper. Keep them in short strips, roughly chop them into bacon bits, or grind them into a fine powder to use as a savory sprinkle. Just a few of my favorite ways to use shiitake bacon include:

There’s nothing wrong with just munching on a handful of bacon as a snack, instead of potato chips or crackers. Unlike conventional options, there’s no cholesterol, very little fat, plenty of fiber, and zero cruelty.

For bacon-lovers and animal-lovers, this is the best recipe yet.

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