Thursday, September 20, 2012

Making milk and lowering cholesterol

For the last few years, my husband has been under a doctor's care and taking twice-daily medication for alarmingly high cholesterol. Last year he heard a story on NPR that scared the heck out of him, and one day - with no warning, without his doctors knowledge (or mine for that matter) - he decided to stop taking his meds.

When I found out, I was - to put it mildly - very, very concerned. He reassured me that a friend he played cards with had informed him during a game one night that having a bowl of plain oatmeal every morning would bring his cholesterol down below 200 without medication. And also, that if he had a pair of nines he should double down. He took both pieces of advice, and lost the card game......but he was determined to try this oatmeal thing. He also agreed to stop eating ice cream at bedtime. I only stopped arguing about it because I wasn't about to start grinding up pills and sneaking it into his applesauce. He wasn't going to take those pills anymore, and the oatmeal couldn't hurt, so I decided to let him go for it and just beg him to get his number checked after a month to make sure everything was okay

Darned if he didn't lower his cholesterol.

One night, as I sat next to him with my pint of Haagen Dazs (because my cholesterol is just fine, thanks) he said he was going to start making smoothies every morning with the Vitamix. "Great!" I said. Last year, I got romanced into buying a Vitamix at Costco and I am always trying to get more use out of that thing. It cost a small fortune and I still wasn't wholly convinced that it was worth the investment.The kids, however, love it, and delight in watching the instructional DVD (I wish I was kidding) and reading the recipe book trying to come up with something even funkier than what is already being described.

Which is hard to do.

We have made smoothies, ice cream, soup, pesto, hummus - all the usual blender stuff. But it still wasn't getting much use. I mean, how many times a week can you make hummus?

We also made almond milk, which was the one thing that really made me feel like I was getting my money's worth. You can probably make almond milk in your blender at home if it's got enough power - just add 1/4 cup almonds to one cup water (adjust to desired consistency). I started out using whole almonds which I bought in bulk. Eventually I switched to almond slices because the skin of the almonds made the milk kind of gritty and I didn't like that.

Making almond milk this way was cheaper and allowed me to make just what I needed. I didn't have extra almond milk going bad, and I was keeping those cartons out of our landfill. I used it for making cream sauces - especially for meat and other savory dishes. It had a great nutty taste, and was much better for us than using dairy. It was a winning idea all around.

My husband used the almond milk a lot to make his daily smoothie.

And then one day, probably inspired by that instructional DVD, he decided to make Oat milk. I sat back and watched worlds collide. He threw a scoop of dry, uncooked oatmeal in the blender, added water, and put the Vitamix on high until had the right consistency. Then he went ahead and added the rest of his ingredients.

He abandoned the bowl of oats every morning, opting instead to throw them in his smoothie, and his cholesterol remains under 200 - as long as he skips ice cream at bed time.

As for doubling down when you have a pair of nines, we've agreed not to do that anymore.

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