Hot Almond Chia Horchata (Vegan, Gluten Free)
The rains have come to Charlottesville, soaking the mums and pumpkins on every doorstep. I watch as water runs down the faces of jack-o-lanterns. Golden leaves float like ships taking on water in every puddle. The cool air is a mix of scents: spicy decaying chestnut leaves, damp grass, sweet fog.
I woke up this morning to a day barely lit under the cover of clouds. I shifted a soft sweater over my shoulders, folded some laundry. I warmed myself up with my yoga practice, sans mat. Then to the kitchen for water and a warm horchata rich with cinnamon and vanilla. Warm, creamy drinks are wonderfully welcome as I shift into this season of cold air. Hot chocolate, tea, coffee. Anything warm and lovely will do.
I was at a dinner with a big group of yogis last week. Everyone was laughing and eating with such relish. Looking around the table at all of these serious yoga practitioners from all different walks of life, I swear I was smiling from my toes to the top of my head. About half of us had glasses of wine. On the table was calamari and every type of pizza, risotto, chicken for some folks and sausage for others. About half of us ate mostly or only plants. To simply sit around this table with these folks, joking and inhaling food after teaching and practicing together. It was such a great confirmation. That your spiritual practice is part of the vast juiciness of life. Asceticism is unnecessary. Community is integral. Wine is delicious. Laughter is fabulous.
There’s this idea in yoga: “the desire for life.” I so wish I could remember the Sanskrit translation. However, I’m not a Sanskrit scholar (yet). The idea is that one desires to live joyfully. Desires to live a full life. Desires to be overcome with the bigness and beauty of knowing your truest self in the momentous now. Over and over again I’m reminded of this.
I’m home now. In Charlottesville. I’m doing my yoga practice every morning. I’m watching the process of the day. Enjoying the jubilant presence of my husband. Sipping hot almond chia horchata and watching the rain. The desire for life, it imbues every breath.
Gratitude gratitude gratitude.
This hot almond chia horchata is so delicious and seriously easy. You make nut milk in a blender and strain it through a nut milk bag / cheese cloth / fine mesh strainer. Then blend it up again with spices, maple syrup and chia. Heat it up, pour into glasses, and sip while reading a good book!
The chia makes the horchata thick without adding weird non-food emulsifiers. Win! Plus it adds some extra Omega-3's. Shout out to my friend Angel for giving me the idea to add chia!
You can blend the chia into the drink directly. Or, if you want it perfectly smooth with absolutely no tiny chia seeds in the drink: powder your chia seeds in a high powered blender or spice grinder. Then add the ground chia to your blender and follow the recipe as directed. MAGIC.
- 1/2 cup raw almonds
- 2 1/4 cups filtered water
- 1/8 - 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon chia, whole or ground
- In a high powered blender, combine the almonds and water. Blend on high for 30 seconds, or until the almond pulp is rather fine. The finer the pulp the more milk you'll be able to squeeze from it.
- Set a nut milk bag over a medium sized bowl OR set a doubled cheese cloth over a medium sized bowl OR set your fine mesh strainer over a medium sized bowl.
- Pour the almond milk into your nut milk bag or cheese cloth and squeeze firmly to press out all of the liquid from the pulp. If using a fine mesh strainer, press the pulp into the sides of the strainer until all of the liquid has released into the bowl. Discard the almond pulp (or reserve for another recipe if you like).
- Add the almond milk back to the bowl of your blender. Add the maple syrup (sweeten to taste), vanilla extract, cinnamon, and chia. Blend again briefly to break up the chia.
- Pour the horchata into a sauce pan and bring to a simmer. Cut off the heat and serve immediately with a dash of cinnamon on top to garnish.