apple cider sidecar (cidercar).

Let’s give the classic sidecar a decidedly fall twist!

A few weeks ago, my friend popped over one evening, and wanted a cocktail instead of wine. Since she came bearing fresh apple cider, I figured we had to incorporate that into the drink du jour: hello, apple cidercars!

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If you’ve never had a sidecar before, you’re in for a real treat! They are the French version of a margarita: a sour-based drink with cognac instead of tequila. Instead of lime juice, sidecars use lemon juice, but I am breaking the rules with the addition of apple cider. The cider really balances the drink, making it sweet, but not cloying, and it places perfectly with the rich flavor of the cognac. Because the cider mellows the drink out, this is great for those who don’t like an alcohol-forward cocktail. Try it, it’s delicious, and a wonderful, festive drink!

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apple cider-car.

ingredients
3 ounces apple cider
3 ounces cognac or brandy
1 ounce triple sec
1 ounce fresh lemon juice
ice

directions
Fill two coup glasses with ice. Set aside. In a cocktail shaker, fill with ice and add the apple cider, cognac, triple sec and lemon juice. Shake 20-30 times, until shaker is ice cold.

Remove ice from glasses and pour the cocktail. Serve immediately.

Serves 2.

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wake me up lemon water routine.

Anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE to sleep. Doesn’t mean I’m any good at it, but I love it. Being wrapped up in sheets, cuddled beneath blankets… heaven. Unfortunately for me, I only get about four to five hours a night if I’m lucky. I’ve tried tons of different things, but regardless of their impact on my sleep duration and quality, one thing is constant: supremely exhausted mornings.

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Now, I am a diehard coffee drinker (black, please!), and essentially need it to function; besides the necessity, I really enjoy the flavor and experience of coffee. However, before I reach for the magical beans every morning, I start off with warm water, fresh lemon, and maybe a pinch of cayenne pepper or splash of raw apple cider vinegar as soon as I step out of the shower.

Why? Well, good question! When I was first getting into healthier, greener and cleaner eating, I kept coming across articles touting the benefits of lemon water, and decided I had to try it. A quick google search will show you a plethora of health claims, but I’m here to tell you which claims have some scientific evidence to back them up, and my own personal experience, albeit anecdotally. Your mileage may vary.

The most important thing that warm lemon water does for you is rehydrate you! Sleeping is essentially intermittent fasting: you’re going approximately 6-9 hours without drinking or eating anything, so your body is dehydrated when you wake up. Starting the morning with a mug full of warm (not hot!) water with a squeeze of lemon is a wonderful way to hydrate yourself, and I’ve found that I have more energy throughout the day. Lemon water also helps with improved digestive and liver function, as your liver is most active while you’re sleeping. Lemon water can help stimulate your liver in flushing out all the toxins that your body doesn’t need. Additionally, lemons have a good amount of Vitamin C, which we all know is essential for immune function, but also Vitamin C stimulates the production of collagen, which is necessary for radiant skin! <— This is probably my favorite benefit of lemon water and one that I can definitely see a difference in my skin if I slack or skip it. My skin looks cleaner, brighter, smoother and more ‘plump’ when I am consistent in this routine. That’s reason enough for me! 🙂

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If you have an electric kettle, this is almost embarrassingly easy. If you’re like me, simply heat some water on a stove top kettle until almost boiling. Pour half of the boiling water into a coffee mug and top with equal parts room temperate or tepid water (I do this because I find it difficult to get the right warm but not hot water temperature from my stovetop kettle, but do whatever is easiest for  you. Squeeze in juice from 1/2-1 whole lemon, and add a pinch of cayenne (spice is great for metabolism!), or some ACV (great for skin). Use a straw when drinking, as the lemon juice is quite acidic and can weaken your enamel. Drink each morning and cheers to your health!

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morning lemon water routine. 

directions
juice of one half-one of a lemon
16 ounces of warm water (I do half hot from kettle/half room temp.)
1 tablespoon raw apple cider vinegar* optional
1 teaspoon fresh ginger* optional

ingredients
Add the fresh squeezed juice of one half/whole lemon (depends on your preference and the juiciness of the lemon) to the warm water. Top with apple cider vinegar and/or ginger if desired.

Drink through a straw (to protect the enamel of your teeth) each morning before consuming anything to eat.  Serves 1.

*Please use organic ingredients wherever possible* 

carrot + apple smoothie.

I’ve been meaning to bring you this recipe for weeks now! A few months ago, one of my dearest friends had me over for breakfast, and made the most delicious blueberry pancakes. Instead of bringing over a fruit salad or some other brunch-expected side, I decided some freshly made juice was the perfect accompaniment. Although this is technically a smoothie, as we are using whole fruits and vegetables, and not discarding the pulp, I tend to think of this as more of a juice, as it lacks the creamy/binding element of banana/avocado/yogurt. This carrot and apple juice was the ideal fresh accompaniment.

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MC loved it, and so do I! The apple and carrot provide the sweetness, the celery adds a nice vegetal element, and the lemon adds the perfect amount of brightness and punch. The ice will help thicken the smoothie and keep it extra cold. You’ll want a high speed blender to properly break down the skin of the apple and blend everything smooth.

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This is such a nice break from green smoothies, and this smoothie allows you to reap the benefits of the whole fruits and vegetables, namely fiber, which will keep you fuller, longer!

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carrot + apple smoothie.

ingredients
2 small apples/1 large apple, cored and quartered
1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
juice from one lemon
1/2 -3/4 cup water
1/2 cup ice
to sweeten: 1 tablespoon raw honey, maple syrup, or agave (optional, I do not add)
optional: fresh ginger (about 1/2 inch piece) — completely not necessary, but I love ginger with apple and carrot!

directions
Add the ice, apples, carrot, celery, lemon juice and water to a high speed blender. Blend for 60-90 seconds, or until you have a smooth consistency.

Pour into two glasses and serve immediately. If you want to make ahead, this keeps well in the refrigerator for 48 hours in an airtight jar.

Makes 2 servings.

*Please use organic ingredients wherever possible* 

spicy cilantro lime lemonade.

If you’re a cilantro hater, you may want to look away. I’m so sorry, but today’s recipe is decidedly cilantro-centric. This herbaceous lemonade is refreshing, citrusy and gives a little kick to the back of your throat. That’s pretty much all I want in a summer beverage, how about you?

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If you do not have a mortar and pestle, fret not! You can simply combine the sugar and the cilantro in a mixing bowl and stir with a spatula, occasionally pressing the mixture against the sides of the bowl to get a similar effect before adding to the pitcher.

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I was discussing this recipe with my co-worker who immediately said “that needs tequila!”. Ha… well, of course this lemonade is easily made boozy, and I agree that tequila would be divine. You could even make two batches for a summer party — one recipe to satisfy all! All the spice and cilantro lovers, that it is! 🙂

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spicy cilantro lime lemonade.
adapted from Cooking Light.

ingredients
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
1 lime, thinly sliced
1 jalapeno, seeded and halved, thinly sliced
4 cups filtered water

directions
In a motar and pestle, add the 1/3 cup sugar and 1/2 cup cilantro leaves and using the pestle, grind for a minute or two until the mixture starts to combine but the leaves are still roughly in tact.

In a pitcher, add the lemon juice, cilantro sugar and four cups of water and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the sliced limes and jalapeño. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and then serve chilled.

Can be made up to one day in advance. Makes four servings.

*Please use organic ingredients wherever possible* 

vegan chocolate mint milkshake.

I have a treat for us today! As you may know, I’m not a sweets person. Give me chips over cake any day of the week. There are exceptions. Growing up, before I learned of my dairy allergy, I LOVED milkshakes. I have fond memories of my younger brother and I making milkshakes in my mom’s house with her blender that was from 1972. Vanilla low-fat ice cream (hey, it was the 90s), skim milk, chocolate syrup… YUM. I’ve always been a super thick milkshake girl.

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The other day, I caught the milkshake craving. Since regular milk and ice cream haven’t graced my lips in over a decade, but I suddenly remembered that I had a vegan “ice cream” hanging out in my freezer from about a month ago when my friend brought it over. Any vegan and/or non-dairy frozen “ice cream” dessert will work for this, but the brand I used is here. I find that it has the best consistency; soy or coconut-based is fine. I used a 2:1 ratio of the frozen treat and cashew milk, a splash of vanilla extract, and a few springs of fresh mint, and gave it a whirl. The fresh mint is essential, as it provides such freshness. Don’t like mint? Try almond extract and a scoop of almond butter, or even peanut butter!

Even though non-dairy ice cream can be icy/not as lusciously creamy as traditional ice cream, adding in the nut milk yields an incredibly thick, creamy shake. Good news? One 8 ounce glass is under 200 calories! Now THAT is a dessert I can totally get behind.

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vegan chocolate mint shake.
a ‘PTL’ original. 

ingredients
1 pint of coconut or soy-based chocolate ice “cream”/frozen dessert
1 cup unsweetened cashew milk (or non-dairy milk of your choice)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3-5 fresh mint leaves, plus 4 for garnish

directions
Add all ingredients except for reserved mint leaves to a high speed blender. Blend, starting on medium speed, increasing to high. Blend for 1 minute, adding up to 1/4 cup additional cashew milk if needed/desired.

Divide between four glasses. Garnish each with a mint leaf. Serve immediately.

 

 

kale + pineapple green smoothie (my favorite!).

I’ve been over indulging myself recently. On a recent trip to Boston, I lived on lobster, wine, lobster, bourbon, and lobster. And octopus. Which was AMAZING. I didn’t want to leave. Then when I got home, it was a dreary and rainy day, so I made one of my most favorite comfort foods, homemade marinara sauce and ate that with copious amounts of warm crusty bread. Delicious. Who needs pasta? Not this girl — I am content to dip my bread in red gravy that has simmered all afternoon.

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Despite all of that delicious and wonderful indulgence, I knew I needed to get back on track. My favorite way to do so also happens to be my go-to breakfast every day: my favorite green smoothie. Full of super healthy ingredients? Check. Vegan and gluten free? Check. Filling? Check! Now, I understand green smoothies aren’t for everyone, but I love the bright, intense green color of the finished smoothie. It’s vibrant and I feel great just looking at it! Luckily for me (and you!) it tastes as good as it looks!

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Now, I love love love fresh ginger, so I usually add in about an inch long piece. It does make the finished smoothie have a bit of a spicy bite to it, so scale back according to your preferences. Fresh ginger is so good for you, and has wonderful anti-inflammatory properties. Combine that with the intensely hydrating cucumber, kale that is chock full of vitamin K, and pineapple is an incredible source of vitamin C and manganese, and this is as healthy as it is delicious!

green kale + pineapple smoothie. 

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ingredients
2 cups curly kale
1 frozen banana, sliced
3/4- 1 cup frozen pineapple
1/4 English cucumber, sliced
1/2-1 inch piece ginger
3-5 mint leaves (optional)
1/2 -1 cup water (I err on the side of 1/2 cup, as I like my smoothies thick)
1 tablespoon flax seeds

directions
Combine all ingredients into a high speed blender. Blend on low for 20-30 seconds, and then on high for 1-2 minutes, or until smooth and well combined. Serve immediately, or refrigerate for up to 24 hours.

Makes one generous serving, or two regular sized servings.

**Please use all organic ingredients**

 

 

pineapple cucumber agua fresca.

It’s the last day of July, and the hot and steamy weather seems to be here to stay. Since (week)daytime drinking is most likely frowned upon where you live and work, how about a delicious and refreshing aqua fresca to cool you off?

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Aqua fresca is Spanish for “fresh water”, meaning any water that is flavored with fruit, herbs and a simple syrup or other sweetener. This take on it should be incredibly tart due to the pineapple and lemon, but it is tamed by the cooling vegetal taste of the cucumber, resulting in an incredibly mellow and soothing drink that will cool you off on days that are chokingly hot.

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Make sure to refrigerate this after straining, as the flavors are ideal served ice cold. It’s wonderful as is, but I think it’s even better topped with sparkling water. To make this adult-friendly, try adding some light rum or tequila, garnished with some fresh pineapple. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. 🙂

pineapple cucumber agua fresca.
from Family Table cookbook. 

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ingredients
2.5 tablespoons coconut palm sugar
2 cups fresh pineapple (frozen, thawed will also work)
1 seedless cucumber, peeled and cut into large chunks
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups cold water, plus 2.5 tablespoons

directions
To make the simple syrup: combine the sugar and 5 tablespoons of water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat and cool.

Working in batches, puree the pineapple and cucumbers with 4 cups of cold water, the simple syrup, lemon juice, and salt in a blender or food processor until smooth.

Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a pitcher or bowl and refrigerate.

This pairs nicely with rum or tequila. For a kid-friendly/non-alcoholic option, serve as is, or top with sparkling water.

Makes 3 cups. Keeps for 3-4 days in refrigerator.

**Please use organic ingredients wherever possible**

tropical papaya cabbage smoothie.

I am a smoothie NUT. I drink one practically every morning for breakfast, and am always amazed at their capability to keep me full and satiated for hours until lunchtime. They’ve also evolved in the few years that I’ve been drinking them. Like many, I would start with a full banana, yogurt, fruit and a teeny handful of baby spinach to “make it healthy”. Dependent upon the type of yogurt being used, um, hello sugar bomb! I’ve gradually gotten to the point where my smoothies are a mixture of vegetables, fruits, water, and a handful of chia or flax seeds, depending on what I have hanging around in the cabinets. Amazingly, this combo is still super filling and packed full of yummy flavors and vitamins! Last week I cut up and froze a papaya, and had forgotten about it until yesterday. I fully intended to mix it with some other fruits, celery and kale, but imagine my surprise when I opened the crisper and there was no kale (or spinach or any type of green!) to be found. Grocery list fail. I didn’t want an all fruit smoothie, so I instead decided to use up some red cabbage leftover from the week prior.

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Cabbage is super inexpensive and lasts a ridiculously long time, so it’s a great thing to have on hand. If the other leaves look not so fresh, simply peel them off and use the rest of the cabbage. It lends a pretty pink/purple color and is pretty neutral in flavor. Combined with a half of a banana, some pineapple, ginger and celery, and you’ve got a tropical smoothie that will keep you full until lunchtime.

Hopefully you can enjoy this on a beach somewhere, and not in the car on the way to work like me!

tropical papaya cabbage smoothie.

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ingredients
1/2 cup fresh or frozen papaya
1/2 cup frozen pineapple
1/2 inch knob of fresh ginger (I leave the skin on, but you can remove for a less spicy flavor)
1/2 cup red cabbage
1 stalk celery
1/2 frozen banana
1 tsp. flax seeds
1 1/4 cup filtered water

directions

Slice frozen banana and add to blender with fruit, cabbage, celery, ginger and flax seeds. Top with filtered water and blend on high in a high speed blender for 1-2 minutes until all combined and smooth. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to drink (up to 24 hours). Serves 1.

**Please use all organic ingredients wherever possible. 

skinny strawberry milkshake.

Confession time. I do not have a sweet tooth. Cakes, cookies, candies, chocolates are all good and tasty, but I can usually pass them up without hesitation. Instead, I have a major “salt tooth” (is that a thing?). Well, if it is, I definitely have it.

I am human, however, and do crave sweets from time to time. Normally some ripe fruit is more than enough to satisfy, but this week I had a rare craving for a creamy, icy treat. I rarely if ever have ice cream in my house, and I wanted to be able to indulge in a treat without feeling guilty or eating something chuck full of unhealthy artificial ingredients. Enter this ultra easy, skinny strawberry milkshake!

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Isn’t it so pretty? Take a frozen banana, fresh, ripe strawberries and some milk (I used unsweetened, plain coconut milk), top with ice, and give your blender a whirl. Ta da! In less than five minutes, you have a clean, healthy milkshake that is gluten free, lactose free, vegan and totally, totally delicious.

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A frozen banana is essential for this treat. It helps with that thick, creamy texture that is necessary for a milkshake. I would discourage using a room temperature banana and compensating with more ice because the result will be too icy and will dilute the fruit flavors. If you want to make it sweeter, use vanilla flavored non-dairy milk, or add in a drop of pure vanilla extract (or agave!).

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I hope you enjoy this skinny, healthy version of a milkshake the next time your sweet tooth needs attention! Try to enjoy it poolside. Oh, and if you wanted to throw a splash (or two) of rum or vodka in there, I won’t judge. 🙂

skinny strawberry milkshake.
slightly adapted from sally’s baking addiction.

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ingredients

1 small banana, frozen (ripe is best)
10-12 fresh, ripe strawberries
1/2 cup plain, unsweetened coconut milk
2/3 cup ice
2 mint leaves (optional) (can also use to garnish)

directions

Add ingredients to blender in order. Blend on high until thick and smooth. Pour into serving glass, garnish with a berry or some fresh mint and enjoy!

Makes 2 small milkshakes or 1 generously sized milkshake.