Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Pumpkin Smoothies

My Fall afternoon study sessions at the Daily Grind coffee house back in college were usually accompanied by a delicious pumpkin spice smoothie. I would settle into one of the chairs with a book in one hand and my drink in the other. I have this strange need to multi-task while I am reading or writing. If I don't have a drink, I will either eat hordes of food (no good) or become distracted by the other things taking place around me. Sipping on tea, lattes, or smoothies while I work focuses my attention on the task at hand (pun intended, maybe).

I'm lucky I didn't drown in tea while I was writing my thesis....

I've been attempting to find a replacement for the pumpkin smoothies here on the West coast. The ones I have tried at Starbucks are a sorry replacement. They are like drinking a cup of high fructose corn syrup with a hint of pumpkin flavoring hidden somewhere in the background. Most places like to add espresso to their blended drinks, tainting the spicy, autumnal flavors. Others use a smoothie base heavily laden with artificial additives, again masking the essence of the pumpkin. Not having much luck here.

Well, why not make my own? I did a Google search for recipes the other day, most of which I wasn't too impressed with. Many of them called for adding bananas or other fruit. Dangnabit, I want to taste the PUMPKIN! So I figured, why not simply add milk to a bit of pumpkin puree with the spices one would use for pumpkin pie? In the end, what I was looking for was a smoothie that tasted like a liquefied form of pumpkin pie, right? Here is the result of my creation:

Pumpkin Smoothie
1/2 c. pumpkin

1 c. milk
1/4 t. cinnamon

1/8 t. nutmeg
2 T. brown sugar
4 ice cubes
opt. 1/4 c. vanilla ice cream

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth (approximately 1-2 minutes). Adjust sugar to taste. (I prefer it not too sweet so you may want to add a little extra sugar.) The ice cream also will add to the sweetness, and the vanilla rounds out the flavor nicely. Add a bit of whip cream and garnish with cinnamon, if you like.

I am going to experiment further with spices (such as allspice, cloves and ginger) and perhaps add the banana next time. It never hurts to try. :-) I would love to hear other ideas for intensifying the flavor.

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