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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Thanksgiving Meal Wrap Up

So Thanksgiving is already over.  While ours was small.  We unfortuantely scared away the grandparents with the flu.  On the actual day, everyone was healthy.  All in all I was pleased with the food.  I always like the walnut mushroom stuffing.  My son picked mashed potatoes, though in years passed it’s been sweet potatoes.  The kids were great helpers with the brussels sprouts.  Really a fool spoof way to get a brussels sprouts hater to turn the corner.  Because grandma didn’t come and bring my kids’ requested pumpkin bread, we even managed to make a few loaves, so not to dissappoint. (We even shared with the neighbors)

However there was a dissappointment and that was the main attraction…the turkey.  I did the brine.  Everyone always says how great it tuns out.  But not for me.  Not for this bird.  I followed the directions.  Managed to spill some of the brine all over the kitchen.  Those bags can be tricky with so much liquid.   The bird browned and it tasted fine.  But fine really isn’t what we’re looking for.  There was something missing.  I realized what it was about 3/4 of the way through cooking.  There was no juice.  Where were the pan drippings?  And there was no aroma.  Why didn’t the house smell like roasted turkey.  My best guess is that the moisture stays in.  Well I want moist, but I also want drippings and aroma.  So next year it’s back to the wine and butter baste only.  Always worked for my mom.

On a high note was one of the best desserts I ever made.  No really.  It was Lilly Pulitzer’s Gingered Pumpkin Tart.  This was amazing.  The perfect mix of sweet and spicy.  I thought the crystallized ginger would be too much and was serving it on the side, until everyone asked for more.  The ultimate was fresh whipping cream and a dollop of vanilla bean ice cream.  I’m already trying to determine what occassion to make it for again and who I should share it with.

The kids were in charge of the table decor.  Note the colored tea lights (those are usually for outside).  There was a bit of a squabble over who would make placecards.  So my son made them for dinner and my daughter cleared those and set hers out for dessert.  They also made a stick centerpiece in the shape of a turkey.

Take a look…

peeling brussels
Ellery and her cranberry sauce
Me and my bird
the centerpiece arrangement
A piece of the gingered pumpkin tart
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Out of the Garden Pancakes…The Greener Latke?

 

I’ve been wanting to take some photos of my Out of the Garden Pancakes, so I made them for dinner for meatless Monday this week.  When making them I was reminded of latkes and that Hannukah is coming up so soon this year.  My kids even said “These look like green latkes.”  I think these could be another addition to your Hannukah table and would go nicely with the usual potato latkes if you’re looking for a twist and some color.

Out of the Garden Pancakes

from The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler page 115

Children who “don’t eat vegetables” will eat these pancakes.  They are a filling entrée, a   hearty snack or a side dish for grilled meats.

Makes about 10, (4 inch) pancakes

1 cup organic broccoli or broccoli florets

12 organic asparagus spears

1 cup (6 ounces) sliced organic brown mushrooms

¼ cup chopped organic onion

1 large garlic clove, minced

¼ cup expeller pressed canola oil

2/3 cup organic whole wheat flour

1 tablespoon fresh dill weed

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

1 large cage free, organic egg

¼ cup organic milk

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

Place broccoli and asparagus in a steamer basket set in a pot filled with about 1 to 2 inches of lightly boiling water.  Do not let water touch vegetables.  Cover and steam vegetables for 4 to 5 minutes, or until tender. 

Put steamed broccoli, asparagus, mushrooms, onions, garlic in a food processor and pulse on and off to chop, or chop by hand.  Be careful not to puree.  Transfer chopped ingredients into a large bowl and stir in oil, flour, dill and salt.  Add the egg and milk and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon. 

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat and coat with cooking spray.  Drop batter by ¼ cups into the skillet and cook until firm on bottom, about 2 minutes.  Turn the pancakes with a spatula and sprinkle cooked side with cheddar cheese, if desired.  Cook other side until golden, about 1minute.

TIP

Adult Treats.  This recipe can become adult hors d’oeuvres by dropping batter by tablespoonful for bite size treats.  Top these pancakes with a spoonful of baby’s left-over apple puree or a dollop of sour cream or crème fraiche.

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A Visit to Nana’s Garden

I’m so proud of my parents.  My mom asked her gardener to pull up some lawn in their backyard and plant a vegetable garden.  Mind you it’s not that big – about 5 x 8, but there’s lot’s growing.  They’re growing tomatoes, carrots, squash, cucumber, peas and radishes.  Yes, lots and lots of radishes.

My mom was so excited to show my kids the garden on our visit last week.  And the kids had a great time watering the plants, and pulling up those radishes.  We also had them on salads and sliced them with butter and salt. 

My son shared a song with his grandparents he learned at school about growing a garden.  It’s so sweet and goes like this…

In by inch, row by row,

gtta make this garden grow.

All you need is a rake and a hoe,

and a piece of furtile ground.

Inch by inch, row by row,

someone bless these seeds I sow,

some one warm and from below,

til’ the rain comes tumbling down.

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Growing Up Veggies, Herbs and Ice Cream


From Lisa Barnes

Not only did we set up a compost, but we planted some edibles. I’d been reviewing lots of great photos and ideas in Sunset Magazine and online on Kids Gardening , but because of all the animals around us (deer, foxes, raccoons, turkeys, skunks etc.) we decided to plant in containers on our front deck. I figured once we had some experience then we could see about making the investment in a true garden in the yard and building the deer fence.  While I was optimistic I was also realistic in my green thumb expectations.  I don’t do very well with plants and thus usually only have orchids or cut flowers indoors.

So my kids and I venured to the nursery with lots of questions about edibles and containers. We bought starts of tomatoes, lettuce, beans, peas, strawberries, basil and mint.  All chosen by my children.   When we got home we all got dirty and had a great time planting. Every day the kids have been eagerly taking turns to water the plants each day and look for anything “to happen”.

Well after about 3 weeks, my family actually ate a salad of greens from our efforts. Harvesting lettuce was really a proud moment for my kids and I. I’ve been writing and telling parents about getting children involved in the growing, shopping and cooking of their food. We all see how children (and adults) enjoy tasting foods at the farmer’s market and picking berries at a u-pick farm, but there really is a sense of pride when they grow and eat something they’ve nurtured. Both my daughter and son enjoyed the lettuce and kept pointing outside and reminding my husband and I “We made this lettuce, just right out there.  Now we don’t need to buy lettuce at the store”.

Because we haven’t had enough the heat, the tomatoes aren’t ripening yet. However they are growing.  Not knowing how big they’d get from our little 5 inch starters, we kept gathering sticks to make stakes and hold the plants. Finally we made a trip back to the nursery to learn about proper stakes and garden tape to make a cage. (I was asking too much of my culinary string). Also feeling bold we bought some additional pots for seeds my father had sent us. After about 2 weeks now we’re sprouting carrots, radish and cucumber too.

While we’re waiting on our veggies, I’ve found the perfect thing to make for the summer and use the garden – mint chocolate ice cream.  (This recipe from Simply Recipes has great step by step instructions and does not use peppermint extract or food colorings as so many others.)  I missed making ice cream, since I had such an old freezer (see post), so I couldn’t wait to make and share the taste of real mint ice cream (that wasn’t bright green) with my kids.  We made about 3 batches so far as we have many birthdays in our family in July.  In fact I’m going to have to buy fresh mint for our next batch, as we need to give our mint in the garden a chance to grow more.

My family has been really been enjoying time together in our mini garden (and the fruits of our labor).   With just a few simple pots, dirt, and plants I feel good about practicing more with my family of what I’ve been preaching.
~~
Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler, Williams-Sonoma: Cooking For Baby, and Petit Appetit: Eat, Drink and Be Merry and lives in Sausalito, California.

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Potluck Salads (Organic Recipes)

From Lisa Barnes

It’s potluck time at my kids’ school.  You may remember (or you can read here) my blog (rant) from last year regarding everyone who brings take-out pizza to the school potluck.  Although after now attending a few of these school functions I realize the other popular way out is with dessert.  Who doesn’t like to make and eat cookies and cupcakes?  Plus think how popular your child will be with his friends.

I feel like I shouldn’t take up the dessert choice and the main dishes have improved (a great enchilada and chicken at the last one).  So now I’m bringing salads. Not a typical lettuce salad, but something unique.  Even though I know unique may not be eaten (or tried) by everyone.  Here are two that are easy, healthy, tasty and very colorful.

Organic Confetti Slaw

Here the produce takes center stage with a bright, vitamin-rich mix of colors and flavors that will entice children and adults alike. Cutting julliened pieces or shredding fruits and vegetables with a box grater is a great way to add extra vegetables into dishes such as quesadillas and pasta sauces.

Makes 5 (1-cup) servings

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed organic orange juice
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large organic zucchini, julienned
1 medium organic red or orange bell pepper, juliened
1 small organic Fuji apple, peeled and juliened
1 cup juliened jicama
1 cup shredded organic purple cabbage

In a medium bowl, whisk together the orange juice, vinegar, and olive oil. Add the zucchini, bell pepper, apple, jicama and cabbage, and toss together to combine.

Monica’s Organic Edamame Salad

My friend Monica brought our family a lovely dinner after I came home from the hospital when my daughter was born. The best part was this yummy and beautiful salad. It quickly became a family favorite. Whenever I make it my son Jonas asks, “Did Monica make this for us?” This is a very versatile and quick dish because you can use many prepackaged convenience items (such as slivered almonds), make use of left-over cooked rice, or even find pre-cooked rice in your store. It can be made ahead for a potluck picnic or school event.

Makes 10 (1-cup) servings

1 1/2 cups cooked organic brown rice (left over or pre-packaged)
1 (10-ounce) package frozen organic white corn, thawed
1 (16-ounce) package fresh or frozen organic edamame, (if frozen, cooked according to package directions)
1/2 cup chopped organic celery
1/3 cup organic golden raisins
1/4 cup chopped green onions (about 4)
1/2 cup julienned fresh basil leaves

Dressing

3 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
5 tablespoons expeller-pressed organic canola oil
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup sliced or slivered almonds

Combine rice, corn, edamame, celery, raisins, onions and basil in a large bowl.

To make the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients.

Pour dressing over salad and toss with a spoon until everything is coated. Serve almond pieces on the side (in case of allergies) to sprinkle on top.

Picky, Picky! For a choosey eater, separate out items such as raisins and edamame that make great snacks on their own, without the fight over “mixing it all together” or getting “dressing on everything.”
~
See also Lisa’s Freeze Please! (do your kids hate eating veggies?)
~~
Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler, Williams-Sonoma: Cooking For Baby, and lives in Sausalito, California.
Image Credit: Soybeans © Norman Chan | Dreamstime.com
OrganicToBe.org | OrganicToGo.com
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