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Mmm Mmm Smoothies!

20 Oct

There’s no ice in this here smoothie.

Surprised?

I don’t know why people put ice in their fruit smoothies. I like mine thick and creamy and milkshake-y, and ice just waters things down and adds crunch to the mix. There’s no crunch in smoothie, at least in my house.

Getting thick without ice requires one simple thing. Frozen fruit. If you start with frozen fruit, you don’t need ice, see? And you get that wonderful milkshake thickness in a meal or snack that’s chock full of vitamins and nutrition.

I always start with nonfat vanilla yogurt and half a sliced, frozen banana. That’ll guarantee creamy–bananas are nothing if not the perfect thickener for fruit-based drinks. The vanilla yogurt adds sweetness and a hint of extra deliciousness. And beyond that, the sky’s the limit. Strawberry-banana. Blueberry-banana. Chocolate banana (MMMMMMM!! Use a whole banana, a spoon of cocoa powder, and a little extra sugar). Nutella-banana. Peanut butter-banana. I could go on for hours.

The smoothie you see above was made with a scoop of Dole Tropical Fruit Mix that I found in the freezer of my third-world supermarket. Assuming your market is the least bit civilized, you’ll find this along with the bags of frozen strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and other fruits. Pick your favorite and you’ll be in business. I like the tropical because it’s sweet and my kids think it’s akin to soft ice cream when it’s whirled together. But anything you like is just fine.

Don’t be afraid to give your blender time to really destroy the fruit. Remember–no ice. No water. You can let ‘er rip until the job’s done and you’ll still get creamy and thick. If you hear bits of fruit whacking against the blades, let it go until the machine reaches a steady, even hum. And feel free to add powdered fiber, flax, or other supplements to these. You won’t notice.

I had mine for breakfast today, but it’s a perfect mid-day pick-me-up or after school snack. Even a dessert, depending how sweet yours is. Hope you like it!

You’ll need:

6 oz or about 3/4 cup nonfat vanilla yogurt (try Greek style if you want extra, extra thick)

1/2 a banana, sliced and frozen

A heaping 1/2 cup of another fruit or fruit blend, also frozen.

1/2 tsp sugar or Splenda, to taste

1/4 cup milk (I use skim)

Pour the yogurt into your blender. Add sweetener, frozen fruit, and milk. Blend on the highest setting until you don’t hear any chunks smacking into the works. Pour and enjoy. Makes 1 meal-sized (the glass in the photo holds 20 oz) or 2 snack-sized smoothies.

(For chocolate, use a whole sliced banana, a teaspoon or so of cocoa powder, and a teaspoon or so of sugar, to taste, adding chocolate syrup at your whim. For peanut butter, use a whole banana, a tablespoon of peanut butter, and omit the sugar.)

Pumpkin Spice Coffee

8 Oct

I was all set to head to Starbucks this afternoon when it hit me that I was about to pay something like $4 for a cup of coffee and deal with my two hyper kids inside their lovely shop, which is a whole ‘nother ball of wax. But I really wanted a pumpkin spice latte (told you I was on a binge).

So I made one.

This isn’t my recipe, although I did cut the sugar in it. It’s all over the Internet–g’head and search it and you’ll see. I have no clue who first wrote it. But it’s really good, and gave me enough pumpkin spice cream mixture for at least two big cups of coffee.

I’m about to say something that I’ll never repeat so long as I live. If you’re making a big batch of this, go ahead and use imitation vanilla.

I know.

You just fainted.

I threw up in my mouth a bit typing it, but I don’t think you’ll notice the difference in a coffee, and a tablespoon of vanilla per two cups is a whole lot to be doling out if you’re using the real, expensive stuff. So grab a bottle of the el cheapo fake stuff at the grocery store–hide it under a magazine on the belt so your neighbors don’t see–and make sure you only use it to make this.

Besides saving money, you’ll save muchos calories over the Starbucks blend. And I hear their pumpkin lattes aren’t gluten-free (don’t hold me to that, but that’s what I hear). Assuming you check your vanilla, this has no gluten. Awesome if that’s a concern.

I used the leftover pumpkin from my scones recipe the other day–it was in a little plastic container in my fridge. If you need more motivation to make those tasty treats, there it is.

To make yourself a cup (two, but who’s counting?) of pumpkin spice coffee, you’ll need:

1 cup of milk (I used 1 percent, but whatever you have will be fine)

1 tablespoon canned pumpkin

1 scant tablespoon of sugar

1 scant tablespoon of vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

2 cups of strong coffee

In a small pan over medium heat, whisk together the milk, pumpkin, sugar, vanilla, and spice until well combined. Let it come to a simmer, stirring every few minutes so the spices dissolve.

Prepare your strong coffee however you normally do that. Pour it into a mug and add the pumpkin mixture. Mmmmmmm.

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