Spiced Apricot-Cashew Smoothie

Two days before we had scheduled for a week-long vacation, my CSA delivered with the motherload. Figures. Not that I am complaining, but finding ways to use up bags of fragile greens in two days is no easy feat. And then there were the apricots. 5 lbs of Blenheims and Pattersons quickly nearing their peak of perfection. And then, when we returned, they gave us 5 lbs more!

With dozens (and dozens) of these little gems on hand, I thought they must make their way into my breakfast (and snack, and dessert (see my last post for apricot crumble bars), and …), so of course, a smoothie it was.

dairy-free apricot-cashew smoothie

Since I was having it for breakfast, I didn’t opt for a super-sweet treat, but feel free to up the sweetener or play around with one of the sub options listed. Also, I see no reason why you couldn’t sub in another stone fruit if you don’t have ripe apricots available. Try peaches, cherries, or even nectarines!

dairy-free apricot-cashew smoothie

Spiced Apricot-Cashew Smoothie

This recipe is Vegan, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Soy-Free, and optionally Sugar-Free.

  • 3 Ripe Apricots
  • 1 Small to Medium Frozen, Ripe Banana (see sub options below)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 Cup Milk Alternative (I used Silk Almond Original)
  • 1/2 Ounce Cashews, Ground in Spice Grinder
  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Flaxseed (optional)
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Ground Ginger
  • Pinch Salt
  • Sweetener to Taste (see below)
  • Ice (optional)

Place the apricots through salt in your blender, give it a few pulses to break things up, and whiz away until smooth (start with just 1/2 cup of the milk alternative and add more if desired once the mixture is smooth). Taste test and blend in sweetener to taste. If a frostier treat is in order, blend in ice to desired consistency.

Sweetener – This really is a matter of taste and depends on how ripe / sweet your fruit is and if your milk alternative is sweet at all. I added 1 teaspoon of honey, because I love honey with stone fruit. You could add your sweetener of choice (perhaps 1 to 3 teaspoons) or for an all-fruit vibe, add a soft pitted date.

Tired of Bananas? – Try subbing the banana with your favorite dairy-free yogurt or two soft pitted dates. Or for a more indulgent shake, stick with just the apricots, double the cashews, add in ice, and extra sweetener to taste.

Go Green – Toss in one or two fistfuls of baby spinach. It changes the color, but not the taste.

Yields 1 summer smoothie

dairy-free apricot-cashew smoothie

If you like this one, you might also like these recipes:

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I submitted this recipe / post to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays on Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free.

Soft Serve-Style Peanut Butter Cravings

I just noticed that most of the smoothies on my blog include banana. Believe it or not, I do take the occasional banana break using mango, avocado, or other fruits for thickening power, but I am not going to apologize for my love of this sweet and highly accessible fruit. In fact, I am going to share my current favorite breakfast today that features, you guessed it, one big, sweet banana.

Dairy-Free, Soy-Free, and Vegan Peanut Butter Shake / Smoothie

Why the obsession with bananas? Of course, the taste is awesome … and nothing naturally thickens and sweetens a healthy dairy-free smoothie/shake like frozen, ripe banana chunks. But my love runs deeper than mere aesthetics.

My whole life I have had a problem with severe calf cramps. Mid-stride during soccer matches (as a child and adult) they would suddenly seize leaving me frozen and writhing in pain. I frequently awoke in the middle of the night with extreme cramping (yes, my poor husband has been startled awake by my sudden outbursts on many occasions). But about five years ago I started my smoothie habit, eating at least one large banana every day. And what do you know, those calf cramps vanished. I mean *poof* – for good. The only time they have returned is mid-winter one year when I took a banana hiatus. Never again.

Many people argue that bananas aren’t actually the best source of potassium (a known cramp fighter). They are a “good” source, though in reality not a true top contender. But perhaps it is something more than just potassium … perhaps it is the whole nutrient banana package that somehow works.

Though one might think consistent change would be needed to keep things interesting with the old banana, to me it is a comfort food and I have comfort smoothies. I used to be completely loyal to the True Blue Smoothie, but the past year has brought on an intense love of peanut butter. You may have spotted my addiction via the Uber-Rich Peanut Butter Ice Cream with Peanut Butter Chunks (definitely a good recipe for this time of year), my PB & J Thumbprints (yes, no bake!), or the Nutty Oatmeal Blender Waffles (I couldn’t resist tossing PB in my favorite waffles).

These are all nice treats, but on a daily basis, my cravings are quite simple. Very simple in fact. Below is my favorite smoothie “recipe” for the past year (and we are talking the whole year – notice the snow in the background of the photo below – that was actually May though). I hesitated on posting it because it is so basic and so loose, but I love it, I CRAVE it. I usually go for max PB and make the smoothie super-thick (almost soft-serve style), with as little milk alternative as possible.

Dairy-Free, Soy-Free, and Vegan Peanut Butter Shake / Smoothie

 

Peanut Butter and Banana Cravings Smoothie
This really isn’t a recipe in the strictest sense of the word, but rather a simple idea. I always vary the amount of banana and pb depending on my cravings, and sometimes a dash of stevia is in order. If I think I need something nutrition-wise, one or more of the add-ins listed may make their way in.

  • Frozen Ripe Banana Chunks (I use about two handfuls – at least one large banana, maybe a bit more sometimes)
  • 1 to 2 Tablespoons Creamy Natural Peanut Butter (I use unsalted and sometimes add a tiny, tiny pinch of salt, but salted could be good too)
  • 3/4 Cup to 1-1/2 Cups Unsweetened Vanilla or Plain Almond Milk or Coconut Milk Beverage (feel free to use your favorite milk alternative – regular sweetened versions will of course up the indulgence factor nicely and you can even use chocolate!)
  • 1/8 to 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • Sweetener to taste (optional – I use a dash of stevia or a little maple or honey if the banana is under-ripe, but otherwise, I go without)

Place the frozen banana, pb, and 3/4 cup of milk alternative in your blender. If you have a powerful blender, whiz away. Less powerful like mine? Pulse to break up the ingredients, and then blend. If it is too thick, add milk alternative a little at a time until it blends well and reaches your desired consistency.

If you have a wimpy blender, avoid the temptation to throw a bunch of liquid in too soon. Too much and the blades won’t catch all of the chunks – they will simply whiz around. You can always add more liquid once it is smooth. I prefer my smoothies spoonable, so I add as little as possible.

Blend in the cinnamon, sweetener if using, and any other add-ins you desire (see some of my suggestions below).

My Favorite PB & B Add-ins:

  • A Scoop of Chocolate Superfood Mix (Kidz or Adult) from Amazing Grass
  • A Big Fistful of Spinach
  • Some Ground Flaxseed
  • Cocoa or Carob Powder  (1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon)
  • Protein Powder (we like pure egg white protein powder or vanilla hemp protein powder, but your favorite will do)

Yields 1 nutty serving

Dairy-Free, Soy-Free, and Vegan Peanut Butter Shake / Smoothie

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Thick Mexican Chocolate Smoothie

Do you ever associate things in your head that may or may not actually be related? I really have no idea what a classic “Mexican chocolate” type of recipe would entail, but when I think of cinnamon, almonds, and chocolate the label just fits. If your version of Mexican chocolate needs a kick, I suggest a little ginger (fresh, powdered, or crystalized), rather than cayenne, to keep with the sweet smoothie theme.

Dairy-Free Mexican Chocolate Smoothie / Shake

Since I make this beverage so thick, you could call it a shake. But for me, if it is virtuous enough to consume for breakfast, it gets a smoothie title. Shakes are dessert in that rule-oriented brain of mine. Regardless of how you classify it, this is my entry into this month’s …

 

Thick Mexican Chocolate Smoothie

Recipe adapted from Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living.

This is a very flexible recipe and the results will vary depending on the amount of fruit you use, how ripe your fruit is, and how thick you want it. If it comes out too thin, add some more frozen banana, too thick … thin with more milk alternative. Also, for a sweeter option from the get-go and more of  a dessert shake, feel free to use a regular chocolate milk alternative rather than the unsweetened.

This recipe is Vegan / Vegetarian, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Peanut-Free, Soy-Free, Sugar-Free, and Low in Fat.

  • 1 Very Large RIPE Banana (or 1.5 medium bananas), broken into chunks and frozen
  • 3/4 to 1-1/4 Cups Unsweetened Chocolate Almond Milk
  • 1/2 Ounce “Raw” Almonds, ground in a spice grinder (if your blender is really powerful, you may be able to skip the pre-grind)
  • 1 to 2 Teaspoons Cocoa Powder
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • Sweetener to taste (optional)

Combine the frozen banana and 3/4 cup of the almond milk in your blender, and pulse to combine. Add more milk alternative as needed to get the consistency you are looking for. I like mine really thick (and spoonable) so I use as little as I can get away with while still getting a smooth blend.

Blend in the ground almonds, cocoa powder to taste (I like just 1 teaspoon, but 2 will give it a richer flavor), and cinnamon.

Since I wait until my bananas are really ripe, I rarely need any added sweetener in this. But give it a taste test, and add in a little of the sweet stuff if desired. You can use stevia, maple syrup, agave nectar, brown sugar, white sugar, sucanat, palm sugar, etc. or for an all-fruit concoction, blend in a fresh date (pitted of course!).

Yields 1 cool and creamy serving

Dairy-Free Mexican Chocolate-Almond Shake

Banana-Oat SuperDad Snack Bars

My dad is one of the most awesome guys I know (have to include the hubby in this one), and he really is my best friend. I can always count on him for anything, including lifting heavy boxes and trucking furniture up and down stairs.

Though he really wasn’t thrilled that we were moving away, my dad showed up on moving day and gave us every ounce of energy he had. That little man did the work of ten (and I even caught him doing sit-ups in between trips!). Seriously, my husband and I were in awe.

I look forward to being in as awesome shape as he is now in my 60’s. While we were taking water breaks, he just kept on going, and going, and going. Okay, he did take a few breaks to snack on these banana oat bars …

Banana-Oat Superdad Snack Bars (Dairy-Free)

Bananas and oats have to be my dad’s two favorite foods, but he shies away from baked goodies since in his mind they are all loaded with sugar and refined flours. So I created these whole-grain, naturally-sweetened snack bars to keep us all powered up and happy.

Admitedly, my husband and grandma (the two sugar fiends) preferred the blueberry-cashew bars I made (still working on the recipe, as I thought they were too crumbly). However, my dad and I were loyalists to these snack bars, which had a dense, but somewhat cakey consistency. In fact, after the pan was gone (that very same day), dad asked me to make more!

Banana-Oat SuperDad Snack Bars

This recipe is Dairy-Free, Soy-Free, Nut-Free, Free of Refined Sugars, and Optionally Wheat-Free / Gluten-Free (seek out some of those certified gluten-free oats)

  • 1-1/4 Cups Quick Oats (not instant)
  • 1/4 Cup Agave Nectar or Honey*
  • 2 Tablespoons Coconut Oil, melted or softened (or oil of your choice)
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1/4 Cup Flour (I ground more oats in my spice grinder to a flour consistency, feel free to use the flour of your choosing … AP, whole wheat, or even almond flour)
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Egg (brought to room temperature if using coconut oil)
  • 1 Cup Mashed, Ripe Banana (about 3 small or 2 large)
  • 1/2 Cup Shredded Coconut (I used unsweetened)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and grease an 8 x 8 baking dish.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the oats, agave or honey, oil, and vanilla. Briefly set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Briefly set aside.

Returning to your mixing bowl, stir in the egg, banana, and coconut, until everything is well combined. Stir in the reserved flour mixture (since I was using oat flour without gluten, I wasn’t worried about over-mixing. Be careful not to overmix if you are using a wheat-based flour).

The batter will be a little thick. Spread it evenly in your greased baking dish, and pop it in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool completely before cutting. Can be stored in the fridge if you like ’em chilled (I do).

* According to our taste buds, these bars were perfectly sweet, but if you prefer a sweeter treat, feel free to up the agave or honey to 1/3 cup or add a couple tablespoons of Sucanat or brown sugar.

Cinnamon Raisin Version

The above recipe is my slightly coconutty version. You can mix up the flavors if you wish. The following changes will give you a cinnamon raisin banana oat bar:

  • Substitute grapeseed oil or other neutral-tasting oil for the coconut oil
  • Substitute 1/2 cup of raisins for the coconut
  • Add 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (or more if you like!)
  • Substitute maple syrup for the agave/honey (optional)

Yields about 9 snack bars

bananaoatbars3

Blog Events: I shared this post with Fight Back Fridays.

Sweet Nutrition: True Blue Smoothie

Thanks to this year’s bumper blueberry crop, our [tiny] freezer is quickly filling. But I must say, it is worth it; this year’s blueberries seem sweeter than ever. Plus, you can’t beat the prices. We have been getting loads of these delicious Oregon blueberries for just $1.00 to $2.00 per lb at our local grocery stores.

Though I offered to make some blueberry bars, my husband quickly declined with a, “Save them for the smoothies!” Considering how much he loves cookies and bars, this says a ton for his adoration of our homemade smoothies. In fact, there is one sweet blueberry smoothie, which  he not only enjoys immensely, but also brags to others about (in attempts to thwart his less than healthy childhood image).

You might be thinking, “Sure, fruit smoothies are healthy; what’s the big deal?” Well, for starters, I make them only with ripe fruit and unsweetened liquids, no added sugars; though you are welcome to sweeten to taste if your fruit is less than scrumptious. I also add in whatever I think we need at the time, such as some ground flaxseed, a little protein powder, etc. But what my husband got most excited about was what he didn’t know was in the smoothies for the first two months I was serving them too him.

Can you tell? (focus on the blue and please ignore the water spots!)

truebluesmoothie2

Do you see those wonderfully sweet blueberry flecks throughout? Those were my disguise. What you can’t taste, or see, is the spinach! You have probably seen claims on other blogs that you can’t taste spinach in smoothies. Years ago I put this theory to the test, and it was true, but because it turned the smoothie a less than attractive green, I couldn’t get my husband to go near it. However, when I snuck the spinach into this blueberry smoothie (blackberries work too), he was none the wiser, as he happily sipped away his new favorite breakfast.  

After I let him in on the secret, he couldn’t keep his mouth shut. I have overheard him many times boasting, “You can add spinach to smoothies and you can’t even taste it!” My job here is done …

 

True Blue Smoothie

This recipe is adapted from my book! – Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living. Depending on the milk alternative you use, this recipe can be Vegan, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Soy-Free, Nut-Free, Sugar-Free, and Low Fat.

“This is my go-to smoothie, and trust me on this one … don’t omit the spinach. I don’t care who you are serving it to, they will never know it is in there. The blueberries mask the green color, resulting in a beautiful purple beverage. As for the flavor … even the most adamant non-believers come back to me with surprise comments of delight. I never add sweetener, but feel free to add a bit if your fruit isn’t very sweet.”

  •  1 Medium Very Ripe Banana, Broken into Chunks
  • 1 Cup Frozen Blueberries
  • 1/2 to 1 Cup Plain or Vanilla Milk Alternative of Choice [This summer I am using 1/2 Cup Unsweetened Almond Milk]
  • 1/2 Cup Packed Fresh Baby Spinach Leaves
  • 1/2 Cup Ice

Toss the banana, blueberries, and 1/2 cup of the milk alternative into your blender, and process until smooth. Add the cinnamon (if using), flax seeds, and spinach, and blend until those little green specks vanish. Blend in more milk alternative until it reaches your desired consistency. If desired, blend in a handful of ice for a frostier treat.

Optional Add-ins:

  • Sweetener, to Taste (agave, sugar, or your choice)
  • 1 Tablespoon Whole Flax Seeds (left whole or pre-ground in your spice grinder)
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon (optional)
  • 1 to 2 Tablespoons Protein Powder of Choice

Yields 1 to 2 Servings

 

Freezing Blueberries (or other summer berries) – As mentioned, blueberries freeze beautifully:

  1. As soon as you get home with your bounty, set aside some fresh ones to consume over the next few days.
  2. Take the remaining blueberries, rinse them well, and pat them dry.
  3. I usually leave them on the counter on a towel in a single layer, after I have patted them dry, for an hour or so to get rid of any excess moisture.
  4. Place the blueberries in large freezer bags (make sure they are freezer bags, not the regular ones), zip them closed, getting as much air out as possible, and freeze.
  5. I usually lay the bags flat in the freezer and stack one on top of the other.