A minty fresh treat for the late December days

It’s funny to me how each one of us associates this time of year with a certain “holidays-only” flavor.

For some, it might be eggnog. Or fruitcake. Or chestnuts.

And then there are the secondary flavors — ones that we might enjoy more this time of year than we would in any other month, even though they aren’t a December exclusive.

As we rush upon the winter solstice, I don’t tend to crave a “holidays-only” flavor, but one lumped into the secondary category. The kind that can be enjoyed in the heat of summer, but somehow represents the holidays to me and probably many others: mint.

This is probably related to the fact that when I was young, my mother made pinwheel cookies as part of her massive yearly holiday bake-a-thon. If I shut my eyes, I can easily taste the sweet, minty flavor imbued within those pink and white swirls.

Yep, those cookies are Christmas to me. And they aren’t even my favorite Christmas cookie. (That would be my mom’s chocolate-pecan squares. YUM.)

And I wanted those pinwheels this week. But because making a huge batch of cookies just to enjoy a tiny taste of one seems to be a fool’s errand (you know I’ll eat the whole dang flotilla of cookies), I decided to try to slay my craving with something a little lighter. You know, a treat that can rotate in with all that heavy holiday party fare.

The result is this pretty green smoothie. Packed with good fats, vitamin A and taste, it’s got that wintery fresh flavor that is just as welcome this time of year as the dense foods we also associate with December. But don’t drink it with a slice of fruitcake. That can only end badly — dried fruit plus mint? Yuck.

Thick and cool, this smoothie rotates in nicely with the heavier foods we see this time of year.

Thick and cool, this smoothie rotates in nicely with the heavier foods we see this time of year. by Sarah Henning

Mistletoe Mint Smoothie

1 1/2 cups hemp, almond or regular milk

1 avocado, halved

2 handfuls spinach

1 or 2 tablespoons honey (to taste)

6 to 8 mint leaves

Dash mint extract

Dash vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in the blender. Makes one large serving or two small ones.

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