Guilt Free Chocolate Pumpkin Shake ~ Plant-Based & Healthy

“The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.”
~Annie Dillard, “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek”

photo (42)Two weeks into summer break and it feels like a dream. Morning walks, writing in my journal, browsing thrift stores, and spending hours working in my vegetable and flower beds. For my first summer read I started Annie Dillard’s, “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek” and am enamored with her apt use of language. I am thinking it is a book that will find its way on my winter reading list as well. It is so rich and dense with imagery and wisdom that I cannot possibly take it all in with one reading.

Tuesday after my walk I updated my Facebook status with, “I swear the air itself is infused with the color purple from the intoxicating fragrance of lilacs.” One would be hard pressed to find a yard in the town of Negaunee that does not have at least one lilac bush bending under the weight of frothy lavender blooms. Last week we were serenaded with a gentle rain and I watched the lilac bushes in our backyard shimmering under the water droplets. One of the lilac bushes in our yard was Mike’s birthday gift to me when we bought our house. It was so tiny that we called it the “lilac stick.” It is still small but for the past few years it has erupted in a chorus of violet. Instead of feeling gloomy, because of the rain, I made an opportunity to catch a glimpse of poetry among the branches. In between raindrops I grabbed my camera and snapped a few photos.

I was reminded of this line of poetry from Pablo Neruda’s, “100 Love Sonnets” and thought it would be the perfect companion piece. Those who know me understand how much I love poetry. I think that poetry is a reminder in our busy lives that we must slow down, savor, and contemplate life’s great mysteries. Poetry helps us figure out who we are, where we have been, and where we are going.

June Lilacs and Rain

Yesterday I was greeted by another poem as my first poppy opened it ruffled skirts in a profusion of orange. Here are some of the photos that I captured of the lilacs, the poppy, and my favorite thrift store find of June.

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Though it is not officially summer on the calendar, summer has arrived in Upper Michigan. Today is a bit cold and dreary but I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to write a blog post. My last post was a tart and refreshing Raspberry Lemonade Green Smoothie. It has been my go-to smoothie for the past week. While I have many more green smoothie recipes in the works, I was thinking that what really goes hand-and-hand with summer is ice-cream. I remember when I start Weight Watchers in the fall of 2006 and I felt frustrated that Mike could eat his weight in ice-cream. (Even though the calories have caught up with him now… Sorry, Honey. 😉 )

While there are many low-fat yogurts and ice-creams on the market, switching to plant-based eating presents many challenges. Our local co-op sells non-dairy substitutes but they tend to be rather pricey and full of sugar. So, when my sweet tooth arrives (often after dinner) I have been whipping up my own non-dairy shake that is satisfying and packed with nutrition.

When I made this shake today, I ended up doubling the batch. The first batch I drank as a mid-afternoon snack and I froze the other half in a covered glass bowl and it will become an “ice-cream” treat this weekend. It does freeze quite hard and if you leave the bowl out for a bit it softens right up and you can eat your “ice cream” with a spoon.

Simple ingredients that I always have on hand.
Simple ingredients that I always have on hand.

Chocolate Pumpkin Shake

  1. 3/4-1 cup non-dairy milk of your choice (I used unsweetened almond milk)
  2. 1 frozen banana (the banana gives this the shake-like texture and sweetness. I do not add sugar. If you want your shake more sweet add more banana)
  3. 1/4-1/2 cup pumpkin (to taste…sometimes I add more and sometimes less)
  4. 1 Tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder
  5. 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  6. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  7. Few ice-cubes
  8. Blend, pour in glass, and sprinkle with cinnamon
    *Makes approximately 19 ounces

I would recommend experimenting with the amount of cocoa powder and vanilla that you want to add. I have found that the taste and strength varies greatly by brand. The same with the banana and the ice-cubes (depending on how thick you want your shake). You could also freeze the non-dairy milk and pumpkin to add thickness. You could also add walnuts or other nuts to your shake. Sometimes I also add a hint of molasses.

When my bananas get extra ripe, I peel and toss in a bag or bowl in the freezer.  This is canned pumpkin but this fall I will be baking and freezing fresh pumpkin.
When my bananas get extra ripe, I peel and toss in a bag or bowl in the freezer.
This is canned pumpkin but this fall I will be baking and freezing fresh pumpkin.


Enjoy your luscious and healthy shake!
Enjoy your luscious and healthy shake!
Chocolate Pumpkin Shake
Click on image to see a larger version.

Here is a link to the recipe on Pinterest:

I hope summer has arrived in your heart and in your hometown. Is it rainy? Grab your camera and make your neighbors think you are crazy and snap photos of that poetry that is hiding.  Let today involve beauty. Create it and seek it out. Remember, it is all about perspective. Cheers to health, vitality, and thriving!


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