Creamy Raspberry Vanilla Smoothie (Dairy-free, Lower-carb)

Recipe: This creamy raspberry vanilla smoothie is rich, gently sweet, and delicious! It also happens to be dairy-free, and lower-carb. We love it!
We started the school year out with this as part of our breakfast. Our raspberry smoothie is rich and creamy, flavorful, surprisingly sweet, and plump full of good for you ingredients! It rounded out our breakfast well and helped make day one of back to school start out right.

I react some to bananas, so I avoid eating them on a regular basis. Unfortunately, they were my favorite way to add natural sweetness and creaminess to smoothies. Thankfully I’ve found that there are other great ways to make a full-bodied smoothie without a banana (that incidentally turns our smoothies into much lower carb drinks).

This is by far one of my favorite smoothies! It’s so rich we often split it into four small servings for our whole family (to serve with other breakfast items). But you can also enjoy it in bigger servings for two.

Notes on ingredients:

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Coconut Cream: You can use whatever your favorite full-fat unsweetened coconut milk or coconut cream brand is. I have been using (and loving) Aroy-D coconut cream. It’s guar gum free, and ultra thick.

Kombucha: This was the happy surprise I found when making smoothies. Kombucha is absolutely delicious in smoothies! Make sure, if you want to keep it lower-carb, that you use a well-fermented kombucha. I’ve used store-bought fruit flavored kombucha from Synergy – both the strawberry and the guava flavors. It adds about 7 grams of natural sugar to the smoothie. You could use water instead, but the smoothie won’t be half as flavorful (or contain those good for your probiotics!).

Raspberries: Raspberries are full of antioxidants, are a low in natural sugar fruit, and are deliciously bright. I love them in smoothies! When you combine them with coconut cream, it creates a berry and cream flavor that is delightful.

Gelatin: To add protein and added nutritional value, I also love to add gelatin to my smoothies. I’ve tried working with regular gelatin, but it just doesn’t work. I use this quality brand of hydrolysate gelatin that won’t gel up in a smoothie. I consider it a superfood!

Vanilla: Adding vanilla to smoothies was another smoothie revolution for me. I found that it adds a sweet flavor that complements the bright raspberries perfectly.

Other possible additions: Depending on how sweet your raspberries are, you may want to sweeten the smoothie a little more (we usually don’t). For the kids, a little raw honey works. I prefer a few drops of vanilla stevia.

Superfoods: This is also a great place to add a whole food vitamin C powder, mineral drops, probiotics, or whatever other mild tasting supplements you are also taking.

 

Creamy Raspberry Vanilla Smoothie + Superfoods (Dairy-free, Lower-carb)
 
Author:
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup of coconut milk or cream (unsweetened)
  • 1 cup of kombucha
  • 2 cups of frozen raspberries
  • 1-2 teaspoons real vanilla extract (use gluten-free, if needed)
  • 2 tablespoons hydrolysate gelatin, optional
  • Sweetener of choice, if needed (Recommended: raw honey, liquid stevia, or liquid vanilla stevia).
Instructions
  1. Blend in a blender until smooth.
  2. Serve right away.
  3. Makes 2 to 4 servings

 

(Healthier) Ambrosia Salad

Healthy Ambrosia Salad (with homemade marshmallows!).  This classic salad can be made using fresh ingredients,  minimally sweetened, and probiotic-rich!

Juicy fruit, flavorful coconut, creamy yogurt, and sweet (homemade) marshmallows come together in this simple, but delicious fruit salad. When you upgrade all of the ingredients to use nourishing ones, this probiotic-rich salad is a healthy treat!

When my birthday rolled around in my childhood, my dinner requests were pretty simple. Mac and cheese was always a request, and so was “Five Cup Fruit Salad,” otherwise known as Ambrosia Salad. I loved it so much I felt I could eat it solely for days and be happy (though my mom never let me). These meal requests always made my mom happy because they were so easy and simple to fulfill. This fruit salad takes only about five minutes to throw together, which also makes it even more convenient while camping.

Did I mention the camping part? KOA (Kampgrounds of America)  invited me to be part of their marshmallow month, and to stay at one of their campgrounds. We loved cooking in one of their beautiful cabins (more on their cabin and campgrounds in a second). I not only said yes, but started dreaming of all sorts of gourmet marshmallow recipes. Oh, I had some crazy ideas!

But in the end, my childhood ideals won out, and we were glad it did.

Ingredients for My Ambrosia Salad

Perhaps I should say an improved childhood favorite won out.

I’ve made this salad with all fresh fruit, and it was very delicious. But let’s be honest…if there was a time for using canned food, it would be when camping. So I compromised this time with fruit canned in fruit juice (no corn syrup, no sugar). Instead of using highly sweetened coconut flakes, I used unsweetened for a more coconutty and less sugary option.

Our family recipe from my childhood used sour cream. We can only tolerate goat milk products, so I used goat yogurt, and it was AMAZING! It had that tangy taste like sour cream and was so creamy too. Coconut yogurt, or even some thick coconut cream would also work for a dairy-free option. Maybe add some lime juice for a little bit of bright flavor.

I also decided to make my own homemade marshmallows. As many of you know, I am a real fan of homemade marshmallows sweetened entirely with honey or maple syrup (you can get my marshmallow recipe here and here). This time, on a whim, I made up marshmallows sweetened entirely with stevia. They worked really well in this salad (but I don’t think they would toast up for ‘smores!). I want to experiment with them a little more before sharing the recipe, but hopefully I will perfect them soon.

As a backup, I also brought these (affiliate link) vegan marshmallows which are surprisingly quite decent. They are GMO-free, and don’t use corn-syrup, coloring, and some of the nasty non-food ingredients that many marshmallows contain.

Bring all of those foods together, and you have ambrosia – “the food of the gods”.

Koa Kampgrounds

We hadn’t stayed at a Koa campground before, but plenty of my fellow food bloggers who camp a lot more than we do tell me that they love Koa campgrounds. It was not hard to see why. The specific location we went to in Oregon was by far the best maintained, friendliest campground we’ve been too. Our location also had all types of camping options, from tent sites to RV spots, to rustic cabins, to the deluxe cabins. Our deluxe cabin was so beautiful I took pictures of it as soon as we arrived. People, it even had wine glasses and air conditioning. I think you call this “glamping” and I decided I was a real fan. Notice in the top picture the big grill, patio table set, and you can also see just the top of the fire pit.

KOA deluxe cabin

Let’s just say we were pretty happy here. Isn’t it beautiful!

When we were browsing the locations near us (there were plenty in Oregon and Washington to choose from), it is clear that their campgrounds have a wide appeal. Some locations were clearly for the explorer, located near the foot of serious hiking with more simple accommodations. Others, like the location in Astoria we were at, are more of a family-friendly fun camp. With so many fun things for the kids to do (swimming in their indoor pool, playing miniature golf, crafts, etc), we had to drag the kids away from the actual campground to go to the beach! All to say, our stay was a success.

I also loved learning that Koa has community outreach camping, including care kamps for children with cancer and their siblings, where children can experience camping while still receiving medical care. That was heart warming to hear about.

Special thanks to KOA for sending us to camp and inviting us to be part of #marshmallowmonth! And hat-tip to Frugal Granola for reminding me of this delicious salad. Thanks, friend!

(Healthier) Ambrosia Salad
 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup of fresh mandarin orange segments or 12 ounce can of mandarin oranges in fruit juice
  • 1 cup of fresh bite-sized pineapple or 1 cup of canned in fruit juice pineapple bits
  • ¾ cup unsweetened coconut flakes (not defatted)
  • 1 cup of miniature marshmallows of choice (if using homemade, cut into small pieces)
  • 1 cup of unsweetened yogurt of choice
Instructions
  1. Drain all canned fruit, if using (save juice for making fruit juice gelatin or drink it!). Mix all of the ingredients together, and refrigerate for about 2 hours before serving.
  2. Enjoy!

 

Japanese Cucumber Salad

Japanese Cucumber Salad is a perfect side dish to sushi, teriyaki chicken, miso, and other Japanese meals! This cooling cucumber salad is a bright combination of mild vinegar, sweet coconut sugar, deep toasted sesame oil, and salty tamari (or soy sauce). It’s the perfect complement to my simple teriyaki chicken, homemade sushi, miso soup, or any Japanese food!

Eating a Japanese style meal doesn’t mean stuffing your face with white rice (though white rice can certainly be an important part of it). I’ve enjoyed reading more about the traditional Japanese food culture, which often included eating small plates of a wide variety of foods. It’s a beautiful tradition that allows a wide variety of flavors and nutrition! It was also often full of lots of veggie sides – like this cucumber one! When I take the extra time to make a simple veggie side or two, it makes the meal so much better – more satisfying and fun to eat too! This cucumber salad tastes a lot like ones we’ve been served at sushi restaurants. It has a balance of salty, sweet, sour, and umami. Yum.

I used  (#affiliate links) raw coconut vinegar in mine, which is nutritious raw fermented vinegar that is lighter than the raw apple cider vinegar I tend to use. You can use apple cider vinegar, but may want to sweeten it a little more since it is so powerful. Traditionally, rice wine vinegar was used, which is mild and perfect for so many Asian dishes. I’d recommend that as well. Also, make sure you use toasted sesame oil, not untoasted. Toasted sesame oil adds a lot of nutty flavor, while untoasted is used as a cooking oil. This is the brand I used. I used coconut sugar as we are sensitive to cane sugar, but using an organic cane sugar would work beautifully as well.

If you enjoy cucumber salads, try out this cucumber and red onion salad as well.

Japanese Cucumber Salad
 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 1 med/large cucumber, or two small
  • ¼ cup vinegar (rice wine vinegar, coconut vinegar, raw apple cider vinegar)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut sugar (or organic cane sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seed oil
  • 2 teaspoons tamari (for gluten-free) or soy sauce
  • Optional for garnish: Toasted sesame seeds and/or nori flakes
Instructions
  1. About a half an hour before eating peel the cucumber(s) and cut in half lengthwise and seed. (Read out to seed a cucumber here.) Using a sharp knife, slice thinly into half moons. Put aside in a bowl. You should have about two cups worth.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, coconut sugar, toasted sesame seed oil, tamari or soy sauce. Pour over cucumbers, and gently toss. Place, covered, in the refrigerator, and let chill for about 20 minutes. The vinegar is the first to be absorbed by the cucumbers, but as the minutes pass, the cucumbers will pick up on the sweetness and saltiness of the other ingredients. Toss once or twice, if you have the chance, while it chills. When ready to serve, toss again, and feel free to adjust the flavors if needed. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and/or nori flakes, and serve.

 

My Favorite Gluten Free Noodle Brands

My favorite gluten-free noodles! Lots of good options here #glutenfree #noodles
We love noodles around here. We love noodles dishes inspired from Italy, Thailand, Japan, and many others as well. While not the most nutrient dense of all foods, they do provide an excellent platform for nourishing sauces, and provide extra motivation for eating soups (we love noodles soups, as those who have my book, Ladled, know!). I used to love making my own soaked whole wheat noodles, but I haven’t gotten my A game on yet for making gluten-free noodles, so the following brands are a real blessing.

Some links may be affiliate. Thanks for supporting this blog! 

As gluten-free people know, there is some limit to what noodles you can enjoy when you are gluten-free. We started our gluten-free journey with brown rice noodles, which we enjoy. I do have two problems with them, however. First, they are a bit heavy in the stomach. I think that’s because a lot of the brands add in extra rice fiber, making them quite dense. Half of my family gets a small stomachache after enjoying a large size serving of them because of this. The second is the possibility of higher arsenic in brown rice. For those wanting to use rice noodles, I’d recommend using white rice noodle (like in this Thai noodle soup) or using Jovial brown rice noodles; (they make sure that arsenic content isn’t high, and they produce really high-quality products). You can find the white rice noodles at Asian stores and many regular supermarkets. The Jovial ones can be ordered online and found at some stores.

Another delicious gluten-free noodle option that is just perfect for Italian dishes are these quinoa and corn noodles . They are very mild, and work well for light or rich sauces. We’ve found that even those not eating a gluten-free diet enjoy these noodles. Unfortunately, they aren’t an option for those with corn allergies.

Finally, my latest gluten-free noodle discovery that I am thrilled to pieces about are the following buckwheat noodles. I’ve always loved buckwheat noodles, but the organic, gluten-free ones are typically quite expensive. The brand pictured in my photos, King Soba, can also be spend-y (I’ve seen them in stores and on Amazon for about 5-6 dollars a bag), but on Vitacost they are less than $3 a package, which is a great deal for the quality. Buckwheat is high in protein, magnesium, and has a lovely pronounced flavor that works well with many Asian styled noodle dishes. The brand has 100% Buckwheat Soba Noodles, a buckwheat and sweet potato noodles, AND a buckwheat instant ramen noodles, to name just a few of the options (some of the other flavors use rice, so watch for that if you want the buckwheat ones).

You can’t believe how happy I am to find  gluten-free instant ramen noodles! We love a lot of Asian styled soups, and these are so fun to be able to boil up in a couple of minutes to add (they also help convince my children to eat more nourishing soup!).

I do recommend that you do larger orders on Vitacost to quality for the free shipping. I don’t find that hard to do, as I buy my iron there, and a lot of grocery items are cheaper as well, so I have a system worked out for what items to buy there for cheaper, and order about once a month.

If you are grain-free, I recommend checking out this comparison of 4 grain-free noodles. I have another favorite to add to the list, so watch for an upcoming post!

Do you have any other favorite gluten-free noodles to add to this list?