Category Archives: Drinks

HOW TO MAKE DAIRY FREE KEFIR

A few weeks ago on Intstagram I shared that I have been making my own almond milk kefir and a few people asked me to write a post about how I make it.

I am a fan of eating probiotics because they do wonders for you gut.  A few months ago I tried adding dairy based lactose-free kefir in to my diet and to be honest it constipated me in the worst way.  Because of that I began to research dairy-free kefir alternatives and came across The Cultured Food Life blog which is a wealth of information.

I was and still am shocked at how easy it is to make kefir if you follow a few key steps and avoid using anything metal.  When I first started making kefir my results were hit and miss and I couldn’t figure out why until I realized that I was either stirring the mixture with one of my metal chopsticks or using mason jars with metal lids…I later learned that using metal is a no no because the kefir culture reacts poorly to it.

In order to avoid metal lids I ordered THESE jars from The Jar Store (such good prices) and haven’t had a problem since, though I will say that pouring the kefir out of these jars can be a little messy (live and learn).

Almond Milk Kefir How to Recipe Numbered

METHOD

 (IMAGE 1) Pour 4 cups non-dairy milk (I use almond milk) into your glass vessel along with 1 packet of freeze dried Kefir starter (like THIS one) and 1 tsp of sugar.  Since we are not using dairy based milk that contains sugars, you need to add some, but don’t worry about any extra carbs because the culture will eat the sugar.  Stir using a wooden or plastic spoon.

 (IMAGE 2) Place the lid on the vessel and allow it to sit on the counter for 12-24 hours until it looks like image 2.  How long it takes for the kefir to mature will depend on how warm it is, etc.  Once the kefir is done place it in the fridge.

 (IMAGE 3) This is what the kefir looks like after it has been in the fridge for a day (it thoroughly disgusts my kids!).

 (IMAGE 4) Stir-up the kefir and you are good to go.  I use it mostly in smoothies, but have also used it in my homemade protein bars.

 

It is really simple to make more kefir.  When you have about 1/2c of kefir remaining, add 1 tsp of sugar, 4 cups of non-dairy milk, and leave it out on the counter again.  It will take a few hours more for the kefir to cure since it started out cold from having been in the refrigerator.  I can make kefir this way 5-6 more times before starting the process all over again with a new packet of freeze dried starter.

I have used several brands of yogurt/kefir starter and they all have worked well.

I am interested in trying to make kefir with real kefir grains because once you have those you can use them indefinitely.

Happy culturing!

 

 

image above of different types of non-dairy kefir is from Cultured Food Life.

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Filed under Breakfast, Drinks, Gluten Free, Nuts, Recipes, Smoothie, Smoothie / Shake, Vegan

ICED COFFEE

I am not a daily coffee drinker, but I do enjoy the taste AND the smell (LOVE IT)!!!  I definitely enjoy the occasional coffee.  While coffee is acidic, I do not worry about it because the rest of my diet tends to be very alkaline (click HERE to learn more about acid / alkaline balance).

Whenever I have coffee I make sure it is decaf because I tend to get physically ill when I have regular coffee (stomache ache, shaky, etc.) and I am just not a fan of caffeine in general.

Summer is here full swing and that means iced coffees are walking out of Starbucks coffee shops left and right.  The few times I have had iced coffees from coffeehouses my main complaint has been the fact the the ice waters down the strength of the coffee.

Problem solved.  A while back I came across a blog post where someone made ice from brewed coffee.  I don’t remember where I saw it, in fact I am sure I have seen it multiple places/times.  Such a simple idea, yet very effective.

Instead of watering down your iced coffee, your iced coffee gets stronger as the coffee ice melts…brilliant!

INGREDIENTS

Brewed decaf coffee
Stevia  (I used SweetLeaf Vanilla Creme)
So Delicious almond milk
So Delicious Creamer (The hazelnut is my favorite)

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METHOD

Brew the coffee and sweeten with Stevia.  Make sure to sweeten the coffee mixture sweeter than you generally like since the coffee ice will also be sweetening your iced coffee.  Allow the coffee to cool and pour it into ice molds (I used a silicon ice mold).

Once frozen pop some of the ice into a cup, pour almond milk into the cup and add a splash of creamer.

Stir and enjoy…this iced coffee gets better and better as it mixes together.

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Filed under Dessert, Drinks, Gluten Free, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian

FALL PERSIMMON PIE SMOOTHIE

Happy almost Thanksgiving!  I LOVE this holiday and how it encourages us to get together with our loved ones.

I am spending Thanksgiving with 27 loved ones and can’t wait! I thought I would share my children’s Thanksgiving placemats with you.  It is a tradition where I live that kindergartners make placemats for their Thanksgiving feast at school and then they bring them home as a keepsake.  I love these.  It is so funny to see what the kids write and to watch their parent’s reaction to what they are thankful for.  Last year I read my son’s Thanksgiving poem that highlighted all he was thankful for and all I could think after reading it was that I was thankful for that fact that his family was listed before Biz Markie (who knew he even knew who Biz Markie was???).  Really???  Out of the mouths of babes…

Tomorrow is a wonderful day of cooking which also means a wonderful day of eating.  I encourage you to start the day off right with a nice Fall smoothie.

TIP – When I go shopping at my local Mother’s Market I treat myself to a fresh-squeezed juice.  I always bring the container home, wash it, and save it in the cabinet so I have a great container to use when I am running out of the house and want to bring a smoothie with me on the run.  Recycling is the best!!!I made this smoothie the other morning as I was running out the door to go to the hairdresser and ended-up happily sipping it throughout my appointment.  I loved it so much I made it for breakfast the next day too.  Stock-up on persimmons at the Farmer’s Market…they are wickedly good right now.

 
FALL PERSIMMON “PIE” SMOOTHIE
 
INGREDIENTS
1 cup non-dairy milk (I used unsweetened So Delicious coconut milk)
1-2 Tbs salba, chia, or flax seed
1 very ripe Hachiya persimmon (That is what I used)
OR
2 nice ripe Fuyu persimmons
1 frozen banana
1 cup ice
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
 

Place all of the ingredients in your high -speed blender (I used my Vitamix) and blend until nice and creamy. Enjoy!!!

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Filed under Drinks, Gluten Free, Holiday, Recipes, Smoothie, Vegan, Vegetarian

SPICED CIDER

There is something about spiced cider that just makes me feel like the holidays have arrived.  As I type this post I have a pot of cider brewing on my stove and my house smells amazing…

When I was little it was always a tradition in my house to have a pot of spiced cider on the stove on Halloween.  Now when I think of Halloween I can’t imagine not having the wonderful smell of apple cider wafting through my home.

As kids we used to love to help my mom push the cloves into the oranges.  The design possibilities were endless, jack-o-lantern faces, fun spirals, words, etc.

Spiced apple cider is sinfully easy to make; apple juice, oranges, cloves, and cinnamon sticks.  Bring all of the ingredients to a boil and then lower the heat to a very low simmer.  Test the “spiciness” of the cider as it simmers and when it reaches the flavor profile you prefer, remove the cloved oranges (otherwise it will get REALLY strong).  Throughout the day some liquid will evaporate, so simply pour some filtered water into the pot to bring the volume back up.  The cider will be very hot, so have some ice on hand for when you serve it to little ones.

What Halloween traditions did you have in your home growing-up?

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Filed under Drinks, Gluten Free, Holidays, Kid Friendly, Quick, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian

SUN TEA

Sometime it feels like a childhood memory floods-in out of no where.  We have been experiencing a beautiful albeit hot summer and as a result my mind got to wandering and daydreaming about iced tea.   I haven’t had iced tea in a while due to the fact that I tend to be very sensitive to caffeine.  Then…WHAM…memories of being a kid and making sun tea.  My sister and I used to love to fill our mom’s big sun tea jar with water and tea bags.  I figured, why wouldn’t it work with herbal tea bags?!?!

I spend the winter sipping Celestial Seasonings Country Peach Passion tea while dreaming about when peaches will be in season (apparently I do my fair share of daydreaming).  Why not use the peach tea to make a wonderful summertime treat of Peach Sun Tea?

The great thing about sun tea is that you can make whatever flavor you like and you can steep it to your preferred strength.  All it takes is a minute in the morning to fill your big glass jug with filtered water (I used an 8 cup Ball mason jar), then you drop in 4-6 tea bags, and place it out in the sun.  Leave it out there all day if you’d like.  We prepared ours before bringing my son to camp in the morning and came home to wonderful peach sun tea before dinnertime.  My kids were amazed by how hot the tea was (we placed our jar in the backyard on the slate patio…the slate burns the heck out of our feet, so it is prime for making sun tea).

I have really been enjoying the tea on its own or sweetened with a little bit of stevia and have a feeling that it is going to be a staple for me throughout the summer.  I look forward to making many different flavors of sun tea…Black Cherry Berry, Cranberry Apple Zinger, Tropic of Strawberry, Decaf Constant Comment (my Grammy’s favorite, so it will always be mine too), Decaf Green Tea…the list will go on and on.

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Filed under Drinks, Gluten Free, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian

NEW SMOOTHIE TRICK – Add Fiber!

Every once in a while I stumble upon something that ends up really working for me.  Recently I have been reducing the amount of fat in my diet (in an attempt to get more swimsuit ready) and I have been missing the thickness that avocado gives to my smoothies.  I have found a suitable replacement texture-wise and that is to add clear fiber to my smoothies.

Fiber is always a good thing when it comes to health as it provides for:

 Better weight management
Healthier blood sugar levels
Enhanced energy
Increased regularity
Lower cholesterol
And a general feeling of well being

While the fiber does not provide the creaminess that the avocado does, it helps thicken my green smoothies and the fiber helps keep me full.

I was sent the Organic Clear Fiber by Renew Life to test a while ago and that is what I have been using lately.  Other popular brands of clear fiber that are widely available are Metamucil and Benefiber.  After doing some research I am very impressed with the Organic Clear Fiber by Renew Life because it is truly gluten-free and organic.  Benefiber claims to be gluten-free, however on the label it states “Gluten-free (less than 20 ppm gluten).”  Many people with gluten allergies can’t tolerate ANY gluten, so this is something to watch for.

Lately my green smoothie consists of:

1 cup So Delicious coconut milk

1/2 cucumber or 1 zucchini

1-2 cups spinach or romaine

2 scoops vegan protein powder (Plant Fusion, Sun Warrior, or Vega…I often mix them)

3 packets Sweetleaf Stevia (My favorite brand because it does not turn bitter)

3 tsp Organic Clear Fiber

1 tsp each spirulina and chlorella

1/2 frozen banana

2-3 handfuls of ice

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Place everything in the blender (with the exception of the banana and ice).  I usually layer my smoothies in the container like this…liquid, some of the veggies, all the powders, the rest of the veggies.  Blend until COMPLETELY smooth.  Now add the banana (break into chunks first) and blend to incorporate, then add the ice and blend until smooth.

You will be surprised by how filling this is.  Oftentimes I can’t finish it in one sitting and end up saving some in the fridge for my afternoon snack.

To learn more about Renew Life click HERE.

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Filed under Drinks, Gluten Free, Product Reviews, Quick, Recipes, Smoothie, Vegan, Vegetarian

HOMEMADE STRAWBERRY ALMOND MILK

Strawberry Almond Milk

Strawberry Almond Milk

Homemade almond milk is sooooooo creamy and NOTHING like the almond milk you buy in the store.  Today I made some plain almond milk and when my son came home from school I used it to make him strawberry almond milk, which is one of his favorites.  As we were sitting around the kitchen island drinking the strawberry milk, I mentioned that I was going to post my recipe for plain almond milk and my husband told me that I NEEDED to post my recipe for the strawberry milk as well (he was literally telling me this while drinking the tiny amount of strawberry milk that was left straight out of the blender container).  I hope you enjoy the strawberry milk as much as we do!

INGREDIENTS FOR PLAIN ALMOND MILK

2 cups raw almonds

4 cups filtered water

INGREDIENTS FOR STRAWBERRY MILK

1 cup plain almond milk

1 ½ – 2 cups frozen strawberries

2 tsp. raw agave syrup (adjust depending upon the sweetness of your berries)

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Place the raw almonds in a container and fill the container with filtered water.  Place the container in the fridge overnight to soak.

Soak the Almonds in Water

Soak the Almonds in Water

Almonds Soaked Overnight in Fridge

Almonds Soaked Overnight in Fridge

NOTE: The almond milk can be made without soaking the almonds, but I strongly suggest that you do.  Soaking the nuts will make the milk more creamy, but the main reason you want to soak the nuts is to destroy the enzyme inhibitor.  Nuts were created with an enzyme inhibitor that prevents them from prematurely sprouting.  This inhibitor also makes it hard for many people to digest nuts well.  When you take the time to soak the nuts, the inhibitor is neutralized and the enzymes come to life…per my earlier post enzymes are very beneficial to us.

Rinse the soaked almonds under cold water.  At this point you may remove the almond skins if you’d like.  I personally don’t mind the skins and keep them on when I make my milk.

Rinse the Soaked Almonds

Rinse the Soaked Almonds

Remove the Skins if You'd Like

Remove the Skins if You'd Like

Place the clean soaked almonds in your Vitamix or blender with 4 cups of filtered water and blend until smooth (2-3 minutes).
Place Rinsed Almonds in Vitamix w/ Water

Place Rinsed Almonds in Vitamix w/ Water

Blend Thoroughly

Blend Thoroughly

Put the nut milk bag into a large bowl.  Pour the almond mixture into the nut milk bag and squeeze the liquid into the bowl.  Once all of the liquid is out of the bag your plain almond milk is complete. 

Place Nut Milk Bag in a Large Bowl

Place Nut Milk Bag in a Large Bowl

Pour Blended Mixture Into Bag

Pour Blended Mixture Into Bag

Squeeze Bag

Squeeze Bag

Only Pulp Remaining

Only Pulp Remaining

 Reserve the nut pulp for another recipe.  I put my pulp in a bag and lay it flat in the freezer until I am ready to use it in a recipe.

Almond Pulp

Almond Pulp

The plain almond milk is now complete.  I prefer to store the almond milk in the fridge in its plain state (great with cereal)…that way I can embellish however I’d like. 

Plain Almond Milk

Plain Almond Milk

Store Plain Almond Milk in the Fridge in a Mason Jar

Store Plain Almond Milk in the Fridge in a Mason Jar

Sometimes I will add some stevia for a sweeter taste or add some chocolate syrup and make chocolate milk (warmed-up it makes a very yummy hot cocoa), but our family’s FAVORITE almond milk is the strawberry…

Rinse out your blender.  Pour 1 cup of the plain almond milk into the blender.  Start the blender and add the frozen strawberries one at a time through the opening in the lid.  Blend until smooth.  Add the agave syrup and blend again.  Taste the strawberry milk and add more sweetener if needed.  Drink immediately as this is when the flavor is best.  It will not store well, so it is best to make it in small batches that you will drink right away.

Strawberry Almond Milk
Strawberry Almond Milk

For a printable version of this recipe click here.

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Filed under Dessert, Drinks, Gluten Free, Raw, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian