Food

The Perfect Smoothie Formula

Banana, mango, kiwi, pea shoots, chia seeds and coconut water

For those that don’t drink smoothies on the regular, working them into your diet can be a little daunting. There are so many ingredients to choose from it’s confusing where to start. Nearly all of my wellness clients have asked me for smoothie recipes. This usually perplexes me because well, I don’t have them. I simply toss stuff into the blender and give it a whirl.

I have been experimenting with smoothies for what seems like forever. Some concoctions work, some not so much.  Smoothies can be packed with lots of things or just 1 or two ingredients. You just have to take charge and make it your own. Some people like thin, juice-like smoothies and some people prefer thick, milk shake type smoothies. I fall into the latter category. In fact, I dig smoothies that I can chew, packed with crunchy almonds or granola.

While I don’t ever follow a smoothie recipe, there is a general formula or smoothie equation that works for me.  I didn’t invent (or patent – there I go, getting all legal and I haven’t even started my first day at Rutgers!) this formula. It’s not rocket science and you don’t have to have a culinary degree to follow it or to make a great tasting smoothie. I am sure someone, somewhere invented this wonderful smoothie formula and if I knew who, I would give credit where it’s due. Since I have no idea, I’ll just lay it on you:

Fruit + Greens + Protein + Binder + Liquid + superfood + spice (optional) = DELICIOUS, Healthy Smoothie! 

I don’t always follow this formula but when I do, the smoothie is always a hit. Here’s how it breaks down:

Fruit (1 serving soft and 2 servings frozen)- this can be anything, it all depends on your taste buds. However, experience has taught me a few things. I wouldn’t call them hard and fast rules as they are definitely subject to your personal taste buds and preferences. Good soft fruits for smoothies include bananas and avocados.  Now before you start freaking out about mixing avocados into something you’re going to drink, check yo-self! They are delicious.  You could also used organic canned pumpkin for a fall smoothie. Frozen fruits can also be anything that’s suitable to your taste buds! I find berries and cherries (antioxidants!), mango, pineapple and peaches to be my favorite.  For some reason I am not a fan of citrus in my smoothies so I save the oranges, lemons and limes for juicing.

Greens: (a handful) Dark, green leafy ones. These include spinach, kale, collard, swiss and rainbow chard and dandelion. I’ve even tried broccoli – I personally wasn’t a fan, but that doesn’t mean you wont love it. My go-to greens for smoothies is kale and spinach. There’s also a whole family of super greens that you can use including sea algaes and spirulina – be careful though, these have a distinct sea weedy flavor and you palate may not be used to it!

Protein: (1-2 scoops) Protein comes in many forms, in this instance I am referring to protein powders.  There are lots to choose from including whey, casein (milk), soy, brown rice, hemp, yellow pea, and different flavors including chocolate and vanilla.  I like Metagenics BioPure  (though it does contain whey and soy) and Nutivia if I’m staying away from dairy and soy.

Binder: (2-4 tablespoons depending on the type) yogurt, nut butters, oats, cooked quinoa, ground flax seeds, soaked raw nuts, regular nuts or oil (flax, coconut, hemp, almond etc.). The amount of binder is dependent upon the type you choose. Use your judgement here. For example, 4 tablespoons of yogurt, oats or quinoa is great. 4 tablespoons of flax or coconut oil may be a bit much!

Liquid: (1-2 cups) Water,coconut water, nut milks, So Delicious Coconut milk, green tea or chai or if you’re not worried about sugar and insulin response fruit juice like oj or apple.  I really only use coconut water and nut milk. For me, straight H2O is a waste when I can get all the benefits from coconut water.

Superfoods: (quantity depends upon the type). cacao nibs, gogi berries, chia seeds, maca, bee pollen. The superfoods you choose are basically dependent upon what fruit and liquid you choose for your smoothie. In my opinion, chia seeds, maca and bee pollen go with everything, while cacao nibs I save for banana smoothies.

Spices: (to taste) cinnamon, tumeric, ginger, nutmeg, cardamom, anise, or cayenne. When adding spice to smoothies, it’s a good idea to think about spices in relation to baking. Cinnamon goes well with apples, pears and pumpkin. Chai type spices go well with banana and ginger will make your tropical fruits sing.

Be creative, get wacky and follow your taste buds! You definitely don’t need to follow this equation if you learn (usually through trial and error!) that you want more or less of an ingredient in one or more categories. For example, almond butter and oats are both binders, but I sometimes I want both.

If this equation just isn’t enough for you because you’re truly a visual learner, check out my soul sister Taraleigh Weathers from the Healthy Human Magazine. She’s always got something cooking in her kitchen and this week it was smoothies!

Food

For Love of an Avocado

Delicious avocado

Oh dear sweet avocado. I love this little fruit. The Hubs and I have an avocado plant at home (Avi). Avi is 3 years old and grown from seed by his grandmother. We’re hoping by this summer Avi will start producing delicious fruit for us to enjoy! So, allow me to go on a little about this beautiful fruit.

Besides its subtle, sweet flavor and silky texture, one virtue of the avocado is that only one-sixth of it’s fat is saturated, which is a much smaller portion than in meats, butter, cheese or even sour cream. The texture of a ripe avocado is actually a lot like butter. If you have a ripe avocado hanging around and you’re guacamole’d out, try using it instead of butter on your morning toast or bagel with a slice of tomato! You can also try avocado instead of cheese on your lunch sandwich. Try sprouted grains bread with tomato, watercress and avocado (add some turkey if you roll with the animal protein).
Avocado is also fabulous in salads!! My friend Missy (who is raw and fabulous) gave me this kale and avocado salad recipe during my first Vegan challenge, 3 years ago. It blew my taste buds away. Try it!!
Kale Salad
a head kale (any variety), shredded
1 cup tomato, diced
1 cup avocado, chopped
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenneIn a mixing bowl toss all ingredients together, squeezing as you mix to wilt the kale and cream the avocado. Dig in and squeeze it with your hands…I think food tastes so much better when you play with it first. 😉
Food

Greens, Glorious Greens!

If I haven’t already told you, I have a love affair with Kale. It has been ongoing for a few years now. I don’t think we’ll ever break up. Kale is a member of the “dark leafy greens” family. Dark leafy greens include broccoli, kale, bok choy, napa cabbage, collards, mustard greens, watercress, broccoli rabe, dandelion, arugula, endive, chicory, lettuce, spinach, swiss chard & beet greens. They are some of the easiest and most beneficial vegetables to incorporate into your daily routine.

Greens, Glorious Greens!

They are densely packed with energy and nutrients, they grow upward to the sky, absorbing the sun’s light while producing oxygen.  What’s sunlight got to do with nutrition you ask? Well, Vitamin D aside, dark leafy greens contain chlorophyll. In case you’ve forgotten your high-school biology, chlorophyll is what makes life on earth possible. The oxygen we breathe comes from the chlorophyll in plants. To bring it down to its most simple terms: no chlorophyll, no human life.

How do greens benefit our bodies? Not only do green foods have heavy concentrations of chlorophyll that oxygenate the body, they also have enzymes that rejuvenate and are responsible for virtually every chemical reaction at the cellular level.  They are very high in calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorous and zinc, and are a powerhouse for vitamins A, C, E and K. They are crammed full of fiber, folic acid and many other micronutrients and phytochemicals.

Their color is associated with spring, which is a time to renew and refresh vital energy. In traditional Asian medicine, the color green is related to the liver, emotional stability and creativity. Greens aid in purifying the blood, strengthening the immune system, improving liver, gall bladder and kidney function, fighting depression, clearing congestion, improving circulation and keeping your skin clear and blemish free.

Leafy greens are the vegetables most missing from the Standard American Diet, and many of us never learned how to prepare them. They can be prepared many ways, sauteed, steamed, braised, or even blended into your favorite smoothie! Start experimenting in the kitchen with greens. You can try out simple recipe below. Then each time you go to the market, pick up a new green to try. Soon you’ll find your favorite greens and wonder how you ever lived without them.

 Shiitake and Kale 

Sauteed shiitake mushrooms and kale.

Ingredients:

1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms
1 tablespoon olive oil
1-2 cloves crushed garlic
1 bunch kale, chopped
pinch of salt

Directions:

1. Warm oil in pan on medium heat with minced garlic until aromas of garlic are released, about 2-3 minutes.

2. Add chopped shiitake mushrooms, stir-fry for 5 minutes.

3. Add chopped kale, stir-fry for a couple of minutes.

4. Add a splash of water and pinch of salt to pan, cover and let steam for 4 minutes.

For more fabulous recipes check out the book Greens, Glorious Greens by Catherine Walthers. It’s jam packed with great (and easy!) recipes to try. So don’t be scared, get to eating your greens!

Food, Health

Greening your Smoothies

Greens are everywhere – power greens, supergreens, fresh greens, wheatgrass shots …but what are you supposed to do with them? Greens can be a little bit overwhelming when you’re first trying to incorporate them into your diet. People always ask me how to add them and what to do to make them taste good. The first thing I look to when answering this question is my Blendtech!

Adding greens to your favorite fruit smoothie is a fabulous way to get the power packed nutrients that greens offer. Now I know, the color that greens turn smoothies can be a bit off putting. Most of us aren’t used to drinking something that looks like toxic sludge or worse, something bright green *gasp!* – it looks like slime, not food!! Well, it is food…and it’s food that’s great for you. My simple advice, get over it! And if you just can’t get over it, do what my boyfriend Stephen does, drink it with your eyes closed.

Ok, so now you’re going to take the green smoothie plunge, but you’re not sure how. Well, it’s super easy! You can start by adding fresh greens to your smoothie or a super greens supplement. If you’re adding fresh greens, the ratio for a green smoothie should be 60% fruit and 40% greens (collard, spinach, mustard, kale, or swiss, green or red chard). You really can’t make a mistake, more fruit, less greens and add your favorite liquid and blend. I often use coconut water or just plain water. Sometimes I use fruit juice, but this does up the calorie content of the smoothie. I also like to add my own nutritional boosts to the smoothie like maca powder, acai (pronounced ah-sa-eeee, which is available in the freezer section at Whole Foods or your local health foods store. I usually choose the sugar free acai), flax oil, hemp seeds or almonds. You can add a little honey or agave for sweetness.

Pineapple Mango "SuperGreens" Smoothie

You can find a number of fabulous supergreens in Whole Foods or your favorite health foods store. They range from froze wheatgrass shots to powdered supplements. When buying supergreens supplements it’s important to choose organic. Supergreens are super concentrated which means, if they’re not organic, you’re also going to get super concentrated pesticides- yuck!! I use Green Magma Barley Grass Juice Powder or Pure Synergy.

There really isn’t a specific green smoothie recipe to follow, it’s kind of like a stew, a little of this and a little of that to suit your tastes. Just experiment and see what works for you!.

Terra’s Favorite Green Smoothie

1/2 c. Diced Mango
1/2 c. Diced pineapple
Coconut water
1 Frozen Wheatgrass Shot
1 tbsp of Green Magma Barley Grass Juice Powder

Put it all in the blender and blend! This smoothie will come out electric green with a sweet tang because of the mango and pineapple. It’s my favorite!!

Health

April is the month of Green!

Happy April blog land!  I tried really, really hard to come up with a funny April Fool’s prank for my blog, but no luck. No pranks here. In lieu of some witty prank to kick April off with a bang, I’ve decided to dedicate the month of blogging to all things green.

Don’t let Kermit fool you, it’s EASY being green once you learn how. This month I’ll be talking about green foods and recipes, green living and eco-friendly tips, and even Green heart chakra!  If there’s something green you want me to get into, drop a comment and let me know. I’ll see if I can squeeze it in!