Pineapple Coconut Smoothie

We’ll keep things short and sweet today, which seems appropriate considering that we’re writing about Pineapple Coconut Smoothies. Simple ingredient list (three, including ice cubes); simple steps (put ingredients into the blender and purée). But we deserve simple because today is the first day of The Stout Sprout’s summer vacation.

The last day of the 2013-2014 school year was this past Tuesday and both our Sprouts are treating this first day of summer break like Christmas morning. No alarm clock, no lunches to pack, no backpacks to load up. Ah, the life…at least until summer camp begins.

What better way to celebrate the day than with a tropical treat combining fresh, sweet pineapple with creamy coconut milk. Thrown in the blender with some ice cubes and the resulting smoothie is a G-rated drink reminiscent of a piña colada but specifically tailored to the under-21 crowd.

Cool, frosty pineapple coconut smoothie

Cool, frosty pineapple coconut smoothie

Get our recipe for Pineapple Coconut Smoothies here and start planning your next vacation while you sip away.

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Strawberry Lemonade

We’ve all heard the old adage: “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” And while the idea of turning something sour into something sweet is a great lesson, what happens when life gives you more than lemons? What if it gives you, say, strawberries? Lots and lots of strawberries? Because — let’s face it — seldom do we get only bad news. More often than not, life doles out lemons and strawberries in equal abundance (though, seasonally, not always at the same time). The trick is not to focus on each exclusively, but to look at them together.

This is a recipe that balances the tart with the sweet — a great example of how refreshingly complex things can be if you open yourself up to the possibilities of what is in front of you. June’s own little example of yin and yang. Strawberry Lemonade.

A cool, refreshing glass of strawberry lemonade

A cool, refreshing glass of strawberry lemonade

Shop with us at Stults’ Farm and learn how to make your own Strawberry Lemonade – keep reading to find out more.

Hot Mulled Orange and Pomegranate Tisane

It was a balmy 1 degree Fahrenheit at 9:00 AM this morning. The 8 inches of snow on the ground from Thursday night’s storm is going nowhere fast. The girls tackled yesterday’s snow day in shifts. Daughter 1 managed to get snow in her boots before Daughter 2 even made it out the door. Daughter 2, in turn, put breadcrumbs out for the birds and then wanted to “taste” the snow, which resulted in a frozen nose and cheeks that required parental intervention.

"Tasting" snow

“Tasting” snow

So we retreated to the kitchen, where we came up with a warming alternative to the oft-requested hot cocoa. Not that we have anything against hot chocolate in our house…except that it has become the first thing Daughter 2 asks for after playing in the snow. And since we’ve already had quite a bit of snow this season – and it’s only January – I’m looking for options that won’t make our little sprouts any stouter than necessary.

One of their favorite hot treats is “tea juice,” their aptly-named concoction of decaffeinated tea and juice that we serve during rainy-day tea parties. But they also don’t need cup after cup of tea, either, decaffeinated or not.

Mulled cider came to mind, but we didn’t have any cider in the house and the streets were still snowed-covered.

But we did have orange juice, and pomegranate juice, and a kitchen full of all sorts of comforting spices and ingredients. With some time to kill – school had been cancelled, after all – I put the girls to work sticking whole cloves into a couple of the clementines still left from the holidays. When I was a kid we made these and then dried them as holiday decorations. Daughter 1 in particular liked this little diversion, really getting in to the aroma of cloves and oranges.

Keeping little hands busy

Keeping little hands busy

We boiled the clove-studded clementines along with some apple slices, a healthy amount of ginger, cinnamon, and cardamom to make a tisane, which we then strained before adding this spicy concoction to the orange juice and pomegranate juice. The finished beverage fit the bill: warm and warming. A “tea juice” of our own making. Daughter 2 downed several glasses in quick succession. Daughter 1 was more critical – despite liking the aroma of cloves, I don’t think they were, forgive the pun, quite her cup of tea. They may yet become her cup of tisane on the other hand.

Some of the tisane ingredients: cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, and clementines

Some of the tisane ingredients: cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, and clementines

Speaking of tisane, I think that’s my new favorite kitchen vocabulary word. A tisane is a hot herbal drink, most often made by simmering medicinal herbs and spices. Not quite a tea, tisanes supposedly help relieve various maladies, like stomach aches, headaches…or in our case, a case of cabin fever.

Mmmmm. Feeling better.

Mmmmm. Feeling better.

If you’re over the age of 21 and your cabin fever reaches epidemic levels, you may want to add a spoonful of honey and a shot of bourbon to your glass of hot mulled orange and pomegranate tisane to make a hot toddy of sorts. This drink – minus the alcohol – is also good chilled.

Hot Mulled Orange and Pomegranate Tisane

Hot Mulled Orange and Pomegranate Tisane

Let me know what you think of this little winter warmer when you try it!

Hot Mulled Orange and Pomegranate Tisane

Ingredients:
2 whole clementines or small oranges, washed well, unpeeled
A handful of whole cloves (approximately 20 – 30, but don’t over-do it…cloves can get a bit strong in this)
½ apple, unpeeled, cut into thick slices
1 cinnamon stick
5 cardamom pods
1 3-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into ¼-inch rounds
4 cups water
2 cups 100% orange juice
1 cup 100% pomegranate juice (like Pom)

Put the kids to work studding the clementines with cloves, 10 – 15 cloves per clementine. In a medium sauce pan, combine the clove-studded clementines, apple slices, cinnamon stick, cardamom pods and ginger with the water.

Cinnamon and cardamom go into the pot

Cinnamon and cardamom go into the pot

Bring to a boil, reduce heat and allow to vigorously simmer for 30 minutes, or even longer for a stronger tisane. Turn off heat, allow to cool, and strain the now tea-colored liquid through a fine mesh sieve, reserving the tisane liquid. Discard the solids. Rinse the sauce pan and return the tisane liquid to it. You should have approximately 3 to 3 ½ cups of tisane. Add the orange juice and pomegranate juice and re-heat over medium heat until the tisane is as warm as you’d like it. Serve in mugs.

Serves: 6 – 8

A wonderful ruby glow

A wonderful ruby glow

Kid rating: Daughter 2 gives this four-and-a-half stars. Daughter 1 is not as generous.
Parent rating: I love this and give it four-and-a-half stars. Five with honey and bourbon. My husband, though, gives it two stars without the bourbon…but largely because there are so many other teas and beverages he’d go to first. Used as a toddy mix, I think I might get him back up into the four star range. Especially when the thermometer dips again later this week!

One. Degree. Brrr!

One. Degree. Brrr!

Very Berry Smoothies

Whenever I get concerned about our kids’ eating habits (is eschewing spinach at age three a habit, or right of passage?) I think about the advice a friend of mine got from her pediatrician. “They won’t eat any vegetables” my friend confessed about her children, thinking she was about to get a lecture on nutritional deficiencies and how all good parents find a way to coax and coddle their offspring into loving leafy greens. “Yes, but do they eat fruit?” her pediatrician asked. “Can’t get enough” she truthfully shared. “Then you’re fine” he told her. “It’s all good.”

All I can say is, whew.

And while veggies are, undoubtedly, something we should all make a habit of eating, it’s reassuring to know that fresh fruits do our bodies good as well. Our girls will eat just about any fruit we have in the house. During a recent shopping trip Daughter 1 talked me into buying a pomelo just because it was a fruit she hadn’t yet tried. But even they grow tired of one-too-many clementines or sliced apples packed in their lunch. To keep things fresh (pun intended), we make smoothies. As we get into the colder months it’s really hard to find fresh seasonal fruit in the Northeast. All I can say is, thank goodness for the freezer…or the freezer aisle in the grocery store. It may not be seasonal now, or here, but flash-frozen produce retains the benefits of fresh and can be a welcome reminder of the warmer months that have just recently passed us by.

Banana, frozen sliced peaches and frozen strawberries

Banana, frozen sliced peaches and frozen strawberries

Chances are good that 1)if you’re a parent and 2)you’ve ever struggled to get something nutritious into your child, that 3) you’ve made them a smoothie too. It’s a tried and true equation: A+B=C. Pulling out the blender can be a seminal light-bulb moment for many moms and dads whose tots have progressed past watery rice cereal. At least it was for us, with the added benefit of being FAST which, I don’t need to tell you, is important when you have a child for whom every decision of the morning is something to draw out and savor. And debate.

These days, the conversation in our house goes something like this:

Mom: “Guys, we only have half-an-hour until we have to be out the door. With teeth brushed and shoes on. Soooo….who wants a smoothie?”
Daughter 2: “Shoes on????”
Daughter 1: “Me! I want a smoothie!”
Daughter 2: “Don’t you mean boots?”
Daughter 1: “I want a smoothie!”
Daughter 2: “My boots don’t fit anymore.”
Daughter 1: “Can I help make the smoothie?”
Daughter 2: “My boots…hey, I want to help make the smoothie!”
Mom: “You can both help make the smoothie. Just promise me you’ll drink it quickly.”
Daughter 2: “Yes, quickly. Then, can I put on ballet shoes? Because my boots don’t fit anymore.”

Someone's idea of a joke...the whole banana, plus peel, in the blender

Someone’s idea of a joke…the whole banana, plus peel, in the blender

Part of the fun in helping make the smoothies is dumping ingredients into the blender. The other part is the blender itself. When I run it, both girls tell me it’s too loud. When they run it (with supervision!), it’s a magical kitchen appliance, turning whole fruit into a delicious purée in seconds. (“Is it ready yet?”) We have a VitaMix and I love its speed and power, though the price tag was daunting. If you make smoothies often, invest in a blender that can tackle frozen fruit and ice cubes. There is nothing quite as disappointing as making a smoothie and it not being smooth enough sip through a straw!

Fruit, yogurt and juice = quick & healthy breakfast or snack

Fruit, yogurt and juice = quick & healthy breakfast or snack

Another tip: you can always sneak some veggies into your smoothie if you’re stealthy enough. Try a little bit of baby spinach, which seems to work especially well in berry smoothies. Somehow, though, our girls ferret out the veggies. I have another friend who makes green smoothies every morning for herself and her boys and even puts parsley in them, which her kids love. I’m not sure our girls would go for that, but they are pretty open to new combinations.

Hopefully we’ve inspired you to break out the blender and try something new. If you’re curious about the smoothie that has my kids lining up, here’s how we most often make ours.

Brilliant color to this delicious smoothie

Brilliant color makes this delicious smoothie even more attractive

Very Berry Smoothies

Ingredients:
1 ripe banana, peeled
Approximately 3/4 cup frozen sliced peaches
Approximately 1/2 cup frozen whole strawberries
Handful (about 1/4 cup) of frozen wild blueberries
3/4 cup no-sugar-added 100% orange juice
3/4 cup no-sugar-added 100% cranberry juice (or cranberry/blueberry/raspberry juice, or pomegranate juice…I personally prefer a no-sugar-added, 100% juice variety)
1/2 cup low-fat French vanilla yogurt

Place all ingredients in the blender, adding yogurt and juices last. Start to blend on a low speed, and progressively work up to the highest speed. (This will keep your smoothing from doing that thing where the bottom gets blended and the top doesn’t so it just sucks in a bunch of air, and you have to stop the blender and allow it to “burp” before continuing.)

The smoothie is ready when it’s pureed to a smooth consistency.

My least favorite task — cleaning the blender — is pretty easily handled by partially filling the now-empty container with hot water and dish soap and turning on the blender at a low to medium speed. Turn it off, give the canister a quick wash and rinse and you’re good to go. But you probably already know this trick.

Serves: 2

Parent rating: four stars. I love a quick breakfast. So much so that we don’t necessarily wait for breakfast time to make this smoothie…instead making it as a nutritious and easy snack.
Kid rating: five stars. Our girls consistently finish these, serving after serving. No added sugar or sweetener necessary since the sweetened yogurt and natural fruit sugars do the trick. If you can sneak in a little spinach or other greens you get bonus points!