Smoothie of the Month: Green Apple and Green Tea Breakfast Smoothie

Even diehard smoothie addicts are tempted to take a break from their blender in the dead of winter  -- frozen fruit and crushed ice don't feel quite the same when the temperatures plummet and the snow stays on the ground for days. This version of a smoothie, made from warm, simmered apples, feels like comfort food in a glass and is a perfect alternative on chilly winter mornings.

Topping oatmeal with warm, stewed apples and a good splash of homemade almond milk could fool me into thinking I was eating a dessert -- it's that heavenly flavor combination that was the inspiration for this smoothie. With leftover cooked apples on hand, I tried blending them with almond milk and loved the resulting texture and subtle sweet flavor. Having quickly made this smoothie part of my breakfast routine, I sometimes added ground flax, cinnamon or blueberries. But this version with matcha (powdered green tea) is by far my favorite. Being a lover of green tea, I couldn't resist adding some to the mix. When made with warm apples, this smoothie is like having breakfast and a cup of tea in one.

Green Apple and Green Tea Smoothie

Although the smoothie contains green apple and powdered green tea, the trick to achieving a vibrant green color is to add a handful of baby spinach leaves. It'll also give you a dose of greens without tasting like the usual green smoothie.

Makes 2 ½ cups 
2 Granny Smith apples, cored and cut into ½-inch slices
Tiny pinch sea salt
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon matcha (powdered green tea)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Handful baby spinach leaves (optional)

Place apples in a small pot and add salt and water. Bring to a boil over high heat, cover pot, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes or until the apples are completely soft. Remove from heat and set aside for 5 minutes.

Place warm apples and any cooking liquid in an upright blender along with almond milk, matcha, vanilla and spinach leaves, if using. Blend on high speed until completely smooth, pour into a glass and enjoy warm.

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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