Mint Chocolate Coffee Creamer [Dairy-Free]

Who is feeling weird that it's the end of the year already? We have been blessed with some amazing weather, yet we are planning on how to ring in the New Year...and looking outside to a White Wonderland.  We finally had some more snow this week and I think this actually means the temps aren't climbing up anymore, sadly. 

This Fall and Winter has flown by, which means that I AM ON BREAK!!  I finished out my semester on the 18th and it actually feels like I'm finally on break - with Christmas being last week, everything seemed very busy.  YES!! Don't get me wrong, I really do love school but I was feeling some major burnout the last few weeks, mostly due to the fact that I had multiple quizzes and tests almost every single week of my semester.  The best thing that came out of it was that I actually did better than I expected grade-wise, so I was a happy girl, knowing that my hard work paid off.  I think my current time off calls for a massage, shopping, and some down time. (Let's be real honest though, I usually can't sit still for an extended period of time, and naps are completely out of the question for me). I am planning to tackle some more home projects, as we are slowly adding more things on our walls, which is so fun!  I love making it our home and figuring out what looks and feels best. Along with that has been some cooking and baking - trying out new recipes, and actually having time to make meals is a plus!  Speaking of baking, I got a beautiful Kitchen Aid Mixer for Christmas and I'm so excited!  I think the theme for gifts this year was "Kitchen All the Way"!  I'm very ok with that. ;)

With the New Year, comes new things -- a new semester, new goals, a new outlook, and a new opportunity!  I feel very fortunate with all of my work opportunities, and at the end of October,  I was offered to work with KIND Snacks as a Brand Ambassador.  You know those yummy bars that you see everywhere, clear packaging -- with ingredients that you can see and pronounce?! Yes, those!  My program at Iowa State always emails out job opportunities and I came across this opportunity with KIND in Des Moines which was perfect for me!  So, if you are in the area, you may see me at local grocery stores demo-ing some goodies!!  Eventually, I'm planning to demo products at local events, so if you have any suggestions, I would love to hear your ideas.  If you haven't heard of KIND or want to learn more about the company, click here!

Let's get back to recipe time!  With my recent diet changes this year, there are two ways that I look at the changes.  It's been hard, because I like the foods that I've had to eliminate.  My Mom always said that she could eat cheese, crackers, and a salad for every meal (add in the wine for me), and be good to go.  I've always been a healthy eater but I love some girl time with a cheese plate and a good red wine.  On the other hand, I find the changes to be easy.  I've realized that elimination of most grains and dairy does make me feel better - and it's not an immediate change.  I started this process in August and now at the end of December, I still do have symptoms, but they are reoccurring less often.  Recently, I was at my Acupuncturist, and I mentioned that I was frustrated with my symptoms, and even more frustrated that I have Gastroparesis for no reason, that it just popped up one day.  She patiently reminded me to look at how far I have come since August -- I then took a step back and realized she was right.  I do have to keep moving forward with my changes and know that it is making a difference in the long run.  

One thing that I have kept in my diet (for caffeine but mostly just comfort) is coffee.  It's a morning thing for me, and a lot of studies show that coffee really is good for you!  With that being said, I don't drink my coffee black.  I need something to lighten up the taste a bit and I've always used coffee creamer, since I started drinking coffee.  A couple of years ago, I switched to a creamer that was gluten-free and dairy-free as I took regular milk out of my diet years ago.  With no grains or dairy, I've also really started to notice the ingredients in my foods (going back to the idea of KIND Snacks with ingredients you can see and pronounce).  Ok, so really, I do know a lot of people that observe this daily, but today, take a look at the ingredients in something you are eating.  The coffee creamer that I dearly loved, had cane sugar as the second ingredient, among others.  Typically, you don't want a huge list of ingredients on what you eat, and although this list wasn't as long as others, I really started thinking on how I could change what I was putting into my body.  Then comes, the Mint Chocolate Coffee Creamer!  Dairy-free and gluten-free, delicious, easy to make, and you know what you are putting into your body.  Love it!

What You Need:

  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1/2 cup sliced, pitted dates
  • 1 1/2 cups light canned coconut milk
  • 1/2 Tbsp vanilla
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 Tbsp Enjoy Life dark chocolate chips (if not DF, you can use any, preferably dark chocolate chips)
  • 5 drops Peppermint Oil 
What To Do:
  • Place canned coconut milk into cold spot in refrigerator an hour or so prior to use.  This makes it easier to remove the fat from the milk.
  • Add dates + hot water to blender and mix until the dates are smooth. I use the Magic Bullet (click to view) and I love it.  It works much better than the blender and has great to-go cups for smoothies.  I have been eyeing a Vitamix for about the oh, past year and a half...but I can't get myself to spend the money so I've been saving gift cards.  It may just show up in our kitchen sometime soon! ;) In the meantime...shout out to Vitamix...if you feel like sending me a free personal blender, I'll gladly take it!
  • Melt coconut oil and dark chocolate chips on stove (low heat so you don't burn).
  • Add chocolate mix + coconut milk + vanilla to dates + water mixture in blender.  Mix everything well.
  • Last but not least, add the peppermint oil drops.  I like to do this last so I can taste test, to make sure the peppermint does not come out too strong.  Mix again.
  • Add some to your coffee!  2 Tablespoons should do the trick.  Then store in your fridge.
Most importantly, share with others! I love the taste because it feels like the holiday, but you aren't really indulging like you can with some other coffee creamers.  You could totally take this to the next level and add some Bailey's or add the mint chocolate to a smoothie.  So many options!

Delicious dates from Trader Joes, but you can find them anywhere. If the pit is included, just cut it out and slice these babies up!

This coconut milk seems to be a favorite among others.  You can see that I used the full fat version but if you are looking to cut calories, use the lighter version mentioned in the recipe.

Everything blended together = looks like a chocolate shake!

I am in love with Young Living Peppermint Oil.  I use it so much and this adds a great mint kick.

Just enjoying my coffee in the morning.  My ritual that I love!

So, what are you waiting for? Go blend this up! The process is easy, and if you aren't feeling it, another option is any type of milk and a drop or two of peppermint in your coffee.  I love using coconut or cashew milk if I'm in a hurry.

I truly hope your holiday was amazing, and I wish you and your family a great rest of the year.  When we talk next, it will be 2016.  Don't miss it!

Stay healthy. XO.


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