Monday, October 17, 2016

Favorite Autumn Smoothie #1 - Pumpkin Chai

I love smoothies for their on-the-go portability to provide a healthy snack, breakfast, or lunch. They are an easy way to sneak in veggies for the kids.  My teenage daughter knows they are in there and is her preferred way of getting in those dreaded vegetables (because she can't taste them). I don't know how I have a kid that doesn't like veggies!

During the summer months, my smoothies usually consist of protein, spinach/kale, and mixed frozen/fresh berries picked from local organic farms. I use organic whenever possible.

Come Autumn here in New England, pumpkin is the highlight mixed with high quality protein and superfoods such as flax and chia seeds.

Step 1: Get yourself some pumpkin. Canned is fine but making some yourself is even better and costs a lot less. This one small local organic sugar pumpkin made 7 cups of pureed pumpkin and a cup of toasted seeds for snacking for only $2.50 plus the few cents it cost to run the oven and little of my time.

To make your own puree: cut pumpkin in half and remove seeds and stringy parts. Place halves cut side down on a baking tray and bake at 400 degrees about 40 minutes (or until soft when pierced with a knife). Let cool for an hour and puree in a food processor with a little water or apple cider (not too much; just enough to process).

Step 2: The rest of the ingredients:

  • 1 medjool date (optional), soaked in hot water a few minutes
  • 8 raw almonds (helpful to soak overnight - just put in the blender with 1/2 cup of the chai tea before bed)
  • 1-2 cups cooled chai tea (or plain water or milk or milk alternative)*
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 4 scoops (or as noted on can for 2 servings) plain whey (or your favorite vegan plain or vanilla flavored)**
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (or more as desired)
  • 2 tsp chia seeds
  • 2 tsp finely ground flax seeds
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp pure maple syrup (don't need if using stevia based protein powder) 
  • Optional: sneak in a green veggie by adding a handful of baby spinach
 *If you don't use chai, you will need to add in extra spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cardamom.

**I prefer unsweetened but for those of you that like sweet, choose a protein powder with stevia, a plant-based natural sweetener.

Step 3: Blend it up!
  • add almonds, 1/2 cup chai, and medjool date to blender and blend until smooth
  • add the rest of the ingredients (start with another 1/2 cup chai and add more liquid as needed) and blend until smooth. You can also add in a couple ice cubes to make it frosty.
  • Serve sprinkled with a little more cinnamon or nutmeg and enjoy!

 Nutritional Information:
  • Pumpkin provides a day's dose of Vitamin A along with some Vitamin C, calcium, iron and other trace minerals. For more info click here.
  • Banana provides a nice dose of Vitamin C along with some Vitamin A, calcium, iron and other trace minerals. Click here for more info.
  • Chia seeds are high in dietary fiber, calcium, omega-3 fats, trace minerals, and rich source of anti-oxidants. Click here for more info.
  • Flax seeds provide fiber, omega-3 fats, protein, Vitamin B1, manganese, magnesium, and other minerals and vitamins. Click here for more info.
  • Whey = easily digestible and absorbable form of protein. I love Tera's brand for their high quality and commitment to sustainable farming practices and the ethical treatment of animals. If you are vegan/vegetarian, I recommend Sunwarrior brand plant-based protein.