Wait, did I really just say that? SUMMERtime? Yes. Yes, I did. Because that’s what today felt like to me. This winter day in Texas felt like a lovely Midwestern summer day that’s cool enough to wear pants if you like but warm enough that short sleeves are in order. It was a very good day.
It wasn’t just the weather that was nice, though I’ll admit that my mood is a total slave to whatever is happening outside. Today I finally, FINALLY got my hairs cut and deposited two checks at the bank that had been burning a hole in my wallet. I present to you photographic evidence of my hair loss and general happiness:
I just love how my eyes disappear when I smile, don’t you? I blame my cheeks for this. But how exciting is my new haircut! It’s been about ten months since I had the fur trimmed, and man, it feels so good to have a short, breezy hairdo. Seriously, look how short it is!
I love it.
Forgive my vanity, please. What I really wanted to tell you about today is that lovely smoothie up at the top, the one made with a most refreshing combination of espresso, cocoa powder, and banana. It’s true that we’ve talked about smoothies with this ingredient list in the past, but this one is worth making on a nice Saturday after lunch, when you’re in the mood for a dessert, something sippable and sweet and altogether delicious. Actually, now that I look at the ingredient list for Nigella’s Go Get ‘Em Smoothie, I see that today’s recipe is looking awfully copy-cattish, but without the malt powder and slightly more milk, you get a drink that’s different enough to call them separate recipes. Make either, or make both—you can’t lose.
Today’s recipe comes from a guru of healthy cooking, Ellie Krieger. I first came across Ellie Krieger in my Jewel grocery store back when I was living in Evanston. They used to have these televisions by the cash registers, and Ellie would be on them, making one delicious-looking thing after another. I’m sure that if I’d had the option to watch her show at home, I could have easily soaked up hours of Ellie TV before heading into the kitchen to make whatever it was that Ellie told me I should make.
When I read her book so easy: Luscious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Week, I can practically hear her voice reading it to me. She’s very convincing when it comes to the food, and healthwise, I totally think she knows her stuff. She is actually much stricter about fat than I am; I don’t believe butter and saturated fat are bad for you, but I also try really hard to buy the best quality food, especially when it comes to dairy. She also does this thing in her egg recipes where she uses a mix of whole eggs and egg whites—I would never do that just to cut fat and cholesterol. It’s fine if the recipe is relying on the chemical properties of the egg white or yolk, but as Ellie admits, the yolk contains lots of nutrients (besides being tasty), so to me, it seems like a waste to toss them.
Nevertheless, I like this book a lot, and I see myself cooking from it quite happily. I’ve got two dinner ideas bookmarked, but this smoothie was my first sample of the book. I had just finished lunch today and was in the mood for a little dessert, preferably something with coffee in it because there are few things better than an after-lunch coffee. Ellie calls this a “Mocha Java Smoothie.” I call it…actually, I don’t call it anything. I just drink it.
Technique-wise, this one is a little different from Nigella’s smoothie. Sugar, instant espresso, and cocoa powder are mixed together with a splash of boiling water, then blended with milk and a frozen banana. Ellie also calls for ice here, but I skipped that part, as I don’t like ice in my drinks. The result is a sweet coffee drink with a hint of banana. It’s reminiscent of the decadent coffee shakes that they make at It’s a Grind, but with much less sugar and fat. And because the Mocha Java Smoothie uses more liquid than Nigella’s smoothie, it’s more like a cold drink and less like a milkshake, which can be desirable, depending on your mood. It went perfectly with the warm weather today, and it was a great pick-me-up before I headed out for an afternoon of bike-riding, library-browsing, and grocery-shopping.
Mocha Java Smoothie
Adapted from so easy by Ellie Krieger
Serves 1 generously
1/2 tbsp. sugar
1 rounded tsp. instant espresso
1 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tbsp. boiling water
1 cup milk (I used 1/2 cup almond milk and 1/2 cup 2% cow’s milk)
1 ripe frozen banana, cut into chunks
1) In a small, heatproof glass, stir together the sugar, espresso, cocoa powder, and water. Stir until the sugar dissolves.
2) In a blender, combine the coffee mixture with the milk and frozen banana. Blend on high until well blended and frothy. Pour into a glass and serve immediately.