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Food phases: those periods in your life where you crave and eat the same thing, over and over (sometimes to the point of never wanting it again…). I have had way too many to count: everything from Peking duck, to those little chocolate donuts you get at the corner bodega, to Hawaiian hurricane popcorn; unfortunately, green juice hasn’t made that list to date.
In college, I had this extended phase with Dominican food. For dinner, I would trek out to an area of town where there was a big Latin American community and amazing Dominican spots. For $5, you could get a heaping plate of stewed chicken, saffron rice, and fried plantanos with garlic. I’d always order batidas, or fruit milkshakes, to go with the meal. In the D.R., batidas are the way to cool down from the hot sun and they range from lechosa (papaya) to guanabana (soursop) to mamey (sapote).
The best of the bunch was morir soñando, a creamy, orange Creamsicle-like drink whose name loosely translates to “to die dreaming.” Ridiculously romantic! Orange juice is shaken with regular, evaporated, or condensed milk, (lots of) sugar and ice, and sometimes vanilla and cinnamon. In today’s terms, it’s almost a smoothie, but, really, it sits more on the dessert end of drinks.
Recently, when a Dominican girlfriend of mine became pregnant, she went through the biggest morir soñando cravings and was having them daily. This drink can be super sweet, so I was determined to make a less cloying version that she would still love as much as the one her mom made growing up. A tall order!
When I asked her over to try it, she was skeptical, but to her surprise (and my relief), she loved it. And a pregnant palate either hates or loves, so I was in luck. She was pretty shocked we could get to the same place, au naturale, and I was happy I could “juice-up” her childhood favorite.
For this version, I use almond or cashew milk in lieu of dairy and sweet, caramel-y Medjool dates instead of sugar. Dates are for sweetening to taste, so you can adjust as you go. Obviously, freshly squeezed orange juice is key here, and my personal preference is for blood orange juice.
- 3 cups almond, cashew, or coconut milk
- 2 cups freshly squeezed (blood) orange juice
- 2 to 3 Medjool dates, pitted (and peeled, optional—see headnote)
- 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 pinch sea salt