“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?

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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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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Vegan Review: Amy’s Rice Macaroni and Cheese…gluten free, dairy free, soy free

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I love grocery stores. I love looking at the different packaging, learning different types of food, and seeing what kind of new products are marketed towards those who have different food styles. I was not always this way…I distinctly remember not liking food shopping when I was younger…sorry mom!

Today I came across a Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Soy Free Macaroni and Cheese! Few imitation cheddar cheese products have been able to resemble cheese, and even fewer have had the qualities required for making a decent macaroni and cheese. For these reasons, it has been AGES since I have been able to indulge in the epitome of comfort foods. Seeing that it was on sale, I decided to go for it.

I love Amy’s products, they are frequently vegan and always vegetarian, WIN! I took this one out of the package, removed the plastic wrap, and placed it in the oven for 20 minutes. This is also relatively new for me…I rarely ate frozen food as a kid. As an adult I sporadically indulged in the frozen pizza, or famous pizza rolls…but rarely frozen dishes.

At the “stirring point” I decided to add some flare to the dish. I took the homemade breadcrumbs from last post and added it to the top of the pasta, along with a little garlic salt. You can never have too much garlic! I returned the dish to the oven for five minutes, took out, and was blown away.

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First thing I noticed was that it TASTED authentic…there was no weird fake tastes! The pasta was tender, the cheese was gooey, and the whole things was fantastic. I will admit, it has been a long time since I had had real macaroni and cheese, and entirely possible that I have altered taste buds…but this was really good!

In the end, I recommend Amy’s Rice Macaroni and Cheese (gluten free, dairy free, and soy free as they do have a soy cheese one)

What to do with leftover Tabouli? Stuffed Tomatoes!

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They are almost too pretty to eat!

After making a lot of tabouli yesterday, and indulging in a lovely pita, I decided to scour the internet for more ways to use this delightful salad. Pinterest was able to supply me with a few ideas. Since I have stuffed peppers before, and stuffed portebello mushrooms didn’t work out as well as I had hoped, I decided to try to stuff tomatoes. After all, I had a lot of tabouli.

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This recipe comes from fellow wordpress user A Rented Kitchen and was surprisingly simple to make!

Ingredients

Tabouli
Tomatoes
Bread Crumbs

Since I am always up for a challenge (and simultaneously lack the ability to make anything easy) I decided that I would make my own breadcrumbs. They turned out great! I separated a pita, laid it on a tinfoil covered baking sheet and baked at 350 until crispy. Then I threw it into my ninja blender, crushed to a powder, added italian seasoning and shook! The results were way better than store bought!!

As for the stuffed tomatoes.

First, slice off the top of the tomato, and then scoop out the inside. The end result should resemble this

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Be careful to not puncture the tomato!

Next, add tabouli (almost to the top!), cover in bread crumbs and place into a greased glass baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes at 350, remove and enjoy! The original recipe calls for parmesan cheese on top…but that is totally up to you!

I would definitely make this again…easy, delicious, and would make a great appetizer!

Tabouli Pita!

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I am officially on Summer break! Hooray! It seems surreal that in a mere four weeks I will be teaching my third year of sixth grade history…I am enjoying the quiet time while it lasts!

Tonight’s dinner comes from a desire to clean out the fridge, rid my pantry of boxed concoctions, and to try something new-ish. I had a Tabouli box mix from a while back, and decided that tonight was going to finally be the night to try it!

Ingredients:

tabouli mix
1 tbs olive oil
1 tbs lemon juice
1 tomato (cut into small pieces)
1 cucumber (seeded and cut into small pieces)
some fresh basil

The directions seemed simple enough…boil a cup of water, add to mixture, refrigerate for 30 minutes. So I did that first. THEN I read the rest of the instructions, add chopped tomatoes, lemon juice, and olive oil, stir, and refrigerate for ONE HOUR, OR OVERNIGHT! This was going to be my dinner! Ain’t nobody got time for that! I read further, to see if any of the ‘other suggestions for serving’ provided a way to circumvent the time crisis. All I got was ways to spruce up the dish to make it more into a salad by adding diced cucumbers and basil. Being that I recently ended up with an overabundance of both, I was more than happy to place some into the mixture. Remembering a trick I read somewhere (probably pinterest) I placed the mixture into a glass container with a lid, wrapped a damp paper towel around it, and stuck it into the freezer. There is something about the paper towel freezing and transferring coldness faster than just the container in the freezer. If any of you out there are scientists, I would love a better explanation!

While the mixture was cooling, I whipped up some hummus, fetched pita, spinach, and kalamata olives from my fridge and waited. After 15 minutes, I took my mixture out of the freezer, stirred, and put it in for another 10. The paper towel acted as a time machine, and the mixture was sufficiently cooled, hooray for shaving 35 minutes off of my cooling time!

Other Ingredients

Pita
hummus (hummus amount is a personal decision)
spinach (enough to say you had spinach with dinner)
kalamata olives (however many you want!)

I warmed the pita, stuffed it with spinach, slathered on hummus, added the tabouli, topped with olives, rolled and ate. So good! The best part? I have a TON more for other meals! Perhaps I will find a way to repurpose tabouli…

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Epic protein packed salad!

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I have recently rediscovered Boca Chick’n Patties, and have fallen in love with them in buffalo wing sauce! With a surplus of vegetables in my fridge from the farmers market, I decided an epic salad was in order. This salad has healthy fats (avocado and olive oil), super greens (kale AND spinach), protein (boca patties and sunflower sprouts), and overall delicious happiness (tomatoes, mushrooms, peppers). Not to mention a whopping 831% of your vitamin A intake, 2,216.8 mg of potassium, 456% vitamin C, and 26.8 grams of protein (imagine if I had placed beans in here!)! Whenever someone asks me where I get my protein from, I should really just link them to my blog…

To those counting carbs, this dish is high: 61.9 grams, and 682 calories. It does, however, make a formidable salad…and I was full for a LONG time after! The photo only shows a small portion of the salad…

I have posted the full health benefits on the bottom of this page for those of you interested.

Ingredients:

Kale, 2 cup, chopped
Spinach, 1 cup
1/2 Hass avocado (finely diced)
6 cherry tomatoes
1/2 fresh medium size tomato
1/2 bell pepper
3 medium mushrooms
1 scallion stalk
1 cup sunflower sprouts
1 Boca Original Chik’n Patties, 1 serving
1 tsp of your favorite wing sauce
1 tbs Olive Oil
1/2 a lemon squeezed
3 basil leaves
chopped oregano

Place the boca patty in a greased frying pan and cook over medium heat for 12-14 minutes, flipping occasionally.

Meanwhile, combine all of the vegetables into a container with a lid. Add olive oil and lemon juice, cover and shake vigorously. This ensures that everything is evenly coated. The avocado will disintegrate a bit, adding to the dressing.

When the patty is almost completely cooked, add the wing sauce. BE CAREFUL! IT WILL BUBBLE AND MAY SPLASH OUT!! Flip one or two times, remove from heat, dice, add to container, cover, shake, put on plate. Voila! an epic protein packed salad!

Due to the explosive flavors in this dish, dressing other than the lemon juice and olive oil is not needed!

If you are not comfortable using the boca burgers, regular chicken will work too! (nutrition facts will change…of course)

Nutrition Facts

1 Serving

Amount Per Serving

Calories 682.7

Total Fat 49.9 g

Saturated Fat 4.3 g

Polyunsaturated Fat 4.8 g

Monounsaturated Fat 18.7 g

Cholesterol 0.0 mg

Sodium 1,051.1 mg

Potassium 2,216.4 mg

Total Carbohydrate 69.1 g

Dietary Fiber 22.9 g

Sugars 13.3 g

Protein 26.8 g

Vitamin A 831.0 %

Vitamin B-12 0.4 %

Vitamin B-6 62.2 %

Vitamin C 456.4 %

Vitamin D 10.3 %

Vitamin E 27.5 %

Calcium 45.4 %

Copper 53.3 %

Folate 73.4 %

Iron 62.1 %

Magnesium 40.3 %

Manganese 110.5 %

Niacin 36.9 %

Pantothenic Acid 26.6 %

Phosphorus 27.8 %

Riboflavin 45.5 %

Selenium 13.5 %

Thiamin 32.3 %

Zinc 16.9 %

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

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I am back…with Mediterranean Pepper Boats!

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Hello online world! Long time, no write! Life has been hectic, exciting, and a lot of fun. During my writing hiatus, I remade some of my favorite dishes from the past posts, and made a few rather uneventful dishes which were hardly blog worthy.

As the school year comes to a close, I will start to have time to cook more, and explore more of the culinary world. Today’s inspiration came in the middle of yoga class, Mediterranean Pepper Boats!

Similar to stuffed peppers, Pepper Boats are a vehicle on which to try new combinations of food. Unlike stuffed peppers, the boats are usually 1/4 of a pepper. In this case I had an obnoxiously large pepper, so they were roughly 1/6 of a pepper. Because of the versatile nature of this recipe, I will not include measurements.

Ingredients:

Red bell peppers
cooked quinoa
sundried tomatoes
kalamata olives
mushrooms (chopped)
cooked chickpeas
basil

First, slice the peppers into ‘boats’ or slices large enough to hold the quinoa mixture. With smaller peppers, this may be half of a pepper, mine were large! Once sliced, place in boiling water on the stove to soften slightly. While you will be cooking the peppers later, this helps speed up the process!

While the peppers are cooking, preheat the oven to 350, and mix together quinoa, sundried tomatoes, olives, mushrooms, chickpeas, and basil. Stir to ensure that everything mingles nicely. Measurements depend on taste, and size/number of pepper boats!

Once the mixture is made, and the oven preheated, remove the peppers from the water, place them in a baking dish, spoon mixture on top, cover dish with tin foil, and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the tin foil for the last 5 minutes.

Take out of oven and enjoy!

I had originally made hummus to go with this dish, but found that it did not need it! These are great for dinner, lunches (bringing it to work tomorrow!), and appetizers!

Honey Mango Balsamic Pizza? A tale of two pizzas…

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So this recipe was all Kristina’s idea! We were going out later in the evening, and decided to cook a meal together before going out. Since she hadn’t cooked on here in a while, I asked her to choose a fun recipe, and one that I could convert to fit my vegan lifestyle!

She chose a recipe from pinterest Nectarine pizza with fresh basil and reduced balsamic. She seems to have a knack for finding fancy sounding recipes.

While Kristina chose to use goat cheese and parmesan, I was eager to try out my new Go Veggie Vegan Mozzarella Cheese. (A quick note on Go Veggie…sometimes, it still has milk products in it!) Now, the mozzarella was a little more, potent, then I recall real mozzarella to be, but I decided to try it out on this recipe.

We also couldn’t find reasonably priced nectarines or peaches…but honey mangoes were on sale! Why not try honey mangoes! So after completely altering the list of ingredients, we set off to cook.

I made my specialized pizza dough, as posted several times on my blog, recently in the post Pesto and Cream Cheese Based Green pizza. Seriously, if you have not tried this recipe yet, you need to try it…15 minutes to an amazing pizza crust!

Once the pizza crust is laid out, add the toppings. For this you will need

2 honey mangoes (cut into slivers and tiny pieces)
1 cup of fresh chopped basil
cheese of your choice
1/3 cup of balsamic vinegar (save until after baking the pizza!)

First cover your dough with cheese. Kristina placed goat cheese on first, and the her parmesan. I generously sprinkled my cheese over my crust. Then add a healthy helping of sliced and diced mango. Finish the dish with half of the basil (the other half will be used after the dish is cooked). Place in the oven for 10-15 minutes on 500 degrees. Make sure your pizza does not burn!

While cooking the pizza, heat the balsamic vinegar on the stove, stirring continuously, allowing it to ‘reduce’. You know it is ready when it becomes thick, do not let it boil and waste!

When the pizza comes out of the oven, sprinkle the remaining basil on top, and lightly drizzle the balsamic vinegar. Slice and enjoy!

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The white plate is vegan, the black plate is not.

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Kristina enjoyed her non-vegan pizza!

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But she also conceded that mine was pretty good too! I was really pleased that the Go Veggie Cheese completely melted! While it did not taste completely like mozzarella, it worked perfectly with the other flavors!

A vegan kitchen, vegan fast food and junk food, a random entry!

One of the biggest questions I get about food is, what DO you eat? The term ‘vegan’ often leaves an unsavory taste in the public’s mind, and well, mouth. While I hope I have shed some light on the mystery food decisions of a vegan, I decided to dedicate this post to what a vegan kitchen, vegan junk food, and a quick vegan comfort meal might look like!


The scary vegan kitchen

First of all is the fridge. I go to the farmers market every Sunday, and get supplementary food from a fresh food store, and of course, publix. While my refrigerator might look sparse on Saturday, I start the week with something like this:

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I use my juicer every morning, with one orange, one apple, 10-15 strawberries, half a giant carrot, kale, and swiss chard (when available). Sometimes I add other fruit (cantaloupe, for example, when reasonably priced). I also eat a side salad every day at work with my regular lunch. The weird lettuce thing on the top shelf is ‘living lettuce’ and is sold with the root system intact! If kept in water in the fridge, it stays fresh for about a week! You just pick off the pieces you need.

Favorite appliances in a vegan kitchen: juicer, blender, rice cooker (for rehydrating beans), bread machine

See, that isn’t that scary!


Vegan junk and fast food

The other day I had to buy tires after work. I was there for two and a half hours, and was quite famished upon leaving. I also had no desire to cook…which is rare for me. I decided to order a pizza. With our fairly new health crazed nation, just about everything is documented somewhere online. Papa Johns is no exception. I am excited to report that a regular crust, cheese-less, meat-less pizza, without any weird dipping sauce is totally vegan. But what do you put on a cheese-less, meat-less pizza? Olives, mushrooms, bell peppers, and tomatoes! You could also opt to put on banana peppers, onions, and jalapeños, but I do not favor those particular toppings.

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This was seriously delicious!

Sometimes, when I leave work (especially if I worked at the before school program AND then taught) and I am on my way to Sylvan, I stop by taco bell. Gasp! Taco Bell has been pretty great to those of us who do not partake in a dairy and meat culture. Their signature ‘fresco’ menu replaces dairy with pico de gallo which is fantastic. My favorites? The black bean burrito fresco (beans, rice, pico de gallo, red sauce), the 7 layer burrito fresco (baked beans, lettuce, rice, guacamole, pico de gallo, and something else…) and the new cantina burritos. So good!

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Good Job Taco Bell!

I am also a fan of oreos, tortilla chips, pretzels, and graham crackers (especially dipped in icing!)

Yes, all of that is vegan!


Comfort food.

Ending this on a cooking oriented note. I was eating nachos while writing this post. Nachos, made with:

tortilla chips
Boca Burger crumbles
Go Veggie Vegan Mozzarella (for some reason, Go Veggie only makes one vegan option, the rest are ‘lactose free’ but still contain milk)
corn
black beans
mushrooms
green bell peppers
tomatoes
cilantro.

Baked in the oven, placed on my plate, enjoyed by me.

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These were seriously good!

So there you go…what do I eat? I eat food, I eat plants, and I eat junk food…the same things most people eat, with a few substitutions!