Latte Cocktail

Alright, so every now and then I don’t mind a drink. Since espresso martinis are the ‘In Thing’ at the moment ….and I happen to like ’em ….and I happen to have a bit of Kahlua and vodka in the house (the vodka was an intentional purchase to make vanilla essence; the Kahlua ….not so) I figured …Why Not?!

Since I don’t actually buy coffee (the essential ingredient) concocting the authentic martini wasn’t possible. Besides, it’s winter. I wanted something warm.

My usual Google search didn’t bring up much other than actual coffee – or chocolate – based warm drinks, so I just had to go it alone. It really wasn’t hard. And wow, it tasted goooood.

food fervourWhat’d I do? Well, I chucked 30gms (one shot) of Kahlua, one shot (30gms) vodka and 150gms milk in my Thermomix and set it to cook for 6 minutes at 80º on Speed 3. Once it was done, I aerated it for 30 seconds on Speed 8. That’s IT.

I poured it immediately into a latte glass, sprinkled it with cinnamon, and downed it with much pleasure (after taking a pic, of course). Deeelish!

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Caffeine-Free Spicy Chai Latte

I am totally addicted to the Chai I’ve begun making since owning a Thermomix.  I hesitate to say, I crave it more than coffee now! The problem is, it’s still relatively similar to espresso in terms of caffeine content and I’m not keen on consuming too much of that stuff. Why? Well, apart from a ‘negative’ genetic predisposition to it, I’m not fussed on the idea of ingesting too many stimulants on a regular basis.food fervour

So what to do when you’re craving a chai – or at least, a hot drink – late in the day?

Simply… leave out the black tea.

I didn’t know how it’d turn out, but… it certainly satisfied me. And being a little heavy-handed with particular spices, there was no question that it set a fire in my belly (and mouth!) and warmed me right up.

To give it a red hot go, gather together the following:

4-5 black peppercorns, 5-6 cloves, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon garam masala, 1 heaped teaspoon vanilla paste (or essence), 1 heaped teaspoon raw honey, 300gm milk of choice (I used rice milk)

Place the peppercorns & cloves in the bowl and mill 6 seconds, Speed 9. Add the remaining ingredients and cook for 7 minutes @ 70 degrees, Speed 4.

Strain and enjoy immediately. It will warm you to your toes and you’ll still get to sleep later on!

Can you guess which spices I went too hard with? Please feel free to share any variations you might stumble upon as well.  🙂

Apple, Mint & Watercress Coconut Lassi

Glancing at my herb pots as I walked in from yoga this afternoon, I noticed how well my watercress was doing. So well that it looked like it might be beginning to suffocate my curly parsley. That’s not ideal. My mint has bounced back again too (it is temperamental sometimes) and I was suddenly struck by wonder: do watercress and mint go well together? Surely they do?

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The apple & melon lassi from one of my recipe books

Watercress, as I have mentioned before (in a previous post, see here) has been recently crowned the most nutrent-dense plant food, so I am pretty keen on getting it into mah belly as much as possible …and away from my poor parsley plant. Mint is a renowned ant-acid. And both herbs have a fiery ‘freshness’ about them.

Since I wasn’t overly hungry, I decided a drink was all I needed right now and my train of thought led me from the usual option – a smoothie – to the memory of a particular recipe I knew I had somewhere in one of my books. ‘Apple’ and ‘mint’ were swimming around my head while I checked recipe book indexes. Then I found it. A Lassi.

So I set about re-creating the apple & melon lassi recipe with my own, preferred ingredients and was totally chuffed with the result.

For one large serving, you’ll need 1 peeled, cored, chopped apple (you could keep the skin on if organic, as long as your blender is high-powered enough to break it down) 1 banana (mine was frozen) a handful of mint leaves, a handful of watercress leaves, approx 60gm of coconut cream and 200gm coconut water. (NB: fluid measures in grams because I use a Thermomix.)

food fervourSimply throw everything in and blend until smooth. (Thermies: 1½ minutes at Speed 9) It is so refreshing!

Besides your run-of-the-mill mint variety, I also have some chocolate mint growing in the same pot so included that in my ‘handful’. You could vary the concentrations of coconut cream & water to alter thickness, but I think the more cream you use, the less intense the apple & herbs flavours may be. I have considered how a nip of vodka or apple schnapps might alter the creation, but I know the truth is, it would most likely negate all the nutritional benefits of the greens…!

 

Liquid Health: Pros & Cons of Smoothies

I just gorged on cheese. I felt like some cheese on toast for lunch but thanks to my relationship with ‘instant gratification’ I started hoeing into the Nimbin Natural before my GF bread was toasted. Then I had a couple more pieces while the griller took its turn. So by the time I’d eaten, I was full as a goog (Aussie slang for “I’ve had sufficient”).

Now, with the stomach juices working hard (& loud!) I’m feeling a tad guilty about the lack of fibre & nutritional variety in that ‘meal’. Since there’s no way I could fit a whole salad in after all that (a sign in itself…) I’m going to ‘supplement’ with a smoothie.
Good old smoothies!
How did we ever live without them before? Nutrient-dense meals-on-the-run.
They are SO easy. So ridiculously easy. And they’re a blank canvas for the Creative. The one basic ‘rule’ I can ever recall hearing somewhere is:
60% FRUITS + 40% VEGGIES/GREENS

food fervourOf course, when you get used to them (that is, when you “harden up”!) you may find you can reduce the fruit component, which is a good thing for those who want to ‘control’ their fructose intake. Intensely flavoured components of a smoothie can disguise less palatable ingredients. If you have some idea of what fruits & vegetables go well together, you’re unlikely to go too far wrong. If all else fails… Google. There are literally thousands of recipes out there in the ether.

For this one I grabbed an orange, lots of strawberries & blueberries, a banana and a couple of dates and blended them with a chunk of cucumber, a stick of celery (leaves’n’all) a handful of baby spinach and some cabbage.
I blended the solids first to break them up as much as possible, then added my liquid (coconut water in this instance) for a smoother drink.

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So full… More for later!

The thing to remember with smoothies (and here I hark back to the ‘sign’ I mentioned during my cheese story) is that by liquefying your food, it’s easier to consume more than you need, plus there’s less work for your digestive system to undertake. While that can seem like a good thing  – and it can be when you are unwell and need all the energy (& nutrients) you can get for minimal effort, while your immune system is hard at work – healthy peops are likely to become hungrier sooner (despite ingesting a salad bowl’s worth of calories). Because your digestive organs aren’t really getting the ‘workout’ for which they were designed. They need the challenge of some tough fibre or dense proteins to breakdown in the same way your body responds to the fitness challenges you (should) apply to it in training!

To this end, I don’t believe smoothies should be consumed on a regular (daily) basis. After all, human evolution didn’t involve electric blenders!

For a meal on a run, yes – if you really CAN’T make the time. For instant gratification, yes, if you really CAN’T exercise self control. And heck, even for the occasional ‘nutrient supplementation’ after a very average meal (to wit: me, today) and at the expense of excessive energy intake!

 

Vegan Hot Chocolate

I’ve been struggling finding hot winter drinks that aren’t full of caffeine, sugar or cow’s milk. Let me tell you, it ain’t easy. I’ve been playing around, mulling over what goes with what, and I reckon I’ve hit upon some pretty cool ideas. The current ‘Bulletproof’ (butter) coffee fad has even come into play…

This particular version of my experimental ‘healthy’ hot chocolate drinks was inspired by Nutella. Most people know that Nutella is a hazelnut based chocolate spread. So I used hazelnut milk (made freshly in my Thermomix first, via recipe in the new Quirky Cooking cookbook) and tied the ‘Bulletproof’ idea in via the inclusion of coconut oil and my choice of sweetener, coconut sugar. NB: I’m actually sensitising my taste buds by eating so ‘cleanly’ so the flavours here will be subtle, which means you may want to alter the amounts of cacao and sweetener to your liking.

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Unfortunately, I have to admit that if you don’t own a Thermomix I can’t offer you an alternative, because this recipe involves a short burst of high speed blending of hot liquid – which is definitely not to be attempted in a normal blender. (If however, you’re adept in the kitchen, I’m confident you’ll discover alternative means to create something similar!)

For a single serve you will need: 250gm hazelnut milk, 3 tspns cacao powder, 3 tspns coconut sugar, 1 tspn coconut oil (optional).

Place all ingredients in the Thermomix, cooking for 8 minutes, at 70ºC on Speed 4. At the end of the cooking period, programme 30 seconds at Speed 8 to ‘froth’ the mixture. Serve immediately.

Let your imagination run wild. This recipe is really a basic formula for any number of creations. I have used a variety of milks and come up with some amazing flavours, for example, a Spicy version to which I added heaps of cinnamon, some nutmeg, vanilla, garam masala & chilli powder! 😀

 

 

 

 

 

Orange Almond Smoothie

Eden Health Retreat has a number of citrus trees scattered around the grounds so in winter there is quite a bountiful supply of oranges, grapefruit & lemons at our disposal.

With a couple of these oranges hanging around in my fridge, I decided to make a liquid version of a gluten free favourite: the orange almond cake. I had had lunch, and was hankering for a little dessert.

Thinking about an amazing green chai coconut smoothie recipe created by Jo Whitton (Quirky Cooking), I pulled together an idea for a rich drink that didn’t require ANY added sugars. And it worked. Warning: it’s very rich so you won’t need much. The following makes approximately 500mls; enough for two people. (Unlike this one, who guzzled it all down herself…and is paying the price!)food fervour

You’ll need: 50gm almonds, 1 orange (navel oranges are naturally sweeter) with all skin and pith removed, 60-80gm coconut cream, a pinch each of nutmeg & cinnamon, 1-2 teaspoons vanilla essence/paste, 200gm coconut water.

In a blender or Thermomix, mill the almonds into meal (Thermies 10 seconds, speed 9) then add all the remaining ingredients blending thoroughly (Thermies 1½ minutes, speed 9). Serve & consume immediately!

Since it’s winter here on the Gold Coast, I didn’t want to add ice, but in summer it would be an ideal addition. If need be, you could substitute the coconut cream & water with just coconut milk, but you’ll lose all the added goodness in the coconut water (higher concentration of minerals in that, than in the flesh, which is what the milks and creams are made from). You could also throw in a little fresh ginger for added nutrient value!

Baby Kale & Custard Apple Smoothie

Feeling like a green smoothie just now, I opened up the fridge and found half of a custard apple staring back at me. “Hmmm” I thought, “I haven’t tried anything with one of these little fellows yet”.

food fervourWell-ripened custard apples are pretty sweet, so chances are you won’t need to add sweeteners to this smoothie. Well, I didn’t.

I threw a big handful of some baby kale leaves (a first time purchase at the farmer’s markets last week) in my Magic Bullet, peeled and de-seeded the custard apple half and added it with one super-heaped teaspoon of my homemade vanilla bean paste, a good dash of ground cinnamon, nutmeg and about a cup of unsweetened almond milk.

Because custard apple has a slightly grainy texture I made sure I blended it well. Still a trace of ‘graininess’ but the taste trumped that. Quick, easy, yum.