Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

Oh, Autumn. How I love thee so. With you comes crisp weather, apple-based desserts, and, perhaps my favorite thing of all, pumpkin EVERYTHING.

Seriously, you can’t walk three steps through the mall come Fall without bumping into something pumpkin-related. Pumpkin scones, pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin scented candles, pumpkin perfume (don’t laugh, I’ve seen it!). Of course, it’s not really like I’m complaining. I looooove pumpkin! Especially when it comes in the pie variety (something I’m very much looking forward to, come Thanksgiving).

Unfortunately, my impatient nature doesn’t really bode well for the whole “wait until Turkey Day” thing when it comes to pumpkin pie. But, then again, it’s not like I can just eat a slice of pumpkin pie every day. Or, well, I mean, I could, but I really shouldn’t. Enter: the Pumpkin Pie Smoothie.

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Now, I know what you’re thinking. There are TONS of pumpkin pie smoothie recipes out there! I’m sure that September and October bring nothing BUT pumpkin smoothie recipes to the healthy living blogosphere. But. Let me tell you something. All those other smoothies? They usually have a whoooooole lotta stuff in them. Stuff like frozen bananas and almond butter and QUINOA FLOUR. Things that, my friends, you simply would never find in a pumpkin pie.

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My solution? A true, simple, minimal-ingredient recipe that will give your tastebuds a treat without A) packing on the pie-induced pounds, and B) actually tastes like pumpkin pie. And hey, bonus! It’s vegan! #winning

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie
(Makes 1 very large serving or 2 smaller ones — it’s quite filling so I definitely recommend sharing with a friend!)

Ingredients:

1 cup pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix — I use Libby’s)
1 1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla Almond Breeze almond milk (or milk of choice)
1/2 cup ice cubes
1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
2 tbsp sugar or sweetener of choice

Instructions:

As with all smoothies, the instructions are:

1. Put ingredients into a blender.
2. Blend.
3. Enjoy!

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almondbreezelogoThe above post was sponsored by Blue Diamond Almond Breeze, but all content is 100% my own.

Homemade Bubble Milk Tea

So, I throw the word “Whasian” around here a lot. And yes, I know it’s partly because I have a bit of a complex about people not knowing that I’m half-Chinese… since I don’t look particularly Asian (except for maybe a handful of times of year, which usually coincide with things like Chinese New Year or my brother’s Chinese Banquet-style rehearsal dinner). Though, to be fair, I went on a cruise with my family the summer after my Freshman year in college, and the ship’s photographer thought that I was Ben’s girlfriend (gross) rather than an actual part of my family. So I think said complex is at least somewhat understandable.

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ANYWAY. For as much as I mention my ethnicity on this blog, I don’t really highlight too many Chinese recipes. Mostly, this is because my mom is such an amazing cook that I don’t dare try to copy her recipes for fear of ruining the dishes for myself. But that’s not to say I don’t prepare my fair share of Chinese cuisine. I love whipping up a batch of frozen xiao long bao at home (steamed soup dumplings), I adore going out to dim sum, and I am absolutely OBSESSED with bubble milk tea.

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Bubble milk tea, boba, pearl milk tea, zhen zhu nai cha — whatever you call it, I love it. I was first introduced to this most magic of beverages during the three years I spent living in Taiwan, and to this day it is one of the surest ways to make me a happy, happy girl. Unfortunately, all the most authentic bubble milk tea places around here seem to be up in Rockville, and I don’t enjoy braving Seven Corners traffic enough to frequent the Eden Center on a regular basis. So, I’ve had to figure out ways to satisfy my total obsession occasional craving on my own.

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Now, admittedly, I cheat and use a milk tea powder more often than not. But! For you folks, who have probably come here to read at least a somewhat healthy-ish recipe, I decided to brew up a batch from scratch. You’re very welcome. 😉

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Introducing my very own taste-tested and Whasian-approved recipe for bubble milk tea. And because I love you guys so much, I even made it dairy-free, don’tcha know! I used regular ol’ black tea bags, but if you really want to go authentic, head for your nearest Asian grocery store and pick up a can of looseleaf Hong Kong-style black tea. Also, since I imagine most of you don’t keep the pearls in your pantry, you can zip right over to Amazon.com and pick up a pack of tapioca pearls, along with some of those nifty fat bubble tea straws.

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Bubble Milk Tea
Makes 2 servings

Ingredients:

4 black tea bags, or equivalent looseleaf black tea
1 cup boiling water
1/4 cup uncooked tapioca pearls
2/3 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1.5 cup unsweetened vanilla Almond Breeze almond milk
Ice (optional)

Instructions:

1. Steep tea in boiling water. You are aiming for a very strong brew, so let steep for a good 8 – 10 minutes. It is also best to allow the tea to cool somewhat before mixing your milk tea.
2. While tea is steeping, heat water on stove in a small or medium sauce pot until boiling. Add tapioca pearls and cook until all pearls float to the top, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat, add sugar to pot and stir just until dissolved. Cover and let sit for an additional 5 minutes. Reserve about half of the tapioca pearls and sugar water for each serving of bubble tea.
3A. For frozen bubble milk tea, add tea, milk, sugar water from the pearls, and ice cubes to a blender, and blend until ice is fully incorporated. Add tapioca pearls and enjoy!
3B. For regular bubble milk tea, simply combine tea, milk, and sugar water in a pitcher or glass, then add pearls. If the mixture is not cool enough, you may add ice cubes or refrigerate* the tea first. Enjoy!

*Do not refrigerate the pearls in the tea — store them in the sugar water separately. The pearls become hard when cold, and will need to be reheated in the microwave to become soft again.

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So there you have it. You can add as much or as little additional sweetener as necessary to achieve the desired taste of your milk tea, but I tried to keep it fairly light. As mentioned, you can store any leftover pearls in the sugar water mixture (a mixture of water and honey is also a great preserver, and gives good flavor to the pearls). Just reheat the pearls for about 30 seconds in the microwave if you decide to use them later! Easy peasy.

almondbreezelogoThe above post was sponsored by Blue Diamond Almond Breeze, but all content is 100% my own.