Peanut Butter Cup Smoothie (Paleo, GF, DF)

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I'm really on a nut butter kick, especially peanut butter. I've been putting it on toast, dipping apple slices into it, smearing it on banana, making peanut butter and chocolate chip pancakes. I also made this smoothie. I'm always super hungry after the gym and this is my new treat. I love it so much, sometimes I go to the gym just because I know I'll make this post workout. Silly, I know but whatever gets me there!

This shake is paleo friendly, gluten free, dairy free and refined sugar free. No sweetener at all, actually, just a very ripe banana. It's a peanut butter banana bomb with yummy notes of chocolate. It's also not very thick - more of a shake than a smoothie. Blend a bit more chocolate or use chocolate flavored protein powder instead of the collagen and chocolate.

Not sure if I've shared this before, but I've found that instead of a traditional or high speed blender, we use a stick or immersion blender. Its so convenient to use - just stick it in whatever you want to blend and zip zip. It crushes ice no problem and is so much easier to clean. We have had and used this one everyday for about 4 years straight. It's a beast. 

Peanut Butter Cup Smoothie

1 small or 1/2 a large ripe banana

1/2 cup coconut milk beverage

1 tablespoon dark chocolate powder

1 tablespoon peanut butter

1 scoop collagen peptides (This one!)

2-4 ice cubes

Combine everything in a blender and blend until smooth. 

Mango Cucumber Smoothie

Another good morning shake. This one is so refreshing with mango and cucumber. Those two things were just made for each other. It's super hydrating and good before a sweaty workout or helping a hangover. I put two scoops of this miracle stuff in for extra protein. 

You can use fresh mango instead of frozen - just add two ice cubes as well. I use english cucumbers as they are practically seedless.  They can be peeled or unpeeled. Coconut water can be substituted with coconut milk beverage or light coconut milk.  

serves one.

Mango Cucumber Smoothie

 1/2 cup frozen mango chunks

1/2 cup cucumber slices

3/4 cup coconut water 

2 scoops collagen peptides

Blend all ingredients until smooth and drink. 

Chocolate Cherry Protein Shake (Paleo, GF, DF)

I have two smoothies in rotation at the moment.  I'll be posting the other one soon but my favorite one is this chilly chocolate cherry goodness.  I recently started having a shake before I work out and I can't believe how much better I preform.  Seriously, in kickboxing class I have so much more energy and am able to finish all my reps.  So much better than before, when I exercised on an empty stomach.  I like that the smoothie is quick to make, quick to consume, tastes good and is full of protein.  

Makes one serving. 

Chocolate Cherry Protein Shake

1/2 cup frozen pitted cherries

handful baby spinach leaves

1 scoop chocolate protein powder

1 cup liquid (coconut milk, coconut water or tap water)

Blend all ingredients together until smooth.  

Hot Chocolate (Paleo, DF, GF)

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It's here!  The holiday season is upon us!  I love this time of year.  LOVE IT!  I get to see family, celebrate with friends, sip hot chocolate, shop for gifts, decorate, bake sweets and eat feasts.  Peaking of hot chocolate... cocoa is one of my favorite winter treats.  So rich and warm.  We had company over yesterday for christmas decorating and I whipped this up for us to sip while we hung stockings and turned up the christmas playlist.  

I consider this AIP but it does have chocolate in it so depending on your feelings it might not be AIP for you.  Carob powder can be substituted in place of the chocolate, use the same amount. 

Serves 3.  

Mea's Hot Cocoa

6 tablespoons dark chocolate or cocoa powder

4 tablespoons raw local honey

1 bag vanilla tea (optional - I used yogi-tea tahitian vanilla hazelnut)

1 14 oz tin coconut milk (full fat)

14 oz water

Whisk together all ingredients in a small pot.   Bring to a boil.  Turn off heat and let sit 2 minutes.  Remove tea bag and serve. 

 

Ginger Lemon Tisane

This warm drink is mild and soothing.  It's perfect when I want something warm to sip on that's not coffee or tea.  Plenty of health benefits, too.  The ginger is helpful to a upset stomach or if you've eaten too much (hello Thanksgiving!)  Lemon peel is cleansing to the system, aiding in enzyme functions and raw honey is a powerful antibacterial, antioxidant that is also soothing to those with a cold.  Most importantly - it tastes good. 

Serves 1.

Ginger Lemon Tisane

 6 oz boiling water

1/2 teaspoon raw local honey

2 slices fresh, peeled ginger

1 cinnamon stick

piece of lemon zest, about 3 inches

Pour boiling water into a mug with honey, ginger, cinnamon and lemon zest.  Let sit until cool enough to drink.  

AM Breakfast Smoothie

Another quick breakfast.  The flax and almond meal make this smoothie a bit more substantial.  I use whatever fruit looks good and ripe.  The more ripe the fruit, the naturally sweeter the smoothie.  Peaches, nectarines, plums, blueberries, strawberries, melons, raspberries and bananas are all great for this. I like to mix it up.  The pictured smoothie has peaches and raspberries.  

A note on the flax seeds.  I store mine whole and always grind freshly to order in a clean coffee grinder.  This extends their shelf life and grinding makes them digestible.  

Feel free to adjust this one as you see fit.  Use any type of yogurt and milk.  Easily made dairy free.  And any sweetener you prefer:  sugar, honey, maple syrup, agave, brown rice syrup... do you have a sweetener you like?  I'm still hooked on agave.  

Makes 1 smoothie.

AM Breakfast Shake

1/2 teaspoon whole flax seeds

2 teaspoons almond meal

1/2 cup plain yogurt  (any kind)

1/2 cup chopped fruit (peeled, pitted as necessary) 

sweetener, to taste

splash of milk, to taste (any type of milk)

Grind the flax seeds to a powder.  Blend with almond meal, yogurt and fruit.  Adjust sweetness and consistency as needed with the sweetener and milk of your choice.  

 

 

Peanut Butter Chocolate Smoothie

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Satisfy your sweet tooth and your pre or post workout protein fix with this smoothie.  I like Whey to Go protein powder but use whichever chocolate one you prefer.  

If you have the time, I recommend peeling the banana and freezing it before blending for a colder smoothie.  

Makes about 8oz.  

Peanut Butter + Chocolate Smoothie

1 banana, fresh or frozen

1/2 cup fat free milk

1 tablespoon natural peanut butter

1 scoop chocolate protein powder

Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth.  

 

Cinnamon Vanilla Cashew Milk

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Cashew milk is easy to make.  This one is sweet, rich and also would be great served warm, after dinner with a splash of brandy.  Also perfectly delicious on as is.   

Makes about 2 cups. 

Cinnamon Vanilla Cashew Milk

1 cup raw cashews, split

2 cups water

pinch salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons agave

Soak cashews in water 8 hours.  Blend cashews and soaking water in a blender or food processor until super smooth, about 8 minutes.  Strain.  Discard anything that was strained out.  Shake or stir in vanilla, cinnamon and agave.  Chill and serve.   

 

Agave Lemon Pepper Water

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So maybe you haven't heard but juice is really trendy right now.  As someone who doesn't care much for concentrated, packaged juice cocktails and one who doesn't eat enough spinach (but can now drink it!)  I'm enjoying the abundance of cold pressed juices that seem to be everywhere.  

One of my favorites was the lemon agave cayenne water from blueprint cleanse.  It's a lighter citrusy juice with a hint of sweetness and peppery spice.  Like many things I try, I decided to make it myself.   

 I have made it with fresh chiles like jalapeno, serrano or habanero but found cayenne powder to be closer in taste to the original juice.  

Agave Lemon Pepper Water

1 liter water, cool, cold or room temperature

1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder

juice of 2 lemons

3 tablespoons agave  

Combine all ingredients in a large jar or bottle.  Chill. Shake before serving. 

Cold Killer Juice

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I know a lot of smart people and one of those people used to make this juice when they were begining to feel under the weather.  It may seem like too much work for one (really good) cup of juice, especially if you're fatigued from sickness or hungover, and it is.  So hopefully you have a juicer.  (I don't but squeezing orange quarters in my citrus press worked well.) 

Makes 1 serving. 

The Cold Killer

1 inch of ginger, peeled and sliced

about 3 oranges (I used 2 small Navels and 1 large Cara Cara) 

as many pinches of cayenne pepper as you can  

Muddle ginger slices in the bottom of a drinking glass.  Squeeze juice out of oranges and into glass, over the muddled ginger.  You'll want about one cup of juice.  Stir, stir, stir.  Strain ginger and add pinches of cayenne pepper to taste.  (I maybe did about 1/4 teaspoon. nice and spicy.)   Stir and drink up.

 

Protein Shake

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As spring and summer (shorts and sandals!) weather approaches I've been making an effort to be a little more healthy and get some exercise.  This is a shake I like to make and I drink half before a workout (for a little fuel) and the rest after in hopes the protein in it will help put my tired muscles back together.   

The protein powder i use is Whey to Go by Solgar.  I like it the best but any brand is fine.   

Serves 1 and is about 210 calories.  If you count those.  

Strawberry Banana Protein Shake

1/2 of a banana, peeled

about 4 frozen strawberries

1/2 cup fat free milk

1 serving/scoop protein powder (chocolate or vanilla) 

Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.   

Pumpkin Spice Vodka

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If it isn't obvious, I really like infusing spirits.  This one turns a lovely golden orange color as it sits.  I'm going to mix it with warm apple cider and a dash of allspice for a cold weather warm up. 

Pumpkin Spiced Vodka

1 small pumpkin, sliced, seeds + guts removed

1 liter Vodka

1/2 of one star anise

2 cinnamon sticks

1 whole nutmeg

Scraped seeds and husk 1/2 vanilla bean

5 cloves

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Place pumpkin slices on baking sheet and roast 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool completely.  In a large jar or container add star anise, cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, vanilla bean and cloves.  (I used the bottom part of my knife to give the cinnamon sticks and nutmeg a little hit before they went in the jar.)  Add pumpkin slices and pour in vodka.  Cover and let stand 5 days in a dark place.  Give the jar a small shake everyday.  Remove solids from vodka by placing a strainer or cheesecloth over a funnel and fill a clean decanter or bottle.  

Mojito Classico

Thank you, Cuba.  Classic recipe but fresh fruit (strawberries) or fruit purees can also be added.  Recipe is per drink.

Mojito

1/2 of one lime cut into wedges

1 teaspoon sugar

1 large leafy sprig of fresh mint

2 oz white rum

2 oz bubbly water

In a mixing glass, muddle lime wedges, sugar and mint.  Add rum, add ice and shake.  Tumble into highball glass and top with bubbly water.  Garnish with mint leaves and lime wedge.

Peach Sangria

Still plenty of peaches at the farmer's market.  (I tried to sparkle a bottle of white wine for this recipe with a Sodastream soda maker.  It worked okay but I think it's just better to let still wine be still and just buy sparkling when wishing for bubbles.)  This recipe works with both still and sparkling wine.  I think vinho verde would be great.  Makes 4 servings.

Peach Sangria

1 bottle white wine, your pick

2 oz cointreau or triple sec

2 oz brandy

1 ripe peach, pitted and sliced

rosemary sprigs, 1 per glass

ice

Pour everything into a pitcher and stir.  Serve over ice, garnishing with a sprig of rosemary.

Old Fashioned at the ready

I love an old fashioned cocktail but don't always have all the components in the house.  After this is made, I'll have my favorite drink ready for when I'd like one.  Serve chilled and up or on the rocks with the optional splash of club soda.

Old Fashioned Bourbon

One bottle bourbon whiskey

16 dashes or so of anosturga bitters

10 cherries, pitted

peel of one lemon, pith removed

peel of one orange, pith removed

2 tablespoons of powdered sugar, optional

Combine all ingredients in a large glass container and cover.  Let infuse for five days.  Stir everyday or so.  Strain.  Bottle, label and distribute as gifts or keep if all for yourself.

the tequila and maragrita

The tequila you choose to infuse doesn't have to be high end or fancy.  I go for mid range since we are going to be drinking it and nobody likes an icky spirit.  Infusing doesn't make the tequila better just changes the flavor.  Another note on buying tequila, if it doesn't say "100% agave" on the bottle, do not buy it.  Unless life changing hangovers are your thing.

Jalapeno Tequila

2 jalapenos, seeds and all,  sliced width wise

1 bottle blanco tequila

Place jalapenos in large vessel and pour in tequila. Cover and allow to infuse for 24 hours.  Taste test and decide if you can handle another 24 hours of infusing.  The longer the jalapenos stay in the tequila, the spicier it will be.

Strain out jalapenos.  I funneled mine into a new clean bottle (mostly because I can't get enough of those hinge stopper bottles)  and labeled it.)

In my opinion, a maragaita is the best application for this tequila.  Not all of us have bar measuring and shaking equipment at home so it you don't and are wondering how much 2 ounces of tequila is you can use tablespoons to measure.  One tablespoon is 1/2 a fluid ounce.

Spicy Margarita

2 oz jalapeno tequila

1/2  oz agave syrup

splash triple sec

juice of 1 lime (about 1.5 oz)

Mix together and serve over ice.  Salt the glass rim if you like.

Limoncello Continued

It's done!  After 40 days or so of lemon peel infusing the limoncello was ready for the last few steps.  To test if the infusion is ready, fish out a large lemon peel.  If it breaks like a potato chip it is done, if not check back in a few days.

Strain peels from liquid.  Combine lemon infused alcohol with simple syrup. It will turn cloudy and will be ready to be enjoyed over ice and stored in the freezer.

Simple Syrup

4 cups white sugar

4 cups water

Combine water and sugar in a pot on the stove.   Heat and stir until mixture becomes clear and sugar has dissolved.  Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.

limoncello (part one)

Started a batch of Limoncello a couple days ago. It's a sweet lemony italian cordial. Best served over crushed ice. (I've ordered myself a hand crank ice crusher.) Limoncello is simple and inexpensive to make it just requires a bit of patience. This batch takes 47 days. Limoncello

One Dozen Lemons (or more if you have them, up to 20)

1 bottle ever clear or other 190 proof grain alcohol

1 bottle mid grade vodka

(in 40 days you will be adding about 4 cups sugar and water)

Wash, scrub and dry Lemons. With a peeler, carefully remove yellow zest/peel. NO WHITE PITH. You want only the yellow part of the peel or else your lovely limoncello will be bitter. I recommend a peeler to a micro plane because its easier to strain and I like to use the large pieces to test for doneness, but its personal preference. Place peels in large clean glass jar. Pour in bottle of vodka and bottle of ever clear. Cover and label with the date. Place in cool dry dark place for 40 days. Stir around day 20. On day 40 fish out a large peel and give it a pinch. If it breaks it's ready, if it bends it's not and check back in a week.

I'll return to this in 40 days when I'll be straining, making and adding simple syrup, letting it rest for a week and then crushing ice and bottling it up for friends.

the mint julep

Possibly my favorite cocktail. This one is made with buffalo trace bourbon which is sweet and spicy.

Mint Julep 

Mint leaves, 2 stems worth per drink

2 oz bourbon

1 teaspoon powdered sugar

ice, preferably crushed.  (if you have one of those fridges that do it for you, you're a lucky one.)

Place mint leaves in glass with bourbon and powdered sugar and muddle.  I used a wooden spoon. The idea is to release the mint-ness from the mint.  Let it sit for a minute or two and cover with ice.  Traditionally served in a metal cup (to keep contents icy cold) and garnished with a mint sprig.