Healthy Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

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When it comes to exclusively fall foods, pumpkin is one that certainly comes to mind.  No other time of year do I want to ingest a Jack-o-lantern, let alone crave it.  There is something so indulgent but at the same time healthy.  Pumpkin is a type of squash full of vitamins (A,B,C, and K) and minerals.  The flavor is distinct but it is easily used in seasonal drinks, desserts, and now healthy smoothies.  I feel like I’m playing a trick on my body with this treat because it tastes so good but is really good for me.

I used my Vitamix blender to get the rich and velvety quality of the smoothie, in just 45 seconds of blend time you have guest pleasing dessert…or breakfast if you desire.

Ingredients:

-1/2 cup of pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
-1/2 cup of almond milk or coconut milk (I mixed the two 50/50)
-1 frozen banana
-1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
-1/4 heaping tsp of pumpkin pie spice
-1/2 Tbsp of vanilla extract
-1 Tbsp maple syrup (I used a grade B syrup with rich flavor, you can use agave or brown sugar here too)
-1 Tbsp chia seeds (optional)

Directions:

Place all ingredients into the Vitamix blender and slowly increase speed to high, blend for 45 seconds.  Add more milk if needed for consistency.

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Note:

-If you don’t have your banana frozen, put it in fresh and add a small handful of ice, you may need more milk when doing this.

-To make this more of a breakfast treat, try adding 1/4 cup of rolled oats or sprinkle with flax seed.

-Top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg if serving for dessert.

Strawberry Mimosa

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No Sunday brunch is complete without a delicious mimosa.  For this morning I made it a little extra special as the sun is shining and spring is slowly showing itself.  This is a must repeat for Easter Sunday brunch!

I used fresh strawberries for this recipe and liquefied them in the Vitamix with a little lemon juice.  If you use a regular blender you will probably have a few strawberry chunks or seeds floating around, but I’m sure it will still be delicious!  This recipe was a good amount for 4 mimosas, so double or triple as needed :).

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Ingredients:

6-7 Fresh Strawberries, more for garnish
1 Tbsp Fresh Lemon Juice
Domaine De Canton (Ginger Liqueur)
Champagne

Directions:

1. Blend strawberries and lemon juice together in Vitamix increasing speed to high for up to 45 seconds to liquefy.

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2. Add strawberry mixture to champagne flute to taste, about 1 Tbsp.  Add 1/2 Tbsp of ginger liqueur to the glass and fill rest of the way with champagne.  The bubbles from the champagne will mix everything together in a minute or so, no need to stir.

3. Garnish with a strawberry or lemon wedge.

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You can make the strawberry and lemon juice the night before, sealed in the fridge in an airtight container.  I am looking forward to making this with other types of fruit as they come in season this summer.  Adding fresh mint or basil to the Vitamix would create a nice flavor as well!

Cheers!

 

Fresh Almond Milk

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Project Adventures in Vitamix is well underway.  This morning I made fresh almond milk to use in coffee for the weekend, so easy and way better for you than the processed store bought stuff.  Usually I don’t go through the trouble of straining the almond milk after it’s out of the Vitamix, but today I decided to use my new fine mesh strainer to see what the big difference would be.  I have to say, there is a big difference between the strained and unstrained product.  The unstrained milk has a very nutty quality and naturally a thickness to it that stands out in coffee or when drank alone.  The strained product is a lot softer in flavor, mixes into coffee well and…for lack of a better descriptor…is milky tasting.  The vitamix really pulverizes the almonds, what you are straining out is the very fine shell and meat of the nut that has escaped the 2 horsepower blades.  This will make just over 3 cups of milk and about a half a cup of froth.  The best part is that the frothy goodness left over in the strainer is a perfect nutty base for a smoothie.  Talk about starting the weekend out strong!

Ingredients:

1 cup of raw almonds
3 cups of water
1 tsp of agave (or sweetener of choice)

Directions:

1. Add all ingredients to your Vitamix (or other high power blender) and increase speed to high, run for 2 minutes.

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2. Slowly pour mixture through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth, using a spoon to remove the froth as you strain.  Use the milk immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  I’m not sure about the storage life, but I try to use the milk up in about 2 days.

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I like to add a very small amount of sweetener to my almond milk since I’m using it in my coffee, but you do not have to.  If you are going to use the milk for baking or another cooking project, just skip the sweetener.  You may want to substitute for a little salt if you are planning to use it in a soup or savory meal.

I had a lot of frothy goodness left after straining the milk, and of course didn’t want to let it go to waste.  I put the froth right back into the Vitamix and added a frozen banana, 3/4 cup of frozen strawberries, large handful of kale, and 1 cup of water.  Blend on high for 45 seconds, makes 2 smoothies.  AMAZING!

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Enjoy and Stay Healthy!

Coconut, Strawberry and Basil Smoothie

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Today I was looking for a creamy smoothie with a different flavor profile from the norm.  I have a basil plant that is holding on for dear life by the front window, begging for sunlight in the middle of winter and unfortunately too close to the window to stay warm on these sub-zero days.  With the 5-6 living leaves that remain I wanted to make something to recall the days of summer when fresh herbs are robust.

To add creamy smoothness the combination of banana and coconut milk (from a can) are pretty great.  The coconut milk gives more thickness to the smoothie than almond milk or regular milk, and the coconut flavor in the finished product is perfect.  Of course this was blended in the Vitamix for optimal consistency.

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Ingredients:

1 Ripe Banana
1 cup of Red or Green Kale
5-6 large frozen Strawberries
5 small Fresh Basil Leaves
1/3 cup of lite Coconut Milk, canned.

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Directions:

Add ingredients to Vitamix blender in order provided and blend on high for 45 seconds.  Add more or less coconut milk as needed for desired consistency.  I didn’t put any ice in this as the frozen berries give a cool icy quality, but you can add ice if you like.

Stay healthy and Enjoy!

Ginger Green Smoothie

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I have finally gotten my hands on a Vitamix and I’m never letting go.  In the two short weeks that I have had this little beauty in our house I have used it every day.  The best part about this blender, aside from the obvious amazing ability to liquefy everything it comes in contact with, is the fact that my husband loves it too.  Eating healthy has never been so easy and delicious.  I have had the Vitamix for about 2 weeks now and have used it at least once a day since then.  Every morning involves a smoothie, I make my own almond milk to put in my coffee, I make dessert, sauces, and of course a spectacular soup.  I am still getting used to the power and temperament of the blender, so my recipes will take a little time to perfect for public use.

I do have to say I was not a true believer in the Vitamix until I actually put it to use.  I thought our old blender was great, it blended things and if I left it running long enough the contents would be smooth.  Apparently I didn’t know what smooth was, because the vitamix makes everything so smooth it actually becomes creamy.  Okay, enough bragging about my new toy, lets get to the smoothie of the day.

Today I made a green smoothie with a small chunk of fresh ginger to give it a nice little spice/kick.  I am of course not reinventing the wheel here, a smoothie is a smoothie.  Green smoothies are all the rage as they are said to break up greens such as spinach and kale into small enough pieces to digest all the nutrients.  Something about breaking up your food into liquid form has made me really look more closely at what I am buying as well.  If I am releasing hidden nutrients, I am probably releasing hidden chemicals as well.  So not only have I jumped on the Vitamix wagon, I am looking around inside the organic wagon as well.  I have chosen for a long time to believe that if I wash my fruit/veggies well enough that it’s totally fine, but in reality those chemicals are likely penetrating into every bite.  So I have started to switch to organic greens and slowly switching out my fleshy fruits/veggies as well.

2013-12-30 09.06.56Ingredients:

1 Clementine, peeled
1/2 Red Delicious Apple (seeds and all)
1 handful of Kale
5-6 frozen Strawberries
1 Tbsp Chia Seeds
1/2 inch piece of Fresh Ginger
1/2 cup of water

Directions:

1. Add all the ingredients to the blender in the order listed above and blend on high for 45 seconds.  Add more water or ice as needed for consistency desires.

Enjoy and stay healthy!

Holiday Champagne Cocktail

2013-11-28 12.08.48The beauty of Champagne is that you can have it at any time of day and it is socially acceptable (or at least it is in my house).  This holiday champagne cocktail is sure to start your Christmas morning off on the right foot.  It’s so good you may want to continue drinking it all day long.  Keep in mind that the sprig of fresh rosemary is a necessity to this beverage, not just for looks, so make sure you have a full sprig for each glass.  You can re-use the same sprig for multiple refills.

Ingredients:

3/4 of a glass of champagne of choice (I prefer a Cava or Brut)
1/4 of a glass of grapefruit juice
1 tsp of Domaine de Canton (ginger liqueur), more to taste.
1 Sprig of rosemary
Cranberry for garnish

Directions: 

Pour the champagne, grapefruit juice and liqueur into a champagne flute, mix with the sprig of rosemary and garnish with 1-2 cranberries.

 

Hot Spiced Cider

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The first fall snow has fallen and the cold weather appears to be here to stay.  On these cold nights a glass of hot apple cider is the perfect beverage to keep you cozy and warm.  Add some dark rum and you have a real treat on your hands.  I have made this recipe on the stove top letting it simmer at least 30 minutes, or in the crock pot on low for a few hours.  I find that the cider turns out better if you start with a good quality and fresh apple cider.  The spices can be expensive to purchase, but the jars will typically last you for several rounds of cider.

Ingredients:

2 quarts apple cider
2 cinnamon sticks
5 whole allspice berries
10 whole cloves
2 anise stars
1 orange thinly sliced
1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract
Dark Rum

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Directions:

1. Combine all ingredients in saucepan and bring to a boil.  Simmer for at least 30 minutes on low.  If you want to make this in the crock pot, place all ingredients in the crock pot and place on low for 4 hours or high for 2 hours.

2. Ladle out of pot being careful to not spoon the loose spices into mugs.

3. Add 1 shot of dark rum if desired and garnish with cinnamon stick.

Enjoy!

Pumpkin Spice Latte

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On the weekends we like to make the most of our Breville Barista Express, making what we consider a latte.  We bought it as a Christmas present for ourselves last year and have not been disappointed with the purchase.  It has even turned us into bean snobs, right now we only order in beans from Brooklyn.  You can taste the difference and the grind is so much better than any bean from Starbucks.

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With a little crisp of Fall in the air I wanted to make the ever famous Pumpkin Spice Latte.  I browsed a lot of recipes online before settling with these proportions below.  I tried to make it both healthy and light in flavor as I don’t enjoy feeling like I’m drinking the uncooked filling of a pumpkin pie.

Ingredients: 

– 1 cup almond milk, unsweetened

-1 cup of coconut milk (from a can, I like Trader Joe’s light version)

– 2-3 Tbsp up to 1/4 cup Pumpkin puree (I used the Libby’s brand)

– 2 Tbsp vanilla extract

– 1/2 to 3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice

-1/8 to 1/4 tsp ground cloves

-a few dashes of nutmeg, freshly ground if you have it

– 2 Tbsp amber agave syrup or maple syrup, more to taste

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Directions:

1. In a small heavy sauce pan heat above ingredients (I used heaping proportions of spices and agave) without bringing to a boil for 5 minutes.  Mix well.

2. Use as a creamer in coffee, steam for a latte mixed with a shot of espresso, or pour over ice with a shot of espresso for an iced version.

3. Since the mix can be light depending on how heavy you are with proportions, you will want to add a bit to the coffee for a fuller pumpkin spice flavor.  I added half coffee and half heated creamer.  The best flavor match-up is a shot or two of espresso and a cup of the creamer, warm or over ice.

4. Garnish with pumpkin pie spice or nutmeg.

5. Store the extra in the fridge for a few days in a sealed container.

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Enjoy!

 

Mango Mint Smoothie

After my first fall morning run I wanted a satisfying and refreshing smoothie to continue the healthy start to my day.  The best part about a smoothie is that the combination possibilities are endless.  Today I used some fruits found in the fridge and fresh herbs from the balcony, the combo was everything I wanted and more.

2013-09-22 12.12.08Ingredients:

– 1 Kiwi, peeled and quartered

– 1 Mango, peeled and sliced

– 1 cup red seedless grapes

– Juice of 1 grapefruit

– 12 mint leaves

– 4 basil leaves

– 1 1/2 Tbsp chia seeds

– Soda water and Ice as needed for consistency

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Pt everything in the blender and blend until smooth.  Garnish with fresh mint leaves if desired.  Makes 3 smoothies, so share with a friend or two!

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Grapefruit and Mint Cocktail

This drink started out as a refreshing afternoon beverage, then turned into a signature cocktail later at night by adding a shot of Bombay Sapphire Gin.  Delicious.

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Ingredients:

-2 Lime slices

-1 Tbsp Mint simple syrup

-10-15 mint leaves

-Grapefruit juice

-Seltzer water

-Gin (optional)

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Directions:

1. In the bottom of your glass muddle together the slices of lime, mint leaves, and mint simple syrup.

2. Fill the glass with ice and add a shot of gin, then fill the glass about half way with grapefruit juice, and finish off with seltzer water.

3. I then stirred everything together, but I was told the seltzer water will act as a natural stir to mix everything together.

To make the mint simple syrup:

I made this the other day when I was making the lavender simple syrup, I knew it would come in handy at some point.

Dissolve 1/2 cup of sugar into 1 cup of water over medium/high heat (3-5 minutes).  Remove from heat and add about 1 cup of mint leaves to the syrup, let cool completely before straining off the leaves.  Store in a sealed container the refrigerator.

Lavender Iced Sweet Tea

For a refreshing summer drink I took a spin off of a mint spritzer iced tea recipe that was shared with me.  I made this beverage with seltzer water today, but would be great for a brunch cocktail with champagne.

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Ingredients:

-2 cups of loose leaf earl grey tea, brewed and cooled.

-1 1/2 tsp of lavender simple syrup (more depending on how sweet you want it)

-1 Lemon wedge

-seltzer water

-Ice

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I started by making loose leave earl grey tea and letting it cool.  I poured the tea over ice in a large pint glass about 3/4 of the way full, then added the lavender simple syrup, fresh lemon juice, then topped off with seltzer water.  Garnished with a sprig of mint.

To make the Lavender Simple Syrup:

-1/2 cup of sugar

-1 cup of water

-4 sprigs of lavender greens.

Dissolve the sugar in water over medium/high heat.  Remove from heat once sugar is dissolved and add lavender sprigs to water.  Let sit until cooled then strain out the lavender.  Store in refrigerator.  I made some mint infused simple syrup at the same time for future concoctions.

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