I was making a Vegan Maple Pecan Pie Smoothie from Healthy Blender Recipes, and I made a few modifications. I added some romaine lettuce (no, this isn’t the weird part) and subbed a little stevia for part of the maple syrup and accidentally forgot the cinnamon entirely. The result tastes like a creamy coffee-flavored liqueur drink even though there’s neither coffee nor alcohol in it. Nor cream, actually.
And it’s not just my weird alcohol-and-coffee-starved taste buds that taste Kahlúa where there is no Kahlúa. My spouse tasted it, too, and he consumes way less kale than I do.
It’s possible it’s some kind of miracle. Or perhaps there’s some logical, scientific explanation that I’ve simply not discerned yet, some kind of chemical reaction between the pecans and the lettuce and the maple syrup. Or maybe my bananas were so ripe they’d begun to ferment.
Whatever it is, here’s the recipe. You give it a try and let me know what you think.
You may recall my “50 Shades of Green” post in which I sang the praises of The Blender Girl and her incredible green smoothie recipes. Well, I’m not done yet. This weekend I tried two of the mocktail recipes on her site, and now I will commence talking her up again.
I know that some of you are thinking, “Mocktail? What the heck is the point of a mocktail? I didn’t make it to age 21 just to drink virgin margaritas. And I hate using portmanteaux. ‘Mocktail’ is just like ‘ginormous’: It sounds clever at first and by the time you realize it’s actually irritating, you’re using it so much you can’t stop saying it.”
Semantics aside, there are several reasons why you might choose a mocktail over the “real thing.” Maybe you want a fancy, fun drink for a baby shower. Maybe you’re hosting a party and want to offer designated drivers something a little niftier than club soda or ginger ale. Maybe you’re out of tequila and have already had too much to go out for more. Maybe you just have a yen for drinking colorful beverages from fancy glasses without getting bleary-eyed and nauseated.
If the mocktail is also raw, vegan, and low-sugar, then it’s practically health food, and there you have three more reasons for going “virgin.”
I’ll admit, I’ve never had a mojito, so I’m not really sure how valuable my endorsement is. The Blender Girl’s recipe has you make a puree of lime, ginger, agave, and mint, then pour that over muddled lime wedges and more mint, add ice, and top up with sparkling water. I kind of didn’t like the crushed mint leaves always getting in my mouth while I was trying to drink it, but other than that, this was a really pleasant beverage. I drank it while crocheting on a Saturday afternoon, and even though I drank the whole batch, I didn’t need to worry about ripping out drunken stitches on Sunday.
I got this recipe from Health Blender Recipes, and she got it from Uncooking 101, which is a really neat site with all kinds of recipes and information about a raw diet. I’m not interested in going all raw, but I do enjoy incorporating raw recipes into my meal rotation; I have a feeling I’ll be “cooking” from that blog a bit, too.
This mocktail was at a bit of a disadvantage with me. Not only do I know what a margarita tastes like, I like my margaritas on the rocks, and this one is necessarily blended. The solution: I just chose not to think of this as a margarita. As a tangy, fancy, fruit smoothie with a little cayenne kick, this is tops. And really, I like any excuse to put salt on the rim of a glass. (Note: I couldn’t find nectarines, so I used peaches instead. Turned out fine. My husband liked it, too, and didn’t even add any vodka to his. Yes, I know margaritas aren’t made with vodka, but we don’t have any tequila, just one kind of vodka and four kinds of gin. Don’t even ask why we have four kinds of gin because I just don’t know.)
Now if only The Blender Girl could come up with a virgin martini. The closest I’ve gotten is a glass of iced water poured over a couple of olives, and that’s not really close at all, even if I put it in a martini glass.
I’ve been cautiously venturing into the world of savory smoothies the past week or so.
The first several I tried were…suboptimal. So suboptimal that I found them nearly undrinkable. I was discouraged and nearly gave up.
But while posting about savory smoothies last week, I found a link to Tess Masters’ blog, Healthy Blender Recipes. There I found savory smoothies that were not only palatable but delightful. I liked them so much that at the end of the week when I started adding fruit back into my diet, I tried out some of her sweet smoothies (and continued to drink the savory smoothies). I’ve been sending links to her blog left and right, and I figured I ought to just cut to the chase and blog my praises.
But first, a couple of general notes about green smoothies:
1) Tess recommends—and I agree—that if you’re a green smoothie neophyte, you start with the fruity green smoothies made with friendly, mild greens like romaine lettuce and spinach instead of moving on to more challenging greens and fruit-free smoothies. I’d been drinking fruity green smoothies for four years before I worked up the courage to try a savory one.
2) Savory smoothies are best very, very cold and fresh out of the blender. I also prefer to drink mine through a straw. I’m sensitive to textures and this helps me get past the sometimes off-putting thickness of a smoothie with avocado in it.
And now on with my Healthy Blender Recipes smoothie love-fest! These are a few of my favorites with links to her recipes accompanied by my notes and photos.
The only change I made to this recipe was to omit the sprouts because I didn’t have them handy. I really loved the salty, garlicky flavor when it was first blended. Two problems, though:
First, my daughter didn’t like my garlic breath after I drank it. I just made a point not to breathe/burp on her and that solved that.
Second, this recipe made a ton of smoothie…EIGHT CUPS! It almost overflowed my Vitamix. I could only drink about half of it at breakfast. I put the rest in the fridge, but when I came back to it at lunch, it had grown unpleasantly bitter. When I make this again—and I will make it again—I will halve the recipe unless I have two or three other friends over to share with me.
This one is the first of Tess’s smoothies I tried. I’ve had it twice this week. It’s spicy and tangy and thick. Drinking it is kind of like drinking a spicy guacamole. I didn’t use roma tomatoes; instead I used the cherry tomatoes and “Garden Peach” tomatoes from my garden.
Tomato Tangent: The Garden Peach tomatoes have coloring similar to a peach and even have fuzz on the skin. I think they’re cute, and they’re very tasty, although it’s possible that their yellowish color contributed to my smoothie’s not-so-appetizing hue. (It might belong better on a “50 Shades of Ochre” post.)
The recipe calls for agave syrup or dates, but instead I used stevia to sweeten this smoothie so as not to add any more sugar. Maybe that’s why it tasted more like bubble gum to me than pistachio. It was still very, very good. So good, in fact, that I’ve made it twice and both times I’ve finished the whole thing before my husband has been able to try it. The second time I even accidentally put in double the kale and it was still delicious. I’ve made it both with almond milk and with the water and cashews, as called for in the recipe, and both are fabulous.
This, friends and neighbors, is the best of the four smoothies I’m featuring from Healthy Blender Recipes today.
It is so good that my husband—the man who merely tolerates my green smoothie obsession and the resulting greens overflow from our refrigerator—loved it. “Wow!” he exclaimed when he tasted it after his run the other day. “This is really good!” Then, cautiously, “What makes it green?” And he kept drinking it even after I told him what made it green! (Romaine lettuce in this one.)
It is so good, in fact, that we drank it down before I had a chance to photograph it. I’m planning to make it again this weekend when the bananas are riper, and I promise to do a smoothie photo shoot and update this post with an image.
UPDATE: I took a picture when I made this smoothie again tonight! It turned out greener this time than it did last time. I used local romaine this time; maybe it was greener than the lettuce I used last week.
This concludes my post praising Tess Masters and Healthy Blender Recipes.
I admit, the title of this post is a bit misleading since I’m only featuring four green smoothies rather than fifty, but these are so good, they’re sure to keep you busy for a while. (And “50 Shades of Green” just sounds better than “4 Shades of Green.”)
If you get through these and want more, be sure to try out Tess’s other blender recipes. I plan to treat myself to a mocktail from one of her recipes this weekend. Or…maybe before the weekend.
With all of our recent travels and visitors, s’mores and dark chocolate honey mints, martinis and more martinis, my body has been thrown entirely off-kilter and is telling me so with all kinds of interesting and very uncomfortable symptoms, which I will not describe because I like you and because this isn’t that kind of blog.
My solution involves lots of probiotics and a return to normal eating—which my husband already thinks is fairly extreme, given the amount of leafy greens I consume—via a more extreme no-sugar, no-alcohol, no-grains, no-fruit kind of plan until things feel normal again. Basically, I’m giving up all of the things that make life worth living. But I added chicken back into my diet for the moment, so at least I have that.
I thought it would only be a few days before I felt back in balance again, but it’s taking a little longer than that. As a result, I’ve done something I’ve been avoiding for years: I’ve begun researching savory smoothies.
By savory smoothies I mean smoothies without fruit. Kind of like cold, blended vegetable soup. Which is just why I’ve avoided them for so long.
Before I could change my mind, I found seven savory smoothie recipes online and I went shopping.
Today’s has kale, tomato juice, half of a fresh hot pepper, a cucumber, curry powder, scallions, celery, and ice.
Don’t worry: It looks better than it tastes. Actually, the flavor’s not too bad; the texture is the real challenge. A straw helps.
My three-year-old son, adventurous chap that he is, took a sip. He gagged and said, “There’s lettuce in my mouse!” (which, because he can’t pronounce a TH sound, translates to, “There’s lettuce in my mouth!”). Of course, there’s no lettuce in the smoothie, but I didn’t bother to correct him. I just got him a glass of water and a bowl of raisins.
I’ve got six days of recipes remaining, and I’m going to stick with it until I get through them all. By the end of the week, I may or may not feel back in balance physically, but I’m pretty sure that I will no longer fear death.
Related articles (but this is NOT the recipe I tried this morning)
Last week at the grocery store, there were figs. They looked so good that I bought them and brought them home before I remembered that I don’t really like figs.
They sat in the fridge for days while I hoped that someone else in the family would open the door, say, “Ooo! Figs!” and scarf them down.
After nearly a week, I finally looked up figs online to get some serving suggestions. All of the articles about eating figs were predicated on the idea that figs are really awesome and yummy, which really didn’t help me out. I needed something in which to hide my figs and make them palatable to me, if not to the rest of my family. All of the articles also made it clear that figs last only a few days in the fridge, so I needed to act fast.
I remembered a yummy chocolate smoothie recipe I’d made years ago. I looked up the recipe in I Am Grateful by Terces Englehart and Orchid. It called for dates and nut milk, too, neither of which I had right then, so I decided to wing it, buoyed by the assurance that adding figs to a smoothie was not, in fact, unprecedented.
I threw a bunch of stuff in the blender, and when I tasted it, I was pleasantly surprised. It tasted quite yummy. And between the caffeine in the cocoa and the laxative properties of the figs, this smoothie really got me going. So to speak.
I put figs in my smoothie this morning, too, without chocolate and with greens. It was fine, but not awesome. If you really want it, I’ll share that one, too. For now, here’s the chocolatey one.
Chocolatey Figgy Smoothie
yields about 4 cups
3 black mission figs, washed
3 strawberries, washed
1 banana, peeled
soy milk or other non-dairy milk (about one cup)
2 T raw cacao powder (or regular cocoa, for a stronger flavor)
1 t vanilla
1 rounded scoop lecithin granules (optional. I like using lecithin for the silky-smooth texture it gives my smoothies)
5 ice cubes
Place the figs and strawberries in the blender. Pour soy milk over them until it reaches the “1 cup” line on the blender pitcher. Add the remaining ingredients and blend for 30-60 seconds until smooth.
I love fresh mint, and I always buy it when I see it at farm stands and markets. I smell it on the way to the car and as I put it in the produce drawer, then I leave it there, unable to think of anything to do with it, until it gets all nasty and rotten and I throw it in the garbage or compost.
One day, I would like to try to make vegan mint chocolate chip ice cream, but the recipe I have calls for mint extract, and I’m not sure how much fresh mint that translates into (and I’m not sure if I’m prepared for the disappointment if it doesn’t turn out). If I figure it out, you know I’ll be posting about it.
For now, one thing I do make with mint is a watermelon-mint smoothie. It’s a refreshing summertime dessert/breakfast/snack/post-hike treat. It also helps me eat the watermelon. I like to buy whole watermelons (because I’m weird about worrying that the store people haven’t properly washed the rind before they’ve cut the melon) but the rest of my family only eats about three bites before they’re done and I’m left with 7/8 of a watermelon to eat on my own. This smoothie helps facilitate my watermelon-eating process. My husband likes the smoothie, too, so it also gets him to help me finish the melon.
If you want your smoothie to look more pink than the one I have here, you can use less mint, add more watermelon, or add a few strawberries. You can use seedless watermelon, or, if you have a snazzy blender (like a VitaMix or a Blendtec) you can use the seeded ones and toss the melon in seeds and all. Apparently there’s something healthy about the seeds, so there’s that extra benefit, vague as it is.
And one problem with our new house is that there’s not really a great place to take a photo with natural light without going outside. I’m going to have to work on that, though, because the flash really takes something away from the photos.
Makes 1-4 servings, depending on how much the people you’re serving it to like it. (That’s about 5 cups.)
1/4 medium-to-large watermelon, flesh cut away from the rind
leaves from 3 stems of fresh mint, washed
about 4 ice cubes
Put everything in the blender, blend on high for 45-60 seconds or until beautiful and smooth. Pour into a fancy glass and enjoy!
We’ve been eating down our inventory in our cupboards, fridge, and freezer in preparation for our move. Which means there’s room in my freezer for these:
Oh, dear, you say. What on earth could those be?
They are, dear Reader, frozen green smoothies.
I’ve been making double smoothie batches for the past two weeks so I would have (more than) enough frozen smoothies to serve my green-veggies needs while we’re on the road and the first day or two after we’re in our temporary digs at our destination (until we can find organic produce and stock the fridge there). I’ve tested it out, and if I put one in the fridge the night before, it’s a nice green slushy by morning. I think the smoothies taste even better in slushy form than they do fresh, actually. I’ll line these up in the cooler and they can serve as ice for the other perishables. As I diminish the supply of smoothie ice packs, we’ll replace them with zipper-lock baggies filled with hotel ice.
I am a little anxious about food. Particularly, I’m anxious about having safe, healthy food that will keep me feeling not crappy. But, as you can see, I manage it fairly well through careful planning. I also have 60 servings of powdered green veggies drinks to get me through those long, veggie-free days. And, of course, I will take jerky. And wasabi peas. And chocolate Pirate’s Booty. These are road trip staples, and should provide all of my caloric and nutritional needs for the week-long trip across the heartland of the United States.
For the kids, we’ve got granola bars and fruit leather and bunny crackers, instant oatmeal and canned soups and cut-up cucumbers and bell peppers. And my son loves my slushy smoothies, so he should be set for green veggies. I’ll pick up some freeze-dried peas (over my husband’s protests at the cost) to supplement the kids’ diets, too.
Sure beats hard-tack and salt pork, almost as much as driving interstate highways in a minivan beats breaking trail in a covered wagon.
Oh, and to update the Happiness Project, I’ve been hugging people a lot this week, and I’ve been doing a great job of telling the people I’m with (mostly my kids) that I’m happy when I’m happy. So far, so good.
Between the lovely rains that came through today and cleaned out a good chunk of the pollution and the wonderful workout I had this afternoon, I’m feeling in a much better place than I have been for the past week. I’m pleasantly sleepy and know I’m going to be sore tomorrow. But I also have a Yin Yoga DVD I got from the library, so I can do that tomorrow and soothe my poor Yanged-up muscles.
For my workout, I went to a different gym location at which they have a steam room. The steam room was lovely. I think it may have been 2001 or 2002 when my husband and I went with some friends to their family’s condo in Williamsburg, Virginia, for a weekend. Our friends very generously gave us the master suite, which included a steam shower in the bathroom. Once we figured out how to work it, it was absolutely divine.
After that weekend, I vowed that one day I would have a steam shower in my home. So far, it’s not worked out that way. While we were house-hunting, I did look at one place that had a magnificent basement master with ten-foot ceilings and a steam shower that the whole family could easily have fit in. But the house was about $130,000 over what we wanted to spend and had no yard, so I remain steam-showerless.
It’s kind of funny that I like steam showers so much because, as a rule, I hate humidity. But perhaps I actually like humidity as long as I can choose when to experience it and escape it before it ceases to be fun. And there’s nothing like the intense aridity of Utah to make a person crave a little humidity.
A co-ed steam room in a gym is slightly less awesome than a steam shower in the privacy of one’s own master suite, but it’s still better than no steam at all. My husband’s not thrilled at the idea of me sitting in a bikini with three men in swim trunks, but he knows there’s an alternative. If he decides it’s worth the expense, I’m happy to sit by myself in a steam shower in my own home.
At any rate, I loved my workout and then my steam. The men who were in the room didn’t bother me much. My glasses, predictably, became covered with an opaque fog the moment I set foot inside the steam room, so I took them off. From my myopic perspective, I was sharing the room with three indistinct blobs in swim trunks that periodically stretched or massaged where I guessed their feet would be or left for a swim and then returned to steam some more. I would have preferred to share the steam room with blobs wearing bikinis, but as my dad always used to say, wish in one hand, spit in the other (only he didn’t say “spit”).
And the air! Oh, my, how lovely it was to see the blue sky again, if only for a brief time! And my dizziness almost disappeared today with all the breathing I was doing of air that was comparatively lower in particulates and chemicals than it has been for the past week!
I’m going to round out the day by going to bed early (ish), so I’ll just leave you with a smoothie I made last week. I’ve been just throwing together smoothies with whatever I happen to have around the house. I noticed that the raw cranberry sauce/relish I’d made for Thanksgiving was getting a little old. So, I tossed it in the smoothie with a couple of enormous swiss chard leaves, a cored comice pear, a peeled navel orange, a banana and a half (I was only going to use one banana, but the baby asked for a banana so I gave him half and put the rest in my smoothie. He smooshed his half in his little fists and then rubbed it in his hair), and about a cup of rice milk.
The result, artfully arranged with some autumn leaves my daughter left lying on the table:
It tasted so good that I wished I’d bought a ton of cranberries while they were still at the store and packed them into my freezer. Except that they wouldn’t have fit, and I would had to have bought a chest freezer.
Oh, and if you’re wondering how to make raw cranberry sauce/relish, use a bag of cranberries, a cup of sugar, and the zest and pulp of one valencia orange (making sure there aren’t any seeds in it). Put everything in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and masticate for, I don’t know, like 30 to 60 minutes. Until it looks chunky but juicy and the sugar is all dissolved. The cranberries will try to jump out of the bowl at first. I just stand there with my hands blocking the edges and getting cranberry juice on my shirt until enough of them burst that they settle down and get crushed like good little berries. There’s likely a better way to do this, but this one works for me for the one time a year I make the cranberry sauce.
If I find more cranberries, I’ll make more sauce and post the prettied-up recipe with a picture.
When I offered a taste of this smoothie to my husband, he was enthusiastic.
“Oh! You put chocolate in it?” he asked.
“Do you want me to tell you what’s in it, or do you want to try it first?”
“I’ll try it first.”
He ended up liking it. I just share this exchange to illustrate that I know this smoothie doesn’t look supremely appetizing. But really, it’s my current favorite. If you’re feeling adventurous (or if you don’t mind that it’s an odd color for a smoothie that does not contain chocolate), my recipe is below.
Not so Green “Green” Smoothie
makes 5 cups
Place in your blender (mine’s a VitaMix. I don’t know how other blenders handle this concoction):
1/2 bunch dandelion greens (I used organic red dandelion from the grocery store. I don’t use dandelion greens from the yard. They’re a different variety from the ones at the grocery store.)
1/2 pineapple (leave the core, cut off the spiky peel)
3 frozen plums (These are probably optional. I use them because we have a golden plum tree in our yard, and I have a bunch of plums in my freezer.)
10-15 frozen strawberries (I’m pretty sure it’s these that change the smoothie from green to burnt ochre. Perhaps if you used something with less color, like yellow raspberries or something, the smoothie would stay green)
Turn that baby on and crank up to High and jam everything into the blades with the approved tamper. Blend for 30-60 seconds. I usually drink about half of it and leave the rest in the fridge for lunch.
I’ve developed a bit of a love affair with kale in the recent past.
Back in the day, I never ate a green leafy unless it was iceberg lettuce, which really is neither particularly green nor particularly leafy. I started branching out and eating leaf lettuce and baby spinach in college (that’s what a liberal arts education will do to a person). When my husband and I were living in the South, I started experimenting with collards. Large hunks of pork and hours of cooking were the secret to getting me to try this Southern delicacy. The Moosewood Restaurant New Classics cookbook brought us healthier collards recipes, like their Spanish Bean Soup and Caribbean Beans and Greens Wrap. Soon after, Vegetarian Times got us eating broccoli raab (also called rapini) in a recipe that had a sauce of pureed white beans, sun-dried tomatoes, and rosemary. There might also have been pecorino romano cheese in there. In California, we joined a CSA, which introduced us to a whole other world of green veggies, most of which we turned into frittatas for the first year we bought a share. After that first year, we expanded our repertoire to include gratins. Both of these fell by the wayside when I stopped eating dairy. My love of greens went dormant.
Then a couple of years ago, through the magic of Facebook and my friend Abigail, I discovered Green Smoothies (OK, I didn’t discover them any more than Columbus discovered the New World. But they were revealed to me and it was like a discovery. Or perhaps more like a revelation). I tried them first with just a little bit of “safe” greens, like chard. Not bad, but they didn’t really float my boat. Then fate stepped in and broke my blender, giving me an excuse to buy a super-powered Vita-Mix. Once I experienced the silky-smooth green smoothies that machine could churn up, I was hooked. Well, that’s not entirely true, but I did become somewhat obsessed with finding a green smoothie combination that I loved. I tried apples, berries, bananas, oranges. Chard, kale, spinach. Cashew milk, almond milk, hazelnut milk, rice milk. Rice protein, hemp protein, flax seed powder. But I always ended up going back to my stand-by non-green smoothie. Until Renee’s birthday.
Renee, for her birthday, hosted a green smoothie event. And she did something I hadn’t tried. She used orange juice as the liquid base for her smoothies. After I sipped that smoothie, the whole world took on a green tint. Then I was hooked. Back at home, I started making green smoothies again, adding more and more greens (even scary ones, like dandelion greens), trying new recipes, and even not adding any liquid at all!
Then came Self-Care month and my resolution to eat veggies at every meal. In the beginning, I went with the easy stuff. Green smoothie for breakfast, frozen green beans or a green salad for lunch, corn on the cob for dinner. But soon I craved more greens. I started sauteing, boiling, and braising them for dinner. I’d toss them into spaghetti sauce and lentil soup. I even found a smothered pork chops variation that called for collard greens. But, except for the pork chops and a kale and blackeye peas recipe that called for bacon and its grease, I didn’t find a cooked greens recipe that really tasted, well, tasty. I contented myself with baking kale chips and snacking on those a couple of times a week.
This past weekend, I was going through my new favorite cookbook, Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair. I was writing down the recipes we’d tried and loved along with several we hadn’t tried but I thought we might love. Perusing the “Got Color?” section, I saw a recipe I hadn’t noticed before. Sweet Apple Walnut Kale. I put it on the meal list. We had everything we needed to make it. So we made it.
It was quick. It was easy. And it was delicious!*
Sitting at the dinner table, talking with my mouth full, I declared, “I will blog about this recipe!”
And here I am, sharing it with you.
*The children did not agree with this assessment. More for Mommy. Oh, and I did make a couple of substitutions. I used maple sugar instead of brown sugar, vegan butter instead of cow butter, and rice vinegar instead of cider vinegar.