Saturday, July 25, 2009

Vanilla Milk and a Lovely Vanilla Smoothie

I'm a total sucker for flavored milk drinks. I don't know why that's the case, but ever since I was a kid, the perfect desert has always been a milkshake, or in the lack of ability to acquire such a thing, a glass of chocolate milk. When I broke my arm and busted my chin in a bicycle accident as a teenager, I lived on chocolate milk for about a week. When I had my wisdom teeth pulled as an older teenager... yep, chocolate milk for about a week. When I need a special treat or a little pick-me-up when I'm at the store or on a road trip: a quart of chocolate whole milk usually does the 1000-calorie trick for me (Note: I always feel bad after I down a quart of whole milk, but I always look forward to doing it again). In London this summer, I almost danced to find out that they have more than just chocolate in their list of flavored milks to choose from: chocolate, strawberry, vanilla, mint (I didn't try that... seems kind of gross), fancy chocolates, blends of the previous, and... my favorite... banana milk. Why banana milk isn't in the U.S. is confusing and irritating to me. Children would love it. I would love it. Essentially every person in the country would be happier! I hope my voice is heard on this matter, and this beverage makes its lovely little vaguely yellow way here (particularly if I get a little commission or at least some free banana milk out of the deal).

Anyway, I have a secret recipe for vanilla milk that I actually like better than chocolate milk. It's way simple and damn near perfect in all ways: healthy, satisfying, refreshing, delicious, etc.

  • Fill a glass as high as you desire with whole milk (other milk would be okay if other milk is okay to you);
  • Add good vanilla extract, maybe half a teaspoon or something (just a little is fine but don't be a total cheap-o);
  • Add about a tablespoon of (preferably grade B) maple syrup (yes, maple syrup);
  • Stir;
  • Attempt to drink it slowly;
  • Fail at that and chug it anyway;
  • Probably make another one.
This can be done with sugar, but maple syrup makes it both better and healthier. The choice is clear if it's available. This could also be done with a vanilla-flavored syrup (like for flavoring coffee), but what guarantee do you have that the vanilla in it is as good as the vanilla that meets my standards of "good vanilla extract?" Also, what is the likelihood that said syrup is made from maple syrup (especially grade B, which has more flavor and more nutrition, i.e. is a win-win situation)? Zero. Get the real stuff.

If you like smoothies as much as I do, then you can thicken this up by adding yogurt. Since yogurt is sour in comparison with milk, you get to (not have to) use more maple syrup (or add some sugar). You could use vanilla-flavored yogurt, but their vanilla is probably less good than yours, their sugar probably isn't maple syrup, and your kids will probably eat all of your not-plain yogurt before you get to it (ours, at least, don't like the complication of having to add things to yogurt to make it taste like candy and avoid it almost entirely). I usually go 50-50 on the milk-yogurt ratio, but if I'm feeling like a thicker smoothie, I use more yogurt. If I'm feeling cheap (all too often), I use less yogurt since yogurt costs, ounce for ounce, about 6.72 times as much as milk (given the prices at the store tonight while I was there). Homemade yogurt is cheaper (same as milk, essentially) and easy, but honestly, I'm just too lazy to do it consistently.

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Anonymous said...

thank you. I found it quite useful.

Jim said...

You're welcome! It's also excellent, in both the glass and in the milkshake form, if you just leave out the vanilla entirely, particularly the maple syrup smoothie... oh goodness yes. One yogurt, one milk, as much maple syrup as it takes to make you happy and blend. Beautiful stuff, that.