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Adventures in Cooking… more smoothies

Jul 29, 2012 // by admin // Blog, food // No Comments

As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, I’m back to enjoying breakfast smoothies. Thanks to my weekly fruit deliveries, I’ve had a refrigerator filled with fruit goodness that I won’t allow to go to waste, so I’ve been playing with new combinations and enjoying some classic ones. Here are some of my latest smoothie recipes.

Note: serving sizes vary depending on the quantities used, but in general, most of these make enough for two servings. And for all of these, blend all ingredients and enjoy!

Cantaloupe Summer Smoothie

 

Cantaloupe Summer Smoothie – when I got two cantaloupes in my weekly delivery, it was a must to create something delicious with them.

- 1/2 a medium cantaloupe
- 1 peach
- 1 nectarine
- 1 orange
- 1 packet stevia
- water, adjust quantity to achieve desired thickness

 

 

Chocolate Mint Goodness

 

Chocolate Mint Goodness – a favorite blend that reminds me of the holidays, delicious with the perfect hint of mint

- Chocolate flavored hemp protein powder
- Spearmint or Peppermint leaves
- 1 packet stevia in the raw
- 3 nectarines (I had a bunch that I needed to use, so this was my chosen application)
- water, adjust quantity to achieve desired thickness

 

 

 

Going Green... again

Going Green… again – I’m getting back to my, almost, daily green smoothies. This is a particular blend that I’ve been enjoying.

 

- 4 stalks kales
- 1/2 peach
- 1/2 nectarine
- 1 banana
- 1 packet stevia in the raw
- water, adjust quantity to achieve desired thickness

This morning, I turned this into a bit of mint bliss, by adding some peppermint leaves to it.

 

I’ve been enjoying trying out new smoothie combinations. I look forward to enjoying some more new blends very soon. What have you been enjoying for breakfast? Do you have any fruit combos you’d like to share?

Adventures in cooking… tropical chia smoothie

Jul 2, 2012 // by admin // Blog, food // 2 Comments

smoothie ingredients

I know, it has been just about forever since I last posted to my blog and although it’s not an excuse, I have been busy with life, work, and yoga, and booting up my laptop when I get home has been one of the furthest thoughts from my mind. Although it wasn’t all documented, June was a great month, filled with lots of accomplishments, new projects, and getting back on top of my 2012 intentions.

I’ve needed to get back on top of eating my 5 fruits and veggies a day, so I subscribed to Washington’s Green Grocer. It’s like a CSA, but there is no sign-up fee and I can easily adjust what I get in my box each week by using their website – both adding or changing out items that I prefer not to have. For a girl that doesn’t like to make time to head to the grocery store, it’s great and it is helping me eat healthy again. Since i get enough veggies from lunchtime salads, I receive the weekly mixed fruit box (combo of organic and conventionally grown fruits). My first box came filled with bananas, mangos, oranges, and blueberries and I spent the next five mornings (all the ones I was in DC for) enjoying my Tropical Chia Smoothies.

Tropical Chia Smoothie - bright yellow and delicious

This is another super simple, yet incredibly delicious chia smoothie. The ingredients:

  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups chia gel (2 tbls chia seeds to 1 cup water, whisked together and left in the fridge overnight)
  • 1 banana
  • 2 small oranges, peeled
  • 1 mango, peeled, pit removed
  • 2 packets stevia in the raw

I prepped the fruit (took about 10 minutes), loaded my Vitamix and that was it. It only took about 3 minutes in the Vitamix to blend and I had an incredibly delicious and nutritious breakfast.

I was excited about last week’s box (filled with blueberries, bananas, and grapefruits – I accidentally had declined to receive stonefruit, so no peaches or the like – i have since corrected that mistake) and when it arrived, I identified two new simple smoothie combinations. I’ve enjoyed a twist on this tropical chia smoothie, substituting a grapefruit for the oranges and frozen mango for the fresh. Since grapefruit is naturally more tart, it’s a little less sweet, but still delicious. And all the bananas aren’t going to waste, as I also enjoy Chocolate Chia Banana smoothies – 1 cup water, 1 cup chia gel, 1 banana, and 1 scoop chocolate Vega-One protein powder. It’s my version of my favorite Starbucks smoothie and I can’t get enough of it. I can’t wait to get this week’s box and see what new smoothie recipes I can come up with.

I’m happy with this decision that’s helping me get more fruits and veggies into my diet. How have you been getting your fruits and vegetables lately?

Adventures in Cooking… my quick and simple breakfast smoothie

May 27, 2012 // by admin // Blog, food // 1 Comment

It’s been a while since I’ve been cooking regularly. Honestly, it’s been a while since I’ve gotten on my home computer more than once a week, too (it explains the lack of blogging lately). In last week, I’ve gotten back on track with my breakfast smoothies and without any greens in the house, I had to figure out another basic recipe that I enjoyed. So, on Tuesday, I made a chocolate chia protein smoothie, which I’ve now been making variations of for the last 6 days.

I’m all about simple, especially when I’m going to be “cooking” it at 6:30 in the morning. I made some basic chia gel (2 tablespoons chia seeds mixed into 1 to 1 1/2 cups water) the night before and left it in the fridge to thicken overnight – overnight is not required, you could make it 15-20 minutes before you want to use it too. The basic recipe was extremely simple – 1 cup water or almond milk, the chia gel, and 1 scoop of chocolate protein powder (I’ve been using Vega One – it’s plant-based). I tried this on a whim and was pleasantly surprised at how well the chia gel helped to thicken the smoothie. So in the upcoming days, I’ve continued to play with this base recipe, adding fruits that I have in my refrigerator. This morning’s breakfast smoothie was

1 cup water
chia gel
1 scoop chocolate protein powder
1 small banana
1 small peach

It was easy to make, tastes pretty good, and is filling. I’m happy to be back to my breakfast smoothies. I can drink them while i get ready for work or bring them to the office. And they are so fast to make. This week, I’ll start adding some greens to these, too (since i’ve made it to the grocery store).

What’s your favorite quick and simple breakfast?

Evoking change… adopting a vegan diet

Mar 8, 2012 // by admin // Blog, food, self-care // 3 Comments

In the last four to five months, I’ve been slowly implementing changes in my life. These changes include recommitting to and redefining a daily yoga and meditation practice and eating my veggies. My latest change was about making a sacrifice. I decided to try adopting a vegan diet.

I grew up Catholic and spent all of elementary and high school in parochial school. Although I am not actively practicing now, there are still elements of what I learned that have stuck with me. One of those was either making a sacrifice or doing some service for your community throughout the Lenten season. You may or may not know that Lent began on February 22 this year. And while I may not have gone to receive ashes, I did decide that I would make a sacrifice. I would give up all animal products. I’ve been eating mostly vegetarian for about the last two years now, but hadn’t committed to cutting fish or dairy out of my diet. I love sushi and really, what’s a homemade pizza without a blend of four cheeses. I decided that in 2012 I would cut out the fish, but wasn’t so sure about committing to cutting out the dairy.

In January, I actually signed up for the 28-Day Vegan Kickstart, however I wasn’t ready to commit. So I just kept eating vegetarian (no fish at all). When a friend asked what others were “doing for Lent”, I decided that this sacrifice would be worth it. I would try eating vegan through Easter and depending on how my body feels determine if I will keep it up or keep it up 95% of the time and allow for trace amounts of diary in some of my favorite holiday baked goods, breads, crackers, etc.

I am already feeling better. I slipped up and tried to enjoy my regular pizza lunch two tuesdays ago, I felt awful afterwards (and I mean my stomach, not guilt). I hadn’t realized until I was about 10 days into eating vegan (I started before Ash Wednesday) that my body really doesn’t like cheese as much as my tastebuds do. Completely eliminating it and then reintroducing it taught me this valuable lesson. And eating this way has been an encouragement for me to cook (check out my recent Adventures in Cooking). I’m living on lots of vegetables, quinoa, green smoothies, and other whole unprocessed foods. Although it is slightly processed, I do like to slip some vegan protein powder into my smoothies, just to ensure I’m getting enough.

I wasn’t sure how i would manage eating this way – being vegan – but I am managing quite well. I haven’t gone as far as to stop using leather goods, but I am trying to be mindful about what i buy. Oddly, I’ve been using vegan nail polish for the last four years. My favorite brands – Zoya and Spa Ritual – are vegan. They are made without formaldehyde, camphor, toluene, and dibutyl phthalate.

I feel I’m working to embody one of the yogic values – ahimsa – non violence or non harming behavior – through eating vegan. It’s actually the first of the yamas in the eight-limbed path. Making this sacrifice is helping me to embody this yama, as I stop harming myself by no longer eating the things that my body doesn’t react well to.

We’ll see how things progress over the next five weeks and I’ll make a decision as to how I want to go forward, so deciding if this will be a permanent change. If I continue feeling better and healthy, I think this is a change that I may want to stick with (or at least stick with 95% of the time).

Did you make any sacrifices or decide to give back to the community this Lenten season? Why did you decide what you did? How is it changing your life?

Adventures in cooking… how I learned to love brussel sprouts

Mar 1, 2012 // by admin // Blog, food // No Comments

a trio of roasted veggies - crispy kale, butternut squash, and mixed veggies

If there was any food that I didn’t like to eat when I was growing up, it was brussel sprouts. Now that I’m an adult I decided it would be wise to give these mini-lettuce looking vegetables another try – they are good for me after all. So when I saw them in my local Trader Joe’s a few weeks ago, I decided, now was as good a time as any. I’m not a fan of wilted greens so finding the right cooking method would be key.

I took some inspiration from Chef Anne Burrell. I remembered watching one of the episodes of Secrets of a Restaurant Chef several months ago, how she made oven roasted brussel sprouts. Growing up, my father used to steam them, making the leaves all wilted and I have never been a fan of wilted greens, so oven roasting seemed like a good alternative. I decided I would give them a shot, mixed with oven roasted kale and butternut squash. I took the plunge by cutting off the bottoms, removing the bad leaves, and then quartering these little lettuce-like heads. Before I put them on my baking sheet, I separated all the leaves as best I could. I coated them (and all the other vegetables) with a bit of olive oil, some sea salt, and some Italian seasoning. Italian seasoning is my go to seasoning blend. I love the flavors and have found the it goes well in a large variety of dishes that I make.

roasted brussel sprouts, butternut squash, and green beans

my first batch of crispy kale

roasted butternut squash and brussel sprouts

 

I always roast my vegetables on a jelly roll pan lined with aluminum foil (for easy clean up). I spread them out in an even layer, so that they can cook evenly and always try to keep all pieces about the same size so that they cook evenly. I think you can vary the oven temp and cooking time, but what’s worked well for me is to set the oven to 300 degrees and bake for 30 to 40 minutes. Generally I make these a day in advance, storing them in a glass container and then heating them up in the microwave at work for 3 minutes. I find that any al dente veggies do their final cooking when they are reheated.

butternut squash and brussel sprouts - before roasting

roasted carrots, broccoli, and brussel sprouts

 

roasted butternut squash, broccoli, mushrooms, and eggplant

 

Using this cooking method, I’ve also made crispy kale, which is prepared the exact same way and I find the cooking temp and time are comparable. When my oven is on, you will likely find all vegetables roasting together, so this fact about time and temperature are important. I don’t store the kale in the same container as my other vegetables though, because I found that the crispness tends to disappear overnight when I do that, but in its own container, it stays crispy for several days.

It’s odd how much I love brussel sprouts now, even though when I was a kid, I would do all that I could to get out of eating them. I even texted my dad a picture of them one night, because I thought he would be so surprised and proud that I cooked them (and actually, yes that I cooked in general). I have realized that the more veggies I eat, the fewer cravings I have for sweets, so that being said, I’m going to keep eating my veggies.

Are there any vegetables that you didn’t like as a child that you love as an adult? What changed about them that made you like them?