Greek-Inspired Drinks for a healthy day!
The holidays are a distant memory for me, and though they were everything I hoped for, they also involved too much food and alcohol. My energy levels still haven’t bounced back from the onslaught. Enter dry January and a commitment to cleaning up my eating habits a little...at least for a while. Today at Tolmee, we go for bold flavor and energy with a hint of Greek pizzaz. Enjoy a healthy buzzy Protein Frappe to power your day and a guilt-free Ouzo Inspired Anise Infused Smoothie to top off your evening.
Frappe: Morning energy buzz buzz
Did I mention it’s January and that the morning mercury has barely topped 0 degrees in Vermont? So you would expect me to create warm and toasty drink recipes. But you’d be mistaken. In fact, I'm all in for cold drinks. Yes, I am that person with ice coffee in one hand and a cold frothy protein drink in the other. The cold doesn’t bother me, I simply grab my gloves and go to work. But there is one minor consideration. With both hands full, how can I scrape the ice off my car in the morning? Though an epically minor issue, I nonetheless did some recipe testing to find a quick solution.
Caffeine and protein is a match made in convenience heaven. I have a strong personal preference for vegan protein from Plant Fusion. I find that Plant Fusion has the least flavor and is perfect if whey protein bothers your stomach. But you can use any unflavored protein you like. Beware though, protein can be bitter. Of course, coffee is bitter too. So jazz up your morning cup with a generous amount of luxurious cream and some sugar. If you were sitting in a cafe in Athens on a hot day, you might say “με ζάχαρη και γάλα” which means “With sugar and milk!” when ordering your Frappe. So let’s begin.
To get the quintessential lip smacking frothy crema that Greek Frappes are renowned for, I used a hand milk frother. Important tip: the easiest path to a frothy crema, is a tall narrow glass and a very small amount of water. Otherwise, the hand frother just won’t be up to the task. You’ll also want to take your time because frothing is a ‘slow food’ technique. So sit down and enjoy the ritual. Alternatively, if you don’t have a hand frother, you can prepare the froth in the traditional Greek way, using a cocktail shaker or a jar with tight-fitting lid.
Using a scant amount of water during the frothing is very important. As you froth, you’ll know you’re done when the foam is stiff. If you turn your glass upside down and it doesn’t pour out, you’re ready to go!
- 2 teaspoons instant coffee
- 1 teaspoon unflavored Vegan or Whey protein powder
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- Cold water
- Ice cubes
- 2 tablespoons evaporated milk or regular milk (optional)
In a tall narrow glass add the instant coffee, the protein and the sugar. Add One finger width of very cold water. Start frothing with the hand frother. Once the foam is stiff, add ice cubes GENTLY so as not to deflate the foam. Add Cold Water to top off the glass also GENTLY. Add optional evaporated or regular milk. Enjoy immediately.
Smoothie: Evening pick me up
I’ll admit that after a really busy day when I’m starving and it’s too cold to go outside, I order in a pizza and Greek salad. Often I’ll have a cocktail or a cold beer. But it’s dry January and I’m eating healthier, at least for a while, remember? Don’t worry I almost forgot too. So instead of reaching for the phone and take out, I did some sleuthing on the flavor of Ouzo with an eye to developing an evening protein shake as a meal and cocktail substitute.
According to Wikipedia, “Ouzo (ούζο) is a dry anise-flavored aperitif that is widely consumed in Greece, Cyprus, Lebanon, and Israel. Its taste is similar to other anise liqueurs like rakı, pastis, and sambuca”. I scoured my cabinets and found star anise and sweetened condensed milk. The idea was to use items I typically have on hand. In my freezer, I always have frozen fruit. Yogurt is a staple in my refrigerator as well. I had all the ingredients for an Ouzo inspired smoothie.
I started testing and testing and testing. Infusing the sweetened condensed milk with star anise was a bad experience; I burned the sweet liquid in the pan. Having a lot of star anise on hand, I pulverized some in my spice grinder (you can also use store bought ground Anise seed). This time I simply whisked the ground anise into the condensed milk. Not only did it strike the right flavor balance, but it was also easier.
For me, a smoothie is only empty calories without protein powder. Since protein powder can be a little bitter, I needed bold flavors for balance. I decided to try raspberries. Interesting tidbit...In 2016 Greece produced 69 tonnes of raspberries. Does that mean that Greeks consume a lot of the sweet zippy red fruit? I’m not sure so I decided to take a cue from French cuisine. Anise and raspberry infused Friands are a lovely little French cake I remembered from my years living in Paris. I incrementally added the anise to the blended drink. I landed upon 2 tablespoons, which felt sufficient for my taste. I suggest tasting the drink frequently to add more. The flavor combo was definitely a hit!
You’ll notice a can of sweetened condensed milk in the ingredients list. YUMMY! But if you want to limit the calories, you can use using stevia to taste.
Finally, if you have the extra time, I suggest straining the raspberry puree. I’m not a fan of raspberry seeds and I felt the extra dishes were worth the effort.
Makes 72 ounces (9 cups)
- 2 14 ounce bags of frozen raspberries
- 8 ounces of cold water
- 14 ounce can Sweetened Condensed Milk (or stevia to taste)
- 1 cup nonfat plain yogurt
- 2 tablespoons ground anise seed
- 2 cups Ice cubes
First, make the raspberry puree by adding the frozen raspberries to a large blender along with 8 ounces of cold water. Blend on high and then strain through a mesh strainer into a medium-sized bowl. (This step is optional, but highly advised). Don’t clean the blender.
Add the puree back to the blender, along with sweetened condensed milk, nonfat plain yogurt, ground anise seed, and ice cubes. Blend on high until smooth and creamy. Taste test to add more anise seed or sweetener.
Bonus: if you don’t use all the sweetened condensed milk, it tastes fabulous in your Protein Frappe.
Food Network star Giada De Laurentiis once said in an interview with philly.com, “Your first impression often comes from the color, you eat with your eyes first”. The pink-red smoothie is a beauty and the Frappe is tall dark and handsome. They’re a match made in heaven and Tolmee invites you to boldly enjoy them cold on a wintry day.