Monday, January 14, 2008

Fun with food... green smoothies and that wonderful chef

I have finally found a food I can get excited about (a challenge for someone with food allergies that doesn't really like to cook or bake ... and can be a bit sensitive to the inevitable flops) ... green smoothies! I was inspired by one of my favorite food bloggers to try it: http://blog.fatfreevegan.com/2008/01/toast-2-years-and-400-posts.html

Five minutes of googling made me wonder how I had never heard of green smoothies before!

Nessa LOVES green smoothies. Of course we never, NEVER call them by the other name the fatfee vegan mentions -- blended salads ... Noooo, that sounds bad enough to me, and it would certainly turn the rest of the household totally against my new favorite way to actually use those kitchen appliances!



In fact today Nessa overheard me telling Shawn I had a new pizza crust recipe (using polenta) that I was interested in trying so I thought Wednesday could be pizza and salad night. Nessa piped right up, "I don't like salad."

I just couldn't miss my opportunity so ask her, "do you like green smoothies?"

"Yes." she said with big bright eyes and a happy grin that seemed to beg me to make some right then.


The super green smoothie you see here is essentially the recipe from the fatfree vegan blog, although I remember varying it somewhat here (this is actually my second time making them as the first was just me at night and very yummy but not picture worthy). That recipe with both pineapple and mango with the spinach is still my favorite so far. I have also tried various berries with bananas and once with kale instead of spinach. In our experience the bananas while giving it texture also can be overpowering and we prefer the other fruits. So far we've used blueberries and blackberries (strawberries and raspberries are next on my list) and while they give it a fun deep blue/purple color, I still prefer the bright green.

Megan (10) was a little harder to get excited about green smoothies than Nessa was ... this is where being 2 can be useful. I just acted very excited as I asked Nessa if she wanted to help me make a green smoothie ... I was especially excited when I asked her if she knew how to make it green ... "oh, I know I said" as she didn't answer, "we'll add spinach!" That doesn't work on a ten-year-old. It doesn't really work very well on a forty-something either ... but both Shawn and Megan stayed very open-minded, and both of them have enjoyed green and blue smoothies this week. I promised Megan to be able to make the "original inspiration recipe" on Wednesday as she wasn't here when I did that and then I was out of mango.

Speaking of recipes ... that's another thing about these wonderful smoothies -- I can't seem to ruin them. Sure some are better than others, but all have been MUCH more drinkable (and most very yummy) than any protein shakes or other such healthy smoothie makers.

I also love that I can now have "green drinks" that I make myself so I know exactly what is in them (most green drinks sold packaged in the store have wheat grass and other things that I can't or shouldn't eat). And, as the fatfree vegan points out, you don't need a fancy machine of any type to make these. I can attest that the ordinary or even el cheapo blender will suffice (okay, so there have been some moments where we really would have liked to see what the more expensive blenders would do, but still we eventually made it to smoothie texture). So, while I've been dreaming of a juicer ... it is now slipping much farther down on the wish list as I'm probably much happier drinking smoothies than mere juice anyway.

I just had to throw in this picture of Shawn in his chef hat. I came in from napping with Nessa this past Sunday and started laughing hysterically when I saw him. If you know Shawn, you know that was probably his entire point. Of course, chef hat or not, I was loving that he was making dinner when I woke up ... nothing fat-free or even close to vegan here though -- Shawn was cooking -- turkey tenderloins with real mashed potatoes and some mixed veggies (at my request) .... very yummy ... he has that glaze down for the turkey tenderloins ... and really, quite healthy if I'm eating meat/poultry which I am these days ... or at least most of the days.

Below, Nessa assumed I was taking a picture of her (wonder why?), but really I was trying to capture the mound of apple pancakes and the deep blue/purple smoothies. This supper almost inspired a post titled "how to have both salad and pancakes in one supper" ... but there were too many other things I wanted to write about ...



Nessa helped me make supper right up until she scooped up a handful of the "dry ingredients" (various flours and spices) and tested it to see if I was right about it not tasting good until it was actually made into pancakes (okay, I assume that is what she was doing because it make her sound inquisitive and not just defiant about doing something I had told her not to do when she pretended to eat it a few minutes earlier).

The pancakes are a variation from one of my allergy cookbooks. They were supposed to be made with Quinoa flour or Amaranth flour -- I swore I had both of these, but I only had a small amount of Quinoa left and no Amaranth ... decided it wasn't worth trying to run out and get these so I mixed it with teff flour. They turned out fine, but I still want to try it with the flours specified in the recipe sometime. I also would like something better for grating/shredding apples (any recommendations from our pampered chef consultant?) as this is yet another recipe that calls for shredded apples and instead I simply chop them because my tool options leave much to be desired in the shredding area.

I decided to make the pancakes tonight because I had already had a large lunch of stir fry with chicken and veggies for lunch (it was my turn to order today and I choose Hackberry's -- yum, a free lunch I could really enjoy ... the burger and fries crowd was a little disgruntled), and I didn't know if I could handle another large meal and didn't really feel like more meat (3/4 of you can stop rolling your eyes now). Shawn had been home sick all day and said pancakes were fine with him (think anything would have been fine as long as I cooked it though), and Nessa voted for pancakes and smoothies over any option that included salad. We had blackberries in the freezer and bananas on the counter ... and just enough spinach left -- so it was blue/purple smoothies tonight (used vanilla milk instead of water too, but I don't know if that changed the flavor much or not). We liked them in general but agreed the banana was too much as that was the main flavor we tasted and we wanted to taste the berries a little more (2 small bananas; about a cup and a half of blackberries; a cup of vanilla rice milk; as much spinach as would fit into the blender and then a little more to use it up ... about 2 cups packed).

So in my five minutes of Internet searching on "green smoothies" I found all kinds of interesting things about how great they are for you -- whether it's weight loss or just good nutrition you're after ... how the fruit sugars are not absorbed as fast when accompanied by the fiber, etc. ... but none of the top search results hit on my first thought -- I CAN GET MY TODDLER/FAMILY TO EAT GREENS (this especially applies to the toddler ... Nessa has now eaten more spinach and Kale in a week than in her entire lifetime before that unless you count her getting it through breastmilk, LOL ... in fact she has eaten more than she likely would have had until she left home at the rate she was going for eating it an other way!).

I was planning to mention the wonderful new teas I've been drinking thanks to discovering TeaSource (http://www.teasource.com/) -- thanks Lance ... but I don't have any good photos and the post is already long ... so it will have to be its own post sometime soon. Nessa does request tea every time she sees me with it, but she rarely actually drinks more than a few sips of whatever tea I do give her. I do look forward to sharing many real teatimes with her in addition to the imaginary tea parties we have on the living room floor on a regular basis.

Here's to eating well this year --

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