Back on the Bandwagon – With a Green Smoothie in Hand

Hello Friends, it’s been awhile since my last post because I’ve been crazy busy.

While I’ve been busy, I’ve been eating a mix of new recipes from cookbooks and blogs and also I’ve been avoiding cooking like the plague because it can be really, really hard sometimes! On top of that, the process of taking photos adds a great deal of time into the production process for me and there are easily 5+ photo shoots I have saved in my iPhoto files that never made it to the writing stage because I simply didn’t sit down a write.

This is a sadness to me. I like to cook, I like to explore, I value creative outlets and I like to share with others. This blog should be a top priority for me because it hits all the elements of a hobby or discipline that most satisfy me but it has fallen to the wayside.

To get back on the bandwagon, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I’m eating and what makes me feel good. I know I love fruits and vegetables but I’ll admit, I’m not eating enough. This is a common struggle amongst us omnivores and I decided to tackle it with a popular solution, the Green Smoothie.

Green Smoothie Drinking

Generally I throw things into my blendtec that I know are good for me, I hit the smoothie button and then drink whatever comes out. My smoothies aren’t always delectable but they serve the purpose. Now…this is only half a solution to my problem. I want to eat things that make me feel good, and part of feeling good is enjoying the process of e a t i n g. I opened up my Blendtec recipe book and picked out a few recipes that were both green and protein focused. Along with rotating through the Blendtec Smoothie recipe rolodex and spending time with my good ‘ol friend Instaram which introduced me to Simple Green Smoothies, I’ve found some awesome recipes! My most favorite of favorite new smoothies is the SweetDream a spicy green adventure including cayenne pepper ♡

SweetDream

SweetDream Smoothie by Simple Green Smoothies

Ingredients

2 C Nut-Based Milk (Almond)

2 C Leafy Greens (Spinach)

2 C Mango (or other fruit)

1 Banana

2 T Nut-Butter (Almond)

1 t Cinnamon

¼ t Cayenne

Directions

Place in Blendtec blender in the ingredient order listed and select smoothie setting.

If not using a Blendtec or Vitamix – It’s suggested that you blend the leafy greens before you add in the full ingredient list. This is suggested to help finely chop up the greens for a smooth drinkable texture.

Note on the Cayenne pepper – It adds a kick to the smoothie that is quite desirable. There are known benefits to using cayenne pepper including stimulating the digestive tract, detox and possible weight loss support. If you don’t like spicy, skip this ingredient. If you’d like to try but don’t want to get too wild, put a smaller amount into the Smoothie than ¼ t, I won’t tell anybody ☺︎

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The SweetDream is super tasty and now a regular repeat in my smoothie mix up. It has 2 cups of leafy greens, which gets me one serving of vegetables right off the bat in the mornings and 3 servings of fruit (2 cups mango + 1 Banana). The Cayenne pepper adds an additional layer of flavor that is honestly, unusual in a green smoothie.

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Cheers – Here’s to getting back on the band wagon and eating my fruits and veggies with the help of a Green Smoothie. And always, here’s to eating well and often.

Raw family dinner: “Rawvioli”

Cooking for a big family must be tough but cooking for one is not easy either. It’s not uncommon for me to way overestimate the amount of groceries I need and I can only eat leftovers from the same dish for so long. Our significant others are off chasing dreams in distant locations (aka working real jobs or also in graduate school not at Purdue) so we decided to have a “family dinner” in their stead.

The fare: raw and vegan. Neither of us have much experience prepping raw food and I recently purchased Gena Hamshaw’s cookbook, Choosing Raw and I’ve been itching to try out a few recipes. We decided on Root “Rawvioli” with Nut Cheese and Pesto.

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Begin with the beet slicing. A mandoline is a must for this dish. There’s just no way to safely slice the beets thin enough without it. Mandolines are not crazy expensive and they are so darn useful. I got mine this summer at H-E-B for like fifteen bucks–you can’t beet beat that. If you need some additional encouragement, you can find one here. Random and shameless mandoline plug concluded.

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Apron required. Beets are bursting with color and are likely to stain your hands and everything else.

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Monique was master chef of the nut cheese.

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The recipe requires the cashews to soak overnight. We’re grad students in business school…that did not happen. However, someone told me to boil water and do a quick 20-30 minute soak. It did the trick! The consistency of the final product was bit thicker than what is described in the recipe but whatever.

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Pistachio pesto. Raw pistachios were no where to be found in our midwestern college town so we settled with roasted and salted. If you ever find yourself in a similar predicament, just hold off on the salt called for in the recipe and you should be good. A few whirls around the food processor and boom! chopped nuts:

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The micro grater is super handy when mincing garlic. It’s quick and easy too.

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With the beets sliced and the nut cheese and pesto prepared, we were ready to assemble the RAWviolis!

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The final review: it. was. so. delicious. Our raw family dinner was a huge success! This dish is bursting with flavor: from the mild and possibly sweet cashew cheese with playful hints of oregano, to the bold and zesty flavors of garlic and basil in the pistachio pesto. Mmm! Beets were a perfect vehicle to these two rockstars. In truth, there was a lot of nut cheese and pesto leftover but be sure, we were not complaining. They will pair perfectly with crackers, chips, or even veggies. Gena nailed this one out of the park and we highly recommend it. Find her cookbook here.

Kitchen bloopers:

1. We had a side dish planned. It was a salad of sorts, where the homemade dressing was to be the featured item. It was a total bust and we ended up eating a bowl of romaine with whatever dressing I had in the fridge.

2. Looking glamorous and cooking doesn’t always work out… 😉 And food photography/quality food making action shots are not easy.

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3. I know I’ve had a successful cooking adventure when the kitchen is destroyed (see countertop in an earlier photo). It’s all in the HappiMess 🙂

4. Let’s not forget about failing to soak the cashews overnight. Lesson learned: read the recipe all the way before committing.

Purely fun:

Kitchen Gadgets MVP awards: the food processor and the mandoline.
Likelihood of making this dish again: pretty darn high.
Would I recommend this recipe to a friend: yes, I already did multiple times.
Currently craving: brownies and sleep

Summer Veggies & Pasta

 

 

Lightly tossed with extra virgin olive oil and S&P

Zukes and cherry tomatoes ready for roasting.

 

Just look at them! Aren’t they beautiful?? I have been craving summer veggies like crazy. Maybe it’s because I have been eating out way more than I would like lately.

During the last few weeks of the spring semester, I had all these wonderful plans of how I would cook and bake and write blog posts and take lots of pictures because I would have all this newly acquired time, right? …wrong. I have been just as busy now but in a different way. So my goal is to post once a week, and it will probably happen on Sundays. Be on the look out and feel free to call me out if I don’t stick to it.

Ok, let’s talk summer veggies. Saturday night I waited way too long to figure out what I wanted to eat for dinner. Honestly, I was avoiding it because I knew that no matter what I decided to make, it would require a trip to the grocery store. That’s a bad place to be when you’re hungry. And here in Texas, where “everything is bigger”, it takes so long to get anywhere…Ok I must admit my concept of “long” might be a bit skewed – in Indiana we live less than 5 minutes away from the nearest grocery store. On the flip side, Austin has some really great natural food stores that make the extra drive well worth it (I’m looking at you, Whole Foods). 🙂

Anyway, I was lacking some serious motivation but I did make it to my laptop to start searching for what would satisfy my palate. I started with Gena’s vegan and raw food blog, Choosing Raw and landed me on this delightful dish. My dinner search was over and my motivation found! I made it to the grocery store and back with all my items just before 11pm. The only thing left to do was eat a bowl of cold cereal with almond milk and call it a night. The zukes, tomatoes, and fresh corn would have to wait.

Sunday afternoon, I prepped all the veggies while Christi, my partner in crime (and sister), made us pink smoothies (beets, carrots, strawberries, dates, water, and cashews) to get us through our hangry hankerings.

Pink smoothie - hangry crises averted. Thank you, Christi!

Pink smoothie – hangry crisis averted. Thank you, Christi!

We needed that smoothie too because the veggies require some serious oven time – 45 mins to be exact. I was pretty tempted to just sauté the veggies to speed up the process but that would have been a serious mistake. The oven time (and a little patience) allowed the veggies to marinate in the extra virgin olive oil and freshly crushed garlic. Mmm…. the smell radiating from the oven was divine.

The final fare was even better.

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straighton

 

It took some serious self-control to wait long enough to snap a couple quick photos of this and not just shovel it all in my mouth.

What’s to love about Gena’s penne with sweet summer vegetables, pine nuts, and herbs recipe @ChoosingRaw:

  • it’s easy to make
  • fresh summertime veggies, including zukes, cherry tomatoes, and corn (off the cob)
  • the fresh basil really brings it to the next level and the oregano too (you can settle for dried oregano if you don’t have the fresh stuff on hand but don’t skip out on the fresh basil)
  • it’s sauceless but you won’t miss it one bit
  • pine nuts – so the recipe clearly calls for it and I had them but…I forgot about them. They’ll make their first appearance in the left overs though
  • it’s vegan!

Subs or suggestions:

  • the recipe calls for onions but I opted out because sometimes they don’t agree with me.
  • try a yellow squash or another one of your favorite veggies.
  • the recipe recommends adding the corn in to roast for the last 15 minutes of oven time, but I think our corn could’ve had a little more roasting time. Maybe try adding them in a bit sooner.

So what’s the final consensus? I think it’s obvious by all my raving but just in case any shadow of doubt remains, it was an absolute hit. You should try it. Check out the recipe here.

Dessert: vegan chocolate chip cookies

xo