Cinnamon Hot Cocoa with Bourbon

Hot Cocoa 2It’s March and I still long for Spring. The polar vortex dipped us down into freezing conditions yet again and though the next season is around the corner, it feels like it’s a lifetime away. One week it warmed up enough for me to wear one layer of clothes instead of three. I was actually happy with the laundry that week. I’m back to wearing layers and Chaz teasing me for wearing three pairs of socks.

Really, I just want to be able to go for a walk without all the layers and without my exposed skin freezing. Is that too much for me to ask? It is? Then what’s a tropical gal to do in these conditions? Make hot cocoa!

I’ve made it all winter and last week I decided to get a little creative with it because I knew the freeze was coming again. Everyone seemed enamored with it on social media, so I made it again to share the recipe.

Note that you can make this with real milk or with dairy-free milk. If you use full-fat coconut milk, I would recommend a bit more cinnamon if you don’t want the coconut taste. If you don’t keep raw cacao powder in your pantry, but you have dutch processed cocoa powder, you can use that instead. Also, the quality of your bourbon does matter in drinks. Cheaper bourbons tend to be more like fire rather than smooth like quality bourbon. We keep Wild Turkey and Basil Hayden in our bar. Four Roses and Woodford Reserve would be other bourbons I would recommend. I know other friends who would recommend Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, and Evan Williams. Given a choice, I prefer Basil Hayden. Yes, living in Kentucky for thirteen years turned me into a bourbon snob.

Cinnamon Hot Cocoa with Bourbon (serves 1)

1 1/2 – 2 cups milk or dairy-free milk

2 tablespoons raw local honey (or other sweetener of choice)

1 tablespoon raw cacao powder

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (or more if you like it heavy on the cinnamon)

1 teaspoon maca root powder (optional)

1 ounce good quality bourbon (I used Basil Hayden)

In a small saucepan, whisk together milk, honey, cacao powder, cinnamon, and maca root powder over medium low heat. Do not bring it to a boil. You want it to warm up enough that you can see the steam coming up from the hot cocoa. Once you see it (you might have to run the whisk through again to do so), add in the bourbon and whisk one last time. Pour into a mug. Garnish with marshmallows and more cinnamon if desired.




Grapple Juice

I had a little more than 16 ounces. So the rest went into one of my cute little liqueur glasses for this shot.

I had planned on sharing my Breakfast Tacos today.  However, the subject of smoothies kept coming up the last couple of days and I decided I need to share my whole foods juice with you and the reason why you’ve been seeing maca root powder in my smoothie recipes.

I learned Mom (Stick’s mom, not mine) loves when I share smoothie recipes.  That made my heart sing.  You see, I felt bad for only doing smoothie recipes for a while.  But that was what I was doing and it was easy to tweak my recipes before sharing since I make them almost daily.  Plus, my experiments with my cake and Meyer Lemon Bars haven’t quite hit home yet.  When all else fails, make a smoothie and pretend it’s ice cream!

Then, one of the guys at work joked with me about gluten-free being a fad (he had read my rant).  I promptly gave him the one finger salute.  So, that got us talking about fads and how smoothies are a fad for those that go and get the sugar loaded ones at fast food restaurants or smoothie joints.  I admit that I do like Jamba Juice when I’m on the left coast.  Stick will take me at least once when I’m visiting.  One sugar laden smoothie every few years won’t kill me.   Then what do you know, I walk into the break room before leaving work and one of my co-workers was in there sucking down one from Burger King and telling me how much she loves them.  I rolled my eyes after leaving.

See, this post was meant to be.

You may have noticed maca root powder in my smoothie recipes the last few months.  My dysmenorrhea drove me to it.  It reared its ugly head the second month after stopping The Pill over 3 years ago.  It’s the bane of my existence once a month.  Every month.  It was bad before I went on The Pill, too.  It was pretty much a guarantee back in high school that if it hit hard while I was at school, I was calling my mother to pick me up.  By hit hard I mean running to the bathroom with the feeling that I was on the verge of vomiting.  Sweating, clammy, nauseous, pain like you wouldn’t believe in my lower back and my abdomen.   I would spend the rest of the day in the fetal position.  One time the only time I could get any rest was to curl up on my parent’s waterbed.  So you can imagine how the return of all that was NOT fun after being on The Pill for almost a decade.  It’s been so bad that I had to call off for work 2 months in a row.  One of those months I was actually vomiting about every 10 minutes, even with nothing in my system.  It seemed to find something somewhere for me to bring back up.  I have seriously considered going back on it even though I don’t want to.  I hate calling off and only do it when I know I will not be able to function and be productive.

My doctor wanted me on Cramplex, but she didn’t know it was processed in the same facility as wheat (I found this out the hard way).  It helped the dysmenorrhea symptoms and I felt better like I was back on The Pill, but the gluten didn’t help.  She was mortified that she didn’t know about the gluten and apologized profusely.  She suggested finding something gluten-free with cramp bark extract in it.  And I did.  Several things.  None of them really worked.  It was while I was ordering some raw cacao powder from Navitas Naturals that I came across maca root powder.  I ordered some to try and started using it in my smoothies daily.

I have to make sure to use the right amount in order to get the results I want, and they are favorable.  I don’t always get it right and then I suffer for it.  I get up and get back on track and do well, until I slip again.  Hey, it happens.  It’s called life.

Maca is in the turnip family.  It is full of calcium, phosphorus, potassium, iron, manganese, iodine, copper, amino acids, plant sterols, saponins, terpinoids, fatty acids, and Vitamins B1, B2, B12, and C.  It is an adaptogen, which means it helps your body resist stressors going on within your body and environmentally.  It helps regulate your endocrine system – thyroid, hypothalamus, pituitary gland, pancreas, adrenal glands, thymus, ovaries, and testes.  It really is a whole body benefit.

Now you know why I’m using maca root powder in my smoothies and what it is when you see it.  I absolutely love it.

Are you ready for a recipe now?  This one does not have maca in it.  Sad?  Don’t be.  I have lots of smoothie recipes already on the blog and I will have many more in the future.

This whole foods juice recipe was developed in a fervor to use up some produce before it went bad and to finally make the foray into whole foods juicing.  Whole food juice is not the juice we grew up on, nor is the fresh juicing we spend oodles on with fancy contraptions.  This is throwing things in the blender and whizzing the heck out of it.  It’s thick and full of the dietary fiber your body can use to help counterbalance the natural sugars from making your blood sugar spike too fast.  Honestly, you make it thinner by adding more water to it if you want, but I haven’t done it because I want as big a nutrient punch as I can get.  I’ve learned that I need more containers for my VitaMix.  Between smoothies, whole foods juices, and dairy-free milks, one just isn’t enough!

Grapple Juice

1 small apple, cored and rough chopped

1 cup red grapes

2 teaspoons chopped ginger, or more or less depending on your tastes – I like more

Filtered water, or tap water if you don’t use a water filter

Place apple, grapes, and ginger in your blender.  Start blending until the fruit stops moving.  Stop the blender or, if you have a lid with a removable center, remove that while it is on and slowly pour in just enough water to get it moving.  If you want your juice a little thinner, add a little more.  Stop the blender once everything is blended well.  Pour in a glass and if you have more than 16 ounces, pour the extra into fun small glasses for your kids or into a popsicle mold for a healthy cold treat later.

If you’d rather have a smoothie:

Banana Papaya Smoothie

Chocolate Cherry Almond Smoothie

Green Chai Smoothie

Make It A Meal Smoothie

Peachy Keen Cinnamon Toast Crunch Smoothie

Super Berry Smoothie

Peachy Keen Cinnamon Toast Crunch Smoothie

It’s all Peachy Keen

If you thought my next blog post was going to be about the Domino’s “gluten-free” pizza, you’re not far off.  I wanted it to be about the pizza and the entire fiasco surrounding it.  But, I’m still a bit hot.  You don’t want me blogging about something while that hot.  I will go off on wild tangent after wild tangent.  You don’t want that.  It’s worse than me just being angry.  Or even Bruce Banner getting angry.  So, rest assured, if you want to hear my take on it, you will.  Just not right now.  Until then, you can read Alta’s (Tasty Eats At Home) viewpoint or Ken Scheer’s (Rock A Healthy Lifestyle) viewpoint.  In fact, I’ll give you some homework.  Read the Domino’s press release, Alice Bast’s (Director of the NFCA) statement, and Dr. Alessio Fasano’s (Director, Center for Celiac Research, University of Maryland) statement. Then, listen to The Gluten-free Radio Podcast, hosted by Jules Shepard (Jules Gluten-free), with Alice Bast as her guest, addressing the NFCA’s involvement in Domino’s gluten-free pizza release.

Moving on.

I’ve been making variations of this smoothie for the last week and yesterday after work, I think I hit a note of fuzzy food memories yesterday after finally adding almond butter.  I was getting hints of peach cobbler.  Then peach crisp.   Then Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal.  Don’t ask me how I remember that cereal tastes because I don’t know.  It’s been a good 20 years since I last had it.  Bottom line, I sucked that sucker down so fast I was wanting more.  It was so good, I wanted to share it with you right away, but life got in the way.  In fact, I think I will be making as soon as I post this and get dinner on the stove. Clams anyone?

Peachy Keen Cinnamon Toast Crunch Smoothie – 16 ounce serving

1 1/2 cups frozen peaches (you can do a mix of frozen peaches and frozen mango if you want)

1 teaspoon maca root powder

1 tablespoon raw local honey or your sweetener of choice

1 tablespoon almond butter (if you can’t do almonds, just omit and don’t use something else instead, the flavor will change too much)

healthy pinch of cinnamon

dairy-free milk (I used unsweetened almond)

Place peaches, maca root powder, sweetener of choice, almond butter, and cinnamon to your blender.  Add milk to just under the 2 cup line.  Blend until smooth and there are no chunks of frozen fruit.  Pour and enjoy!