New Morning Ritual: Hazelnut “Latte” & Cashew Chai Recipes

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Do you have a morning ritual that includes a warm beverage? I’ve always loved the comforting companionship of a perfect cup of coffee. My preference: a very strong French roast, two creams, one sugar. Then I discovered that I was lactose intolerant and decided to drop the cream and all other dairy products.

Soon thereafter I discovered that the creaminess of my coffee is what really keeps my taste buds happy, and chemical-laden “non-dairy” creamers were not a healthy choice for me. So I decided to get creative and turn to my vegan-kitchen staple for creating dairy alternatives–nuts!

Almond milk can satiate the cream craving, but making your own takes planning (8 hours of soaking the almonds in water in the refrigerator) and I wanted something faster and easier to whip up in my groggy 6am state. I decided to try hazelnuts, which don’t need to be soaked overnight.

Hazelnuts (also known as filberts) have a distinct flavor that goes really nicely with coffee. But instead of making hazelnut milk (1 part hazelnuts to 3 parts water, pulverized in a blender then strained), I thought why not just throw the hazelnuts into then blender with my cup of black coffee? Not only did it work brilliantly, I got the added bonus of frothy latte-like foam as well! Try it for yourself and let me know what you think.

If you are a tea drinker you can also apply this same principle to making tea lattes. I love a warming Chai Masala Latte, and the recipe below is my go-to, spicy, creamy treat!

Hazelnut Café Latte
Combine the following ingredients in a blender:
8 oz hot coffee
½ handful of raw hazelnuts (about 10-12nut)
1 pitted date of natural sweetener of your choice
Blend on high for 1-2 minutes.
You can strain it if you want to remove the hazelnut pulp, but I don’t bother. The few small pieces of nut will sink to the bottom of your cup.

Chai Masala Latte
Place 2 tea bags (or 1 tablespoon of loose tea) of your favorite chai tea in 12 ounces of hot water. Let steep for 5 minutes. Since you’ll be adding nuts, it’s best to start with a strong tea as your base.
Put your 12 ounces tea into a blender with:
1 handful of raw cashews (about ½ cup)
2 tablespoons of honey or any natural sweetener of your choice (I like pitted dates because they are loaded with fiber)
Blend on high until the cashews have disappeared into the creamy frothy tea latte. It takes about 2 minutes. You can speed up this process my soaking the cashews in water while your tea steeps. This will soften them and make them blend faster.
No need to strain. Any chunks of nut will sink to the bottom of your cup.

Health Benefits of Hazelnuts:
Raw hazelnuts are now considered to be one of the few super foods that have excellent antioxidant properties. Raw hazelnuts contain high levels of proanthocyanidins (or PACs), which studies show are more potent at fighting free radicals than certain vitamins like C and E. Many of the nutritive properties of hazelnuts are in the skin and it’s therefore beneficial to consume hazelnuts when the skin remains intact. They also contain significant amount of proteins and fiber.

Health Benefits of Cashews:
Cashews are a very rich source of minerals like manganese, potassium, copper, iron, magnesium, zinc, and selenium. Cashews are also rich in many essential vitamins such as pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), riboflavin and thiamin (vitamin B-1). These vitamins are essential in the sense that our body requires them to metabolize protein, fat and carbohydrates in the body.

Brigitte Center of Brigitte’s Naturally Alive is certified in plant-based nutrition from Cornell University. She teaches ‘Raw Food for Real Life’ un-cooking classes, helps people jump-start healthy eating habits with a green smoothie delivery service, and writes the blog Raw Food Living Diet.

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