Gratitude and cool

I’ve written before about my tendency to fall in love with a particular dish from a particular restaurant and then dream of it constantly until I can have it again. If only I didn’t have such expensive taste, though… the obsession I developed with Cafe Gratitude’s $9 (formerly $12!) raw mint milkshakes (the “I Am Cool” – everything there is named with an affirmation) meant I had to make a choice between satisfying my gluttony or avoiding bankruptcy. (I chose avoiding bankruptcy – I’m headed there well enough on my own right now, thank you very much, without any ten-dollar milkshakes helping me a long.) But these milkshakes are really, really good; I hadn’t had one in a many months but I fantasized about them still.

So when my sainted mother gave me the Best Present Ever, aka my Vitamix blender, I knew I had to take my shot at recreating this particular fantasy food. All the vegans have been abuzz over Luna & Larry’s Coconut Bliss “ice cream,” so I decided to try using that as my base. Cafe Gratitude uses their house-made nut-based ice cream, and they’ve just come out with a retail version made from nuts and coconut milk, so hopefully I’ll be able to try that soon as well. I got a huge bunch of mint from the farmer’s market and I started experimenting. This was a good experiment. I was very happy to contribute to the advancement of scientific knowledge in the arena of mint chocolate milkshakes.

Some recipes (including CG’s) add a handful of spinach or some spirulina to give the milkshakes that classic green tint. I don’t really care what color my shake is, though, and it’s another ingredient to have to buy. The idea here was to see if I could create a high-quality, low-cost milkshake; I think the shake is visually appealing on its own. A lovely pale green, flecked with the brown speckles that announce, “Chocolate inside.”

A short sidebar before I give you my entirely bootlegged recipe for this mint milkshake: I give Cafe Gratitude a hard time for being so darn expensive. And also for seeming like a crazy cult where to order food you have to say things like, “I’d like an I Am Alert with a side of I Am Accepting” and where everyone does Landmark Forums and there are superhippydreamy paintings on the walls. But they’re actually pretty awesome. They have some cool behind-the-scenes business practices that aren’t obvious from just going there as a customer. They offer the Grateful Bowl, a delicious raw kale and grain bowl whose cost is “pay what you can,” and they serve 37,000 of them a year. They’re entirely vegan, which is a huge contribution to the wellbeing of the world as far as I’m concerned. They work hard to source food locally, and even have their own farm where a lot of the CG produce is grown.

What I’m trying to say is that I don’t think the milkshakes are $9 because CG are elitist, bourgeois jerks. I think that’s probably a price that reflects the cost of having good business practices, buying local food, making your own raw vegan ice cream from nuts, and subsidizing projects like the Grateful Bowl. And right now what I’m grateful for is the inspiration, because for $9 I can make eight milkshakes at home (or four, rather, because I tend to guzzle the whole 16 oz. on my own…), and nothing inspires gratitude in me like being able to indulge my longing for a super refreshing vegan mint chocolate milkshake without breaking the bank.

I Am Inspired Vegan Mint Chocolate Milkshake
With gratitude for inspiration from Cafe Gratitude and Raw Food Recipes

1/2 cup vanilla high-quality vegan ice cream (I like Luna & Larry’s Coconut Bliss)
3/4 cup “milk” (I use almond, CG uses hazelnut)
24 mint leaves
2 pitted dates
1/2 – 3/4 cup ice cubes
1 T. cocoa nibs

Stick two glasses in the freezer to chill. Place all ingredients except cocoa nibs into the Vitamix container in the order listed. (If you don’t have a Vitamix you need to have a blender that can really handle ice in order for this recipe to work.)

If your Vitamix has a Frozen Desserts setting, just set it and let it run. Be sure to use the tamper throughout the cycle to keep incorporating the ingredients, or you’ll end up with little bits of date and mint leaf. If you don’t have the FD setting, use the variable speed and turn it quickly to high, using the tamper to incorporate, until four soft mounds form in the container. Check the consistency at this point. If it is too thin, add more ice and process again at high speed. (You can also add more ice cream, of course, but that’s not the most budget-conscious way to thicken the milkshake, and adding ice really does do the trick.) If it’s too thick, I’d just scoop it out and eat it with a spoon, but you can thin it out with a little more milk if you prefer.

Add cocoa nibs and process on high for a few seconds. Pour into chilled glasses and serve!

Makes 2 8-oz. servings.

9 comments on “Gratitude and cool

  1. Fergie says:

    OMG I CAN’T WAIT TO MAKE THIS!!!! I don’t have cocoa nibs though… do you think carob chips would work???

    • scrumptious says:

      YAY! So glad you like the recipe! I don’t like carob very much, but if it is a treat for you, then I would totally throw them in there! You might need to blend a little longer if you want that classic mint-chocolate-chip texture with the tiny bits of “chocolate.” Let me know how it turns out, please!

  2. Good points on Cafe Gratitude! I’ve only been there once or twice, but would definitely like to try more of their menu. Another significant contribution to the world is that the owners also own Gracias Madre (at least I think so), which has been a wonderful contribution to my belly!

    • scrumptious says:

      Erin – I agree with you 110%!! Gracias Madre is probably my favorite restaurant right now. Everything’s vegan, the Mexican cuisine means almost everything is gluten-free, and they have KALE. Where else can you get a big old pile of kale when you’re craving it and don’t want to cook at home? Plus, their flan really blows my mind. It’s flan. It’s vegan. It actually tastes good!

  3. […] I got this recipe from In My Box who was inspired and made it up based on Cafe Gratitude and Raw Food […]

  4. K says:

    Must try the original when I’m in SF, by the way want to meet up when I’m in town, will be there from June 19th to 23rd.

    • scrumptious says:

      Oh yes, Gratitude should definitely be on your list! You’ll be here so soon… that’s a couple of weeks! How exciting! Can’t wait to meet in person (and eat lots and lots of yummy things).

  5. Alli says:

    I, too, became obsessed with this milkshake! I grow the mint myself now so I can make this almost anytime! Chocolate mint is especially delicious =) Also, I use frozen bananas instead of ice for an especially rich flavor, and I add a little bit of chocolate protein powder for nutritional benefit- Amazing Meal makes a good one. Thanks for sharing!!

    • scrumptious says:

      I love meeting fellow obsessives.🙂 You have gone the extra DIY mile by growing your own mint – awesome! Makes me wish I didn’t have some kind of plant-death mojo. I didn’t want all the richness the other night, so I made a toned-down version, using just homemade brazil-nut milk and brazil-nut cream (okay, I guess I can get uber-DIY myself), mint, and cacao nibs, with a little agave.

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