Sunday, April 29, 2012

One-sentence wonders... just few words of great wisdom...

Note:  I am always amazed at how much wisdom can be contained in so few words.  To honor that idea, I'll keep this post brief and share two one-sentence wonders I recently (luckily) stumbled across.  Sleep with the words under your pillow... a send off to sweet slumbers... -A

 "Be yourself, everyone else is already taken." 
                                             - Oscar Wilde   

"Never yet was a springtime, when the buds forgot to bloom."
         - Mary Elizabeth Sangster

Recipe #40... Pesto Chicken Salad... One variation with endless possibility

Note:  Recall the pesto formula from earlier posts... So elegant and easy to toss together... nuts/seeds + greens + an oil + a vinegar = something to shake up your next chicken salad.

Pesto Chicken Salad
Makes 6ish servings of chicken salad

For your blender...
1/2 lemon (peeled, no pith) + a bit of lemon zest

2 c mixed loose lettuce... I like Endive and Arugula
1/2 c extra virgin olive oil 
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp salt (you can adjust with more, but never less!)

For your mixing bowl...
The pesto creation from above
2 chicken breasts (cooled and cubed)
1 green apple (cut into small cubes)
2 hard boiled eggs (chopped up)
1/4 c creamy cheese (marscapone, quark etc..) or mayo 
Salt + Pepper to season

This chicken salad is just as versatile as the pesto that binds it.  Top your greens salad with a scoop, smoosh it between two slices of wheat bread, use it as an appetizer cracker topper, or as a filler for lettuce wraps... Play with combinations and have an easy button, anything-goes dinner prep!... -A

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Recipe #39... Beet-y-full Smoothie... Experimenting with roasted vegetables

Note: Smoothies that incorporate beets have captured my interest.  In the past I have blended in baked sweet potatoes and roasted pumpkin with favorable results... so I bought some roasted beets from the store (easy button) and decided to try it out.  Brett is not a fan of roasted beets (how is this possible?)... He will turn away a warm roasted beet and goat cheese salad without the slightest hesitation... More for me, I guess... Question: Will today's breakfast get a good/bad/ugly reaction?

Beet-y-full Smoothie
Add the following to your mixer of choice...
Makes 2 servings

1/2 c coconut water
1/2 c milk or almond milk
1 6 oz honey or plain greek yogurt 
1 1/2 c roasted beets (pickled would be no bueno)
2 c spinach (fresh)
1/2 avocado 
1 orange, peeled & halved
1/2 c frozen grapes
1 c Ice (big cubes usually 5 or 6) 

I wondered if I would be drinking 2 beet-y-full smoothies today but... In his brief interlude to tend to Bernard, I snapped a quick pic of the evidence.  I think I have my answer.  The Vitamix is obviously magic... -A

Friday, April 27, 2012

Recipe #38... Good Earth's Whole Lemonade... Wholesome goodness

Note: "If only you ate this well every day."  That's the brilliant and oh-so-true tagline from a gem of a restaurant - the Good EarthOne of my favorite drinks on the menu is their Whole Lemonade.  It is described simply as "A whole lemon juiced with apples - no sugar added."  Nice and easy so you can at least drink that well every day...
The Good Earth's Whole Lemonade
Add the following to your mixer of choice...
Makes 1 serving

1 whole organic lemon (de-seeded, skin on)
*If that's too much zest for you, peel the lemon skin and the pith... though I'd still add 1 tsp of fresh zest back in
1 organic apple (cored, skin on)
1/2 water (for blending)
A few cubes of ice
Option to add strawberries or raspberries (if frozen, omit the ice)

So simple... Add your flare to the recipe and enjoy.  I feel more wholesome just writing this.. wink!  -A

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Recipe #37... Omega Please... Hydrating from the inside out

Note: Hard to believe but true: most fats don't make you fat...  In fact, the healthy ones do amazing things for your well-being... I should acknowledge that, on the right day, a warm, sticky cinnamon roll can also contribute positively to your mental well-being... But back to those healthy fats... --- Omega 3's: Protect your heart --- Omega 6's: Help you absorb more vitamins from food --- Monounsaturated Fatty Acids (MUFA): Help improve cholesterol... And of course, with the assistance of your blenderizing machine, you can easily add their riches into your diet...
Omega Please
Sticky reads: "Powerful Stuff"
Add the following to your mixer of choice...
Makes two healthy servings

1/2 c unsweetened vanilla almond milk

1 6 oz greek yogurt or scoop protein powder
1 juicy red pear, skin on
1 tbsp chia seeds - Omega 3's
1 tbsp roasted, unsalted almonds - Omega 6's
1/2 avocado - MUFAs
1/4 tsp almond extract
2 c kale (fresh)
1/2 c frozen mixed berries
1 c Ice (big cubes usually 5 or 6) 

Hydrate from the inside out... your skin will glow like you've just returned from a well-deserved vacation, your lovely locks will have the resilience of Rapunzel's, and your nails will be as supple and strong as those shiny gel ones, without the time commitment... well maybe not, but you might feel that way...  Many happy returns...  -A

Recipe #36... Mint Chocolate Breakfast... Seems too good to be true

Note: Let me begin with a disclaimer.  I found the mint chocolate chip recipe on the GOOP blog... I followed the recipe from the greens powder to the fresh mint leaves... silent pause... that combo was a stretch in my opinion (and a one-sip wonder in Brett's).  So after a few days of mulling it over, I modified the ingredients a bit and came up with a recipe that I feel good about sharing with others.  If you don't have chocolate protein powder, you can cheat and use hot cocoa mix with greek yogurt instead... I wouldn't dream of revealing your secret.

Mint Chocolate Breakfast... dessert or anytime treat
Add the following to your mixer of choice...
Makes 2 servings
*Reminder... I am not a nutritionist

3/4 c coconut water
1/2 c vanilla or chocolate almond milk
1 packet chocolate protein powder (I used Tera's Whey)
2 cups loose spinach (you won't detect it!)
1/2 avocado (for creamy texture)
1/4 tsp peppermint extract
1 1/2 c Ice (big cubes usually 6-8) 

I do have to share Dr. Lipman's feelings about the addition of avocado in his concoctions... "My secret for extra creamy smoothies? Avocado! One of my favorite foods with benefits. They have healthy fats, more magnesium and less sugar than bananas, so they make a great base ingredient for many breakfast smoothie recipes."... Amen brother!  -A

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Potential... Another respite from recipes...

Sunday morning I decided to begin my day with TED.  I selected a TED Talk given by Buddhist monk, Matthieu Ricard.  He is sometimes referred to as the "Happiest Man in the World" - Now that's the person you want to help ease you out of your peaceful slumber and into the day...  I am thankful that TED Talks are often quite short (under 15 mins), because I repeated certain sections of Mr. Ricard's talk that resonated with me... What really struck me about his definition of happiness is that he looks at happiness as a way of being; so even when I'm sad or angry or rolled off the wrong side of the bed - shirt rumpled and hair sticking up in all different directions, I can still consider myself to be happy.  That doesn't always fit with our expectations for the emotion.  A weight lifts when we are free of a definition that limits.  We find ourselves to be full of potential... Have a lovely day... -A

Monday, April 23, 2012

Recipe #35... Matcha Green Tea Smoothie... Slide aside Starbucks

Note: If you enjoy the Starbucks green tea latte, read on.  I bought a matcha green tea powder mix from... you guessed it - - my ultimate go-to, supply-everything site.  According to Matcha Source, 1 glass of matcha is equivalent to 10 glasses of green tea in terms of antioxidant content and nutritional value.  Straight-up matcha powder is very bitter so many of the powders you can buy will have added sugar (like the Starbucks mix - there is a reason it's pretty yummy)... Brands like "Gotcha Matcha" don't have sugar or preservatives added.  If you buy a sweetened mix, no worries... skip the honey and be sure your milk choice is also sugar-free.

Matcha Green Tea Smoothie
Add the following to your mixer of choice...
Makes 2 healthy servings

3/4 c unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or milk of choice)

1 6 oz container plain greek yogurt
4 tsp matcha green tea powder
1 apple
1 giant handful of spinach (2 cups loose leaves)
1 tbsp chia seeds
3/4 c frozen grapes
1 c Ice (big cubes usually 5 or 6) 

You could totally make this with pineapple or mango for a tropical green tea smoothie.  You could even sneak in kale, avocado, or other green food friends.  OR for a dessert treat you can feel slightly better about, blend the matcha powder with vanilla ice cream and milk.  It's a delicious way to round out your next carry-in sushi dinner... -A

Recipe #34... Blueberry-Orange Protein Smoothie... Ready to face the day

Note: With all the fresh fruit packed in, smoothies can easily tip the teeter-totter in favor of carbohydrates... If you are trying to strike more of a carb-to-protein balance, add greek yogurt or protein powder to your smoothie.  In this version, I added both to tip the balance towards protein.  You can use hemp, pea, or organic whey protein... soy tends to be GMO, so I stay away.  I've been trying out different brands of whey and have arrived at the conclusion that I am not a huge fan of the after-taste.  I prefer hemp (protein, that is) or just another greek yogurt... but I gave Tera's Whey a try; it's more subtle than other brands. Whatever you choose... blend and flex... and bend and stretch...
Blueberry-Orange Protein Smoothie
Add the following to your mixer of choice...
Makes 2 healthy servings
*Reminder... I am not a nutritionist

1/2 c unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or milk of choice)

1 packet blueberry protein powder (I used Tera's Whey)
1 6 oz container plain greek yogurt
2 seedless oranges (peeled)
1 tsp orange zest
1/2 avocado (for creamy texture and healthy fats)
3/4 c frozen blueberries
1 c Ice (big cubes usually 5 or 6) 

Make sure you use a juicy, sweet orange...  This smoothie would be a good candidate for a post-workout recovery snack as well...  Just make sure you bring your floss... blueberry skin seems to always settle in between your teeth; giving you a deep blue-speckled smile :)...  -A

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Recipe Update... Parsley Pesto Pasta with Egg... A dish for Spring

Note: Recall the previous post for the Lemony Spinach Pesto?  I thought I'd provide a use for it with this Spring dish... It combines my faves... pasta, pesto, and eggs over easy!  Enjoy!
Parsley Pesto Pasta with Egg
Serves 2

Pasta for two (Can use brown rice pasta for a gluten free option)

Lemony Spinach Pesto - Sub in fresh parsley for spinach
4 eggs 

Boil your pasta then toss with a few tablespoons of the pesto...  You can refrigerate or time it so that you can cook your eggs over easy and top them right on the warm pasta... pretty easy... season with salt and pepper and you have a quick Spring supper or one dish lunch! Bellisima!  Nothin' says Spring like the bright yellow yolks of an egg... -A

Recipe #33... Roasted Sunflower Seed Butter... First foray into nut butters

Note:  Why go to all this trouble over a little nut butter when they sell a variety of options in the store?  One reason behind my interest in alternative nut/seed butters is due to my developing a peanut allergy in college... A serious bummer when your friend's bachelorette party incorporates a cooking class featuring a delectable and healthy array of thai-style foods (yum! but... oh dear...).  Those thai-folks love their peanuts... and I digress... A few more reasons to experiment on nut butters in your home laboratory... almond butter is spendy... there are strange ingredients and extra oils in some of the store-bought butters, and also... I'll make up any excuse to use the vitamix.

Roasted Sunflower Seed Butter
Makes 8-10 servings
Add the following to the blender and blend on high speed... 
Use the "smushing tool" - technical term - to push the ingredients down into the blades

2 c roasted sunflower seeds 
**buy the nuts raw and give them a tan in your oven
1 1/2 tbsp honey or maple syrup 
1 pinch of salt
(If you go with honey and feel adventurous... add 1 tsp ginger)

Vitamix warns not to process nut butters for more than a minute.  I felt my Vitamix beging to veer off into overdrive-mode and so I stopped it.  It took me two passes on high speed to actually get this to a nut butter consistency... Not sure I can taste the sweetness, though... You could add a little more honey or maple syrup if you like.  Store in an airtight container...  Food for thought... buying raw sunflower seeds costs $.25/oz, sunflower seed butter is $.42/oz while almonds cost $.50/oz, almond butter at $.85/oz... Now who doesn't like a little extra change in their jar...  -A

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Recipe #32... Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia Seed Puddin'... An accidental discovery

Note:  Louis Pasteur once said, "Chance favors the prepared mind."  Sometimes the best things in life are discovered by accident... Take the pacemaker or penicillin, post-it notes... even the Slinky!  So this morning my guest sous-chef, Julia, and I were blenderizing up a batch of orange dreamsicle smoothies... she stands on her stool, observes the process, but absolutely loves to help out by adding ingredients to the Vitamix...

Oranges - Check!
Sniff the vanilla extract - Check!
Ice cubes, added one by one - Check!
Chia seeds - Just a shake, please...  Whoa...
Shoulda known better, Anne!

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the chia seeds... when then are soaked for... well... 2ish+ mins in water, they begin to expand and eventually form a pudding-like consistency... Not sure when the whole sprouting action begins... but I prefer to eat up well before it does!  So after that wild addition, the orange dreamsicle smoothie is abandoned and the orange ch-ch-ch-chia seed puddin' is born...

Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia Seed Puddin'
Serves 2
Blenderize the following...

1 c vanilla almond milk (or reg milk + 1 tsp vanilla)
2 oranges (peeled)
1/2 c chia seeds 
(It's quite possible more than this made it into our version)
1 c ice (5 or 6 big cubes)

I modified the recipe slightly to something that will resemble a recent, actual recipe for Chia Seed Pudding (Jules you'll find confirmation for your "mad cooking scientist" creation on Gwyneth's blog GOOP)... This blended concoction will not classify as a smoothie, or even something you can sip, because it will thicken a LOT in a short period of time... That's why it's dubbed a puddin'... And what a bonus if your pudding is packed with Omega 3's, fiber, and calcium??  If you are intrigued, give this version a try or look into it on the GOOP blog... there are some interesting breakfast recipes in GP's most recent post that I am fully intending to test and post in the near future...

Nothing like greeting the day with a sense of humor...
Thanks again Jules! -A

Recipe #31... Amazing Grass Breakfast... No need to deny your addiction to this grass

Note:  Eating something named "Amazing Grass" sounds a lot more devious than it really is.  In fact, I have it on a regular basis and enjoy it so much that I feel compelled to hand it out to my friends, neighbors, and even to their children (gasp!)... no, I am not a closet pot dealer... My product of choice - packets of green superfood... Disclaimer: I am not a rep for, associated with, or paid by the Amazing Grass organization... though if they'd like to pay me I wouldn't be averse to that... dream on, I know... Anyway... The mixes are fantastic by themselves - dissolved in milk or some variation thereof .. i.e. almond, rice, soy milk.  For those who are a little intimidated by the powdery drink... I'll offer this smoothie version... baby steps...

Amazing Grass Breakfast
Serves 2
Blenderize the following...

1/2 c coconut water or almond milk
1 packet Amazing Meal (I used Pom-Mango Fusion)
1 apple, quartered
1/2 avocado (for healthy fats)
1 c frozen pineapple
1 c ice (5 or 6 big cubes)

I shared this with Katie and Jules... Both were a little skeptical of the smell... one can detect a hint of "green"... however, the drink itself proved to be a hit!  The proof is in the pudding (that would be the lip-licking, smoothie in our case)... -A

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Recipe #30... A Ginger-Lemon Delight for Karen... detoxifying has never been so sweet

Note:  My friend Karen is in remission from breast cancer... hooray!  She is one individual who truly shines in the face of adversity... when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade... and Karen has made pitchers of the stuff in the past two years!  As she continues her recovery, her docs recommended that she drink lemon water to flush away any lingering toxins.  They mentioned ginger as an anti-inflammatory and equally good to eat.  I was inspired to Vitamix up a drink and hopefully transform the whole lemon-ginger consumption into something that's a bit more interesting...

Karen's Ginger-Lemon Delight
Makes 2 delightful portions

1/2 c coconut water or milk
3/4 c greek yogurt (or 2 scoops vanilla protein powder) 
2 tbsp almond meal
2 tbsp flaxseed (ground)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 whole organic lemons (peeled)
The zest of one lemon 
1/3 avocado (for healthy fats)
2 tsp fresh ginger (or 2 Dorot Frozen-fresh cubes)
1 tbsp honey
1 c ice (5 or 6 big cubes)

I tried to imagine lemon meringue pie... so the lemon, vanilla, and honey were my filling and the flax/almond meal combo was the crust... the yogurt, though a poor substitution for meringue, adds protein to the smoothie.  I hope you enjoy it and that your toxins exit the premises...  -A

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Recipe #29... Giada's Green Juice Jolt... who doesn't want the energy of a chef goddess?

Note:  She cooks for millions of viewers, she travels (and this typically involves a passport), she appears on the Today Show, she creates cookware and sauces for Target and yes... she fixes dinner for her familia and manages to squeeze in yoga with the amazing Kathryn Budig... so who wouldn't want a little slice of Giada De Laurentiis vim and vigor...  Here's a drink that Giada blenderizes each morning to get her own juice... 

Giada's Green Juice Jolt
Serves 2

1 c baby spinach leaves, rinsed
2 medium carrots, scrubbed
2 apples, halved and cored
2 sticks celery (I was out, so I omitted this in mine)
1/2 large lemon (skin on)
1 piece of ginger, peeled (1-inch)... ZING!

The reaction... Confession: I was initially a little worried with all the lemon and ginger going on here... but why would I ever doubt the author of three cookbooks that I possess and consult regularly?  Give it a try... maybe it's the secret to having a super-successful cooking empire and a husband who designs clothing for Anthropologie... Bonus for her wardrobe! -A

Recipe #28... Orange Dreamsicle Smoothie... No ice cream truck flagging down required

Note: I have to admit... I am pretty proud of this recipe.  I'm feelin' like Miss Jules beaming over her bday cupcakes.  I actually tried a variation of it this morning, and it didn't pan out so well... I added something green, and that was weird... and I just didn't have the ratios where they needed to be.  After my second attempt this evening... one sip... two sip... corners of my mouth start to turn up... success!  Whip this up for breakfast, a snack, or a dreamy dessert.    
Orange Dreamsicle Smoothie
Add the following to your mixer of choice...
Makes two healthy servings, but one could totally be selfish here

1/2 c milk

1/2 c orange juice
2 scoops vanilla protein powder
2 seedless oranges (peeled)
1 tbsp orange zest
1/2 avocado (for creamy texture and healthy fats)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 c Ice (big cubes usually 5 or 6) 

So about that ice cream truck... don't fret if it passes you by.  There's a good chance you are only an "on switch" away from your orange-vanilla creamy, dreamy dreamsicle...  -A