As the Autumn weather draws in, hot drink options seem to be all focused around Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte. I don’t get it. Pumpkin to me is pretty flavourless, and desperately thrown into a stew or soup or muffin in tiny quantities in desperate need to ‘not waste’ the innards of a carved pumpkin (we will talk about the seeds closer to October 31st…)
Another thing that troubles me about the ‘PSL’ is the fact that it’s made with milk (and full fat, blue cap milk at that). Why does it trouble me? Well, the lactose
Lactose intolerance is a condition that occurs when a person is unable to produce enough of the lactase enzyme to digest lactose, which is a sugar found in milk. Lactose intolerance can strike at any age and for a variety of reasons. If you’ve cut out lactose for a long time (common among eating disorder sufferers) then you may have a problem with lactose.
It’s important to note that I am not in any way recognised as a health expert. If you read my last recipe post, you’ll remember my mantra of “food should taste good and make you feel good”, and I’m just trying to help everyone feel good. I personally avoid dairy for this reason, and it might be a thing to consider if you match up with the symptoms. You might know of the brand ‘Lactofree’ and they’ve got some really good advice on their website available here. They also made a really cute advert with hedgehogs.
But, (as the advert says) should you say yes to dairy?
There are some very strong arguments to suggest this – take a look at my bibliography for further reading – and perhaps the most shocking comes from the animal rights pressure group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA. They claim that drinking milk is cruel, unnatural, damaging to the environment, subsidises the veal industry… it goes on and on. There’s also a horrible anti-milk video that you can find on the page to their article, but that’s got no place on a food blog.
So, milk. For some ethically catastrophic, and for others, digestively catastrophic. But if you’re neither of those people, great! You can use real dairy milk in this recipe.
On a slightly lighter note, let’s have a look at cinnamon. I love cinnamon. Don’t you? It tastes warm and spicy and the more I think about it I just want to go and get the jar out of the spice cupboard and marvel at it (or not, that’s a bit weird). If you’re struggling to place where you last heard about cinnamon, you’re probably thinking about the cinnamon challenge…
Cinnamon comes in two forms: sticks, or quills, and in powder form. The latter is much more versatile, but the quills look really beautiful and are both pretty easy to get hold of. I can’t stress enough the importance of going to Asian supermarkets for herbs and spices because of the considerably lower cost, and because you discover all sorts of things you never would have otherwise.
Cinnamon is native to Sri Lanka, which is still the biggest producer in the world. Over the years I’ve picked up ill researched facts that cinnamon “speeds up metabolism” and can “boost your immune system” – perhaps not entirely true but there is medical research to suggest that it can lower blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes… Either way it’s still delicious, so rather than desperately trying to find some supporting evidence to the perception that cinnamon is good for you, let’s crack on with the recipe.
To make your hot drinks foamy and delicious like they manage to do in coffee shops, you don’t need an expensive milk steamer. All I’ve got is this clever little gadget that you can get from Amazon. The surprisingly fast whisk puts air into your drink, creating froth on the top of your soy chai latte, milkshakes, or even dairy free cinnamon hot chocolate!
- 250 ml unsweetened soy milk (use less sugar if using cows milk or sweetened soy)
- 1 tbsp Splenda low calorie sweetener (or sugar if you prefer)
- 2½ tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- Few pinches of ground cinnamon
- A cinnamon stick (optional)
- Pour 200ml of your milk of choice into a heat safe jug and add the sweetener you are using (Splenda or granulated sugar). Put it in the microwave, but keep an eye on it for the last 30 seconds to check it doesn't boil over. It should be bubbling by the time you take it out, so it may need a little longer if you don't have a particularly powerful microwave.
- In a large mug, add your cocoa powder and the ground cinnamon, and then a little milk until it forms a loose paste.
- Gradually pour in the milk, then using your milk frother stir it in to the paste. Alternatively, use a teaspoon (but you do risk lumps of cocoa powder!)
- Pop in your cinnamon sticks, dust with cocoa or cinnamon and serve!
- The ingredients here are to taste - if you like it sweeter add more sugar. Instead of Splenda you could also use Sweetex tablets or the sachets of "Sweet 'n' Low" that you can get from chain coffee shops (just sneak a few extra when you get a coffee).
- If you would like to make this soy free or add an interesting flavour, almond milk is now readily available at lots of supermarkets and is SUPER delicious. It's quite sweet though so adjust how much sugar you add accordingly.