Monday, October 6, 2014

Morning Starter

I'm veering off of summer today, because I have a headache and just feel like sitting quietly with a relaxing treat, so thought I'd share that with you.

'Tis the season of Pumpkin Spice everything (except that a lot of it includes no pumpkin at all), but especially in the coffee-shop-addicted Pacific Northwest, the Pumpkin Spice Latte and it's variation, the Pumpkin Spice Frappe, are big news when they're first available.  We bought one of the latter from our local shop, but being used to homemade concoctions with more nutrition, we found them to be too sweet.  --Also, of course, too expensive to enjoy very often.

Last year, I shared a homemade version of the hot, pumpkin spice latte.  This is our homemade, whole-foods variation of the cold, blended drink.  I started by using a powdered frappe mix, but when we ran out of that, made it using ingredients we normally have on hand instead, which means I'm more in control of what goes in, anyway.

Confession:  Sometimes this is my breakfast!

Pumpkin-Spinach Spiced Frappe

Yield: two 20-ounce servings 

Add to blender:
  • 1 large handful fresh spinach leaves (approx 1 1/2 to 2 cups)
  • 1/2 - 3/4 c canned pumpkin
  • 18 ice cubes (ours are made by our freezer...18 fills about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 2 c liquid (* see options below)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 scoop vanilla or chocolate protein powder (This could be optional, but I add this or vanilla yogurt to make the smoothie into more of a balanced snack/small meal.  We use Pure Protein 100 % Whey Protein, Rich Chocolate, because we prefer the whey protein source, and it doesn't have artificial sweetener.  If you leave this out, you may need more sweetener.)
  • 2 good shakes of ground cinnamon (~1/4 teaspoon)
  • 2 small dashes of ground ginger (~1/8 teaspoon)
  • 1 tiny dash of ground cloves
  • Sweetener, to taste

This is sometimes our
take-along-on-the-long-ride-to-Grandpa's treat

Blend until smooth, adding more liquid, if necessary, to reach desired consistency.  Of course, adjust the spices to your particular taste, too.

Poor into 2 large cups.  Prince CuddleBunny likes to add a straw.  ;-)  The spinach hides in flavor, but adds a green tinge to the drink, which, overall, tastes pretty much like pumpkin pie in a cup!  Enjoy.

*Liquid combinations I've used to equal 2 cups:

  • 3/4 cup cold espresso or coffee, 3/4 cup vanilla almond or soy milk, 1/2 cup canned coconut milk
  • 1 1/4 cup vanilla almond or soy milk, 1/4 cup half and half or whipping cream, plus 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder (which is optional, especially for kiddos)
  • 1/2 cup vanilla Greek yogurt, 1+ cup soy or almond milk, 1/ 2 cup cold coffee (or milk equivalent for caffeine-free)

I'm, honestly, have mixed emotions about using and recommending protein powder, even though I'm pretty picky about which I use.  This article just came to my attention that lists real-food options that will add protein to smoothies, without the use of processed powders, so I thought I'd offer the link.

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