Non-Alcoholic

Banana Pumpkin Smoothies

After all of the cheese and wine I consumed last week in Buenos Aires, I need to get it together. Quite frankly, I’m tired of chicken, have no desire for salads, and can’t eat any more eggs. When I get into an eating rut like this, where I want to eat healthy but can’t stand to eat the same old, same old, I like to replace a meal with a smoothie a few times a week. It’s the middle of October so it feels completely appropriate to break out the pumpkin. This Banana Pumpkin Smoothie is the perfect fall meal that tastes more like a treat and keeps my pants fitting.

Vanilla yogurt, canned pumpkin, orange juice, and frozen banana are the basis of this smoothie which is jazzed up with warm spices and a hint of brown sugar. Right around now, you can find all kinds of recipes for pumpkin pie smoothies but what makes this one unique and different is the addition of the banana and fresh orange juice. I always have slices of frozen banana in my freezer just for smoothies like this but if you don’t, a fresh banana will work fine, you just may want to add extra ice. I never thought to combine orange and pumpkin together but the flavors marry perfectly, giving this drink a light freshness you don’t typically get with fall pumpkin flavors. I’m sold.

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Combine yogurt, pumpkin, ice, orange juice, brown sugar, spices, and banana in a blender, and process until smooth.

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Garnish with dash of ground cinnamon, if desired. Serve immediately.

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Additions: None

Omissions: None

Substitutions: None

Overall Rating: Love It

Source: Cooking Light magazine

Chocolate-Cherry-Almond Smoothie

Every once in a while I become obsessed with certain foods and eat them constantly. I’ve been through brownie batter fits, black bean burger rages and trail mix binges. Recently, I’ve been on an almond milk kick. I’m not really the biggest milk drinker in general and only have it in the house if a specific recipe calls for it or if I have a box of cereal. But lately, I’ve been drinking almond milk, both plain and chocolate, like it’s going out of style. I decided the chocolate almond milk was begging to be mixed with the bag of frozen cherries I’ve had in my freezer for a while now and despite the fact that I’m always cold and am still dealing with 11 inches of snow from the other day, I wanted to make a smoothie. This Chocolate-Cherry-Almond Smoothie completely knocked my winter socks and slippers off.

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Cherry Greek yogurt, chocolate almond milk, frozen cherries, and a dash of almond extract are blended together until smooth making for a rich, sweet and satisfying smoothie. Regular milk and regular yogurt could be substituted here but I really love the thickness of the Greek yogurt and the added hint of flavor the almond milk provides. The chocolate almond milk adds just the right amount of chocolate which pairs so perfectly with the bright cherries. With 1 gram of fat and 14 grams of protein, this smoothie is perfect for breakfast, an after workout drink or satisfying enough for dessert.

Chocolate-Cherry-Almond Smoothie (makes 1 smoothie)

  • 1/2 cup non-fat cherry Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate almond milk (I used Silk)
  • 1 cup frozen dark sweet cherries (fresh pitted cherries may be used instead, just add ice)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract

Combine all the ingredients into a blender and blend on high for 30 seconds. Add ice if necessary to reach your desired thickness. Top with a cherry and chocolate shavings (if desired).

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Almond Hot Chocolate

What the what is going on with the weather?  I’m tired of thinking about it, hearing about it, and worrying about it.  It was almost 60 degrees in Philadelphia on Sunday after weeks of lows hitting single digits and wind chills hitting negative degrees. So finally when we thought we might actually be getting a break…we get five more inches of snow.  I mean, seriously? We are tough and can handle it but we like to complain so we are sick of it. After thawing out, I’m cold again and I’m not happy about it. I’m tired of drinking hot tea so I expected this Almond Hot Chocolate to do the trick.

Almond milk, cocoa, and honey are heated together which results in a unique and creamy hot chocolate. Almond milk is creamy and pleasantly fragrant with a subtle sweetness that works perfectly in a recipe like this. Don’t be scared of almond milk if you haven’t tried it. I love it tons more than soy milk and it’s lower in calories and sugar than regular milk.  If you want to tiptoe your way into trying almond milk, this recipe is good start. I’m cozy and warm right now after drinking this but I’m sure I’ll be freezing again tomorrow.

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In a medium saucepan, cook the almond milk, cocoa and honey over medium heat, whisking constantly, until piping-hot, about 5 minutes. Stir in the vanilla, if using.

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Pour the hot chocolate into mugs. Top with marshmallows.

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Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:  None

Overall Rating:  Like It

Source: Everyday with Rachael Ray magazine

Mulled Cider

Are you someone like me who reaches for something warm as soon as you get home from work because you are so cold?  I admit I usually reach for some red wine (warm in it’s own way) but sometimes I’ll have some hot tea which just gets boring after a while. Warm apple cider is just a perfect drink around the holidays.  This non-alcoholic Mulled Cider is a perfect way to warm up on a cold day.

Fresh apple cider is simmered with orange slices, brown sugar, cloves, star anise pods and cinnamon sticks and allowed to steep to get a festive, deep flavored, and slightly spicy mulled cider.  Good for both adults and children alike, this cider will warm you to your core and prepare you for a cold night (or morning) by warming up your insides.  Make this ahead of time to sip on Christmas morning and simply warm up (and add a splash of bourbon if you feel so inclined).

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The ingredients:

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                        In a large saucepan, combine apple cider, orange slices, brown sugar, cloves, star anise pods and cinnamon sticks. Bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and allow to steep at least 2 hours.

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Strain out spices before serving.

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Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:  None

Overall Rating:  Like It

Source:  Family Circle magazine

Vanilla-Almond Steamer

I went to a friend’s for dinner last night and left around 9:40 so I could make it home in time to catch the latest episode of Chicago Fire only to find snow on my car so thick and heavy, my windshield wipers couldn’t cut through it.  So there I was without a winter coat or gloves on in a full snowstorm brushing snow off my car just to drive to my house less than a mile away.  I think the weather people talked more about Winter Storm Nemo last week than about this little weather event which clearly created more snow.  Anyway, snows like this which leave me wet and cold just make me want to curl up with something warm.  And since I don’t want to drink anything caffeinated before bed, this Vanilla-Almond Steamer is a perfectly cozy warm drink on an unexpectedly snowy night.

Milk and sugar are warmed on the stove and flavored with cinnamon sticks, vanilla and almond extracts.  If I could imagine what a warmed up vanilla milkshake might taste like, I think this would be it.  Use whatever milk you fancy (I used skim and loved it) because I really don’t think it will matter.  The cinnamon, vanilla and almond create a soothing backdrop for this hug in a cup.  If you need something one of these cold nights but have had enough tea and just can’t deal with decaf, consider this.  It’s a perfect before-bedtime drink that can even be kicked up with some bourbon or rum if you so choose.

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The ingredients:

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Combine the milk and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat; cook until sugar dissolves, stirring frequently. Add cinnamon sticks to milk mixture; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally (do not boil).

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Remove from heat; let stand 20 minutes. Stir in extracts. Place pan over medium-high heat; cook 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Remove and discard cinnamon sticks.

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Garnish with ground cinnamon and cinnamon sticks, if desired.

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Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:

  • Non-fat milk

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Cooking Light Magazine

Strawberry-Mango Smoothie

I had dinner with a friend last night and as I was driving home, under an almost-blue moon (which is tonight, by the way), with the windows down and the sunroof open, I felt a change in the air.  It was the change that comes in the summer when evenings get slightly cooler and temperatures dip into the 60s for the first time.  And even though it’s supposed to get a little warmer here for the weekend than it’s been the last couple of beautiful days, I’m eagerly waiting for those nights when I can turn off the air conditioning and sleep with the windows open.  Which should be any day now.  I hope.  As I wait, I’ll just savor these remaining warm summer days and keep sipping on something cold and refreshing like this Strawberry-Mango Smoothie.

Fresh strawberries, frozen mangoes, yogurt and mango nectar are blended until creamy, smooth, sweet and tangy.  I prefer to use frozen fruit in my smoothies as opposed to ice because I like the texture of the frozen fruit but obviously you can use fresh fruit and ice instead.  Also, if you can’t find mango nectar (which I find in the international foods section of my grocery store), simply substitute orange juice or apple juice.  Really, just throw in whatever you want.  Smoothies are a sweet ending or a good accompaniment to a weekend brunch, as a way to get a couple servings of fruit in you, or just to cool off on a hot day.  Whatever your day brings you, I hope you have fun today or tonight and do something you wouldn’t normally do, something off the cuff and unexpected.  That way when you tell your kids/friends your story, you can officially say, “I did it once in a blue moon.”

Have a great weekend everyone!

Strawberry-Mango Smoothies (makes 2 smoothies)

  • 1 cup strawberries, quartered
  • 1 cup frozen mangoes
  • 1/2 cup mango nectar or fruit juice
  • 1 6-ounce carton fat-free strawberry yogurt

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend on high for one minute until smooth.  Garnish with fresh strawberries or mango slices.

The ingredients:

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend on high for one minute until smooth.

Garnish with fresh strawberries or mangoes.

Toasted Marshmallow Milkshake

When I was coming back from a trip to Chicago a few weeks ago, I picked up Food Network Magazine in the airport and was very excited to find a little booklet tucked inside of 50 different kinds of milkshakes. Umm…whaaaaaa? Yes, please and thank you! So I settled in my airplane seat and read every single word of every single milkshake trying to decide which one I wanted to try first. Milkshakes seem so decadent that they only time I might allow myself the guilty pleasure is once in year in March when McDonald’s offers the Shamrock Shake. With ice cream being on sale now in grocery stores, a milkshake seemed like a perfect dessert to make when it’s oh-so hot outside. This Toasted Marshmallow Milkshake did not disappoint!

Marshmallows are toasted until golden brown (or jet black if you prefer) in the broiler and blended with vanilla ice cream and milk. Using light ice cream or frozen yogurt and reduced-fat or non-fat milk will help keep calories at bay so you won’t have to feel so guilty while you slurp this creamy dessert. I can’t really explain to you just how good this milkshake is. I just can’t. There are no words. All I can say is…try it. I can’t think of a better way to cool off from the summer heat than an ice cold milkshake like this one.

Toasted Marshmallow Milkshake (makes 1 large or 2 small milkshakes)

(From Food Network Magazine)

8 marshmallows

1 pint vanilla ice cream

1/4 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

pinch of salt

Broil marshmallows on foil, turning, until browned. Blend 1 pint vanilla ice cream, milk, vanilla, pinch of salt and 6 toasted marshmallows. Top with remaining marshmallows.

The ingredients:

Broil 8 marshmallows until desired brownness on one side and carefully flip over to brown the other side. (I broiled mine 1 1/2 minutes on the first side and 45-50 seconds on the opposite side.)

Blend vanilla ice cream, milk, vanilla extract and 6 toasted marshmallows in a blender until smooth.

Top with remaining 2 toasted marshmallows.

Additions: None

Omissions: None

Substitutions:

  • Light ice cream
  • Non-fat milk

Overall Rating: Love It

Source: Food Network Magazine

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