Creamy Nectarine Vanilla Cashew Smoothie

Smoothies can be as light or as decadent as desired. They can be filled with a myriad of superfoods or made from a few simple ingredients. This version is more of a dessert combination, made from only four ingredients- fresh nectarines, vanilla bean, cashew ice cream and cashew milk. The nectarines give it a sweet, summery flavour while the cashew ice cream and milk give it a velvety smooth, rich texture and the vanilla increases the decadent factor. Nectarines and peaches are very similar genetically and can be used interchangeably in most recipes, including this one. I do often prefer nectarines because their smooth skin requires no extra prep beyond washing, while the fuzzy skin on peaches can sometimes be a nuisance. The best way to choose is by checking them both out at the grocer or market and going with whichever ones are more appealing, or whichever ones are more fragrant and more perfectly ripened, that day.
Vanilla bean pods are filled with many little black seeds bursting with potent flavour. Generally, the seeds from one bean are equivalent to around one teaspoon of vanilla extract but I find that equation a little more nuanced with smoothies. The delicate flavour from the beans themselves blends in perfectly with smoothies, and the small black specks their seeds dapple the drink with can be very aesthetically pleasing, but when it comes to the extract, less is more. I recommend starting out with a small splash, around 1/4-1/2 teaspoon then adding more as desired. To get the seeds out of a vanilla pod start by cutting a long line across the top, breaking through the first layer but not cutting all the way down. Spread open the two sides then use the knife to scrape from one end to the other, collecting all the tiny seeds. Scrape over any areas where seeds remain until you have them all and discard the husk.Whole vanilla beans are not the most economical option but they really shine through in raw, simple dishes like this so it is a good way to use them. In baking recipes they can get lost amongst the other ingredients but in a smoothie they really get to show off.

Creamy Nectarine Vanilla Cashew Smoothie
 
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Serves: 2
INGREDIENTS:
  • 3 nectarines, chopped (around 3 cups)
  • 1 cup cashew ice cream (or any preferred type, dairy or plant-based)
  • ½ cup unsweetened cashew milk
  • 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out and husk discarded
  • Optional serving addition: 2 small sprigs of mint
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Blend in a high-speed blender until the nectarines are broken down and the whole mixture is smooth.
  2. Serve immediately or store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a day.

Quinoa Kohlrabi Salad

Meal prep, or ingredient prep, is a valuable tool in regularly eating well. If you don’t enjoy leftovers it doesn’t take too much effort to create whole new dishes out of leftover ingredients. Any cooked whole grains can be transformed into a summer salad that is nourishing and satiating without being too heavy for hot summer days. Crisp ingredients like green apples and kohlrabi keep it light and some herbs and greens keep it fresh. Continue Reading →

Pineapple Coconut Soft Serve

Homemade soft serve can be made without an ice cream maker and just a couple ingredients. Blending thick coconut cream with really sweet fruit then freezing them in ice cube trays and blending once again creates a healthy, simple frozen treat. The only necessary tool is a high powered blender that is strong enough to crush ice.Pineapple is one of the sweeter fruits out there, especially when it is fully ripened, but a tablespoon or two of maple or coconut syrup (or any preferred sweetener) can be added to for those with a stronger sweet tooth.
Though this is easy to make it does require some prep work. Chilling the coconut cream enough to separate and then freezing the coconut pineapple mixture each takes around 8 hours.Coconut cream is made from blending the meat and water of a coconut. The easiest way to obtain it is from cans of coconut milk. Place the can in the fridge overnight and when you are ready to use it flip it over, open it up and use a spoon to skim the thick cream off the top. The cold from the fridge makes the cream separate from the water and settle on the bottom of the can. Skipping the refrigeration period makes it pretty impossible to separate the cream from the water as it all blends together to create a milk. For people looking to make more dairy-free treats it’s a good idea to always keep a can or two of coconut milk in the fridge.
I was inspired by some lemon and coconut gelato I had in Italy that were served in hollowed out lemon and coconut halves. The mass of a pineapple does lend to a more North American serving size but there are some smaller golden pineapples often available, which I used here, that are a more reasonable size.

Pineapple Coconut Soft Serve
 
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Serves: 2-4
INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 cup coconut cream (place a can of coconut milk in the fridge overnight, flip it over open it up and use a spoon to skim off the coconut cream concentrated at the top. Save the coconut water below for smoothies.)
  • 4 cups pineapple, chopped
  • 2 standard sized ice cube molds
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Blend the coconut cream and pineapple until smooth. Pour into ice cube molds and freeze overnight, or for around 8 hours.
  2. Place the frozen cubes into the blender and pulse until they are broken down and become a smooth, thick mixture.

Berry Cups

Berry cups are a healthy and easy option for buffets or as part of a dessert platter. Simply fill muffin liners with berries and top with a complimentary dip. I mixed together plain Greek yogurt and hazelnut butter for a creamy, nutty option. Placing the dip on top makes it easy for people to take the whole thing at once and dip each berry in as they eat them. Continue Reading →

Iced Coffee Cubes with 3-Minute Homemade Nut Milk

There are few beverages that I enjoy drinking in the morning or early afternoon on a patio more than iced coffee. Usually, a shot or two of espresso is poured over ice then some milk is added to fill up the cup. When I am at home however, I like to do it a little differently and make the coffee into frozen cubes. Continue Reading →