Pumpkin Spice Latte

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An ode to friendship

This week I’m reflecting on friendship. Firstly, I haven’t posted on this website in the past thirteen weeks, and it’s my friends who read my blog that asked why I’ve been quiet (I was on holiday, apologies!) It’s funny, my husband is a web designer, so you think I’d know about time commitments for technology. Yet the blog has surpassed even my expectations! I feel like I’m back in school, learning photography, food styling, food writing, writing for a blog, website design, photoshop/lightroom, social media - the list goes on and on! But it’s my friends, with their wide array of talents, who keep me going, sharing their knowledge and skills and encouraging me to improve. They suggest interesting stories, recipes, cookbook ideas, and introduce me to people who share my love of food and development. Everyone has hidden talents, and I’m so lucky to have friends with so many.

A new way to Introduce your friends at parties

I read a blog post this week, widely discussed by my girlfriends, about how we introduce friends at parties. Working in Rwanda, the most common thing you say when you meet someone new is “where do you work? What do you do? Are you the worker or someone’s partner?” I know this is the same in many places. With such a small expat community, it’s common to know most people, so the first point of call is to try to place reference, something in common. But what if we focus on our friend’s natural talents and top traits, rather than simply their vocations (or none?) From experience, I know this is especially hard for my friends who are here with their partners, but who are unable to find work. They feel demotivated, not taken seriously, or simply embarrassed that they are not doing something, which might be perceived as them being lazy, freeloaders, or unemployable. Of course, I know this is simply not true.

So from now on, I’ll follow the advice of the article, and introduce all my friends based on what they mean to me. From their generous nature, their commitment to improving the lives of Kigali’s animals, their passion for cooking, their love of travel, each one of them has something special to offer, much beyond what they choose as a vocation.

Why girlfriends are the greatest people in the world

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I’m dedicating this post to one of my closest girlfriends, in honour of her birthday. Chelsea is a fellow Canadian whom I met at Oxford while studying international education. I immediately connected with her warm and enthusiastic personality, and her uncanny ability to stay positive, even in the most stressful circumstances. She is also one of two people responsible for throwing me an unforgettable party in London, right before I got married in Canada. She’s creative, thoughtful and lives life to the fullest. She also inspires me to live a balanced life, as she’s really into yoga, plus clean and peaceful living. Having just moved back to Canada, last week, Chelsea put up on her facebook page that autumn is approaching, and that nothing reminds her more of home than a pumpkin spice latte.

chelsea-LA

This got me thinking, as I connected instantly with that post, feeling like a bit of home was waiting for me in a mug of delicious goodness. There’s just something about fall that brings out memories and feelings of connectedness. I close my eyes and picture maple leaves falling to the ground, the wind blowing cooler than before, beautiful scarves, pumpkins, and of course, warming cups of tea and coffee. In celebration of Chelsea’s birthday (and her amazing scarf collection), I’ve taken a classic recipe, which is loaded with sugar (sadly), and recreated it, injecting a bit of healthy whole foods. The result? An amazing drink! I cannot believe how similar they taste, really, it’s incredible.

Make your own pumpkin purée

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You can make the pumpkin purée very easily. Buy any pumpkin (I used kabocha squash in mine, but butternut works, or any other variety). Cut in half and scrape out the insides. Place with the centre face-down on an oven tray, and bake at 190°C (375°F) for about 30-40 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool (as it's easier to work with), then cut off the rind, and place in a blender or food processor. To note, I used a Vitamix blender, which makes the purée incredibly smooth - so it's up to you for the desired consistency. I poured the puree into ice cube trays, and into silicone muffin trays, and froze. Once frozen, you can pop them into freezer bags or plastic containers, and they'll keep fresh for months. To use, just put one muffin cup (about 1/2 cup) into a pan with a few tablespoons of water, and heat on how with the lid on until defrosted. Takes about 5 mins! You can use these in cooking as stock, to make sauces, and in smoothies. My favourite breakfast smoothie by Angela at Oh She Glows is a Creamy Pumpkin Pie Smoothie - you should try it!

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You can make the pumpkin spice “mix” and store it in the fridge for up to a week. All you need in the morning is your coffee/espresso, some warm milk (almond with vanilla is delicious), and a few tablespoons of the mix. You will feel cozy in no time. So, as my ode to friendship - I present to you - Chelsea’s Cozy Pumpkin Spice Latte. Love you Chels, so priviliged to know you.

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Chelsea's Cozy Pumpkin Spice Latte

Try this healthy recipe for a warming pumpkin spice latte. The mix is easy to make, and this is great for a mid-afternoon treat. I find it's naturally sweet enough, but if you wish you can add maple syrup or stevia for extra sweetness. Sit back and breathe in the aromatic scent of nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger, the smells and sounds of fall. Autumn awaits!

Ingredients

  • One cup of milk of your choice
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin purée (directions in the post above)
  • One shot espresso (or use your favourite coffee, about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger (powder)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup or 1/2 teaspoon stevia (try without, and add if needed)

Instructions

  1. Prepare the pumpkin purée in advance (see post above for directions).
  2. Mix together the ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg, and place aside.
  3. Put the pumpkin purée in a small saucepan (defrost if needed), and while on low heat, add 2/3 of the spices, stirring to combine.
  4. Prepare the espresso, coffee and add to the mug.
  5. Add 3-4 tablespoons of the pumpkin mix and stir to combine. If you want to add sweetener, you can do it now.
  6. Steam or heat the milk of your choice, and top the mug, with the froth on top.
  7. Sprinkle with remaining mix.
  8. Drink, and enjoy.
  9. Note - as mentioned, you can keep the rest of the puree in the fridge - there will be enough for 2-3 more coffees.