Starting this month, I am going to share with you one reasonably healthy recipe with exotic spin each month. So, where should we start? How about Thailand! I've taught two Thai cooking classes this summer and the feedback has been very positive. I have been to Thailand once, and I will definitely go back again. But, why I love Thai food so much? Good question. First, it's a cuisine with strong aromatic components and a spicy edge. Some of the ingredients contribute mainly for aroma, such as lemongrass, galangal and kaffir lime leaves. Second, Thai food is well balanced. Classic Thai cuisine often combines different flavors: spicy (chili), sour (Vinegar, lime), salty (fish sauce), and, last but not least, sweet (palm sugar).
So, here is my favorite banana smoothie recipe...with Thai spin. First, in terms of the base, I choose coconut milk rather than almond, cashew, or soy milk. That's because coconut milk is very common in Thailand. In the beginning, I tried to use the coconut milk from a can that I bought at an Asian supermarket. But, I found that this type of coconut milk contains too much fat, so I switched to the fresh coconut milk in the paperboard carton. The texture came out so much nicer with this type of milk, and it's also fewer calories. Here is the unsweetened coconut milk I use. You can easily find this in Wegman's or Whole Foods.
One important ingredient in this recipe is kaffir lime leaves. The leaves of the kaffir lime tree have a distinctive citrus fragrance and flavor with a floral accent. The flavor and aroma of the leaves is quite different from those provided by other citrus plants. It can be described as being a combination of lemon, lime and mandarin orange. The flavor is so pronounced and unusual that I suggest omitting the leaves if you cannot find them, rather than try to replace them. In addition to their flavor being unique, kaffir lime leaves are also very potent. They can easily overpower other less assertive flavors, so I suggest you only use one leaf for the smoothie. The good news is that kaffir lime leaves freeze well. I bought a small bag (about 12 leaves) and placed them it a sealed Ziploc. Every time I make the smoothie, I just take one leave out from the Ziploc. (To learn more about the health benefit of kaffir lime leaves, read Kaffir Lime Leaves: A Controversial Name For A Flavorful Herb ). If you're looking to purchase them, you can find Kaffir Lime leaves at H-mart or Formosa Asian Marketplace.
Entering fall, it is very important to consume some root vegetables that will warm your body. So, consider adding some ginger to the smoothie. Ginger makes the smoothie tastes so refreshing and also increases circulation for tissue healing. It's perfect to drink after a challenging workout. Turmeric is another important spice. Turmeric contains curcumin, a substance with powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Most studies used turmeric extracts that are standardized to include large amounts of curcumin. (To learn more about turmeric, read 10 Proven Health Benefits of Turmeric and Curcumin). Lastly, another important ingredient is chia seeds, I talked about its health benefit in my blog post POWER BREAKFAST INSPIRED BY A POWER COUPLE – MEGHAN AND HARRY )
So far, this has been my favorite smoothie recipe of the fall. I hope you will love it, too! Bon Appetite! Just to remind you, even though it's a healthy smoothie, the calories count in this recipe is 530 per serving. So, don't drink a full one both before and after every work out! I usually drink one third before work out, and then I finish the rest after workout. The protein power is also helpful if you want to build some muscle.
Melissa's Thai Coconut Banana Smoothie Recipe (530 Calories per serving)
Thai Coconut Banana Smoothie
- 1 banana
- 2 Tbs almond butter
- 1 Tbs. chia seeds
- 2 " piece fresh ginger
- 1/8 tsp. ground turmeric
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/8 tsp. cinnamon
- 1½ cups almond milk
- 2 ice cubes
- 1 date
- 1 scoop protein powder optional
- In a high-speed blender, blend all ingredients on medium until smooth.
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Melissa is 100% MIT (Made in Taiwan), where she worked as a food writer. She’s also worked alongside renowned chefs like Ming Tsai and Joanne Chang, honing her craft and gathering stories along the way. Part story-teller, part educator, and part food lover, Melissa brings a special blend of experience, skill, and enthusiasm to her work. She blends her Asian background, her new home of New England, and love of food and culture to bring joy, optimism, and inspiration to food lovers and fun-seekers everywhere.
What sparked your passion for the industry?
The desire to make things by hand. The joy of sharing delicious, hearty food with students. The opportunity for people to get connected via cooking and baking. When a child smiled broadly and told me it’s the best scone he has ever made and eaten, it really made my day!
In your opinion, what’s the most important course?
Well, I usually take a peek at the wine list first. I like tapas style, so the course doesn’t really matter. Cheese and charcuterie are always a good place to start. And since I’m a pastry chef, there is always room for dessert!
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