Fruit Gallery Smoothie

There was a time in my life when I was addicted to smoothies. I would go to Jamba Juice more often than anyone should. Smoothies are fun because they’re reminiscent of the Icees, Slurpees, and Mr. Mistys of our youth. (Does anyone else remember the Mr. Misty from Dairy Queen?) And smoothies can be quite healthy.

But a lot of smoothies are made with cow’s milk or soy milk, both of which my stomach can’t tolerate. That’s why I was so excited to try the smoothies at Fruit Gallery in Venice. All of them are dairy-free. Now, I’ve always been afraid of green smoothies because they tend to taste like lawn clippings. But Fruit Gallery has done the impossible with the Lean Green Super Smoothie. They have somehow made a delicious, refreshing elixir out of the dreaded vegetable that leaves a gross film on your teeth and that moms have to force-feed their children. And they don’t add sugar, ice, or milk of any kind.

The best part is that Fruit Gallery is on the way to Costco, so when we’re headed over to the evil big-box store to buy massive amounts of toilet paper and batteries, I can grab a healthy, satisfying smoothie that will keep me from giving in to the temptation of the Costco snack bar or the In-N-Out across the parking lot.

FRUIT GALLERY, 11739 W. Washington Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90066


Homage to Blinky and Butter

This week’s blog post is inspired by and dedicated to my late dog Blinky, who passed away a few days ago. Like me, Blinky ate a lactose-free diet… except for butter. She loved butter. My husband and I discovered her penchant for the stuff one night when we set our dinner on the coffee table, went back to the kitchen to get something, and returned to find bite marks on the stick of butter that we’d left out. As any dog lover will attest, it’s impossible to be upset about your dog doing something so darn cute.

Butter is the one dairy product that I still eat, and I eat it with gusto. For a while, I tried to avoid cooking with butter, having been brainwashed into believing butter is bad for you. I used olive oil instead. But then a nutritionist encouraged me to eat a variety of fats, including coconut oil, ghee and butter. I couldn’t believe it. This woman knew I was lactose-intolerant and she was recommending I eat butter? Hooray!

Now I do switch up my cooking fats, for instance, using coconut oil for frying plantains, peanut oil for stir-fries, bacon fat for browning meats, and olive oil for quick vegetable sautés. But my go-to is butter. Nothing works better for scrambled or fried eggs, and I wouldn’t dream of putting anything else on a baked potato. The amount of lactose in butter doesn’t bother my stomach (I mean, unless I were to eat a whole pound cake or something). And eating butter has hugely increased my quality of life.

It’s no wonder that Blinky sank her little teeth into that delicious yellow brick. I hope that right now she’s eating butter to her heart’s content. Mommy loves you, Blink.

In loving memory of Blinky (2003-2016)

Dairy-Free Shamrock Shake

Dairy-Free Shamrock Shake

It’s that time of year when McDonald’s brings back one of its classic seasonal menu items: the Shamrock Shake. You know, that mint green concoction that is both frightening and mesmerizing? Somehow I managed to get through my fast-food-laden childhood without ever trying the Shamrock Shake. When I finally did a few years ago, I was horrified. Imagine that aliens who’ve never tasted real mint manufactured an artificial mint flavor and put it in a milkshake. I’ve had toothpaste that tasted better.

That said, there’s something irresistible about a mint green milkshake on St. Patrick’s Day. So I made my own dairy-free version using Mint Galactica, the unbelievably delicious mint chocolate chip from Luna & Larry’s Organic Coconut Bliss.

My husband and I celebrated St. Patrick’s Day early this year in the traditional way with corned beef and cabbage, roasted potatoes, and for dessert, Dairy-Free Shamrock Shakes that we sipped while watching Leprechaun 6: Back 2 tha Hood. You can’t get luckier than that.

Dairy-Free Shamrock Shake Recipe

3 scoops “Mint Galactica” Coconut Bliss ice cream
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
7 drops green food coloring
mint leaves, for garnish (optional)

(1) Scoop the ice cream into a blender. Let it soften for 3 to 5 minutes at room temperature until it’s the consistency of soft-serve. (Don’t let it melt.) Meanwhile, put the glass you’ll be serving the shake in into the freezer to let it chill.

(2) Add coconut milk, vanilla extract, and food coloring to the blender.

(3) Blend until smooth. If the shake isn’t green enough, add more food coloring and blend again. Repeat until the desired color is achieved.

(4) Pour the shake into the chilled glass. Garnish with mint leaves and serve.

Coconut Bliss Mint Galactica

Chocolate chip mint from out of this world

Ever since I stopped eating dairy two years ago, I have searched high and low for a non-dairy ice cream substitute. I’ve concluded that the best ones are made from coconut milk. Forget soy milk, almond milk and – the worst – rice milk. They just don’t have the right texture.

A few years ago, a friend introduced me to Luna & Larry’s Organic Coconut Bliss. The two things I look for in a coconut-based ice cream are (1) a smooth, creamy texture and (2) no trace of coconut flavor. Now, I dig the taste of coconut, but it has its place (e.g., in a piña colada). Thus far, the Coconut Bliss flavors I’ve tried all passed the first test, but not the second.

Enter Mint Galactica. First of all, how can you not love an ice cream named MINT GALACTICA? Second, you cannot taste the coconut at all. All you get is mint and chocolate – which is exactly how a mint chocolate chip ice cream should taste. Plus, they don’t skimp on the chocolate bits, which taste like high-quality dark chocolate.

The reason I did a jig in the frozen aisle of Ralphs when I found Mint Galactica is that I’m planning to make a dairy-free version of a Shamrock Shake for St. Patrick’s Day. Stay tuned to see how it comes out and get the recipe!