I quietly went dairy-free recently which made me a little bummed out because I love yogurt and feta and Pecorino Romano cheese. My acupuncturist was begging me for years to break up with dairy once and for all so that I might be able to stop complaining about this and that. Sure enough, without getting too personal, going dairy-free (even sheep and goat) has been a positive move for me and I am pretty motivated to keep it that way.
I still give Mr. Picky raw milk and the girls eat their yogurt and cheese all the same. But when I make something for all of us to share, I’ve been using lots and lots of almond milk, like in porridges and smoothies. I haven’t gotten around to making almond milk yogurt yet, but I’d love to try. In the meantime, I just made this crazy delicious mint chip smoothie that will keep my dairy cravings at bay forever! Mint chip was always my favorite ice cream flavor and I love fresh mint in salads so how could I go wrong in a smoothie? I took my Leprauchan Smoothie from last year with a few tweaks and a couple drops of peppermint extract, presto! It’s so darn good, it tastes like a dessert even though it’s totally healthful enough to eat for breakfast. Except for the chocolate chips. Who cares! It has 4 cups of spinach which you can’t even taste and a couple of dates for sweetness. Not bad at all. In fact, so stinkin’ good!
My kids were even freaking out. This is one of those things you’ll make for St. Patrick’s Day because it’s green and you won’t stop making it. The only thing I don’t love about it is that it’s cold. And cold first thing in the morning when the weather is still a bit chilly is a bummer for your digestive system which has to work extra hard to bring up the temperature of your stomach to where it likes to be. I try not to give the kids cold smoothies first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, and definitely not in the winter. Serving this with warm oatmeal or porridge is a better idea, or after a workout, or when the weather warms up a bit.
But I’d rather see you drink a cold smoothie in the middle of winter than anything with gross green food coloring. I just cringe when I see cupcakes with artificially-dyed frosting or green bagels. If you need some convincing, please read this article from Healthy Child Healthy World about why you need to go dye-free. In the meantime, go get yourself a giant bag of naturally green, chlorophyll-rich, nutrient dense SPINACH and enjoy some delicious St. Patty’s Day pancakes with a mint chip smoothie to wash it all down!
healthful mint chip smoothie
makes 2 medium sized drinks
1 cup unsweetened almond milk or milk of choice*
4 pitted dates or sweetener of choice to taste
4 cups spinach leaves
½ ripe avocado, pitted and peeled (optional, but good if you are trying to eat more high quality fats)
1 frozen ripe banana, cut into chunks (this should be peeled before it’s frozen–click here for tips on freezing fruit)
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon peppermint extract
2 cups ice
2 Tablespoons chocolate chips or raw cacao nibs
To garnish (optional): 2 mint sprigs and some shaved chocolate (I used a vegetable peeled on a dark chocolate bar.)
If you have a high-powered blender, such as a Vita-Mix, place all the ingredients EXCEPT the chocolate chips into the blender and process until smooth.
If you do not have a high-powered blender, the dates may not get blended completely and may leave tiny little bits of date in the smoothie. If that bothers you, blend the almond milk and dates together and then strain the mixture. Add the remaining ingredients to the blender (EXCEPT the chocolate chips) with the strained almond milk and blend until smooth. Or just use honey or maple syrup to sweeten instead of dates.
Add the chocolate chips and pulse just a couple of times to break them up a bit. Divide between 2 glasses and garnish with a mint sprig and chocolate shavings, if desired.
*If you want to use a sweetened vanilla almond milk or other sweetened vanilla milk, you can omit the dates and vanilla extract and sweeten to taste.