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Cranberry Bliss Detox Smoothie. A tasty and cleansing drink to kick off the new year, or to enjoy any day! Photo by Stacey Young.

Happy New Year, everyone! I seriously can’t believe it’s 2010. Incredible!

I figured we’d start the New Year off right with a detox smoothie that incorporates some seasonal fruits and also some spices of the Middle East that are extremely beneficial to the health.

I’ve been a smoothie junkie since my teens. What’s not to love?  They’re refreshing, filling, and flavorful. Growing up, my mom was cool enough to let me play around a lot in the kitchen. Sometimes I even came up with something worthwhile 😉 Like a great smoothie.

Over the years, I’ve made many different types of smoothies, but this one has to be one of my favorites. It’s simple, fresh, and effective at cleaning out the body and helping to reduce bloat and/or fluid retention. It’s full of nutrients, antioxidants,  and is super-hydrating, so if any of you are bellying up to this blog after a night of bellying up to the bar, read on. . .

Fresh farmers' market cranberries inspired the Cranberry Bliss Detox smoothie.

Fresh cranberries at the farmers’ market inspired this smoothie. The cranberries help reduce bloat. The turmeric has may beneficial properties. It’s a popular spice in Middle Eastern food and in many other cuisines as well (Indian comes to mind). It has anti-inflammatory properties, is a natural antiseptic and antibacterial agent, and a liver detoxifier.

Pumpkin pie spice is added in for more flavor and fun, but if you don’t have a pumpkin pie spice blend on hand, you could simplify and just add in some ground cinnamon and/or nutmeg.

This smoothie has a tartness to it, thanks in no small part to the cranberries and the fresh lemon, so don’t expect it to be super sweet. Whenever possible, use organic ingredients to really start the new year off right 😉

Lemons provide plenty of vitamin C and aid digestion.For the best cleansing results, have today's smoothie on either an empty stomach, or 45 minutes to an hour after drinking a glass or warm water and lemon.

Cranberry Bliss Detox Smoothie

For 2 smoothies, 12-16 ounces each:

2 apples, sliced, peel left on

2 pears, sliced, peel left on

1 lemon, peeled, cut in quarters, seeds removed

1 cup fresh cranberries

2 cups of filtered water (keep extra handy if needed)

Sweetener of choice (my picks would be stevia, agave, or honey, in that order of preference)

4-6 Ice cubes (if you want a cooler smoothie)

1 Tablespoon turmeric

2 Teaspoons pumkin pie spice blend (optional) OR 2 teaspoons of cinnamon or 1 teaspoon of nutmeg

Directions:

1. Blend ice, if using, and 1 cup of the  filtered water together. Then add the spice powders and blend again. Add in all fruits and blend until smooth, adding water as necessary. Check the taste and adjust seasoning to taste. If it seems too thick, add more filtered water and re-blend.

2. Pour into festive glasses of your choice, and enjoy. I like to drink mine with a straw. You can store the smoothie, covered,  in the fridge for two days, or freeze any leftover smoothie and enjoy another day.

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Vanilla it is--as in a warm, foamy Rice Pudding Latte. No high tech equipment required. Just run the warm milk and spice mixture through a blender for added frothiness.Perfect for the freezing cold weather we're having here in New York. Put it on ice if the weather where you are is warmer. Photo by Stacey Young.

As I’ve told you guys before, I’m not a coffee drinker. One of my quirks is how I really adore the smell of freshly brewed coffee, but never truly warmed up to the taste.

Still, I love hanging around in chill coffee shops. Working on my laptop, reading a book. You know the drill. Sometimes I’ve felt a bit left out sipping my tea while the coffee drinkers got their fancy drink on. This might have led to my brief dalliance with cappuccino. That came to a grinding halt when I started cutting way back on dairy and soy in my diet. To say nothing of caffeine!

Frothy, warm drinks aren't just the domain of coffee drinkers!

Yes, many  coffee shops whip up non-dairy cappuccinos now (meaning they use soy milk), but getting almond or rice milk instead is a much trickier proposition, unless you know exactly where to go. That all sounds like too much trouble to me. And honestly, I don’t like to have too much caffeine in my diet in the first place.

Plus, lattes can get expensive! In fact, financial planner and author David Bach has a whole concept of building up your saving by skipping that daily latte. He calls it “The Latte Factor.”

At any rate, it was the warmth of the drink and the foam that I always enjoyed the most. Oh, and how can I forget the sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg or cocoa (or all three!) atop the foam? That was really my favorite thing about cappuccino anyways!

So when my friend Kimberly Snyder, whose blog I follow religiously, posted her “Almost Raw Vegan Vanilla Latte,”  my foam-loving ears perked up. I made her recipe, and loved it.

Then, being the kitchen nerd that I am, I got inspired and began to riff on her recipe. First, I added coconut milk to the almond milk her recipe uses. Then I ran the warm almond milk  and coconut milk through my blender for about a minute. This created a bit of a foam-like texture, which was enjoyable, especially when topped with a dusting of freshly ground nutmeg. Of course, it was nothing like what you’d probably get if you ran this through a real high tech coffee machine, like the one pictured below. But it was still smooth and creamy.

High powered coffee machine. Like industrial strength and stuff.

Then I got even more inspired. An attempt at a vegan rice pudding that fell slightly short got me thinking that it might be worthwhile to put some of the flavors of a Middle Eastern style rice pudding into this latte. It would be a soothing drink that could be enjoyed in the afternoon or night, not just in the morning like a caffeine-laden drink.

So that’s how my Rice Pudding Latte was born. Now granted, Kim, who inspired this latte in the first place, isn’t a huge fan of rice milk. She points out that almond milk packs much more nutritional wallop. So in honor of her, I’ll just say that you can absolutely use almond milk in this recipe. It will be lovely. The rice pudding spices are what really gives it its distinct taste anyways. For all of you dairy and soy drinkers out there, who am I to stop you from using what you already use? We may differ on our opinions towards coffee, and even what milk to put into our lattes, but we can all try the rice pudding spices in this latte 🙂

The best part? You can whip up this cozy drink at home on the stove. Blend it for extra lightness. Or not. Run it through your high tech coffee machine, if you have one. Or not. Either way, enjoy it. No need to pay $4 or more for a latte, when you can have a delicious and creative one at home.

Rice Pudding Latte

For one 12 ounce latte or two 6 ounce drinks:

Ingredients:

8 ounces of milk of your choice. I used UNsweetened rice milk, but you can use almond milk, or another milk.

4 ounces coconut milk (regular or light will do. To lighten regular coconut milk, dilute it with filtered water)

1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder

1/4 teaspoon of clove powder

1 cinnamon stick (I prefer to use a stick because it doesn’t alter the milky color. And, it looks cute as a stirring stick inside the finished latte).

Splash of orange blossom water or rose water

1/8 teaspoon vanilla

1 packet Stevia (or more to taste) If you’re not a Stevia fan, use the sweetener of your choice. Agave nectar would work well–I love that it has a neutral flavor.

Freshly grated nutmeg to sprinkle on top

Directions:

1. In a small, non-reactive  saucepan, gently warm both milks and all spices except nutmeg over low heat, just until bubbles start to form at the edge of the pan. Don’t boil.

2. Carefully remove from heat. Remove cinnamon stick and set aside for garnishing later.  If blending the milk, pour into blender and blend on high for 30-60 seconds.

3. Add in splash of orange blossom or rose water, Stevia, and vanilla and, if blending,  blend again for 15 seconds.

4. Slowly pour latte into a large mug. Add cinnamon stick, and sprinkle with ground nutmeg. The spices will settle in the bottom of the mug, so just remember that they’re there as you take your last few sips. Or feel free to enjoy this drink on ice. Let it cool for a bit before pouring so it doesn’t get a watered down flavor from rapidly melting ice. Enjoy!

Warm, soothing, and guilt-free. Not to mention so much less expensive than a coffee shop latte. Photo by Stacey Young.

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