A few weeks ago Lactaid issued a smoothie challenge, calling Foodbuzz Featured Publishers to submit their most creative lactose-free milkshake and smoothie ideas. The winning recipes, we were told, would be featured at a smoothie bar at this year’s Foodbuzz Blogger Festival and one lucky blogger would win a trip to attend. (They also have more fun stuff going on at moovision.com.) Immediately the contest sounded like a perfect fit for me. I love concocting unusual smoothies that shake up my morning breakfast routine. (And the thought of a smoothie that even someone with lactose intolerance could enjoy seemed like a great idea.) And of course, I had an amazing time at Foodbuzz last year and have been dying for the golden ticket to bring me back. Maybe this smoothie is my key?
This recipe, like so many that I make was inspired by my love of fresh, seasonal produce. In the summertime cantaloupe is one of my favorites. Unfortunately, here in Illinois the growing season for cantaloupe only lasts from August to September. Because of this, I find myself eating as much melon as I can get my hands on during these two months and what cannot be eaten gets frozen. The other day I was organizing my freezer and happened upon a happy lot from my summer stash. Immediately I knew I wanted to use it as one of the key ingredients for my Lactaid smoothie entry. I decide to do a remixed version of my Melon Banana Smoothie, but in addition to swapping it’s original ingredient of yogurt for Lactaid milk I also wanted to give it a new twist. Because in my mind, if I wanted to earn a trip to California to eat amazing food and spend time with blogger friends I couldn’t expect to win just based on a standard, classic smoothie. I needed to make something that would bring a less traditional ingredient to the table, something normally overlooked when creating amazing smoothies.
So I decided that joining my melon and milk in the mix would be old fashioned oatmeal. I know what you might be thinking. Perhaps cantaloupe already sounds strange in a smoothie, but oatmeal? I remember thinking the same thing the first time I ordered a smoothie containing oatmeal at a local smoothie place in Boston. The girl at the counter assured my my skepticism would be overcome once I had my first sip and she was absolutely right. The blender breaks the oats down into fine grains that add just a slight nuttiness to the smoothie along with a lot of bulk and staying power. I’ve found it to be the magic ingredient that’s turned my smoothies from something that is only satiating for an hour or two to something that can hold me over well past lunch time.
However, at first sip you’ll be thinking less about how satiating or healthy it is, and more about how indulgent it tastes, which to me is the sign of a great healthy food. I combine Lactaid Reduced Fat Milk, apple cider, and oatmeal in the blender and pulse until the oats are finely broken down. I love using the reduced fat milk in this recipe because I find that the little bit of fat in the milk goes a long way to make it creamy and enhance the flavors of the other ingredients. The apple cider is great because it brings sweetness to the smoothie without adding any refined sugar. I like to use good quality local cider (in this case mine was a single varietal cider made from 100% Honeycrisp apples. Next I add in my frozen cantaloupe and frozen bananas and a splash of vanilla extract. Using frozen fruit is key because it gives the smoothie a thick, almost soft serve like consistency, while the vanilla extract rounds out the flavor and ties everything together. I made this recipe 5 different times alone this week to make sure I had the ratios of ingredients just right and after endless tinkering and of course, the hard work of taste testing, I’m pretty pleased with where this ended up.
And if you’re still questioning whether my combination of milk, melon and oatmeal is a little insane, all I can tell you is that the proof is in the sip. I love how it tastes sweet and summery from the melon with a lusciously creamy mouthfeel from the milk and banana. And of course, there is that slight earthiness from the oats that goes almost undetected. I love this as a more unusual substitute for my more typical strawberry-banana smoothies and have found myself enjoying it so much that I wish I had more melon stockpiled!
Serves 1 as a full breakfast or 2-3 as a beverage As with most smoothies, this tastes best when you use the freshest, ripest fruit you can buy. While cantaloupe does get softer as it sits it technically doesn’t ripen further, so you’ll want to pick the ripest fruit you can at the store or farmers’ market. Thankfully, it’s not too hard to identify a prime one. My trick is always to smell the watermelon. I bring the stem end up to my nose and if it smells sweet and musky, like the fruit itself, it’s usually a good sign that it’s perfect for eating.
-1 cup milk, I used Lactaid Reduced Fat Milk
-1/2 cup apple cider or apple juice
-1/3 cup old fashioned oatmeal (Note that I have a mid-range blender and it had no problem blending these to a fine texture. If you are concerned about your blender’s power you could always pulse them in a spice grinder or a food processor before adding them to the smoothie. In this case, just pulse until the oats achieve a flour-like texture.)
-1 1/2 cups cubed frozen cantaloupe
-1/2 cup sliced frozen banana (about 1/2 a medium banana)
-1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Add milk, apple cider and oatmeal to a blender. Pulse until the mixture is well combined and the oatmeal has broken down to small flake-like pieces.
Add remaining ingredients to the blender. Blend until well combined and like soft serve in consistency. Serve immediately.
*Note: As part of my participation in this contest I received a complementary carton of Lactaid milk, which I used to create this recipe. However the ideas and recipe in this post are all my own.