Grow Your Own Way · kid-friendly · Recipes

Tomato Tortellini Soup

New weeknight staple alert! This is a 20-minute meal that tastes like scratch (and mostly is), and provides delicious, warm little lunches. That is, assuming you even have leftovers. It really is that scrumptious.

We had parents night at Georgia’s school recently, and we got home that day with less than an hour to spare before we had to turn around and head back out the door. Patting myself on the back for buying fresh tortellini a few days earlier, I quickly realized I had the makings of a fast, filling dinner that would also serve the dual purpose of helping us move through our tomato stash. Which, if you’ve been following my Instagram since late August, is significant.

tomato_basket.JPG

Even with the cooler temperatures slowing down the ripening in our garden, I’ve put up 68 ounces (!!!) of tomato sauce, and made countless batches of creamy tomato soup for freezing and eating since September. I probably gave out 100 tomatoes to co-workers, too, and am now moving on to bringing in the green ones for folks who have good recipes for things like relish, fritters and stew. And all that came from just two plants!

tomatoes on wall

I did tons of caprese salad and homemade pizza during the weeks of late summer and early Autumn, but eventually that gets repetitive, and in the fall soup just starts to feel right. Georgia has never been a big fan of the texture of soup or stews, but I figured if anything could change her mind, it would be something chunky, creamy, and filled with cheesy pasta. And I was right.

tomato tortellini soup2 (1).png

Inspiration for this recipe came from The Kitchn, but I made my own modifications and tweaks because I like more tomato chunks and a little less heft than heavy cream.

Tomato Tortellini Soup

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 TBSP butter + a swirl of olive oil for the pot
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed or minced
  • salt and pepper to taste (don’t be shy)
  • 1 TBSP balsamic vinegar
  • 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 or 3 plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 2 cans (4 cups/32 ounces) chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup light cream
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 package (about 14 ounces) cheese tortellini
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves, torn
  • grated parmesan cheese, to taste

DIRECTIONS

In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, heat the butter and olive oil together over medium until warm, then add the onion. Cook until soft, then add the garlic, making sure it doesn’t burn. Season with salt and pepper.

Stir in the vinegar, then add the crushed tomatoes (with the liquid in the can) and the broth, cream and bay leaves to the pot. Add in some chunks of fresh tomato. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the tortellini and cook for about 3 minutes (5 minutes if using frozen). Remove from the heat, discard the bay leaves, and stir in the basil. Serve topped with fresh grated Parmesan. Enjoy warm!

tomato tortellini soup vertical

Notes

You can use either fresh or frozen tortellini; just adjust the cooking time up a bit for frozen to give them time to thaw by cooking in the sauce.

Subbing vegetable stock is fine; I like the taste of chicken stock better. You can also use another type of shredded cheese on top, such as pecorino.

Feel free to put that heavy cream back in there if you want it extra rich!

tomato bunch

For me, this kept in the fridge just fine for 5 days. I also froze two small containers of it for later. To reheat, either warm over low/medium on the stovetop or microwave for about one minute, covered.

***

I hope you are having a wonderful fall getting ready for Halloween, Thanksgiving and (gulp) Christmas. I am actually already starting to shop for the holidays! Starting early is the only way I can stay on budget. We just took our annual family photos with our favorite photographer — here’s a sneak peek of one image so far 🙂 I can’t wait to get the full package so I can start designing my photo album gifts and Christmas cards.

***

22538914_1927800204140507_6296085697091745583_o.jpg

***

Grow Your Own Way · kid-friendly · Recipes · Uncategorized

2 Summer Salads For Using Up Tomatoes

It’s August in New England, which means tomatoes are busting out all over. Every year we scale back the number of plants we put in, but we are blessed with a very sunny raised bed alongside our house that simply churns out tomatoes, basil, lettuce, eggplant, peppers and zucchini, so we are once again in abundance! Last year we added rhubarb, and it grew like crazy. I’ve already made one strawberry-rhubarb crisp this  year, and am going to have to harvest and freeze a bunch more before the first frost. I’ve learned a lot about the proper ways to harvest and grow rhubarb so it comes back healthy every year, and I’ll post more about that soon!Today I’m sharing two easy salads that only require you to pick up a couple ingredients in addition to tomatoes — primarily the mozzarella and feta cheese — assuming you are growing your own basil, lettuce or cucumbers. Both salads are crowd-pleasers that keep well at cookouts and on buffet tables, and taste refreshing, not heavy or overly filling. Dig in and get your summer greens!

To make the Greek Salad:

Wash, dry and chop your lettuce, or just buy a box of fresh organic mixed greens, which is what I usually do. Place in a large bowl then top with sliced fresh tomatoes of any variety, diced red onion, Kalamata olives, sliced and halved cucumbers and crumbled Feta cheese. 

Drizzle with the dressing of your choice, or make your own Greek salad dressing by shaking together 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1 tsp dried oregano, 2 minced garlic cloves, a squeeze of half a lemon plus 2 TBSP red wine vinegar. You can add more zip by swirling in some Dijon or other mustard, and you can make it creamier by stirring in a spoon full of Greek yogurt. Yum! Just add to a jar and shake to emulsify.

To make the Caprese Salad: 

On a serving plate, drizzle some good olive oil in a zig-zag pattern. Lay down half-moon tomato slices, top with a basil leaf, then finally place a slice of fresh mozzarella on the stack. Season with a little bit of pepper (fresh cracked is best tasting, but any kind is fine) and then drizzle with good balsamic vinegar over top. Serve!

Both salads will keep in the fridge for a few days, too, which is great for lunch. The caprese salad in particular travels well if you pack the slices tightly in a shallow container, and it’s that rare healthy item that my entire family will eat, so it’s going to be on rotation in our house for as long as our tomato plants are producing! I love anything that extends the feeling of summer, even when vacations and beach days are winding down and school is starting up.

Are you in Boston between now and Labor Day? Check out the 2017 Fermentation Festival happening this weekend at the Public Market! Join Boston Ferments from 10 am to 4 pm at the market, above the Haymarket MBTA station (orange and green lines) or on foot/by bike at the corner of Congress and Hanover streets. There will be demos, book signings, make-your-own-sauerkraut, food tastings, a libation garden and more!

FermentationFestival2017

Boston Ferments is an all-volunteer group of fermentation and pickling enthusiasts based in the Boston area, and willing to share starters for fermented foods, like yogurt, sourdough and kombucha. Why fermentation? Fermented foods — those made by converting sugars to acids, gases or alcohol — have preserved nutrients and are easier for the body to digest. Many cultures have traditionally fermented foods, from kimchi, pickles and miso to sauerkraut, kefir and tempeh. Eating fermented foods can introduce beneficial bacteria (“probiotics”) to your system, easing digestion and immunity. A proper balance of gut bacteria and digestive enzymes helps us to absorb nutrients in food more readily, and can contribute to better overall health. Fermented foods also last longer than canned food, making them very budget friendly, too.

Find out more at bostonferments.com, and have a great weekend!

Drinks & Smoothies · Recipes · Tips and Tricks

Vanilla Pear Protein & Greens Smoothie

Happy Tuesday! This weekend was gorgeous, and we got a chance to spend time with lots of friends. From birthday parties to cookouts and just having some “girls time” with my Georgia, it was so much fun, and also relaxing.


G and I are in party prep mode, gathering together the final decorations and favors for her goodie bags … and I’m in denial that she’s turning four! Life with a preschooler is so much more fun than having an infant in my book. There’s no diapers, formula, strollers or baby carriers to lug, and no contending with teething, packing baby purees, having to find a quiet place to nurse, or booking activities around naps. However, there’s LOADS of tantrums over not getting their way, ups and downs with food pickiness, shifting preferences around which parent they want, and rigidity about favorite toys, movies, stuffed animals, sock color, hair style, you name it — which is aggravating but also an awesome glimpse into their emerging personality. I know lots of people find infants simpler and more portable, but I personally have been eager to have an independent walker, talker and day-tripper, so now that she can hang, I’m packing our agenda!


The only downside, though, is that if I’m not careful I don’t end up eating anything good all day. Combined with my frenetic office culture — which, like most workplaces, seldom offers time to break for lunch — I’m relying more and more on smoothies for sustenance on the go. I’m actually drinking one right now while I work from home and wait for the plumber to fix our dead hot water tank!


I typically make a double batch every weekend, and my favorite is a healthy green smoothie with fruit, veggies and filtered water. Soon I’ll be sharing my Sunday afternoon routine for making a big batch with Georgia so we are ready for lunches on the go all week! Sometimes, though, I need a little extra energy to feel full or recover from a midday yoga class, so I’m starting to test some of the different protein powders on the market. Today, I’m sharing a Vanilla Pear Smoothie that I made using Vega’s Protein & Greens Powder. 


Vanilla Pear Protein & Greens Smoothie

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pear, sliced into chunks
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 2-3 ice cubes
  • 1 packet (30g) protein powder (or 1 scoop from a large container)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup almond milk

You can substitute the water/almond milk combo for 1 cup of coconut water or a full cup of either filtered water or the milk of your choice.

DIRECTIONS

Adding the liquids first, then the spinach then the fruits and protein powder and ice, blend on high until smooth. Add more ice if you are using a fresh rather than frozen banana.

I like to store this in my favorite Shake and Go Bottle by Contigo — because they seal tight, are totally spill proof, hold a ton (24 ounces) while still fitting into my purse or car cup holder, and they have an easy-to-clean mixing ball inside to shake up the contents when you’re ready to drink. Plus, the price is right and they are sold at Target — at $6 each, I can buy two or three so I always have one clean. They even make one with a powder storage compartment on the bottom for $12 that holds up to two servings!

img_5223

img_5224

The stats on Vega

The Vega powder has 20 grams of plant-based protein (pea, hemp and brown rice), non-GMO, gluten-free, sugar free, and 110 calories, or 1 Weight Watchers point. It has 4g carbs and 1g fiber, and can also just be mixed into 8 ounces of cold water or non-dairy milk. Other flavors, such as chocolate, are available. I found that it keeps fine in the fridge for four or five days, and a good shake re-mixes it well.

Why protein powder?

I haven’t shared this on here yet, but all summer I’ve been undergoing physical therapy for some lingering issues related to my labor with Georgia — in particular, some spasming muscles in my pelvic floor and a stubborn separation of my abdominal muscles, likely caused by being extremely petite, having a comparatively big baby, and pushing for two hours. Part of the PT is restorative therapy and behavior modification — which I’ll happily share more about later — but the latter phase, which I’m in now, is all about strengthening the core to support all the therapy we’ve done to retrain my abdominal wall and pelvic floor to hold my internal organs in and support my lower back and hips properly. This means I’m doing A LOT of strength training every day, sometimes twice a day, and need to take in adequate nutrients from quality foods to prepare and recover.


Protein powder is helpful if you are ramping up workouts after an interval of not exercising regularly, or while recovering from an injury — both, in my case. They can also help support healthy bones, blood, cartilage and muscle if you are mostly vegetarian or vegan, although protein powders are by NO means necessary for ensuring adequate protein intake while eating a plant-based diet. Protein powders are also typically not enough to fully satisfy your daily protein needs — they are definitely meant as a supplement.

What are the main downsides?

Well, in addition to the fact that you do not NEED a powder in order to replace nutrients from food, protein powders can be gritty or chalky in your shakes and smoothies — especially if you are used to straight up fruit and veggie smoothies — and, of course, they can be costly.

My verdict on Vega? I thought it was tasty, not chalky, minimally gritty, and overall very easy to blend into my usual smoothie, and filling. As someone who is used to drinking fruit and vegetable based smoothies with no added juice, sugar, ice cream, etc., the texture was creamier and sweeter than I’m used to — but that’s not a bad thing, it’s just different. Overall, I’d recommend. A great way to try protein powders is to pick up a $2 single-serving packet in the fitness & supplement aisle to try. That way you don’t have to drop $40 on a huge tub of something you aren’t yet sure you’ll like. I found Vega at Target, and I know Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods have loads more, as well as Amazon and numerous brick-and-mortar health stores.

img_5225

What Else I’m Trying

Next up, I’m going to try Aloha’s Vanilla Bean protein powder, and Trader Joe’s Organic Vanilla protein powder. Mark really likes the Trader Joe’s fast-dissolving chocolate whey protein powder for exercise recovery, so I’m hoping their vanilla flavor is tasty and budget-friendly.

Most protein powders are whey, soy or hemp, and those are in descending order of protein content. You can also evaluate what type of sweetener each powder contains; I prefer stevia, dislike artificial sweeteners (aspartame, sucralose, etc.), and like to see a sugar content of zero on that nutrition label if possible. While there are lots of factors to consider, it basically comes down to price, protein source/dietary restrictions, and flavor/texture. I’ll let you know what I discover!

What’s YOUR favorite protein powder? Do you use one? Why or why not?

***
Gymboree Sale On Now!

kid-friendly · Recipes

Trader Joe’s Tag: Teriyaki Steak Tips & Grilled Asparagus

For the latest installment in my not-frequent-enough series on Meals You Can Make Exclusively Using Trader Joe’s Products, I offer these delicious, grill-ready steak tips and sides. Made using things you can find 100% at Trader Joe’s, this meal comfortably fed our family of three with leftovers, and came together in half an hour on a weeknight after work and camp. It’s also pretty healthy, with just 240 calories per serving of beef, or a total of 10 Weight Watchers points if you eat a really big helping. We cooked this indoors because it was raining out, but these tips are made for the grill. You could also broil them to mimic that fresh-off-the-barbecue sear!

Teriyaki Steak Tips.png

Teriyaki Steak Tips & Grilled Asparagus

INGREDIENTS

All from Trader Joe’s:

  • 1 package refrigerated teriyaki steak tips (in the meat case)
  • 1 package frozen grilled asparagus spears
  • 1 packaged refrigerated scalloped potatoes or boxed potatoes au gratin*

*Or, substitute a similar potato side. Looking for different options, or rather make something from scratch? Check out my mashed potatoes, homemade scalloped potatoesroasted potatoes, or classic potato salad.


DIRECTIONS

Prepare potatoes following package directions (or use from-scratch recipes above) while heating up a grill pan/large cast iron skillet/Dutch oven to cook the steak tips. (Or grill ’em outside!) I used my large Le Creuset dish and it worked perfectly by giving all the tips room to brown without crowding on the bottom of the pan.

You can also stick these under the broiler for a few minutes and that would work great, too. You’ll be cooking them for about 7 minutes or to desired level of done-ness.

While the tips are cooking, heat the frozen asparagus either in the oven in a glass dish, or in the microwave in a safe dish, until cooked through, following package directions.

Serve the tips with some pan juices alongside the grilled asparagus and potatoes. Garnish with any additional steak sauce you like; Trader Joe’s island soyaki sauce might be nice here, as would any other sweet condiment that won’t fight the teriyaki marinade. Enjoy!

There’s no need to season these further, as they come already marinated in a sauce that you can just throw right into a hot pot with a little olive oil. This would also go really well with any type of rice side, as well as any other type of vegetable if you don’t like asparagus. I love these frozen asparagus because you can really taste the grilled parts, and they aren’t very mushy, which kind of tricks your taste buds into thinking that you cooked them fresh. Other awesome frozen sides at Trader Joe’s include their Organic Superfood Pilaf (tri-color quinoa with sweet potatoes, kale and carrots),  Fire Roasted Bell Peppers & Onions, and Misto Alla Griglia (marinated grilled eggplant, zucchini and red peppers). I also keep their boxed frozen rice on hand at all times, because you can just steam-heat a two-serving pouch in the microwave to go with dinner at the last minute, and they have a wide variety ranging from organic jasmine rice to organic brown rice to barley mix.

Looking for other Trader Joe’s meals? Check out:

Roasted Red Pepper & Tortellini Soup (vegetarian!)

Chimichurri Rice with Chicken Sausage

Lemon Pepper Pappardelle with Hummus Pesto

Soy Chorizo Chili (vegetarian!)

Butternut Squash, Sage & Sweet Chicken Sheet Pan Meal

And, like most people who shop at Trader Joe’s, one of our top meals is their frozen orange chicken sauteed in a pan with TJ’s frozen vegetable fried rice. It’s our #1 takeout substitute for busy weeknight dinners and now even Georgia asks when we can have “OC” again! I make a big batch on a busy evening and she loves to share a plate with Daddy while watching a movie. What other Trader Joe’s foods do YOU love?

Have a great weekend everyone!

SPANX

kid-friendly · Recipes

Braised Pork with Fig Compote

Braised Pork with Fig Compote.png

For some reason, pork always strikes me as a cold weather dish — but it’s probably just because my mind (and taste buds) immediately associate pork chops with this amazing maple-Dijon recipe, which I make every fall after apple picking. It just screams fall!  

Turns out, there’s no reason this can’t be a summer dish, too, and I’ve got the seasonally appropriate topping to prove it. Figs are right in season from June through early autumn, and are full of potassium and fiber, which can help control blood pressure and weight. In this recipe, I’m topping seared and sliced pork chops with a fig “compote,” which is just a fancy way of saying stewed fruit in a syrupy sauce, and laying it over a salad of sauteed kale and farro.

27481347740_204765a3d4_o

Farro is an ancient grain that was pretty new to me when I first made this dish, but has since become a healthy staple for us.

Farro is even more packed with protein than quinoa, and also boasts tons of filling fiber, magnesium, iron and zinc. It has an almost nutty flavor and a great firm, yet chewy texture.  In short, you won’t leave this dinner hungry!

27659088792_b1c1c5101b_o

Braised Pork with Fig Compote

Serves 2; 700-800 calories per serving

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 boneless, center-cut pork chops
  • 1/2 cup farro
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 oz. figs
  • 2 tbps crème fraiche or Greek yogurt or sour cream
  • 2 TBSP sugar
  • Seasoning: 3 parts flour & 1 part coriander & 1 part fennel seed (1 TBSP total)
  • For cooking: salt, pepper, water, olive oil
  • 1 bunch tarragon (optional; for garnish)

DIRECTIONS

First, cook the farro. Heat a medium pot to boiling, add the farro, drain and set aside. It should cook for a total of 15-20 minutes, so you can prep everything else while it does so.

Chop the figs, quarter (and de-seed) the lemon, chop the kale (removing the stems), and chop the tarragon leaves, if using, discarding stems.

Pat the pork chops dry with paper towels then season on both sides with salt and pepper, as well as the spice blend, shaking off any excess. Heat a medium sauce pan with olive oil over high until hot, then add the chops, cooking about two minutes per side until they look brown and are cooked through. Transfer to a cutting board to rest, leaving the browned bits in the pan.

In a smaller sauce pan, combine the figs, sugar, a pinch of salt, juice from 2 of the lemon wedges and 1/4 cup of water, then cook on medium/high, stirring, for about 6-8 minutes or until the liquid is mostly gone and the figs appear soft. Remove from the heat.

In the pan with the browned bits from the pork, reheat to medium then add the kale and another 1/4 cup of water. Season with salt and pepper if desired, and stir, scraping the yummy bits up off the bottom of the pan as you go, until the kale is wilted and the water has cooked off (just a few minutes, probably). Add to the bowl of cooked farro.

Add the crème fraiche/Greek yogurt/sour cream and the juice of the remaining two lemon pieces to the bowl of kale and farro; drizzle with a little olive oil. Divide into two serving plates.

Slice the pork chops against the grain, and plate on top of the salad, topping with the compote and garnishing with tarragon (optional). Buon appetito!

Braised Pork 2.pngIt is so ridiculously, uncomfortably hot out there this week, I don’t foresee much cooking in our immediate future, or anyone else in the Boston area. Bookmark or pin this one for the next time we get some relief from the humidity! It’s all or nothing here in New England when it comes to weather, huh?

Stay cool and have a great weekend, everyone!

***

Crazy 8 Sale On Now!

Blue Apron · Grow Your Own Way · kid-friendly · Recipes

Spring Fettuccine

Hmm. Where did we go for 21 days? It sure whizzed by rather mysteriously for me, until I woke up and realized I hadn’t written a new recipe all month. But I can tell you one thing — we did very, very, VERY little cooking these last three weeks, so that right there is probably the secret to why this blog went silent.

We had my mom’s 70th birthday party, the end of school for Georgia, the start of summer camp, the tail end of audition season for Mark, and annual reviews at my office, plus graduation from the political candidate training program I underwent all winter, Emerge.

I guess we were busy, huh?


You’ll notice this post has the word “Spring” in the title. That’s because that is when I started writing it! It’s probably even more exciting as a meal option now, though, because it’s just that easy — and easy is what you want in the heat (which we finally have here in Boston). And, bonus: you can use any greens that are ready to harvest from your garden now, if you’re in the Northeast.

The title of this should really be “Fresh Fettuccine with Chicken, Asparagus, Kale and Rosemary” but that is just WAY too long, so I’m leaving the flavors a bit to your imagination with a festive-sounding word like “Spring” instead. Because when I think of this season, and eating outdoors or on the porch, with something light and easy to pull together on a weeknight, those foods are for sure on my list…right next to a crisp glass of white wine or rosé.

SPRING FETTUCCINE.png

I originally made this as part of my Blue Apron subscription but have since redone it and adapted it for our family, and you could do the same. Chicken and Rosemary are natural buddies, but you can leave out any part that doesn’t appeal, including the chicken if you want to make this vegetarian, or the red pepper flakes if you don’t like so much heat. The greens are also interchangeable, so a spring mix or spinach would be fine here, too. Other ideas: you could add in some garlic to the saute step, or even some mushrooms — especially for a heartier vegetarian option if you omit the chicken tenders. I might even add some fresh peas if I saw them at the farmer’s market.

rosemary

Spring Fettuccine

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 chicken tenders
  • 6 OZ fettuccine
  • 1 bunch kale
  • ½ bunch ssparagus
  • 1 bunch rosemary
  • 2 TBSP crème fraîche or Greek yogurt or sour cream
  • 2 TBSP grated Parmesan
  • ⅛ TBSP crushed red pepper flakes

DIRECTIONS

Wash and dry the fresh produce and eat a medium pot of salted water to boiling. Snap off and discard the tough, woody ends of the asparagus, then cut into 1-inch pieces on an angle. Remove and discard the kale stems and finely chop the leaves. Pick the rosemary leaves off the stems, or run through an herb stripper; discard the stems and roughly chop the leaves.

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and chop into bite-sized pieces, then transfer to a bowl. Season the chopped chicken with salt and pepper and toss to coat.

In a large pot, heat some olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the seasoned chicken and cook, stirring occasionally for about five minutes or until it is lightly browned and cooked through.While the chicken cooks, add the pasta to the pot of boiling water and cook 8 to 10 minutes, or until al dente. Reserving ¾ cup of the pasta cooking water, drain thoroughly.

While the pasta cooks, add the asparagus, kale, rosemary, 2 TBSP water and as much of the red pepper flakes as you’d like, depending on how spicy you’d like the dish to be, to the pan of chicken; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, for a couple of minutes or until the asparagus is bright green and the kale wilts.

Add the cooked pasta, crème fraîche and half the reserved pasta cooking water to the pan of chicken and veggies. Cook, stirring vigorously to coat the pasta, until thoroughly combined, just a couple of minutes. If the sauce seems dry, add the remaining pasta cooking water to reach a better consistency. Top with cheese and enjoy!

This makes about two servings, so it’s perfect for date night. Or, it doubles easily.

Buon Appetito!

fettuccine2

Technically summer started last week, but I think you can still safely make this “spring” pasta and be on-season with your ingredients. I know my garden is still overflowing with greens like lettuce, cabbage and kale! In fact things are growing so fast and furious after our heavy spring rains that allergies have hit in full force for me lately, and I hope you aren’t suffering too! Have a great rest of the week, and an awesome start to your Fourth of July vacation if you’re taking off soon. We are staying in town but hoping to savor the warm sun and maybe get to some boating and beach or pool time! 🍉🇺🇸☀️


***

Gymboree Sale On Now!

Drinks & Smoothies · kid-friendly · Recipes

Strawberry Peanut Butter Smoothie

Though it hasn’t felt very summery out there so far this year, something about this time of year prompts me to want to get moving more, lighten up what I’m eating so I can feel lighter myself, and spend less time cooking and eating big meals. Enter smoothies, the perfect on-the-go food with built-in health benefits. Of course, the other way to look at it is that these balance out all the inevitable hot dogs, cold beers and after-dinner trips to get ice cream that come with summer, so cheers to that, too!

34836573251_842064ea1c_o

This smoothie is vegan, easy to make as well as to digest, tasty, portable, and perfect for post-workout because of the great balance of carbs to restore glycogen burned during exercise and muscle-building protein.

A healthy and filling after-exercise smoothie will ideally contain a foundation of greens and fruit, like we have here, plus a protein source such as nut butter, silken tofu or plain yogurt, and also a liquid, such as coconut water or almond milk.

I used peanut butter, but you could also use almond butter. You can sub half Greek yogurt and half almond milk — especially to boost the protein ratio for exercise recovery — or all almond milk in place of coconut milk.

34581258610_f934529e40_o

Strawberry PB Smoothie

INGREDIENTS

  • 1-2 cups frozen strawberries
  • 1 ripe banana (mine was frozen)
  • 1 can reduced-fat coconut milk OR 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 heaping TBSP peanut butter OR almond butter
  • optional: toss in some spinach or other greens

DIRECTIONS

Add all ingredients to blender, starting with liquid first, and process on high until smooth. It helps to have a high-speed blender like a Vitamix if you want to throw in a handful of greens and have them pulverized, which I did to get an extra veg boost, but otherwise this should be fine in a conventional blender, too.

The amount of berries can vary by however much you want. I used what I had on hand, which was a little less than a full two-cup bag in the freezer.

34125808324_f13bf1977a_o34836573151_138101e0c8_o34581258390_250473f58e_o

I’m not even going to talk about the weather anymore because I think I’ve personally jinxed it from ever being nice this year. We are having a small cookout the weekend after next for Mark’s birthday, and if it’s rainy or cold still, I’m going to lose my mind.

Today, however, we got a peek at the sun, so I strolled on over to The Scooper Bowl in City Hall Plaza, which is an ice cream extravaganza that also benefits The Jimmy Fund. It’s still going on tomorrow from Noon to 8 p.m. outside Boston City Hall, right at Government Center. Perfect for an after-work outing. Or “lunch,” like I did!

strawberry banana smoothie (1).png

If you liked this smoothie, share it with a friend, and pin it for later! Have a great rest of the week, everyone. 

***