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Gojiccino, the Magic Latte

Hi friends!

First – once upon a time I had a Twitter account, but couldn’t really see the point in it, and thus it got all dusty and unused for a couple years.  But I just discovered its purpose!  To be constantly entertained by hilarious celebrities (including the ones who aren’t trying to be hilarious).  Right?  Right?

In any case, I’m charmed by it and if any of you bloggers use Twitter, I’d love to follow you as they say – feel free to leave your handle in the comments.

So as you may or may not know, I have a tumultuous relationship with caffeine.  I love it – it hates me.  The taste (and oh, the smell!) of a freshly French-pressed black coffee is one of life’s best treasures, but every now and then it turns me into Jittery Monster Allysia, not to be messed around with.  Green tea, another love, does the same.  So does decaf.

It’s been months since I’ve been caffeinated, and it took my body a month of re-calibration (read: a month of being tired every morning) to finally feel normal without it.  And as tragic as life is without precious coffee, I’ve moved on.  As it stands, my favorite caffeine-free sippers are as follows:

1. Rooibos (every now and then I’ll get a rooibos latte at a coffee shop).  I prefer red to green, and I like it plain, though it’s great jazzed up with other herbs and fruits too.

2. Teeccino.  Their French-style blend is my favorite coffee-like drink, made from roasted barley and chicory and other good things – it tastes better than it sounds.  Not a coffee replica to be sure, but it’s dark, bitter and astringent so it calls coffee to mind.  Plus it’s great with a splash of milk.

3. Kukicha. I was introduced to this in the Macrobiotics portion of my schooling, and it’s easily my favorite daily drink.  It’s made from the twigs of tea plants, and it’s caffeine-free since all of the caffeine in tea is from the leaves.  The taste reminds me of a cross between oolong and black tea.

3. Gojiccino.  A magical treat!  So magical!  So complex!  Exclamation marks!  So magical, in fact, that we have to talk about it more in-depth.

There’s this company in Ontario that makes a product called Gojiccino, which I accidentally discovered at a restaurant called Fresh.  You use it as you would an espresso shot in a latte-type drink – a shot or two in some steamed milk.  It kind of blew my mind.  Naturally sweet but not sugary, it’s toasty and bitter, with strong caramel tones, and a magical somethin-somethin that I just can’t place, that piece of complexity that makes the drink intriguing and addictive.

And then I had to go home and make it myself.  The concept is simple enough – toast some goji berries, blend them into a thick liquid with a little hot water, strain, and voila.  It’s not quite as awesome as their product, but that’s because they use magic.  So for those of you who don’t have this drink available near you, rest assured you can do up a delicious home version before it becomes available across North America (here’s hoping!).

No recipe this time, just a general method.  Toast some goji berries on a dry skillet for 15 minutes or so, until they’re soft and dark (even burnt in places).

Toss ’em in a blender with a little water – just enough to get the machine running properly, not so much as to dilute the flavor.

When it’s blended, strain the mixture so it’s smooth (I use a nut milk strainer bag, but a fine mesh sieve should work in theory, it would just be more time-consuming).

That’s it!  Heat up some milk and add a spoonful of the goji mixture to it.  Enjoy immensely.  And support a great Canadian company!  It should be noted that I’m not affiliated with them in any way – this post comes from a pure love of gojiccino.

Happy Wednesday!

recipes, smoothies and juice

Watermelon Slushie: Vegan Sunday Brunch, Episode 47

Guys, one week until I have my life back.

I mean obviously I’ve made some amazing friends in Austin and have had a wonderful time at culinary school and etc, but it’s seriously time for a vacation.  I can’t wait to have the inspiration to blog regularly again and chat with you folks – when I get home from cooking all day, the last thing I want to do is be creative, and so tahini sauce or marinara gets smothered on 95% of all of my meals.

And so I’m really happy this brunch series exists, because it forces me to stop watching Doctor Who long enough to keep practicing kitchen skills, and to keep thinking of new ideas, which really is the thing about food that’s the most fun.  It’s always, always, always worth it.  Even when the recipe that I come up with is super simple, like this one.

Did anyone know it’s hot in Texas in June?  Go figure.  I used to scoff at people who said that heat kills their appetite, thinking my appetite was all buff and invincible to the elements.  Turns out I haven’t been exposed to warm enough elements.  My voracious desire for hearty breakfasts has become a simple thirst – all I want now is water, fresh juice, and more water.  And when I come home from school I just want a supper of cold soba noodles and cucumbers.  And lately I’ve been spending a lot of time fantasizing about watermelon (something I don’t think I’ve ever done), which leads me to today’s recipe.

Frozen watermelon is blended up with coconut water, lime and mint.  That’s it.  A shot of tequila would make this beverage even more awesome if you’re into that.  Frozen watermelon blends into a delicious slush-like beverage which is probably the single most refreshing thing ever in the summer when paired with coconut water.  I know this would be amazing if it were more hearty like a smoothie (subbing milk for the coconut water, and perhaps adding a frozen banana), but I am totally content with it just as it is, as a light and refreshing brunch bevvie.

Watermelon Slushie
Makes 1 large or 2 small servings

Ingredients:

2 cups cubed, frozen watermelon
1 cup coconut water
1 lime, juiced
1 teaspoon mint leaves (I used peppermint and it was excellent)

Directions:

1.  Combine all ingredients in a blender, and blend until smooth.  Enjoy!

I served this alongside some typical brunch stuff – tofu scramble with salsa, and some cacao nib cherry pancakes (using my standard pancake recipe).  It was fresh and summery, and has once again healed my boring weeknight meals ailment.

Take care, guys – I’ll be gearing up for my last week of school, where we get to plan and design a catering event for the public.  Time is gonna fly!

food and product reviews, recipes, smoothies and juice

Oriya Organics: Review, and Banana-Peach Smoothie

Hey guys!

A while back, Oriya Organics sent me their protein powder and green powder to review, which made me giddy with glee for so many reasons, namely:

-I’ve been chugging smoothies every morning before school
-Depending on what we’re cooking in the classroom, I can’t always depend on balanced lunch meals
-I’ve been paying more attention to purchasing organic and gmo-free food
-The ingredient lists on these are beautiful.

So let me talk about their Superfood Protein Medley first, since I’m featuring it in a recipe today.  Not only does it blend a few protein powders that are allergen-free (brown rice, chia, hempseed), the chia seeds and brown rice protein are sprouted for maximum digestibility.  How cool is that?

In addition to those ingredients, this protein blend contains chlorella and spirulina, which are high-protein, super-nutritious sea plants.  Because of this, this protein powder has a slight green tinge, which is a-ok with me since I usually drink green smoothies anyway.

What I absolutely love about this protein powder is that the nutrition you get out of it stretches far beyond just protein – in one serving, you’re also getting chlorophyll, omega-3’s, and lots of vitamin A, C, E, K and iron, among others.  In this way, this powder is really more like a whole food as opposed to just isolated protein. And it definitely doesn’t skimp in the protein department, as each scoop contains 18 grams of the stuff.

I can also highly recommend their SuperGreen Medley powder, which is a blend of wheat and barley grass, chlorella and spirulina.  It’s nice because I’m really not a big fan of spirulina’s flavor, but when it’s in a mix like this it’s totally fine.  I like adding a spoonful of this to my morning smoothies – it tastes great in the following recipe if you don’t mind a vibrant, emerald green hue to your smoothie.

And did I mention that both of these powders are raw (in addition to being certified organic, certified gmo-free, vegan and gluten-free)?  Score!


Banana-Peach Smoothie
I like to balance the coldness of this beverage by using frozen peaches and fresh banana, but you can feel free to use all frozen fruit, or all fresh – just adjust the almond milk for the right consistency.

Ingredients:
Serves 1

1 medium banana, peeled
Generous 1/2 cup sliced frozen peaches
1 cup almond milk, homemade or store-bought
1/2 scoop (2 tablespoons) Oriya Organics Protein Medley
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed (optional)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.  Fits perfectly in a 16-ounce mason jar to take on the go.

This smoothie has a pale green tinge from the protein powder that I find gorgeous, but if you’re really opposed to that you could mask the color with some blueberries.  I love the flavor combo of banana, peach and vanilla, to the extent that I’m excited to wake up in the morning just so I can eat this. 🙂

I’m a big fan of smoothies, but you can also blend the powders into a juice, or even straight-up water.  I don’t enjoy drinking protein powder mixed with water, but I bet it could be nice blended with some sweetened non-dairy milk.  I’ve also been playing around with the protein powder as a flour substitute in raw treats – hopefully I’ll have a recipe up for that soon.

So there it is, guys – I really have nothing but good things to say about Oriya Organics, and I urge you to check out their website for more details.  Their products are on the pricey side, but I do think it’s worth it for the quality of the ingredients used.

And for those of us who live in Canada, the raw online store Upaya Naturals (Toronto-based) does carry these products.  I can personally vouch for the awesomeness of Upaya, since I bought my juicer from them several years ago.

So there you have it!  Catch you folks later.

recipes, smoothies and juice

Green Dragon Juice

So this post will be a quickie, and dedicated to my love of juice. Earlier this year, I bought one of these puppies:

It’s a really excellent juicer and there are so many things I love about it – it’s fast, it’s easy to clean (takes me less than 5 minutes to clean up), and works well with fruit AND vegetables. It’s really just a solid pro of a machine, and worth every pretty penny I paid for it.
Now I understand that most people don’t have a juicer sitting in their kitchen but I wanted to share this anyway. And if you have a juicer or purchase one in the future, remember this simple recipe! 🙂 It’s an idea we took from a really sweet vegan restaurant in Winnipeg, MB called ‘Mondragon’. There are three ingredients, and it’s hella tasty.
A note on juice: I don’t ever measure out quantities, instead opting to do the old-fashioned taste-test method. Fresh fruit and vegetables inevitably vary in strength and tastiness, so while one day you might have very potent, bitter kale, the next day you might be using milder kale. But here’s the gist of what I do:
Green Dragon Juice
Makes 1 large or 2 small servings
1/2 head kale, washed and torn into pieces, stem included
2 granny smith apples, cored and chopped
1 knob of ginger, about half the size of your thumb, peeled
Run everything through your juicer – I alternate apple with greens just so the juicer doesn’t get clogged. Then, enjoy!
Toodles MoFos!
recipes, smoothies and juice

Lemon Blueberry Smoothie

Introducing the Lemon Blueberry Smoothie, the world’s best way to wake up. Seriously, it’s like eating ice cream for breakfast. And it’s healthy.

For this recipe, I highly urge you to use wild blueberries, as they lend more flavour to this delicious concoction. I bought a big bag of frozen wild blueberries for $4, and there are lots of benefits to buying frozen fruits when they’re out of season. Berries are usually sprayed quite heavily in the winter, and have to travel very long distances to get to the stores up here. Frozen fruit has generally been picked and packaged when it WAS in season, at the peak of it’s flavour and nutrition. Although some nutritional value is lost through freezing, it’s a minimal loss, and completely worthwhile. Plus, berries + smoothies = epic love.
This is less of a recipe and more of a guideline, as my smoothie-making technique is basically just “throw stuff in”. No detailed measurements here.
Lemon Blueberry Smoothie
Makes 1 serving

2 bananas, torn into chunks
1 handful wild blueberries (about 1/2 c)
1/2 a lemon, juiced
Non-dairy milk to desired consistency
2 spoonfuls ground flax seed (optional but recommended)
Throw everything into a blender and blend until smooth. I usually add somewhere around 1/2 c of non-dairy milk, which is enough for the smoothie to pour, but it’s still fairly thick. Keep in mind that the type of milk you use affects the end result quite a bit. Richer milks, like nut milks, make for a creamier smoothie. I made mine with soy milk today, because we have some chillin’ in the fridge, but this would taste awesome with some homemade almond milk.
I add in the ground flax for a couple of reasons. I like a little bit of fat in my breakfast, as it helps me maintain satiation for longer. Note that there’s a difference between whole, plant fats and animal fats and oils. Oils, margarines, and foods like eggs will weigh you down in the morning, leaving you feeling draggy. Plant fats in their whole form (not oils) do not have this effect. Logan and I have been devising smoothie recipes, and we’ve recently been including avocado in some of our creations. Paired with stronger fruits like raspberries, it adds an amazing creamy texture to the finished product. I was initially concerned that the avocado would weigh heavily in my stomach and inhibit me from experiencing peak mental functioning in the morning, but no such thing happened. It’s important to remember that avocados are rich in potassium (containing significantly more than bananas), fibre, B vitamins, vitamin E and vitamin K, unlike plant oils which are 100% fat with little nutrition.
Flax seeds are one of the best plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which has become a hot topic lately. Surely you’ve heard people say that fish are good for you because they contain omega-3 fatty acids. Fish oil has become a popular supplement for this reason. However, we can consume adequate amounts of omega-3 through plant sources, like chia, flax and hemp seeds, so why hurt the fish (and the oceans)?
With your omega fatty acids, it’s all about balance. Generally we want to consume a ratio of 4 parts omega-6 to 1 part omega-3 (or less). In other times, this wouldn’t have been difficult, but in a time of fast food, fried food, and oils, we are consuming far more omega-6 than we have in the past, throwing this balance all out of whack. If you decrease your consumption of omega-6, and add a small dietary source of omega-3, that should be sufficient to ensure a correct balance.