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

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.

Taste & Create: Indian Potato-Stuffed Flatbreads

tasteandcreatelogoThis month on Taste & Create I was paired up with Divya Vikram of the blog Dil Se. Though her baked bread recipes seriously tempted me, I thought I might be missing the whole experience if I didn’t trial an Indian recipe from her blog. I decided on the Aloo Paratha recipe, or personal-sized, Indian potato-stuffed flatbreads. Yes, it was still technically bread, but no oven required, bonus!

Though my ratios need to be perfected, this multi-step recipe was surprisingly simple, and it really flowed.  I kneaded the no-yeast bread within a few minutes, set it aside to rest, made the potatoes (while the potatoes were boiling I put the soup on – see next paragraph), rolled the dough out, plopped in the potato, bundled them up, flattened, pan-fried, and viola! A nice, flavorful, whole-grain, and dare I say, adventurous vegetarian meal.

Okay, so mine aren’t quite perfection … yet. But that doesn’t take away from the taste. Though this flatbread making does take practice, you should have some tasty and doable results on the first try.

alooparatha

Divya says that this is an authentic North Indian breakfast, but we decided to have them for lunch, alongside the creamy Lightly Curried Cruciferous Soup from my book, Go Dairy Free. It seemed fitting since both recipes used garam masala, so I could just make one little batch of the quick garam masala spice mix from my book, and I was good to go!  You can use a homemade version such as the one I used, or store-bought if you wish.  

As she mentions, these flatbreads are definitely best hot, but I did read on another site that they freeze well and can be reheated later.  They are certainly unique and full of good flavor. Enjoy!

Indian Potato-Stuffed Flatbreads (Aloo Paratha)
Recipe adapted from Dil Se ..

This recipe is Vegan, Vegetarian, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Nut-Free, Soy-Free, Sugar-Free, and relatively Low in Fat

  • 1 Cup Warm Water, plus additional as needed
  • 1 Tablespoon Oil (I used grapeseed), plus a little extra (or a little bit of dairy-free margarine) for pan-frying
  • 3 Cups Whole Wheat Flour, plus additional as needed (use white-wheat or half wheat / half white for a lighter bread, if desired)
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons Salt, divided, or to taste
  • 1 1/4 lbs Potatoes (about 3 medium), cut into 1/2-inch chunks (your choice – I used baby russets, but white, red, or yukon gold will work – no need to peel in my opinion)
  • 1 Teaspoon Garam Masala

Place the warm water and 1 tablespoon of oil in a large bowl. Add in the flour and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and combine, kneading to bring the dough together into a ball. It should be just a little sticky but fairly firm; add more water or flour as needed. Lightly cover the bowl, and set the dough aside while you prepare the potatoes.

Boil the potatoes for about 15 minutes, or until they are fork tender. Drain well and mash them with the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt and garam masala. Taste test, and season to taste with additional salt and/or pepper as desired (Divya adds a little cilantro, but we are an anti-cilantro household).

Divide the dough into twelve equal portions, and one at a time, roll the dough out into a circle that is about 6 to 7 inches in diameter (use additional flour as needed to prevent sticking). Place a potato ball in the center, and bring up the dough to enclose the potato mixture, pinching the seams at the top to seel (almost like a “purse”). If the potato balls are too large, just take a bit out so that it fits – you may end up with some leftover potato mixture. Turn the ball seam-side down, and gently roll it out (some potato mixture may appear or escape, nothing tragic), until it is fairly thin – maybe 1/4-inch high. Repeat with remaining dough and potato mixture.

Heat a little oil (maybe 1/2 teaspoon) or dairy-free margarine in a skillet over medium heat. Add a couple of the flatbreads and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until it just begins to brown. Flip and cook for another minute or so. Remove to a plate, and repeat with remaining flatbreads, adding more oil to the pan if needed. Consume while hot!

Yields about 12 hearty flatbreads

alooparatha2

Easy Mexican Meals: Part 1 – Taco Seasoning

Unless it is a burrito shop like Chipotle, my husband balks at the idea of going out for Mexican food. He just does not like it. But, he loves my homemade Mexican cuisine. Authentic or more likely, not, my homemade enchiladas, nachos, fajitas, and tacos hit his taste buds just right.

I love to make all of these dishes from scratch, including homemade dairy-free “cheese” for the nachos. However, when it comes to quick Mexican-inspired meals, I rely heavily on my good ol’ taco seasoning. In fact, over the past few weeks I have whipped up this taco seasoning about a half a dozen times. I will share the recipe for the meals I have made with it in upcoming posts, but for now, I thought that I should start out by sharing the taco seasoning from my guide and cookbook! You can of course use store-bought taco seasoning, but really, this tastes so much better, has no additives, and is a great frugal alternative to packaged and processed foods.

Homemade Taco Seasoning

Flavorful Taco Seasoning
This recipe is from Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living

We use a mild chili powder, as we prefer to control the heat of our meals after the fact, with hot sauce or salsa to taste, but you can use a medium or hot one if you prefer. This recipe is Vegan, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Soy-Free, Gluten-Free, Wheat-Free, Sugar-Free, and Non-Fat.

  • 1 Tablespoon Mild Chili Powder
  • 1-1/2 Teaspoons Ground Cumin
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Paprika
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Dried Crushed Oregano
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes (increase if you like spicier)
  • 1/2 to 1 Teaspoon Salt (I use the full amount)
  • Up to 1/2 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper (optional) [I often omit]

 In a small bowl, stir all of the ingredients together. If not using immediately, store in an airtight container.

To Prepare: Add the full batch of this seasoning mix to 1 lb of almost cooked ground meat, cubed chicken, vegan “meat” crumbles, cubed tofu, or chopped vegetables. Finish cooking with the seasoning incorporated to help the flavors meld.

Yields 2-1/2 Tablespoons or the Equivalent of a 1/4-Ounce Packet of Store-Bought

From Tender Squash Rolls to Perfect Potato Bread

Sarena of the Non-Dairy Queen is one of my favorite dairy-free divas. So I was completely honored when she used one of my recipes to create her family’s favorite new everyday bread. My original recipe is called Tender Squash Dinner Rolls, and it can be found in Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook. I love serving these buttery soft and lightly sweet rolls (just like they are from the bakery!) at family get togethers; they literally disappear …

Tender Squash Dinner Rolls from Go Dairy Free

For more of a savory product, Sarena replaced the squash with potato, and reduced the fat and sweetener a bit to create this delicious dairy-free and vegan Potato Roll Recipe that her family enjoyed with veggie burgers …

sarena's potato rolls

Unable to stop there, she tweaked it just a bit more, and made a Potato Bread Recipe that was equally successful. I will definitely be trialing these recipes out, and I hope that you get the chance to enjoy them too. Thanks Sarena!