Strawberry Beet Smoothie

Lately, my kitchen creations have been much more off-the-cuff than usual.  I normally enjoy planning my cooking adventures for the week, making a grocery list, going to the store, and then coming home ready for my next round of experiments.  But being on night shift has made me completely lose my organization.  I’ve been making recipes based on what’s in the pantry, what’s on sale, and what won’t take too long.  Luckily, my new approach resulted in this amazing strawberry and beet smoothie.

Last week, I stumbled on the amazing deal of 5 pounds of beets for the price of 1.  I think the farmer had more than he could handle and was just trying to unload as much as he could.  The beets were enormous with the beautiful leafy greens still attached.  I baked them by wrapping them in tin foil (method here) and washed and spun the greens.  The next morning when I went to make my usual green smoothie, I added both the roots and the greens.  And the berry and beet smoothie was born.

Berry and Beet Smoothie
serves 1

Ingredients:
– 1 cup frozen strawberries
– 1 cup steamed or roasted beets
– 1 cup milk (dairy or non-dairy)
– 2 cups beet greens, washed
– 1 Tbsp honey, if more sweetness is desired

Blend all ingredients until smooth.  Drink immediately.
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I added this post to this week’s Wellness WeekendPennywise PlatterGluten Free Wednesday, Whole Foods Wednesday, Real Food Wednesday, and Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways.

Peanut Butter White Bean Blondies

If you’ve read this blog before, you might know that I like to try to sneak healthy ingredients into my meals in unexpected ways.  I’m always happy throwing some spinach into a smoothie or having turmeric with breakfast.  Which is why I was thrilled to find Chocolate Covered Katie’s incredible recipe for Peanut Butter White Bean Blondies.

Instead of using flour, the batter is based in white beans…but you really couldn’t guess it based on the taste and texture.  In fact, I’m thinking we might want to change the name to “Dense, Gooey Pieces of Peanut Butter Heaven”.  Who’s with me?  And while you’re enjoying your decadent treat, you can feel smug about all the protein and fiber you’re eating.

Perfect for a Fourth of July picnic.  Or for my inevitable anxiety snacking as I begin my final term of nursing school with a night shift clinical rotation and impending licensure exam and job hunt.  What?  Oh I’m fine.  Just fine.  (Eats another blondie.)

Does anyone else have big plans on the horizon for the summer?

Peanut Butter White Bean Blondies
makes 1 8×8 pan
from Chocolate Covered Katie’s recipe

Note: I didn’t really make any changes from the original recipe, but katie lists a few options for how to make these.  This is the version I used.  Check out her original recipe for substitution ideas!

Ingredients
– 1 1/2 cups white beans
– 3/4 tsp baking powder
– 1/8 tsp baking soda
– 1/4 tsp salt
– 3/4 cup coconut sugar
– 2 tsp vanilla extract
– 1/4 cup ground flax seeds
– 1/4 cup natural peanut butter
– 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Blend all ingredients except for chocolate chips in a food processor until very smooth, scraping down the sides as needed.  Fold chocolate chips into batter and pour into an 8×8 inch baking dish.

Bake for 25-30 minutes.  Allow to cool and enjoy.

* I added this post to this week’s Fresh Bites Friday, Fight Back FridayPennywise PlatterFull Plate Thursday, and Wellness Weekend.

Strawberry Matcha Smoothie

Rhetorical question: What’s a girl to do with a freezer full of strawberries?

Last week, a friend and I headed out to a strawberry farm about 30 minutes from home.  The weather was perfect and strawberries were in their prime.  In just a few hours, I picked 22 pounds (not including the ones I ate…I really think these u-pick farms should weigh me before and after I go out in their fields in order to charge me more accurately).  To be clear, these were not your run-of-the-mill grocery store strawberries imported from California.  These were a variety called Hood strawberries that are smaller, more flavorful, and rare treats given that their harvesting season lasts about a month or less.  I was determined to come home with enough to last me through the summer.

For all their good qualities, Hood strawberries can’t boast a long shelf life.  One they’re picked, they want to be eaten in a day or two.  Their thin skins quickly become too soft and, as I learned, piling more than a couple of layers in your picking box will yield a layer of strawberry mash at the bottom.  Which means that I had my work laid out for me when I got home from the farm.  There was not time to waste.  The rest of my day was spent washing, topping, and freezing strawberries.  It’s so satisfying to open my freezer door to see the “fruits” of my labor staring back at me.  :)

Because it’s strawberry season, I’ve been seeing tons of tempting strawberry recipes around the web.  To name a few:

I want to make ALL of these.  But for now, I’ve been perfectly happy blending them into creamy smoothies.  Jeremy has been even less fancy…he eats them straight from the freezer!

Strawberry Matcha Smoothie
serves 1

Ingredients:
– 1/2 banana, the riper the better
– 1 cup frozen strawberries
– 1 cup milk
– 2 Tbsp cream (optional)
– 1 tsp matcha powder

Blend all ingredients until smooth and creamy.  Enjoy right away.

* I shared this post with Seasonal Recipe RoundupGluten-Free WednesdayFat Tuesday, Hearth and Soul HopSlightly Indulgent TuesdayMy Meatless Mondays, Melt in Your Mouth Monday, Monday Mania, and Mix it Up Monday.

Espolón Holly

Spring really is here and, with it, my desire to escape the city and play by the river or to just sit on my sunny patio with a cocktail.  I realize that I’ve never posted a cocktail recipe here, and for a good reason: I never make them.  To me, a good mixed drink is some kind of magic, an alchemy that is best left to professionals.  But I got hit with spring fever this week and just couldn’t escape the urge to enjoy a somewhat irresponsible treat (responsibly, of course) at home.

For my maiden voyage into the world of cocktail-making, I wanted a recipe that would yield great reward without a lot of specialized ingredients.  While I love fancy liqueurs and aromatic bitters as much as the next person, I didn’t think it would do to have to buy several expensive bottles of ingredients for one little drink.  So I finally settled on an Espolón Holly, adapted from the Corzo Holly over at Imbibe Magazine.  The only differences between my drink and theirs is that mine has just a teensy bit less sugar and it uses a much more affordable tequila.  Of course, you can use any brand of tequila you would like.  My research pointed me in the direction of Espolón because it seems to be universally liked and is moderately priced.  (This website is great for people who don’t know their way around a liquor store and want to buy good spirits without getting suckered into spending too much money.)

Things I learned while making this cocktail:

1. This is just a really great drink.

2. Do your research before heading to the liquor store.  Make a list of well-reviewed products in your price range to take with you because the selection can be overwhelming if you don’t know your Jose Cuervo from Patrón.

3. A muddler seems like an unnecessary tool.  Until you need one.

4. Is it just me, or are limes really hard to juice?

5. Simple syrup is so easy to make.  Just use a 1:1 ratio with regular sugar and water and mix until the sugar is dissolved.  Presto, you’re a bartender!

6. Cocktails are much more exciting (and photogenic) when they are served in special glassware.  Something to add to my ever-growing list of things to buy when I’m out of school and gainfully employed!

I hope you are enjoying the change of season as much as I am.

Espolón Holly
(tip: an ounce is 2 tablespoons) 

Ingredients
– 1 1/2 oz reposado tequila
– 3/4 oz fresh lime juice
– 3/4 oz simple syrup
– 1/8 oz balsamic vinegar
– 3 fresh strawberries, quartered
– 3 fresh basil leaves

In a shaker, muddle the strawberries and basil leaves until juicy and aromatic.  Add remaining ingredients and shake well with ice.  Strain into a glass and garnish with an extra strawberry.

Freestyle Cooking: Roasted Carrots and Fennel + Baby Potatoes with Carrot-Green Pesto

I’m one of those people who is almost incapable of making a recipe without tinkering with it in some way.  It’s not that I’m necessarily trying to improve upon the original…it mostly comes down to what I think is going to be the healthiest/easiest/most economical way to get something to the table.  If a recipe calls for a tablespoon of sour cream and I happen to have plain yogurt in the fridge, you can bet that I’m going to be making the substitution.  Or maybe I forgot to buy something that the recipe called for (or I accidentally bought parsley instead of cilantro, dang it!)  Or perhaps there were some beautiful bunches of local carrots and baby potatoes on sale at the co-op this week.

My lunch today was a tribute to the “waste not, want not” philosophy that I try to employ in my kitchen.  Why toss away those beautiful, delicate carrot greens when they can be transformed into something just as special as the roots?  I did a little bit of google-ing before putting my plan into action, though, because I vaguely remembered hearing once that carrot tops were poisonous.  It’s not true.  I think the origin of this piece of misinformation is that carrot greens resemble hemlock, which was famously used to poison Socrates.  Now that that’s cleared up, I’m never throwing my carrot greens into the compost again.

I call this “freestyle cooking” because I didn’t use exact measurements.  I think it can be empowering to walk into the kitchen with an armful of ingredients and the confidence that you will be able to turn them into something great without consulting a recipe for each step.  I was inspired by Green Kitchen Stories for the roasted veggies but the pesto was an experiment…one that turned out quite well.

Now that the bounty of spring is starting to creep into the produce section, I encourage you to challenge your creativity by freestylin’ in the kitchen now and then.  I’ll bet you come up with some fresh, delicious meals that will save you money.  Don’t forget to drop by and let me know how it goes!

Roasted Carrots with Fennel
from Green Kitchen Stories

Ingredients
– a bunch of whole carrots, peeled and sliced lengthwise if they are large
– a bulb of fennel
– olive oil
– fresh sage, torn into pieces
– anise seed
– salt and pepper
– goat cheese

Preheat the oven to 375F.  In a large pan, toss carrots, fennel, and olive oil together until vegetables are coated.  Sprinkle with sage, anise seed, and salt and pepper.

Bake for 45 minutes to an hour.  Add goat cheese about 5 minutes before you take the vegetables out of the oven.  Serve warm.

Baby Potatoes with Carrot-Green Pesto

Ingredients
– a few handfuls of baby potatoes, washed
– a bunch of carrot greens, tough inner stalks removed
– fennel fronds (optional)
– 1-2 cloves garlic
– a handful of walnuts
– juice from half a lemon
– olive oil to reach desired consistency
– salt, to taste

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat.  Cook the baby potatoes for 15-20 minutes, until tender.  Drain.

While the potatoes are boiling, place remaining ingredients in a blender or food processor.  Start with 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil and add more as needed to reach the consistency you are looking for.

Spoon pesto over potatoes or use it as a dipping sauce.  It would also be great with pasta.

* I added this post to this week’s Fat Tuesday, Traditional Tuesday, Hearth and Soul Hop, Whole Foods Wednesday, Gluten-Free Wednesday, Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways, Real Food Wednesday, These Chicks Cooked, and Slightly Indulgent Tuesday.

Persimmon and Coconut Smoothie

Have I mentioned that I love smoothies?  Yes, I love smoothies.  But I sometimes find myself in a rut, especially as the weather gets colder and good seasonal fruit becomes harder to come by.  At this time of year, I’m usually using a lot of bananas, pumpkins, and fruits from the freezer for my daily shot of blended goodness.  During my most recent visit to the farmer’s market, though, and unusual fruit caught my eye.  It was a persimmon and I was immediately drawn to the beautiful toasty orange color.

Now, I had never actually eaten a persimmon and wasn’t really sure about what kind of taste to expect.  Having had one now, I think I would say that the flavor is most closely related to an apricot but less sweet.  The next thing I wanted to know was how I could incorporate it into a smoothie that would highlight its delicate favor.  Maybe some coconut and ginger?  Yes and yes.

Persimmon and Coconut Smoothie
serves 1

Ingredients
– 1/2 large banana or one small banana
– 1 ripe persimmon
– 3 TBS coconut milk (the more concentrated from-a-can kind, not the milk substitute)
– 1/4 cup greek yogurt
– generous pinch ginger
– extra water, if necessary to achieve desired consistency
– a few handfuls of spinach (optional)

Blend in the blender until smooth and enjoy!  Here’s what you’ll get it you’re shy about using greens in your smoothies.

And here it is if you like to sneak in the leafy greens like I do :)

* This recipe is included in this week’s Slightly Indulgent Tuesday at Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, the Hearth and Soul Hop at Premeditated Leftovers, Real Food Wednesdays at Kelly the Kitchen Kop, Gluten-Free Wednesday at Gluten-Free Homemaker, Healthy 2day Wednesdays at day2day joys, the Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways Wednesday bloghop, and Simple Lives Thursdays at GNOWGGLINS.

Figgy Smoothie

Hello!  I hope everyone is enjoying their weekends.  I’m working on staying cozy in my apartment and getting caught up on some housekeeping and schoolwork.  I know that doesn’t sound like an exciting weekend, but sometimes that’s exactly what you need!  I had a productive morning with a quick workout, running errands and taking Dan to the park.

I’ve learned that if Portland gives you sunshine in the winter, you don’t waste the opportunity!

When I’m busy and need quick, healthy food, green smoothies always come to the rescue.  It’s my go-to breakfast and I probably have them 5-6 days a week.  Since I eat them so often, I sometimes get caught in a smoothie-rut where I’m using the same ingredients over and over.  Luckily, there are a lot of other green smoothie enthusiasts out there who like to post their recipes online and I can always find inspiration to switch things up.  Today’s smoothie is based on one from Laury at The Fitness Dish.  Of course, I’m almost incapable of following a recipe exactly so this is my slightly tweaked version.

Figgy Smoothie
serves 1

- 1 ripe banana
– 3-5 figs
– 2 kale leaves, stems removed
– 1 Tbs hemp protein
– 1 Tbs almond butter
– 1 tsp almond extract
– 1/2-1 cup almond milk
– ice cubes (optional, I don’t like my smoothies too cold in the winter)

Put everything in your blender and blend ’til smooth!