Tag Archives: Smoothies

Smoothies and happy thoughts

In preparation for the bar exam at the end of July, I’m taking a review class that meets every weekday from 9:00 until about 12:30. We get two ten-minute breaks, and the rest of the time is filled with dry lecturing by a law professor on video, and diligent note-taking. Then we’re supposed to go home and study, and study, and study some more, I guess. I won’t complain too much, because it’ll be over by the end of July, and I did voluntarily sign up for this whole thing, but…..UGH. It’s pretty gross. One day last week, I woke up and looked in the mirror, and this is what I saw:

monster

YIKES. OK, fine, that’s actually Charlize Theron in Monster, but you get the idea. (Source)

I decided it was time to create a before-class routine that would make life seem a teensy bit brighter. I love morning routines like I love polka dots and musical theater (i.e. I love them a lot). I like to start my days with quiet time and vegetables, so my “Survive the Bar Exam” morning routine has two main components: green smoothies and 15 minutes of meditation.

I’m no expert at meditation, but I started doing it for 10-15 minutes every morning several months ago, and I love it. I’m a big-time over-thinker, and right now there are about a million half-complete legal rules floating around in my head, so it’s nice to just shut everything out for a few minutes and think happy thoughts. I just set my cell phone alarm for 15 minutes, and sit down on the floor criss-cross applesauce. (According to my mom, retired first-grade teacher, “criss-cross applesauce” is the new “Indian-style.” More culturally sensitive, you know.) Sometimes it doesn’t work and I just sit there thinking stuff like “What exactly IS a “secured transaction?” or “I wonder what ever happened to those kids from ‘Salute Your Shorts’?” But–no matter what you spend this time thinking about, it’s pretty wonderful to have 15 minutes of quiet before the day gets going.

After meditation time is over, I break out the blender and make a green smoothie. Here’s my favorite combo so far:

DSCN4823

Key Lime Pie Smoothie:

  • handful of spinach (about a cup, loosely packed) (You won’t taste it, honest to blog.)
  • 1/4 of an avocado
  • zest of one lime, and the juice of half
  • 1/2 banana (slightly overripe and frozen is the best)
  • 1-2 tsp agave nectar
  • about 1 c. milk of your choice, more to thin it out as needed (I use almond milk, always and forever)

Blend until completely smooth, and then pour into your most festive glass.

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Nothing like a little vacation and nutrition in a glass before a few hours of Real Property. Seriously, friends–make yourself a green smoothie a few mornings each week, and you will eventually look like this:

with-her-oscar

(Source) Maybe not exactly like that, but close.

No recipes, no resolutions

So, I love trying new recipes (as you may have guessed).  But sometimes recipes can be so….bossy.  Sometimes I just want to throw things together and not measure anything.  So today, I present to you three sort-of-recipes–blueprints, if you will–using two old favorite ingredients and one superstar newcomer to my kitchen.

Ingredient #1: Wheatberries

These are available in the bulk bins or packaged (I usually buy the Bob’s Red Mill brand) in what my family affectionately refers to as the “nature foods aisle.”  They have a great chewy texture and lots of super-duper nutritional qualities.  I’ve made several variations on wheatberry salads–all you need to do is cook them according to the package directions, chop up some fruits/veggies/nuts/whatever you have on hand, whisk together a little bit of simple dressing, and toss everything together.  Let your creativity run wild, my friends!  Here’s what I came up with for my latest variation:

That would be chopped pistachios, arugula, celery, scallions, and pomegranate seeds in the middle.  Pretty, eh?  I tossed all of those ingredients with the cooked wheatberries and then dressed the salad with a drizzle of my standard vinaigrette (1/2 c. olive oil, 3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar, 1 tbsp. honey, salt and pepper).  How’s that for some Suddenly Salad?

Ingredient #2: Chickpeas

In my younger days, chickpeas were just those unappetizing beige things that always showed up on salad bars.  But then I pretty much stopped eating meat and looked into other ways to get some protein and now I use them for hummus, salads, veggie burgers, etc.  Hummus sort of makes my world go ’round, but I’ve already discussed it here, so let’s talk about a way to let the humble little chickpea shine all on its own.  First, drain yourself a can of ‘em, rinse off the icky liquid that comes with, and pat them dry with a kitchen towel.

Preheat your oven to 425 and put the chickpeas on a foil-lined baking sheet.  Then drizzle with a couple tablespoons of your oil of choice, maybe a tablespoon of vinegar, and sprinkle on some seasoning.  The possibilities here are endless…check out this link for some more ideas.  Here’s what I used:

I roasted them at 425 for 30 minutes, stirring twice along the way.  When they’re done, they make a great crunchy salad topper or simple snack on their own.

Ingredient #3: Kefir

If you google “health benefits of kefir” it seems that the only thing this stuff won’t do for you is balance your checkbook.  It’s a fermented milk product (OK, that sounds gross, but stick with me) that’s like either really thick milk or really thin yogurt.  I tried it for the first time yesterday and have already decided it’s going to be a staple in my smoothie toolkit.

I blended 1/2 c. kefir with half a banana and 1/3 c. blueberries.  It was absolutely, probiotic-ly delicious!  It reminded me of when I boycotted yogurt for awhile as a child because one of my brothers (or perhaps both working in concert) told me that the “active cultures” label meant that there were live junebugs in every carton.  Good thing I’m all grown-up and smart now.

I hope these no-recipe recipes will inspire you to some healthy cooking in the New Year!  And, speaking of the New Year: I’m pretty excited about it.  This was the first year in as long as I can remember that I didn’t start off by resolving to lose 10 pounds or stay under 1200 calories or something gloomy like that, and I must say, it’s been a great one.  I stopped eating Lean Cuisines and 100-calorie packs and being all neurotic about my stupid bathroom scale. I decided instead I would just enjoy cooking real food and exercising how I wanted to.  And thanks to this new philosophy, I’m a both a little bit lighter (literally) and a whole lot lighter (figuratively).  So make your resolutions if you want–I’ll be making some because I love fresh starts and self-improvement and all that Oprah/kumbaya kind of stuff.  But be nice to yourself when you do, mmmkay?  Cheers, everybody!

Greens and Gaga

Things were off to an early start this morning with 8 miles of jogging/walking at my favorite Des Moines park, Gray’s Lake.  My ma and I are planning on the DSM half marathon in October (as are my brother and sister-in-law).  I don’t really know what I’m doing, and should probably find a training plan, eh?  I was only going to go 6 miles, but then my ipod happened upon some Lady Gaga.  I have a few hard and fast life rules, and one of them is “don’t disappoint Lady G.”  Afterwards, I pulled out the blender for a glorious green monster.  Behold my blender, once owned by Florence Henderson:

I know green monsters are not breaking news with the healthy foodie blogger crowd, but if you have never tried this marvel, TRUST ME.  Put as much spinach in your blender as you think you can handle.  Then I usually add half of a banana, one cup of almond milk (or soy, or cow, etc. etc.), and a little bit of cinnamon.  If you’re feeling sassy you can add some strawberries.  Add some cocoa powder.  I don’t care–just so you’ve got the spinach.  Then blend the crap out of it (because nobody likes chewing a smoothie), and drink up.

Don’t be surprised if you start hearing the theme from Rocky after you drink it.  Major kudos to super-blogger Angela for this creation!  I made one for my mom and enjoyed mine while still sweaty and disgusting from workout-time in the lovely IA humidity.

Then I did some job-search-type stuff.  Well, I exaggerate.  Mostly I got out a legal pad and looked at some stuff on my computer and furrowed my brow a lot.  Baby steps.  Later, I created a little something with more of the giant zucchini from our garden.  Yesterday it was noodles, today it’s dessert!  Vegetables–is there anything they can’t do?  I like to begin baking projects at 3:30, so I can cook alongside my gal pals Giada and Ina.

Giada looks just as happy to be here as I am, doesn’t she?  Here’s what I threw in the bowl:

  • 4 tbsp butter, at room temp
  • 1/2  c. plain yogurt (I usually use Fage, but we had some mystery yogurt today.)
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c. white flour
  • 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon (consensus on the home front was that this could be increased a bit)
  • 1/2 c. grated zucchini, with the water squeezed out using your hands or a colander and spoon
  • 1/2 c. oats
  • 3 oz. chocolate, chopped into chunk form

Cream the butter, yogurt, and sugar, and then add the egg.  When you’ve got things well-incorporated, add the grated zuke.  Add the dry ingredients, mix well, and fold in the chocolate chunks.  Bake in a greased 8×8 at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.  Voila:

I tried one (while watching the Barefoot Contessa, of course) and it was pretty good.  Be forewarned–they taste kind of “wholesome.”  But, as one who drinks cups of salad for breakfast, I’m generally a fan of wholesome.  Farewell for now, whoever happens to read this (aka Mom)!