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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On the 3rd Day of Christmas…Vegan Pumpkin Pie Espresso

It is supposed to chill down today through at least Christmas in much of the US that isn’t already frigid or frozen, so my Pumpkin Pie Espresso seemed the perfect way to start this morning, Christmas morning, or any winter morning!

(Please note: when you click on the link, it will take you to the recipe that I posted in 2011 with a cookbook giveaway but the giveaway is not a current offer.  Sorry!)

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Word Up! Wall Art Made from Wooden Tea Boxes

Order Wall ArtIf you are a tea drinker–it seems that veganism/healthy eating and tea drinking go hand-in-hand–and you happen to have a couple of wooden tea boxes in your possession, you are well on your way to making a simple piece of wall art!

If you also love words and have ones you live by–it is “order” for me!–then this project is perfect for you!  And perhaps you are fortunate enough to have an extra day this weekend in which to do it.

Get the skinny and easy how-to on this project in my column in the Virginian-Pilot, “DIY Decor.”

If you decide to put your “word up,” I would love for you to share your results!


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Vegan Basil-Blueberry and Lemon Curd Ice Cream (with Lemonade Cooler Option)

Yield:  approximatelyDSCN1723 5 cups of ice cream

I have SO many recipes to post, but we had a dog drama with Huff the Dorito Dog on Wedensday (he is going to be fine), and yesterday, I was travelling to visit my family in MS.  When I opened the fridge today, I saw TONS of fresh blueberries that my (85 year old) father and sister had picked at a good friend’s house, so I thought I would start with this refreshing treat!

This deliciously different ice cream was born of fresh blueberries from the farmer’s market, a healthy crop of basil growing in a pot just outside our door, and some of Bryanna Clark Grogan’s ingenious Vegan Lemon Curd leftover from a cookie baking session.

Complex, but not muddy in flavor, this ice cream epitomizes summer with the floral notes of the basil, the earthy sweetness of the blueberries and the subtle citrus undertones of the lemon curd.  Not as tangy as a pure lemon ice cream, if it’s that tartness you seek, I highly recommend that you top the ice cream with a splash of lemonade for a refreshing and zippy cooler.

And, if you think the basil seems odd, feel free to leave it out, but I think it adds a very special quality.  With or without the basil, please enjoy!

2 tablespoons arrowroot powder (thickens witout crystallization)

1 cup unsweeteened soymilk

2 cups soy creamer

1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries, rinsed and drained

3/4 cup Bryanna’s Lemon Curd

1/3 cup natural sugar

Pinch sea salt

2-6 to 8 inch stems basil leaves, rinsed and patted dry

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a small cup or bowl, whisk together arrowroot powder and 1/4 cup soymilk.  In a 1-quart saucepan, combine remaining 3/4 cup soymilk and soycreamer, and cook over medium heat until mixture begins to boil.  Remove it from the heat and immediately whisk in arrowroot cream causing the mixture to thicken considerably.  Pour into a medium bowl, add stems of basil, cool the custard to room temperature and then remove basil, using your fingers to scrape off the custard clinging to the basil.  Process blueberries, lemon curd, sugar, and sea salt in the bowl of a food processor until smooth; flecks of blueberry skin will remain.  Whisk into custard, along with vanilla, cover, and chill for at least 3 hours.  Freeze in an electric ice cream maker (mine is a Cuisinart) according to manufacturer’s directions.  Serve immediately or freeze, covered, to allow ice cream to stiffen.

Lemonade Cooler

For each serving, place 2 scoops of ice cream in a stemmed glass, pour about 1/3 to 1/2 cup lemonade over the top(I use a reduced calorie variety), garnish the side of the glass with a lemon slice, and serve with a straw and long-handled spoon.

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Vegan Cinco de Mayo: More Blooming Platter Recipes on

Cocina Mexicana--Page 1If you are gearing up for a Cinco de Mayo feast tonight or tomorrow, May 5, the actual day of the celebration–or if you are just Jonesin’ for some delicious vegan Mexican food–I invite you to visit VegNews online where you will find three more of my recipes to complement those featured in the May print edition of VegNews Magazine.

There wasn’t room for all of my creations, so just click on the link above, here or on the individual links below to go straight to Mexican food Nirvana with:

Bean and Corn-Stuffed Poblano Peppers

Here, baked chile rellenos meet chiles en almendra (almond sauce). The delectably creamy white sauce is the perfect complement for spicy salsa cruda.

Eggplant and Portabello Enchiladas with Paprika-Lime Cashew Cream

Fresh summer and sundried tomatoes transform into a tasty sauce for these addicting enchiladas.  And everything is better with cashew cream, no?

Summer Sunset Sangria

This sexy and refreshing sunset-colored sangria is almost too pretty to drink. Almost.

Ole, ya’ll!


[Photo Credit: Vanessa K. Rees]

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Red Wine Reduction for Grilled Peaches

Yield:  8 servings (1/2 to 3/4 cup sauce)

In August, Joe and I joined his sisters, Terri Ann and Tina, and their families for a short vacation in Ocean City, N.J.  (Our 14 year old niece, Gabriella, who is about as far removed from “Snooki” as one can get–thankfully!–does a great imitation.)  The DiJulios spent part of the summers there throughout their lives and, now that both of their parents are deceased, have vowed to keep the tradition alive.

Family dinners are part of the tradition so, late one afternoon on the way home from a bike ride, Terri Ann and I couldn’t resist the Jersey peaches at a local market.  Dinner was a grilled affair (marinated tofu for me) with my husband, Joe, in charge, so he put the peach halves on while we enjoyed dinner including Jersey corn and tomatoes plus sauteed kale from who knows where.

Before we sat down, I joined forces with Terri Ann (a good cook in her own right) and her husband’s son, Curt (a partner with Bonefish Grill who knows his way around a kitchen) and created a luscious, glistening, and not-too-sweet Cabernet sauce for the peaches.  We all gave it a can-I-please-have-some-more? enthusiastic thumb’s up!

I served it over a plain grilled peach for me, but added a little scoop of peach yogurt that was in the fridge for everyone else, omnivores all.  But, if you like, you can forget all the formalities and just eat it from a spoon!

Hopefully there are still a few summer peaches available in your neck of the woods, but if not, the sauce would be delicious over, say, grilled bananas, perhaps pears, vegan pound cake or ice cream (or both!), etc.

1 1 /2 cups Red wine (we used Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet)

2/3 cup sugar

Bring both ingredients to a gentle boil over medium-high heat, reduce heat, and simmer gently until reduced by about one-half to two-thirds.  You should have about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of sauce.  Remove from heat.  Reduction will thicken more as it cools.

Serve over grilled peaches with or without a dollop of vanilla or peach vegan yogurt.

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Papa’s Vegan Blueberry and Spinach Smoothie (Bonus: Meets Full Liquid Diet Requirements)

(Photography Note: TODAY is the day I am going to buy a new camera!  As I mentioned previously, the one that had served me well for so long went on the fritz in June and my phone really doesn’t take very good photos as you can see here. So I apologize for the quality …definitely not up to Blooming Platter standards!)

On Saturday, July 7, I flew to MS to drive with my folks the next day to Ochsner’s Hospital (The Mayo Clinic of the South) in New Orleans where my robust 84 year old father had some surgery the next day.  (My papa, Byron Gough, still works part-time as an engineer for Howard Industries, the largest transformer manufacturer in the world!)

He came through it like a rock star thanks to the expert medical team at Ochsner’s and his overall excellent health and attitude.  We were relieved to learn that the orders for a week on a Clear Liquid Diet were incorrect and that he needed to be on the much less restrictive “Full Liquid Diet” followed by a week on the “Nissen Soft Diet.”

The Full Liquid Diet is a bit of a misnomer as it allows strained purees.  So, after I drove them home on Wednesday and before I came back to Virginia yesterday, I set about trying to figure out how to get enough tasty and appetizing calories and nutrition in him.  I plan to post a couple of the soups I created, one with fresh homegrown tomatoes, as they certainly didn’t look or taste like “recuperation food”!

In the meantime, though, I wanted to share this smoothie recipe.  Lots of folk,s it seem,s are “juicing” and I have nothing against fresh juices.  I find them very refreshing, in fact.  (Hampton Roads residents: if you haven’t yet tried the new Fruitive at Hilltop, I highly recommend!)  However, I love all of the fiber that comes from using whole fruits and vegetables as well as the protein that comes from soymilk in a smoothie.  But the juice movement did encourage me to start incorporating dark leafy greens into mine.
This vitamin- and protein-packed version is a beautiful color, ultra smooth and creamy, and a perfect balance of tastes.

Yield: 4+ cups

2 cups unsweetened soymilk (app. 160 calories)
1 cup lightly packed baby spinach (app 10 calories)
1 cup frozen blueberries (app 85 calories) [blueberries must be frozen; if not, try adding a handful of ice, but make sure your blender can crush ice] 4 tablespoons orange juice concentrate OR 4 tablespoons of soy yogurt OR 2 tablespoons of each (app 100-110 calories)
Stevia or your favorite no calorie sweetener to taste (0 calories)

Optional Garnish: fresh mint sprigs.

Place all ingredients in a blender container. Stir them gently to combine with a long-handled spoon. Process on the highest speed until smooth, stopping two or three times to stir and press down any unincorporated ingredients if necessary.  Pour into glasses, garnish if desired and serve, preferably with a straw.

Total Calories for Entire Recipe (all amounts were rounded up, so it is a little less than this): 365 calories


Where can you find more delicious vegan recipes that make the most of the season?  Check out The Blooming Platter Cookbook: A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes!
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Happy New Year from The Blooming Platter! A Sparkling Vegan Twist: Rosemary-Infused Sparkling Wine

Today’s post is a toast to all of you faithful Blooming Platterists.  May your generosity and support be returned to you many times over in the coming year and beyond!

This “recipe” embodies much of what I wish for my culinary life in 2012: exquisite beauty and indulgent flavors along with ordinary moments made extraordinary with very little fuss.

Not really a recipe, but just a simple method, I “invented” it while sipping Prosecco (Italian sparkling wine) before dinner on the patio of one of our favorite restaurants: Terrapin.  (Despite the “fishy” name, they prepare exquisite vegan food.)

On each table was a diminutive pot of fresh rosemary.  On a whim, I pinched off a little stalk and dropped it into my glass.  Not only was the faintly piney aroma and very subtle shift in flavor absolutely irresistible and seductive.  But the way the tiny bubbles clustered around each of the rosemary fronds and flickered in the candlelight was sheer magic.

Happy New Years, everyone!

Holiday note:  Continue to receive 25% off the list price on The Blooming Platter Cookbook just through December 31.



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