Favorite New Smoothie with Secret Ingredient

So I’ve been absent from writing, I know.  I spent Valentine’s recipe testing for a cookbook for the State of California’s Snap program.  This was interesting as our Leah’s Pantry team of 4 made 44 recipes in two days.  Let’s keep our fingers crossed the tasters enjoyed and will accept the recipes.  They seemed to be enjoying themselves and eating well.  Most of these recipes I’ve made quite a few times, however there was one I tried for the first time and was so surprised by how good it was, I thought I’d share.

 

I think the name was just banana berry smoothie, which sounds pretty ordinary.  But the surprise ingredient is the addition of kale in there.  I figured I’d be upfront here.  But it’s surprising how you don’t notice the kale.  Any way to eat more kale is good for our bodies right?  My son had teeth extracted yesterday and the dentist gave him a Jamba Juice card – apparently the cold helps with the numbness.  Today when he comes home from school I’m making this one and see how he thinks it stacks up to yesterday’s.

Banana Berry Kale Smoothie

Makes 2 servings

12 ounces per serving

Prep time: 5 minute

Cook time: 0

 

1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (if you use frozen berries, you may not need ice cubes)

4 oz. vanilla low fat yogurt

1/2 cup 100% apple juice

1 banana, cut into chunks

1 cup kale, roughly chopped

4 ice cubes

Place the apple juice, yogurt, berries, kale and banana in a blender.  Cover and process until smooth.

 

 

 

 

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What Color is Your Smoothie? – Book Review and Recipe

The weather is warming up and now is a good time to get out the blender.  I make a variety of different smoothie combinations.  At least I thought I knew a lot, until I received “What Color is Your Smoothie: From Red Berry Round-up to Super Smart Purple Tart” by Britt Allen Brandon.  This book makes smoothies out of a huge variety of ingredients and flavors.  There are over 300 smoothies in this book to take advantage of every vegetable, fruit, herb and spice in all the colors in the rainbow.

 

I made a few of the fruit combinations of smoothies (especially liked the Blueberry Blast), which tasted great.  However I much prefer to add frozen ingrdients instead of ice to make them cold, for a creamier texture (without potential cold lumps).  It is fun to choose the smoothie based upon the color.  Besides fun, the book also explains the benefits of each color and what vitamins and nutients are at work in each smoothie combination.

 

I eat oatmeal everyday for brekfast so we had to try the oatmeal shake before school one morning.  It was tasty but interesting, as the texture was a bit gritty.  Perhaps pulverizing the oatmeal first would’ve yielded a smoother texture.  For me I like oatmeal hot and soothing.  However my son thought it was good and would like it for breakfast on a hot day.  Good thinking!  Check it out below…

 

Review

Pros: lots of variety and combinations. Great inspirational ideas and recipes.  Easy arrangement by color: yellow, orange, red, violet, etc.  Good produce information.

Cons: I was expecting a book that has “color” in the title to have some colorful photos inside. Would like to see less use of ice and more of frozen fruits for creamier texture.  Some combinations while I’m sure healthy don;t always sound appealing (Mushroom Cauliflower?)

Maple-Cinnamon Oatmeal (page 88)

When a steaming hot bowl of oatmeal doesn’t do the trick, maybe the exact opposite is exactly wat you need.  Cool, creamy, and sweet this smoothie takes the deliscious flavors of rolled oats, aromatic cinnamon and sweet maple syrup and combines them in an out of the world oatmeal concoction that will take the place of hot oatmeal in anyone’s heart!

Yields 2 cups

1 banana peeled

1/2 cup rolled oats

1 teaspoon organic pure maple syrup

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup vanilla almond milk

1 cup ice

In a blender combine the banana, oats, syrup, cinnamon and almond milk with 1/2 cup ice and blend until thoroughly blended.

While blending add remaining ice until desired consistency is achieved.

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The Braces and Wiggly Tooth Diet – Piece by Piece

As if my son’s expanders weren’t enough metal in his mouth now he has braces too.  He’s been a real trooper.  It takes him much more time to eat and it takes me more time to plan and cut his meals.  Take for instance his lunch.  It’s tough to bite in to a sandwich and not end up with it all stuck to his braces.  So now we cut the sandwich in small pieces.  Here’s a photo of the new lunch.

Actually eating with a spoon or fork makes things the easiest.  Although he doesn’t think lunch should need “dinner utensils”.  We’ve worked in a few extra smoothies, shakes, and creamy desserts to keep things sweet and easy when his mouth is feeling achey.  We even tried this new smoothie from What Color is Your Smoothie? (review soon) that’s made with oatmeal, banana and maple syrup.

Coincidentally my daughter now has a wiggly tooth.  So we’ve applied the same cutting rules to her food.  Here’s a photo of her pasta salad lunch.  This is such a colorful lunch, I just had to show it off.  The best part is the lunchbox came home empty.  But the tooth is still intact.  It shouldn’t be long before the toothfairy is making a visit…

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Day 3 – I am Hungry Challenge

Today was rough.  It wasn’t about not enough food, it was about not being near my food when I needed it.

First I woke up with swollen eyes.  I’m guessing because of the sodium in the canned tomatoes from the fondue from last night’s dinner.

For breakfast I had my usual oatmeal and half a banana.  Although we were running late for school, so I didn;t get to finish it.  My daughter had her yogurt, with granola and fruit.  My son had a 42 second egg and cinnamon toast.  What’s a 42 second egg?  I crack an egg into a ramekin and mix in a splash of milk, then cover with a piece of wax paper (important so it doesn’t explode all over).  This timing works for my microwave.  But you may have to adjust for yours.  It’s a great, quick way to make an egg.

My son's toast and 42 second egg

I made the school lunches.  Typical veggie, fruit, crunchy snack (here crackers) and roll up.  His is turkey and hers is hummus (remember she doesn’t eat meat).  It looks like an orange color theme today.

school lunch

My planning problem was mid day.  I dropped the kids, went for a run, got ready and went to a meeting.  I figured it would only last about an hour, so I’d grab lunch before getting the kids when I got home.  Well the meeting was with a wonderful group of people and we were talking and went over 2 hours.  During the meeting we sat down for their coffee break and they invited me to join them for birthday cake.  I turned down the cake and explained about the challenge.  At this point I was very hungry (red velvet cake smelled great), but hadn’t had lunch and even if it wasn’t the challenge the cake on an empty stomache would’ve felt bad.  Turned out I felt bad anyways – since I hadn’t eaten since 7 am.  If it weren’t for the challenge I would just stop someplace near the school (La Boulange or Whole Foods) and get a salad or sandwich and eat it leisurely.  Instead I remembered I had a Cliff Z-bar (emergency for the kids) in my purse which I ate on the way to my house because I had a horrible headache.  I think from lack of food and lack of iced tea. (I unfortunately bought unfamiliar, inexpensive tea bags and brewed it myself thinking I was prepared with hot and cold options.  But, yuck.  Too much spice and cinnamon.  I miss my Mighty Leaf and Tejava).  When I got home I had 5 minutes to use the bathroom and make a wrap (turkey, cheese, hummus, tomato) and ate it in the car on the way to pick up the kids from school.  That wasn’t until 2:20 pm.

my wrap to go

The kids were happy with their smoothie popsicles for their after school snack.

smoothie pops

Dinner was still just the kids and I.  My husband is back tonight.  We got home late from Tae Kwon Do, so I put out some of the left-over cut veggies from the fondue to ease everyone’s hunger,  while I made dinner between kids’ showers and homework.  They chose minestrone soup (Trader Joe’s from a can), tuna melts and spinach salad.  This was good and quick.  However halfway through dinner I got a horrible heartburn pain.  I actually had to take an antacid and lay down for a few minutes.  I’m guessing (and who knows?) maybe I was so hungry and ate too fast that I gave myself the gas and then heartburn.

soup and sand
spinach salad - note croutons from left-over baguette

So if I’m planning to be out and about I need to pack something for myself to eat (an apple, half a sandwich), so I’m not stuck having to come all the way home to make food.  I would usally have some raw nuts with me, but didn’t think I should splurge at $9 a pound for this week’s shopping.

 

 

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Cookbook Review – Raw Food for Real People

I have to admit while I like a challenge in the kitchen sometimes I am indimidated by certain kinds of foods and cookbooks.  This was the case when I received Raw Foods for Real People; Living Vegan Food Made Simple by Rod Rotondi.  Raw foods are not new, it’s what most humans ate for centuries – nuts, fruits, vegetables, grains etc.  Basically whole foods not cooked above a certain temperature (118 F). 

My family eats vegetarian and even vegan sometimes, but when I think of raw I think of salads and veggies (good of course as a snack or on the side, but not a regular diet).  There is a thoughtful foreward for people like me that are not quite comfortable with the whole co cooking thing.  I mean I write cookbooks, not non-cookbooks.  He talks honestly about his road to raw (living and traveling all over the globe) as well as the health benefits and history of raw foods.

Of course I can do anything in moderation, which is Rod’s point.  He doesn’t necessarily set out to change everyone’s diet to raw, he’s giving the info and recipes and hopes you incorporate more raw food in your meals.  So I started off by making a few of the smoothies.  The Tropical whip with bananas, dates, pineapple and coconut milk was declared by my son as “the best smoothie I ever made”.  And we make a lot.  Some other things weren’t so off our usual like vegetable slaw and guacamole.  I made the Hale Kale salad to varying criticisms, but mostly a problem with texture (my daughter) and sour (my son).  I rather liked it and will experiment next time by adding tomatoes and olives and maybe feta, and less lemon juice. 

I like having this book in my collection.  It gives me some good inspiration and also rounds out my books to be something for everyone.  You never know when a raw enthusiast is coming to dinner.  And it may be the perfect gift for someone thinking about a diet change or in need of more healthy inspiration.

Pros: Healthy recipes and good diet information.  Some quick and easy such as dressings, salads and smoothies.  Using whole and organic foods, not only good for the body but for the environment as well.

Cons: Some recipes just too time consuming and not simple, such as soaking nuts to make “cheez” and require some unique pantry items such as “nama shoyu”.  Also can make more recipes if you have the right equipment such as a hydrator (I don’t have). 

And here’s a link to a TV interview / cooking demo (kale salad) that Rod did about the book when the hardcover came out last year:  http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=view_from_the_bay/food_wine&id=7077899
Note: the author is also a dad and has stuck to his prinicipals by feeding his daughter only raw foods – she’s 4.
(Hopefully he’s working on an interesting follow-up book once she starts going to school functions and birthday parties.  Those outside influences are tough.)
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A Few Green Items of Late…

Green Item #1

My children have a subscription to National Geographic Kids magazine.  It’s full of stories, facts and games about animals, people and places.  There’s also a recipe in each.  My daughter kept asking about a St. Patrick’s shake in the March issue.  There were many things in the recipe I don’t usually buy or make such as lime yogurt and limeade.  But today I said we were going to make our own green smoothie.  We used some of the ingredients as suggested and added and subtracted a few to make it more healthy and less complex.  When my son saw the spinach leaves going in, he was certainly suspect.  However he was first to drink it up and ask for another glass.  Here’s what I did…

Green Snoothie

1 frozen organic banana, cut into 3 – 4 pieces

2 organic kiwis, peeled and cut into chunks

1/2 cup plain organic yogurt

1 teaspoon maple syrup

1 handful (about 1/2 cup) spinach leaves

1/2 cup organic orange juice

Blend all ingredients together in a blender until smooth.  

(My kids commented on the kiwi seeds.  If you add more juice you’ll be able to strain seeds.)

Green Item #2

The Avocado Pit

I finally got an avocado pit to successfully split and sprout.  I remembered doing it as a kid and saw it recently in my daughter’s preschool class.  However until now, I hadn’t been able to sprout one on my own.  I found out the water needs to be changed and I think that made the difference.  So now, I need to know what to do next.  Replant?  When and in what?  Can someone out there advise please?

Green Item #3

 

Obscene (looking) fava bean

I just had to share this.  There’s actually a more obscene image that I’m too embarassed to post.  Many things in my deck garden have not grown to potential this year, such as our tomatoes.  However we planted a few fava beans and we now have 3 huge stalks, over 5 feet tall.  We’re starting to get beans too.  Now we’re just waiting for Jack to come up or a giant to come down.

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