As a borderline millennial, I grew up in the Starbucks generation.
This was before there was one on every block in the world. And, therefore, when one opened on my actual block in middle school, it was cool beyond belief. My friends used to come over after sports practice and we’d grab Starbucks lattes on the way home.
Though I doubt any of them were drinking coffee at 5pm on a school night (or ever), I can tell you for a fact that I definitely was not. Instead, I always opted for a spiced chai tea latte.
Until my sophomore year, when I grew 5 inches over the course of one summer (and then proceeded to subsequently break all of my major bones out of clumsiness), I was a front row kid.
If you don’t know what a front row kid is, it’s because you never were one.
The front row kids were the ones in the class picture sitting on the floor. Usually, awkwardly holding the sign that said “Penny House’s 3rd Grade Class, 1993.” For the next few years, due to their unfortunate height, they’d be the last ones chosen for recess basketball games. And years after that, they would be the ones who still hadn’t hit puberty.
As a front row kid who was perpetually an entire foot shorter than the back-row kids in her friend group, I was hyper aware of anything that might stunt my growth further. And there was nothing that the nutritional rumor mill focused on more intently than coffee.
The way I understood it, drinking coffee before the age of 18 meant I might be a front row kid for life. And even though I had made it to an age when my parents had miraculously started letting me wear chunky platform high heels on special occasions, I wasn’t going to take any chances.
Fortunately, my spiced chai tea lattes left nothing more to be desired. They were frothy, creamy and satisfying. With all of the soothing, sweet qualities that filled my childhood comfort foods, and the slight edge of adult sophistication that made me feel years beyond my height.
In college, after I had finally shot up and gotten control of my limbs, I started drinking coffee on the regular. But I always had a special place in my rotation for chai tea lattes.
Now, thanks to my health, it seems I’ve come partially full circle in my maturity. I try to stay caffeine-free for the most part, but it’s still nice to enjoy a special latte that won’t send my blood sugar into a tizzy. For this, I’ve taken to making these tea-free spiced chai lattes with maca powder.
The lattes are naturally sweetened with a whole date, and get their creaminess from soaked cashews, which get pureed with the spice blend and coconut milk in my Wolf Gourmet High Performance Blender. The machine’s smoothie function is perfect for making sure that the whole cashews get completely broken down, and the high speed it ends its cycle on ensures the latte is perfectly warm with a super frothy finish.
If you’re taking a break from caffeine, or simply want a healthy homemade version of your usual corner coffee shop latte, I highly recommend this grown-up version of my childhood chai.
From one healthy (former front row) hedonist, to another,
For the recipe, pop over to my friends over at Wolf Gourmet’s blog here.