Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte

When we moved from Ohio to California, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to stay on board with the community health center I worked for in Ohio, working long distance from California! Naturally, I jumped at the chance. Surprisingly, working from home hasn't changed our dinner cooking patterns much - cooking the evening meal at the end of the day has always been my favorite form of post-work relaxation. What has dramatically improved - besides the luxury of attending conference calls in my workout clothes - is breakfast. And coffee. Especially coffee. Breakfast used to always be whatever I could hastily throw in my bag while flying out the door, often forgotten until nearly lunchtime amidst the chaos of the workday, and while I am enough of a coffee snob to always make my coffee at home before embarking in the morning, the same, plain, black French press coffee was always poured sleepily in a travel mug, destined to slowly get cold on my desk throughout the morning. I have no complaints regarding these circumstances - I am sure they are familier to anyone rushing off to work in the morning.

While I still rush to my laptop at 7am each morning, I now have the luxury of my whole kitchen in which to prepare my coffee rather than a small break room! Such joys! So, while experimenting with new creations in my home coffee-shop, I was inspired to try a healthier, homemade version of the famous pumpkin spice latte, which returns to coffee shops each year at the first sign of September 1st (far too soon for the pumpkin craze to begin, in my humble opinion, but I am always unable to resist for long...). My amazing friend and adopted sister Alyssa, who always sends me healthy cooking inspiration, shared a very tempting pumpkin coffee recipe with me just the other day, which was just the impitus I needed to open the first can of pumpkin of the season...

I am just going to come right out and say it - this latte is amazing. I will admit, it is usually challenging for homemade coffee to compete with the sugar and cream laden creations at commercial coffee shops, but this latte blew them all away. SO full of pumpkin flavor, just the right amount of spice, and oh so easy to make...

Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte
Vegan, Paleo, and SCD Legal!
Adapted from

2 oz. freshly brewed espresso
1 cup non-dairy milk of choice (I used almond milk)
2 Tablespoons canned pumpkin puree
1/8 to 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice*
Splash of pure maple syrup (for vegan version or honey (for paleo/SCD version) or omit for no added sugar
Splash of pure vanilla extract

~ Brew your espresso. If you don’t have an espresso machine, make some dark, strong coffee.
~ Whisk together the espresso, nut milk, pumpkin, vanilla extract and spice mix. Add a splash of maple syrup or honey if you prefer, and stir to combine.
~ Warm your latte either in the microwave or the stovetop, and enjoy!

* For a quick homemade pumpkin pie spice mix, stir together 1 T ground cinnamon, 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, and 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Chocolate Peanut Butter Green Smoothie

In case you hadn't noticed (or haven't visited this corner of the world), Northern California has hills. Lovely, rolling hills that look deceptively friendly and gentle until you are peddling frantically up them trying to remember how to change gears on your bike after spending the past three years in the Midwest where there are no hills.

After such an invigorating morning workout, I was definitely in need of some refreshing fuel. Smoothies are light, refreshing, and can be packed with nutrition, perfect for someone like me who doesn't awaken craving something hearty for breakfast. My first thought when the alarm goes off is simply "coffee coffee coffee coffee," and once that need is met I can cruise quite happily into lunchtime without a second glance in the direction of the kitchen - and indeed I would if it wasn't for my dear friend Alyssa frequently reminding me via text message that subsisting off of a diet solely comprised of coffee beans and soymilk isn't the healthiest way to begin the day...

So as I was saying, smoothies. Usually my smoothies are rather slapdash, comprised of frozen fruit, spinach, hemp protein power, and whatever else might seem healthful and appealing at the time (yes, sometimes coffee winds up in my smoothies too... ;-). Today's smoothie actually followed a recipe, and since this smoothie was so delicious and filled with good nourishing things and was created by my college friend Rachel, I am going to send you to her awesome blog for the recipe! :-)

Speaking of wonderful blogs, I also highly recommend you visit the blog of my friend and coworker Kelli, who is a very talented registered Dietitian with lots of great nutrition advice and recipes to share!