Horchata is a refreshing beverage made from white rice, almonds, sugar, cinnamon and sometimes milk in Mexico and many parts of Latin America; Spain and other countries have their own variations. As a whole-foods enthusiast, I like to use brown rice instead of white, pure maple syrup in place of sugar. The nuts make this horchata rich and creamy without the addition of dairy milk.
Soak the almonds and rice in plenty of water for 12 to 24 hours. Drain and rinse, and transfer them to a blender. Add 5 cups water, and blend on the highest speed until smooth.
Line a medium strainer with several layers of cheesecloth or a thin kitchen towel, and place it over a medium bowl. Pour the mixture through the strainer, gather the corners of the cloth and gently squeeze out all the liquid; discard the pulp.
Return the liquid to the blender, add the maple syrup and vanilla and blend until combined. Pour the horchata into a jar, and refrigerate for up to 5 days. Serve chilled.