Smoothies, Shakes & Infusions-MainPhoto

Healthy Drinks: Smoothies, Shakes & Infusions-MainPhoto
Easy Ways to Drink Your Fruit All Year Round
Growing up, healthy drinks like cool, refreshing shakes and smoothies were (and still are) some of my best nutritious friends and allies. They would help me get my daily quota of fruit and dairy by disguising the “unwanted” ingredients with all the “wanted” ones that I craved the most: ice cream, sugar, milk caramel (or dulce de leche), coffee and chocolate. My taste for infusions arrived later in life, when I learned to understand them and appreciate them for their true essence.

Even today, I can easily relate to kids that refuse to eat fruit or, like me, that they don’t like milk unless it comes in the form of ice cream, gelato or sugary smoothies and shakes.

Bananas? Oh, please load them with honey, dulce de leche and simple syrup if you will. Strawberries? Coat them with fresh whipped cream, chocolate or gelato, please. Same with any other fruit. You name it. I grew up with a well-indulged sweet tooth, drinking coffee from a very young age, as well as wine! (I guess, being raised Italian has its pretty cool advantages.)

Blended with chocolate and loaded with sugar, this was the only way my mother could get me to drink milk.

Read Related: Better Than Soda: Sweet Grapefruit Cherry Spritzer

Later on, living in New York, being on my own, things didn’t change much. One of my daily smoothies would have one or two bananas, a splash of milk (yes, just a splash), honey (tons of it), peaches in their syrup (yes, canned fruit) and more sugar, if needed. And off I will go to face my day!

Those days are gone. I don’t do those sugar-loaded shakes anymore. I have made peace with all fruits and vegetables, not quite so with milk though.

For now, since these early days of fall can still be pretty warm, it’s still important to stay cool and well hydrated. These blended healthy drinks below are a few of my own favorites. Not only will they help you (and your family!) get good servings of fruits and dairy, but they truly taste great at any time of the year.

Smoothies Shakes & Infusions-Frozen Hot ChocolateDrinking this, is one of my most fondest childhood memories and incredibly easy to make. I still have it once in a while, as a treat, and make it often for the kids in my life.

FROZEN HOT CHOCOLATE
Serves:
4-6

Ingredients
4 cups organic whole milk, you can also use almond milk instead
1 cup light cream or half-and-half
½ cup sweetened condensed milk
Pinch of salt
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped (or Nesquik, remember it’s already sweetened)
2 TSP instant espresso
Ice, as needed
2 cups heavy whipping cream
Powdered sugar, as needed
Oreo cookies, crushed but in chunks or chocolate chips for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, combine the milks with the salt. Bring to a simmer but make sure not to let it boil.
  2. Remove from the heat, add the chocolate* and espresso and whisk together. Allow to  cool completely.
  3. Place desired amount of ice and the chocolate mixture in a blender and process until smooth.
  4. Place in the freezer for a few minutes while preparing the cream.
  5. Using a large mixing bowl, add the whipping cream with powdered sugar to taste. Beat until stiff peaks form.
  6. Pour into tall chilled glasses. Top each with a dollop of the fresh whipped cream and sprinkle with the crushed cookies or chocolate chips.

Tips

*You can also melt the chocolate with a small amount of hot milk, stirring very well until melted and combined, and then add to the milk
For a hot touch add a pinch of cayenne pepper.
You can also use ice cream instead of ice or condensed milk. Add it to the blender at the end. But watch out for all that additional sugar. Make sure you taste before adding more.

This protein and fiber-rich shake makes a super powerful breakfast, mid-afternoon snack or is great fuel before a workout.

BANANA ALMOND DATE SHAKE
Serves:
4

Ingredients
4 cups unsweetened almond or coconut milk
4 bananas
12 pitted Medjool dates, or more
4 TSP of raw almond butter
4 TSP cardamom
4 TSP cinnamon
Ice, as needed

Instructions

  1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Pour into tall chilled glasses and garnish with crushed almonds and cinnamon.
  3. Serve immediately.

(A healthier way to feed your sweet tooth would be to add some raw honey or agave nectar.)

Smoothies Shakes Infusions-Rosemary Mint InfusionThis is one of my creative warm weather infusions. The combination of the rosemary with the mint makes it irresistible and delicious.

ROSEMARY-MINT INFUSION
Serves:
6

Ingredients
½ cup fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
4 lemongrass stalks, sliced and mashed
6 cups water
1 cup sugar
2 TBSP fresh lime juice
2 TBSP fresh lemon juice
2 sprigs fresh mint, more for garnish
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
Ice to serve

Instructions

  1. In a heavy saucepan, combine the ginger and lemongrass with 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and add the sugar, mint and rosemary.
  2. Stir to dissolve the sugar, then cover and let rest for 3 hours
  3. Strain well and add the lime and lemon juices. Combine well and place in the refrigerator until well chilled.  Serve over ice in tall glasses.
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