“Beauty Cocktail” A purple ‘green’ smoothie

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I am a firm believer in using food to help with health, and on my never ending quest for new combinations, I stumbled upon an article referring to a “beauty cocktail”. As I skimmed the article, I found that

a.) The health claims were pretty fantastic
b.) I already had a lot of the ingredients on hand!

So as promised in the last post, here it is…a smoothie that will either inspire or traumatize you! I will include a brief explanation to why each is included…

Ingredients:

leafy greens
frozen berries
hemp seeds
chia seeds
almond milk
lemon
ginger
honey

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Here is why:

1.) Leafy green veggies, 1-2 cups. I used kale, but others work as well. This ads vitamin A, which helps with nails, hair, skin, eye health. There is also vitamin B and of course fiber! Also, this is an easy way to get one of your daily servings of veggies out of the way!

2.) Frozen berries, 1 handful (or more!). This helps make the smoothie cold, and smoothie like. Berries have antioxidants (heart, skin, mood help) and of course vitamin C. [I also added some fresh blueberries as I had them on hand]

3.) Banana (I used a half). While it is not in the original recipe, bananas help thicken smoothies. Probiotic, potassium, fiber, and helps with calcium intake.

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Chia left, Hemp right

4.) Hemp seeds, 1 tbs. This is new for me, according to the internet, hemp seeds are a must have. They contain an impressive amount of protein (including the one that starts collagen production), omega-3 fats, are anti-inflammatory, and have fiber! Also, you can’t really taste them when you add them to a smoothie…so it is a win-win. The only downside I have found so far, is that they are a bit pricey. Hailing at $21 a pound at Whole foods, they may not be the most cost accessible. The good news is that a pound is A LOT of hemp seeds. Especially if you are using them a tablespoon at a time…

5.) Chia seeds. Also new to me, but similar to the hemp seeds, they seem to be packed with important things. Chia seeds include omega 3s, iron, essential fatty acids, protein, B vitamins, potassium, magnesium, and fiber.

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The ingredients in a blender so far!

6.) Almond milk (~1 cup). I love almond milk! More calcium than traditional milk, filled with vitamin E, and vitamin B. (it is also Gluten free!) I use the vanilla version, which adds a sweeter side to the smoothie.

7.) Lemon (the juice of half of one). Lemon cleans out everything, it breaks down the gunk in your digestive track. Lemon is also a good source of vitamin C.

8.) Ginger (a few shakes…or a small amount of fresh ginger). Ginger helps with digestion and blood flow.

9.) Honey (to sweeten). The website suggests using something to sweeten the smoothie. I prefer honey, as it has antibacterial, anti fungal, and throat health qualities.

The final result is a sweet smoothie, full of health benefits. It may be considered an acquired taste…and if not blended fully, you may have a chewy piece (I know that sounds less than pleasant). I really enjoy the taste, and with the ingredients, it is easy to live a happy and healthy life!

Has anyone else tried this? What would you include?

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Savory Acorn Squash!

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The past few days have been a time for me to take a step back, look around, and focus on me. A month ago I had damaged my voice while teaching, I then continued to strain as I neglected to take care of…me. Last week I went to a specialist who stuck a tube up my nose and down my throat (not pleasant) and announced, much to my despair, that I had persistent laryngitis, a raw voice box, and vocal nodules. After a hectic and stressful Tuesday, I decided to follow my doctor’s orders and take the rest of the week off of work. I used this time to focus on recovery, help get myself back to health, and to rest my voice. A few days gone in the teaching field is a lot, but the time off was needed, and I am excited to announce that my voice is almost back to normal!

Part of my recovery time included yoga, meditation, and of course, cooking and trying new things! Tomorrow I will either inspire or traumatize you with my super smoothie (warning: it includes kale!)! Tonight, however, I am going to introduce something new, and definitely fun.

While produce shopping a few days ago, I came across an amazing deal, three acorn squash for a dollar. Never having cooked an acorn squash, and not quite sure what to look for, I choose three from the selection and wondered what I could do with the squash. A cursory glimpse at google suggested butter, sugar, and cinnamon…which is lovely, but not for dinner! I eventually found a lovely recipe at The Kitchn took half of the ingredients, substituted the rest, and ended up with an amazing result.

Ingredients: I cooked for myself only this time…adjust the portions as needed

  • one acorn squash
  • olive oil (2tbs)
  • meat crumbles (8oz) (I used boca crumbles, the original calls for turkey sausage, use what you want)
  • red pepper flakes (enough to season)
  • Italian Seasoning (1 tsp)
  • Garlic (2 cloves)
  • sundried tomatoes (to your liking…)
  • chickpeas (half of a can)
  • arugula (1 cup or more)
  • basil (a few leaves shredded)
  • fresh breadcrumbs (enough to top the acorn squash)

First, wash and cut the squash in half. It is close to a circle, so “long ways” doesn’t quite work well as a direction. Stand it up, and cut down the middle. Scoop out the seeds, place in a microwave safe dish with about a half inch of water in it. Microwave for 7-9 minutes. Mine took 9 minutes. You want the squash to be soft!

While that is happening, make breadcrumbs…if you do not have some already on hand, or if you want to be fancy! I broiled pita bread until it was crispy and then used my blender to make breadcrumbs. If you are going for the fresh breadcrumb option, start preparing your bread item now.

In a large frying pan, add olive oil, meat, garlic, red pepper flakes, and Italian seasoning. Cook for about five minutes, add chickpeas, stir and cook for another five minutes. Add sundried tomatoes, cook for another three – five minutes. Add arugula, basil, and water if the mixture is dryish. Wait until the arugula wilts!

By now the squash should be done and your microwave should be annoyingly beeping at you waiting for recognition that it has finished its job. Place the two halves of the squash on a baking sheet, fill with the frying pan mixture, add a tablespoon of water to each (I am not sure why…but I am not going to question it), and then sprinkle with bread crumbs.

The original recipe said to add a shredded hard cheese, like parmesan…I obviously did not do that, although I can see why some would. This would be the time to add dairy.

Place in the oven on broil until either a.) the dairy melts, or b.)the breadcrumbs look rather toasty. I have found that the proper amount of time is exactly equal to the amount of time it took for me to clean my kitchen. This time may vary for you. (Mom, pretend you are cleaning someone else’s kitchen…otherwise you will skip using the oven!)

The outcome was pretty amazing.

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Wilted Kale/Spinach and asparagus

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One of the hardest parts of eating vegan is not forgoing ice-cream (there are great substitutes!), missing out on fast-food (it isn’t good for you anyway, and there are veg friendly options!), or even eating at a friend’s house (my friends are awesome!), the hardest part of eating vegan is turning down the nice people at publix when they offer you a sample of the latest concoction.

Thursday was no different. The dish looked amazing, wilted kale (which I love), tomatoes (favorite!), something that looked like onions, chopped asparagus, it was easy to tell that vinegar was involved and it smelled lovely. I saw chicken, which could be picked out easily, but my heart sunk when I noticed that it was sprinkled with parmesan. Living vicariously in dairy adventures through Josh, I watched with jealousy as he devoured the sample dish. My spirits, however, were lifted when he not only proclaimed that the dish was phenomenal, but would have to be cooked by us, really soon.

Soon ended up being dinner that night.

Ingredients:

Olive oil (2 tbs)
Shallots (2, or one package, chopped coarsely)
Tomatoes (one pint!)
“Garlic spice mix” (2 tsps, I mixed together garlic salt, basil, parsley, onion powder)
Kale (chopped 5 oz, kale and spinach mixture)
Asparagus (chopped 1 inch pieces 4 oz)
Mushrooms (as many as you want, not part of the original recipe, but added in place of chicken!)
Sugar (3 tbs)
Red Wine Vinegar (1/4 cup)
Fresh Basil (1/2 cup chopped)

Heat oil in a large frying pan and add shallots, tomatoes, and half of the spice mix. Cook until tomatoes are soft. A mushrooms and sauté for a minute or so as you mix the sugar and vinegar.

Let sit for 8-10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add asparagus, wait a minute, add the kale, basil, and the rest of the spice mix. Cook until the green leafy vegetable of choice is wilted.

Remove from heat and serve. Josh added cheese to his…feel free to also indulge in dairy!

While this dish was simple, it was really good! The vinegar and sugar gives an unexpected glaze to the usually savory vegetables. The shallots were surprisingly awesome…given my hatred for onions, I am excited to announce that I ate all of them!

For those of you interested…here is the original recipe

Cooking in the New Year!

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Hello all you out there! The past year has been busy, intense, and full of good food that unfortunately went unclogged! Along with a long list of resolutions for the new year, I am going to pick up blogging again…and maybe Kristina will join me 🙂

Last night, Josh and I decided that we wanted a dish with mushrooms and kale…we just weren’t sure what form the dish would take. Since publix was closed early for the new year, we roamed the aisles of Walmart searching for ingredients to meet our very vague culinary desires. Grabbing portobello mushrooms, a box of baby bella mushrooms, and the only fresh kale to be found (a spinach and kale duo bag) we decided to make a kale/spinach pesto to go on top of simple sautéed mushrooms.

Ingredients

Kale/spinach (about half of a 13 oz bag)
Garlic (Josh shares my love of excessive garlic so we put in seven cloves of garlic…between 3 to 5 would have been sufficient!)
Walnuts (a handful)
Juice of a lemon
Dried basil (1-2tbs)
Olive oil (add slowly until mixture is creamy)
Mushrooms

To make the pesto, chop garlic and first round or olive oil in the blender until the garlic is fairly demolished. Then add half of the kale, lemon, and walnuts. Blend until creamy, adding olive oil as needed. Once the first round is done, add the remaining lemon, kale, basil, and walnuts and blend. Josh removed part of the top of the blender to push around the ingredients, which worked for a little while. Unfortunately, the utensil he was using caught one of the blades in the blender and pesto was slung all around his kitchen. The biggest tragedy was that the cabinet above the blender was open and the herbs, spices, and collection of oils was painted a dark green! The ceiling was fortunately spared. I therefore advise extreme caution when experimenting with the top of the blender! (Side note…mom, I remember you telling me this would happen one day!)

While the pesto is combining, chop the mushrooms into large chunks, and sauté in olive oil. Remember, mushrooms provide their own juice when heated, so minimal olive oil is required.

Once the mushrooms are done and the pesto is to satisfaction, divide the mushrooms, top with pesto, serve and enjoy!

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