With summer fast approaching, warm weather activities and fun in the sun can’t be too far off. The grill comes out of storage and our minds turn to BBQs and summer salsa. Refreshing drinks are the order of the day, with home-made lemonade for the kids, and sangria for the grown-ups. And who doesn’t enjoy a nice chocolate shake? Or my favorite, a creamy root beer float.
They’re simple to make, right… just vanilla ice cream and your favorite root beer! But why not get the kids involved and try making your own fresh root beer at home. Not only is it a fun learning activity that will keep your family busy on a rainy afternoon; but unbeknownst to them they’ll be doing a science project at the same time. My root beer making kit was gifted to me by my wife, but you can order them online and have them ready for that inevitable dreary day. Then when the sun finally does comes out, it’ll be root beer float smiles all around !
and now, a little quiz from A LA CARTE…..
The mouth-watering chocolate milkshake in the photo:
A. is both non-dairy & cholesterol-free
B. is vegan
C. contains only 200 calories
D. tastes as good as it looks
E. All of the above
If you answered “E”, give yourself a star, and have a sip!
The secret to this tasty, healthful shake is Silk brand’s Dark Chocolate Almond Milk. It’s available at large grocery stores and I even found it at my Target. Silk’s website has a store locator; just enter your zip code. If your store does not carry it, pester the manager to order it! It’s quite tasty straight, but extra fab in shakes and dessert recipes. Try it!
Dark Chocolate & Banana Milkshake
1 cup (8 ounces) dark chocolate almond milk
1/2 cup crushed ice
– Place all ingredients in blender. Blend until smooth.
– Serve immediately.
I’ll never forget the first Banana Health Shake I enjoyed many years ago at Ellen’s Stardust Diner in NYC. Since then, I’ve often experimented with making my own breakfast smoothies. For me, coming up with the right combo of ingredients was not just about trying to eat healthier & losing a little weight… it really had to taste great, or I wouldn’t go through all the trouble. I discovered that one of the secret ingredients in Ellen’s shakes was toasted wheat germ. It added a bit of crunch to the shake, which I love, and is also an excellent source of vitamin E & folic acid. For fruit, I use bananas, strawberries, and blueberries. The trick is to freeze the fruit before blending, so that your shakes come out thick & cold. I like to prep about a weeks worth of fresh bananas & strawberries, so that I can make a shake in a matter of minutes. For ease, I use Wymann’s Fresh Frozen Wild Blueberries. I also add flax oil because of its high concentration of Omega-3’s. For protein, I use an all-natural vanilla whey powder, and to get my veggies, I add a scoop of Macro Greens “Nutrient Rich Super Food Supplement.” When my photographer friend Francis first suggested I try Macro Greens, I was a bit leery about adding a veggie supplement. But after trying it, I was sold. So blend away, and by all means, experiment with different ingredient combinations of whatever makes you sing !
– For best flavor, allow bananas to ripen thoroughly before freezing.
– Wild blueberries are higher in antioxidants than cultivated blueberries.
– When fruit is out of season, blend in a packet of stevia, or a tablespoon of honey to sweeten the mix.
Here’s the recipe:
Makes 1 ( 18 oz. ) serving
1 cup skim milk
1 heaping scoop of vanilla flavored whey protein powder (about 3 tablespoons)
1 level scoop of Macro Greens (about 1 tablespoon)
2 tablespoons flax seed oil
1 tablespoon Mother’s Toasted Wheat Germ
1 packet stevia all-natural sweetener – Sweet Leaf or other brand (optional)
3 tablespoons frozen wild blueberries
5-6 strawberries, frozen
1 banana, peeled and frozen
-Place first 5 ingredients, plus sweetener (if using) into blender; blend for about 15 seconds.
-Add frozen fruit; blend until thick and smooth.
I want to share a fun evening I had with 3 of my closest friends in the world. We have been friends since high school. Melanie brought her Vita-Mix machine and made the best drink. She peeled lemons, limes and oranges, some honey, a little sugar and a splash of vodka. Put them all in the Vita Mix, top it off with ice cubes and whirl!! I am talking about refreshing citrus drink that kept us going the whole evening. Not a seed to be found! Another “Got To Have” machine! I can see an endless amount of smoothie options in my future!!
I have to confess, I did purchase the dessert. If you have a Fresh Market near you, you have to try the Raspberry Almond Cake!! This is the second time this week I indulged. Both times to celebrate birthdays. A moist white cake sandwiched with raspberry preserves and custard. It is covered with an almond paste mixture that is then lightly toasted and surrounded with toasted sliced almonds. My mission: A La Carte Kitchen will develop their own Raspberry Almond Cake attach a beautiful photo. Look forward to it in the future! As soon as I can get back into my kitchen and cook!