As I was processing 5 1/2 gallons of maple sap on the stovetop recently, I sat and sipped some Peated Single Malt Irish Whiskey in between the bouts of clearing the foam, refilling the pans, etc. I remembered the many trips to the mountains and buying smoky or infused maple syrups. They were amazing. Knowing that this batch would not have the smoky notes to it because it was done on the stovetop (snowing and wet that day), I began thinking of ways to infuse the syrup with the peated whiskey I was enjoying. In doing so I stumbled across a recipe for Maple Liqueur which combines both maple syrup and whiskey.
The recipe seems relatively easy – it’s equal parts whiskey and pure maple syrup. I set aside 6 ounces of my beloved whiskey and drank the remaining bit left over from Christmas. I plan to add 6 ounces of maple syrup, seal it, refrigerate it for 2 weeks + and try it out. I’ll keep you posted on how it turns out, but it sounds like it may be worth setting some maple syrup aside each batch if this comes out good.
Have you wanted to start making smoothies for yourself or your family but don’t know where to start? Weeding through the array of machines and recipes can be confusing and overwhelming, so we wanted to share a simple approach to nutritious smoothies. If you are looking for specific smoothie recipes, check out the Smoothie Recipe tag.
First things first, decide on your smoothie making machine. We love the Nutribullet. It’s easy to use, easy to clean, relatively inexpensive and can be used for wet and dry blending (i.e. making your own oat flour by blending oats, etc). It’s also very effective and lasts a long time.
Once you have a machine you can start building out different smoothies. In this post we are going to focus on the smoothie foundation we use and the add-ins you can use. This is not a recipe but a guide for creating your own smoothies.
For almost every smoothie we make we start off with unsweetened almond or oat milk and/or canned coconut milk and then we add either a banana or an avocado. The banana or avocado can be room temperature or frozen pieces – up to your preference! Add some unsweetened vanilla yogurt as well if you want it to be extra smooth! These ingredients serve to add creaminess to your smoothie. Think the ‘smooth’ part of the smoothie. If you want a more watery smoothie you can omit these ingredients and use water, but expect a drastic change in taste.
Now that you have your base layer you can add in any of the following. Be mindful of flavor combinations. For example, avocado and cocoa go good together, or perhaps the vitamin supplement you’re adding to the smoothie has an orange flavor which would be best mixed with other fruits or veggies or just with yogurt and milk to create a creamsicle flavor.
For protein, we will generally add in either a vegan protein powder from the store or just use our favorite nut/seed butter (almond, cashew or sunflower). For example, one of our favorite recipes uses almond butter on top of the base layer with mini chocolate chips, dried and pitted dates and ice cubes. You can also use tahini (ground sesame seeds), which has a unique but delicious flavor.
We already mentioned protein powder, however, there are other dry ingredients to experiment with as well. For us we love having a flax seed/chia seed blend on hand to act as a thickener. We also use cacao or cocoa in our smoothies to help boost flavor and nutrients. You can also add in your favorite powdered vitamins and/or probiotics.
Vitamins & Probiotics
As noted in Morning Vitamins we have a vitamin and probiotic routine for the kids (and ourselves for that matter). Sometimes we will add the liquid or powder vitamins or probiotics directly into a smoothie. Or, if you’re adding yogurt into your smoothie, you can get your probiotics that way as well.
We don’t typically add veggies into our smoothies – I know, I know. We used to make a lot more veggie smoothies and when we did we liked spinach as a add-in because it was sweet and broke down well in the machine. Baby kale was also good.
Everything we have been using thus far has been unsweetened but once you add in the fruit you will start building back some of that sweetness. Our go-to fruits are blueberries, raspberries (high in fiber), pineapple, cherries, strawberries and mango. We buy these frozen to help make the smoothie cold, though you can also just add ice to the smoothie, but it will water it down a bit.
If adding the fruit was not sweet enough, then feel free to add in some honey, agave, maple syrup or dried pitted dates. Taste test to make sure it’s sweet enough but not too sweet. Our kids love adding Enjoy Life vegan chocolate chips as well.
All in all, keep it simple as you experiment. Start out with milk, banana, and add a fruit and then experiment from there with changing out the fruit, adding in dry ingredients, vitamins, probiotics, and or sweeteners. In time you will have a few recipes that are your go-to recipes you love. For us it’s the almond butter smoothie and the avocado cocoa smoothie, but many times we just like a simple creamy fruity smoothie. Keep experimenting outside of what we have instructed – try adding a splash of vanilla or cinnamon, add whatever you think would taste good!
Smoothies are a great snack but can also be a meal replacement depending on the nutrients you’re adding in. Smoothies are a gem when it comes to adding nutrients back into your diet and they are highly customizable to your taste and nutrient needs. Cheers!
1 bag of your favorite breaded chicken (we use Applegate GF in the freezer section)
1 can of black beans
1 bag of frozen corn
1 bag of your favorite shredded cheese (we like dairy free cheddar shreds)
1 bottle of your favorite BBQ Sauce (we like Sweet Baby Ray’s)
1 container of sour cream (we like Kite Hill vegan sour cream)
1 packet of ranch seasoning (we like McCormick Just 5 Simple Ingredients Homestyle Ranch blend)
Bake the chicken following the instructions on the bag
Drain and rinse the black beans
Melt down the shredded cheese to a creamy cheese sauce on the stovetop on low heat
Thin the BBQ sauce with some water so it drizzles over the chips
Mix the ranch seasoning with the sour cream
Thing the sour cream with some water so it drizzles over the chips
Once the chicken is done, cut it into chunks to be places on top of the chips
Prepare the plates as follows:
Set a layer of tortilla style chips
Add the cheese sauce
Sprinkle on the beans and corn
Add the chicken pieces on top
Drizzle the BBQ and ranch sauces over the whole plate
A note to our allergy friendly subscribers: All of our ingredients and meals are gluten free, soy free, dairy free, peanut free, and vegan. To make the meal 100% vegan just exclude any meat that may be recommended to go along with the meal.