Vegan Black Forest Smoothie
(Cherry & Chocolate)

Black Forrest SmoothieYield: 2 servings (or 1 big one if you are really hungry and in need of hydration)

This is what would happen if cherries and chocolate had a nutritious love child…

I love Black Forest Cake and, when I discovered some chocolate cake crumbs in the fridge–from hollowing out cupcakes for a caramel filling–,I knew I would use them to top a Black Forest Cake-inspired smoothie for breakfast.

When I make a smoothie, I always use frozen fruit to achieve my favorite creamy texture.  So, because frozen dark sweet cherries were significantly more calories and less nutrition than the cherry-berry blend, I purchased athye latter.  I actually had fresh cherries in the fridge, but didn’t want to pit them, so I just used them as part of the tantalizing garnish.

Also, because I wanted a bit more nutrition and can’t be necessarily trusted to get it at another meal–lately I’ve wanted “French Fries and Champagne” for dinner (be sure to check out my post about this tomorrow or Saturday)–I added a lot of fresh baby kale.  That likely masked the cherry flavor a little but preserved the beautiful color, so I boosted the flavor with a few maraschino cherries.

All this baby needed was a couple of tablespoons of chocolate syrup–Hershey’s is vegan, but use melted vegan chocolate if you prefer–; a little extra sweetness for which I use a powdered stevia; an optional boost of omega-3 fatty acides with some flaxseed meal; and a pretty garnish of fresh cherries, another drizzle of chocolate syrup, cake crumbs, and two cute paper straws from Target.

The two straws were just for looks mind you…I shared with no one!

2 cups soy or other non-dairy milk

2 lightly packed cups baby kale leaves with tender stems

1 cup frozen cherries and berries (less calories and more nutrition than frozen dark sweet cherries, but use them if you prefer)

2 tablespoons chocolate syrup or melted chocolate (Hershey’s syrup is vegan)

6 maraschino cherries, stemmed

2 tablespoons powdered stevia (or your favorite sweetener to taste)

Optional: 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal

Garnish: fresh cherries, a drizzle of chocolate syrup and, if desired, chocolate cake crumbs

Place all ingredients except garnishes in a blender or, my preference, a Magic Bullet, and blend about a minute or until smooth.  Serve in Mason jars or glasses, garnished as desired, with cute paper straws.

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Vegan Figgy Pudding Smoothie

Figgy Pudding SmoothieYield: 1 smoothie

As you have probably guessed by now, I am mad about figs. And so many generous friends and neighbors have brought me baskets and jars of them following Joe’s passing.

Tonight is our 7th annual Julia Child Birthday Bash–stay tuned for fabulous recipes and photos in the next few posts!–and I am making my Five-Minute Curried Figs Brulee, but I still have more than we will be able to enjoy this evening.

So, I made a fig smoothie today to drink on the way to yoga. Perfection!

Here’s the simple recipe:

1 cup ice

1 cup unsweetened soymilk (or your favorite plain or unsweetened non-dairy milk)

12 small fresh figs, stemmed

1 tablespoon orange juice concentrate (organic preferred)

Optional: sweetener of your choice to taste (I think it is sweet enough without adding additional sweetener)

Place all ingredients in a blender or, my preference, Nutri Bullet, and blend until very smooth.  Serve immediately.

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Vegan Spiked Banana Mocha-Cherry Sippers

Banana Mocha-Cherry SipperYield: 4 snack size servings

When the temperatures rise, cool off with these sweet and refreshing shots of some of my favorite tropical flavors: banana, chococlate, coffee, and cherry.  And for adults only: a hint of Creme de Cacao.

This is my sixth and final entry in the fun “Savory, Sweet, Sippable”  Go Dairy Free and So Delicious Dairy Free  Snackable Recipe Contest to celebrate the release of the FREE Snackable eBook.  Each contestant was allowed to enter two recipes in each category, so I had fun working my way through from Savory to Sippable over the last few days.

My repertoire is a little light on beverages, so this was a fun excuse to “beef”–not!–it up.  Plus, it made for a nice little afternoon pick-me-up!

These Spiked Banana Mocha-Cherry Sippers would taste delicious drunk from a boot (!), but I love them served in little *jars (or shot glasses) on a long rectangular white ceramic plate with a summery napkin and cute paper straws (find these in the “$1” bin section of Target).

Cheers!

Vegan Spiked Banana Mocha-Cherry Sippers

1 small banana, peeled, quartered and frozen

8 ice cubes

12 maraschino cherries

1 teaspoon instant espresso powder or decaffeinated coffee

2/3 cup So Delicious Chcocolate Coconut Milk

1 tablesoon Creme de Cacao (optional but delicious)

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place all ingredients in a blender container (I use the Nutri-Bullet) and blend until smooth.  Divide among 4 small glasses or* jars and serve with cute paper straws.  (*Note: many decorative glass jars like the ones pictured are NOT safe for food consumption, so read labels carefully.)

 

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Vegan Basil-Mint Peach Sipper

Basil-Mint Peach Sipper with NapkinYield: 4 snack size servings

I confess to not eating a lot of fruit, but I do like to drink it daily in the form of juices, smoothies, and, on occasion, sangria.

The perfect opportunity to add a little somethin’-somethin’ to my repertoire of fruit-forward beverages was provided by the announcement of the  Go Dairy Free and So Delicious Dairy Free  Snackable Recipe Contest to celebrate the release of the FREE Snackable eBook.

Though this refeshing sippable snack very definitely tastes of fresh summer peaches, it is more green in color thanks to the addition of fresh basil and mint which also enhance its distincitve summery flavor profile.

Enjoy this trio of some of summer’s freshest flavors in my simple frozen snack you can slurp, er, I a mean sip through a straw!

1 large peach, cut into 8 wedges and frozen

2/3 cup So Delicious Original Coconut Milk

2/3 cup So Delicious Coconut Milk Creamer (or substitute more So Delicious Coconut Milk)

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon almond extract

Stevia or other natural sweetener to taste

12 fresh basil leaves + additional for garnish

12 fresh mint leaves + additional for garnish

Place all ingredients except garnishes in a blender container (I use the Nutri-Bullet) and blend until smooth.  Divide among 4 small glasses or* jars, garnish as desired, and serve with cute paper straws.  (*Note: many decorative glass jars like the ones pictured are NOT safe for food consumption, so read labels carefully.)

Snackable-Recipe-Contest-Badge

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Vegan Espresso-Cocoa Dreamsicle Smoothie

Espresso-Cocoa Dreamsicle Smoothie 2Yield: 1 serving

I’m ready to head out for yoga.  In tow are my Vegan Espresso-Cocoa Dreamsicle Smoothie and ice water in my new Orla Kiely water bottle.  The latter was a birthday gift from my dear friend and sweet colleague in our school’s art department.  (She also gave me a much-needed traction towel to match!)

In high school, I was a “Carnation Instant Breakfast” gal, as I never liked to eat in the morning.  Still don’t.  And I detest any kind of processed or canned “protein” beverage.  So, I opt for some kind of frappucino or smoothie type drink. Since it feels almost like summer, I have been enjoying my Vegan Dreamsicle Smoothies all week for breakfast.

Today, however, on an early morning dog walk, I got an inspiration.  A favorite cake that I used to make–yet to be veganized–combines chocolate, espresso, and orange–and I thought, “Hmm, I
wonder if I could add a teaspoon each of cocoa powder and espresso powder to my Dreamsicle Smoothie for a delicious taste twist and a tiny hit of caffeine without turning the color into something unappealing?”

The answer is, “You betcha!…so bottom’s up!

 

1 cup ice cubes

1/4 cup frozen orange juice concentrate (go for the most natural/organic brand your can find)

1 cup unsweetened soymilk (plain or vanilla would also be nice and might omit the need for agave nectar)

1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon espresso powder (or instant coffee)

1 teaspooon agave nectar

Place all ingredients in a Nutribullet (my favorite), blender, “Ninja,” etc. and blend until very smooth.

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Countdown to Valentine’s Day 2015: Beverage Bonus–Vegan Hot Chai Cocoa (with Navitas Naturals Cacao Powder–a Mayan Superfood!)

Hot Chai Cocoa--Navitas Naturals

Though my Countdown ended yesterday, I promised a “Beverage Bonus” recipe today.  Enjoy it while you are preparinig your Valentine my Red Velvet Pancakes, or anytime tyou need to warm body and soul.

When Navitas Naturals kindly sent me their Cacao Powder to test, I thought to myself, “Really?  How much difference can there be between their product and my grocery store variety?”  The answer is “Considerable.”

My hunch is that when cocoa powder is one of a number of ingredients in a recipe, the difference is less pronounced.  So, I decided to conduct a side-by-side informal taste test of the pure powder.

I moistened my finger, dipped it into my Kroger brand cocoa powder and put it straight in my mouth, closing my eyes and trying to really analyze its flavor.  Then I drank a little water and repeated my test with Navitast Naturals Cacao Powder.  There was a notable difference.  My go-to cocoa powder was extremely mild in terms of chocolate flavor, a bit chalky, and pretty one dimensional in terms of flavor.  The Cacao Powder, on the other hand, had a more intense chocolate flavor of greater complexity and depth without the same chalkiness, not to mention more nutrition and a darker color.

So, Navitas Naturals Cacao Powder?  I’ll drink to that.

And here’s how I drink it:

Hot Chai Cocoa

1-1 1/2 cup serving (easily multiplies)

Note: I have also made this hot cocoa with other tea, like a Chocolate Hazelnut variety that I like, and it was delicious, with the tea imparting a subtle earthiness.  Use any tea that seems compatible with chocolate: mint, orange, raspberry, etc.

1/2 cup water

1 Chai tea bag (or any flavor you wish)

1 tablespoon agave nectar

2 1/2 tablespoons Navitas Natural Cacao Powder (or, okay, your favorite brand of cocoa powder)

1 cup unsweetened or plain soymilk (or your favorite non-dairy milk; I prefer soy for its protein content)

Place water and tea bag in a large mug and heat on hi in microwave for 30 seconds.  Lift out tea bag, add remaining ingredients, whisking after each, replace tea bag, and microwave for an additional 1 1/2 minutes.  Squeeze tea bag over cocoa mixture, discard bag, whisk mixture again, and enjoy.

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Vegan Pumpkin Pie Smoothie PLUS My Secret Naturally Sugar-Free Smoothie Gel

Pumpkin Pie SmoothieYield:  1 Venti (2 1/2 cups) or 2 small smoothies

When I learned that the “secret” ingredient in Starbucks ice crystal-free frappuccinos was xanthan gum, I bought some post haste.  It performs as promised, preventing ice crystals and lending a creamy smooth texture to frapps and smoothies.  However, clean-up was a mess because, as soon as water touches it, it turns into a slimy, almost impossible to clean-up substance, as it contains molecules that cause particles to bond, hence its use in some gluten-free baking mixes.

So I wondered about adding it to a simple syrup made of stevia (a plant-derived natural no-calorie sweetener) and water to create a syrup similar to what Starbucks dispenses into their frapps.  What I ended up with was gel  more than a syrup, but it works beautifully and keeps for what seems like forever, covered, in the fridge.  Use about 2 tablespoons of my “Smoothie Gel” for 2 to 2 1/2 cup frapps or smoothies

 

1 cup ice cubes

1/2 cup canned pureed pumpkin

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 to 2 1/4 cups vanilla soymilk (or your favorite non-dairy vanilla beverage like almond,rice, or hemp milk)

2 tablespoons Smoothie Gel (recipe follows) or sweetener to taste and about 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum

 

Place all ingredients in a blender or Nutri-Bullet and blend until smooth.  Enjoy this portable, filling, nutritious and milkshake-delicious breakfast in your favorite go-cup witha straw, though it’s lovely color and texture makes it pretty enough to serve in a glass at the breakfast table.

 

Sugar-Free Smoothie Gel:

5 3/4 cups Stevia in the Raw Natural Sweetener (I purchase the 9.7 ounce bag and make double this recipe in two batches; one batch is a bit unweildy)

5 3/4 cups water

1/4 cup Xanthan Gum

In a large saucepan, make a simple syrup by whisking together stevia and water.  Bring to a simmer, whisking frequently, and simmer for 1 minute.  Remove from heat. Allow to cool several minutes, whisking ocasionally.  Pour half into food processor, add 2 tablespoons Xanthan Gum, and process until smooth.  The consistency will be similar to a jam or jelly with a white translucent color.  Transfer into a lidded storage container (I use a large Mason jar) and repeat with remaining syrup and gum.  Allow to cool completely, cover, and store in refigerator.  Will keep for weeks if not longer.

 

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Vegan Homemade Starbucks Green Tea Soy Frappuccino–I Found the Secret!

Green Tea Soy Frappuccino--Homemade StarbucksYield: 1 “venti” frappuccino

In the past, I had tried (unsuccessfully) to recreate my beloved Starbucks Green Tea Soy Frappuccino, since this beautiful and luscious green indulgence costs a lot of green.  It is the perfect start to my day–it gets me all the way through first block!–and with school starting tomorrow, it is imperative that I get it right!

I order the frapp unsweetened, as there is PLENTY of sugar in Starbucks’ soymilk as well as in their frappuccino syrup which prevents the beverage from being icy.  Why it never occured to me previously to simply ask what was in the latter, I haven’t a clue.  But recentlyI did, and was told it is a simple syrup (equal amounts of water and sugar simmered together until sugar is dissolved) with xanthan gum.

Last year, I gave a package of xanthan gum to a gluten-free baker friend, as I don’t care for it in baked goods–and hadn’t used it in years since I tried and tossed a recipe–but I bought some more with which to experiment, albeit a little dubiously.  As it turns out, I needn’t have been concerned!

Since I didn’t know how much xanthan gum to use, but found a Starbucks coffee frapp look-alike recipe online that said to add a “pinch” to approximately 2 cups of liquid (coffee and milk) and 2 cups of ice, I did just that, but it wasn’t nearly enough and it was too much ice.  So, I decided to start with alot of xanthan–2 teaspooons per two cups of soymilk–and backed down from there.  I also experimented with the amount of ice and reduced it from 2 to 1 cup and the amount of matcha from 1 tablespoon (my guess) to 1 teaspooon and then 1 1/2 teaspoons, ultimately deciding on 2 teaspoons.  Ratios are critical as the only ingredients in these bad boys are ice, soymilk, green tea matcha powder, and simple syrup.

All that remained was striking the right balance with the xanthan gum:  2 and even 1 teaspoon was too much unless you crave a “smoothie” texture, i.e. ultra creamy and very thic– almost spoonable–which is not the consistency of the Starbucks frapp.  However, 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon is just right; I really thought either one was virtually a dead ringer for my green tea Holy Grail from Starbucks.

I prefer not to consume a lot of sugar on a regular basis, so it’s Stevia for me.  I ended up adding 5 individual packets which sounds like a lot, but with unsweetened soymilk and that earthy matcha, it takes that much to achieve the Starbucks flavor.  I plan to purchase some in bulk and experiment with a stevia-sweetened simple syrup that I can keep in the fridge.  (Note:  and I have subsquently done so with great results.  Find my recipe for Sugar-free Smoothie Gel HERE!)

But, for now, here is the magic formula:

1 cup ice

2 cups unsweetened soymilk (feel free to substitute plain or vanilla)

2 teaspoons unsweeteend green tea matcha powder (I use Kiss Me Organics purchased on Amazon)

*5 individual packets Stevia or to taste

*1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum (I purchase on the organic aisle of Kroger)

Place all ingredients in the container of a blender or Nutri-Bullet (I use the latter), and blend until completely combined and no ice chunks remain.  Enjoy sipped through a straw!

*Or substitute 2 tablespoons of my Secret Sugar-free Smoothie Gel for sweetener and xanthan gum

 

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Kiss Me Organics Green Tea Matcha Powder–I’ll Drink to That!

I am a Starbucks unsweetened green tea soy Frappuccino devotee (their soymilk is plenty sweet without the addition of syrup). Since those beverages are a bit pricey, I have always wanted to make them at home, but a grocery store matcha powder that I purchased a few years back was pretty much undrinkable, and I have not been able to recreate the taste and consistency I crave until now.

Recently, Kiss Me Organics offered me a free sample of their Green Tea Matcha Powder.  These offers always make me a little nervous as I want to love the product and review it positively, but what if I don’t love it?  In the case of this matcha tea, fortunately, I didn’t have to worry.

KMO Organic Matcha did the trick. It definitely has a robust flavor, but I like that and, in fact, in my Frappuccino of 1 cup ice + 1 cup unsweetened soy milk + 3 packets of Stevia + 1 teaspoon arrowroot starch (to prevent the frapp from being icy) whipped up in my Nutri Bullet, I used 1 whole tablespoon of this matcha powder and loved it. (The recommended serving on the package is ½ to 1 teaspoon.) Even so, each drink is still far less expensive than my beloved Starbucks versions. I am going to experiment with reducing the amount of matcha just to make it last longer. And I look forward to experimenting with it in baking, as well.

The color is beautiful and the flavor earthy and deep…some homemade vegan green tea cupcakes, frosting, and shortbread is in my future.  And I will share them here!

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