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With the cooler days of winter looming ahead for most of us, we can take comfort in knowing that some things just taste and feel better when the mercury goes down.  Read on for some interesting nut milk recipes.

Cinnamon for the Soul ... a winter weary soul, that is!

Just the smell of warm cinnamon is enough to warm freezing fingers and toes during the cold days of winter.  But the following recipes bring you more than just the aroma: a good sprinkling of ground cinnamon is included as the main spice and blends well with the flavours of hazelnuts and almonds in these nutty beverages.

Cinnamon, one of the oldest herbs on record, was valued by the Romans, Greeks, Chinese and Egyptians. The richly scented bark served not only as a highly valued, flavour-enriching spice but also as a fragrant perfume and was used in trade as a form of money. 

Cinnamon, considered a warming remedy in Chinese medicine, is used for chills and colds along with other ailments. The aromatic essential oil of  cinnamon is used therapeutically for its antiseptic and antibiotic properties as well as for fatigue and depression.  Who needs more convincing that cinnamon is the best antidote to the long, dark cold days of winter?

     If we have flu or a cold ... a sugary cinnamon drink 
            will always ease a cough or sore throat.
                                       -  Daniele Ryman,     The Aromatherapy Handbook, 
 

Some believe that cinnamon is the secret ingredient in the world’s most popular soft drink, the one that has everyone singing, “I’d like to teach the world to...”  Cinnamon may also be the secret weapon of real estate agents who encourage their vendor clients to pop some cinnamon-scented baking in the oven prior to a showing to give the potential buyers that familiar “warm” homey feeling to help close the deal!

As author and avid homebrewer Stephen Cresswell says in Homemade Root Beer, Soda & Pop, cinnamon “will keep you warm even when the chill winds blow down from Saskatoon.”

While cinnamon is warming and comforting when added to many beverages such as hot chocolate, simmering apple juice, a mug of steamed milk, mulled wine and even North America’s favourite herbal beverage - coffee! - these following recipes are an interesting change from the regular brews of wintertime. Get bubbling and brewing with these unusual cold weather drinks.

Go Nuts for Cinnamon with our Nutty Milks!

Prepared the same way as herbal tea (no culinary expertise required!), these nutty concoctions are rich tasting and adaptable to your own preferences, hot or cold! These nutritious and easy-to-prepare nutty-flavoured beverages blend well with many fruits, herbs and spices, especially cinnamon.

How to prepare a Nutty Milk

Place ingredients (ground nuts, spices, coffees, sweeteners etc...) in a glass heat-proof pitcher and pour the boiling water over top.  Cover and steep for 40 to 60 minutes; stir and strain. For finer brews just pour strained milks through a coffee filter.  Reheat if a hotter beverage is desired or cool and refrigerate for a cold beverage. For flavouring, edible essential oils, such as orange and peppermint, can be stirred in just before serving.  Place the drop of essential oil on a skewer or popsicle stick and stir.

Cinnamon Honey Nightcap

This honey-almond blend flavoured with warm cinnamon is most suitable for a warm “caffeine free” nightcap. This recipe is also great on cereal and oatmeal. 
 
250 ml boiled water
2 Tbsp ground almonds
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
Honey to sweeten 

Variations: 
Vanilla-Almond - omit the cinnamon and add a piece of split vanilla bean 3cm long before steeping.
Sweet Dreams - omit the cinnamon and add 1 drop orange essential oil.

Cinnamon Mocha for Two

Warm yourself and a friend with this hot brew.  Instead of ground coffee, you may substitute a root coffee made of roasted chicory, dandelion and burdock to customize your own herbal brew! It is surprising how the steeped nuts makes this beverage look rich and creamy as though it were made with milk.

500ml boiled water
4 Tbsp ground hazelnuts (or almonds)
1 Tbsp carob (or cocoa powder)
1 Tbsp regular ground or root coffee
1/4 tsp powdered cinnamon
Demerara sugar to sweeten 

To serve frothy: whip with a hand blender just before serving and top with whipped cream, chocolate curls and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Make your next cappuccino...herbal!

CarobNut for Kids

500 ml boiled water
4 Tbsp ground hazelnuts
3 Tbsp carob chips or semi-sweet chocolate chips
A dash or two of powdered cinnamon

Since the carob chips used for baking are already sweetened,  no extra sugar is needed. Serve warm on cold days with added marshmallows - if the kids insist!

Variation: 
Minty CarobNut - Omit the cinnamon and flavour with one drop of peppermint essential oil.

Hazelnuts go well with chocolate, carob and coffee, and almonds go well with fruits, vanilla and ginger. But don’t stop there; maybe you are the pistachio and cherry type! Anyone can have fun experimenting with the endless combinations of nutty milks which can also be used in rice puddings, sauces and many other recipes. Chilled nutty
milks are also great for shakes.