Smoothie of the Month: Pear and Almond Milk

When the weather cools, it's nice to have a seasonally inspired smoothie that's not cold or frozen. Instead of being blended with lots of ice, this pear and almond milk smoothie is thickened with flaxseed. Soaking the seeds creates a thick gel that not only adds body and a pleasantly nutty flavor to smoothies but, once blended, adds a good dose of omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. Maca root powder, which you can find at health-food stores, gives the smoothie a slightly malt-like flavor.

Pear and Almond Milk Smoothie
Makes 2 small smoothies or 1 large

Flaxseeds can be soaked overnight or just a few hours (you can also soak more and keep them in the fridge to use over the course of the week). Using homemade almond milk (recipe below) will make your smoothie taste even better.

2 tablespoons whole flaxseeds (brown or golden)
1/3 cup water
1½ cups unsweetened almond milk, preferably homemade (recipe below)
2 ripe pears, cored and chopped
2 tablespoons coconut butter or extra-virgin coconut oil
1 to 2 teaspoons gelatinized maca root powder
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch cinnamon, plus more to garnish
Raw honey to taste (optional)
Bee pollen to garnish (optional)

1. Place flaxseeds and water in a cup and soak at least 2 to 3 hours (or up to 12 hours) until thickened and gel-like.

2. Place in an upright blender with remaining ingredients and blend until completely smooth. Add honey to taste and blend again. Pour into glasses and serve topped with a pinch of cinnamon and bee pollen.

Homemade Almond Milk

Making your own almond milk takes just minutes and a little advance planning. It tastes far superior than store-bought, has no questionable additives and will keep up to five days in the fridge -- giving you no excuse not to make to a batch!

Almond milk can be strained through several layers of cheesecloth, resulting in a silky-smooth milk that's perfect for adding to hot drinks or drinking straight.

Makes about 4½ cups
1 cup whole raw almonds, soaked overnight in 2 cups of water
4 cups water
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Pinch sea salt
Pinch cinnamon

Drain and rinse almonds. Place them in a blender with remaining ingredients and blend until completely smooth. Pour into a clean jar and refrigerate for up to 5 days. Shake well before using.

Photo by Stephen Johnson

Amy Chaplin is a chef and recipe developer in New York City. Her cookbook At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen will be available fall 2014. She blogs at Coconut & Quinoa.

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