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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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

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Drinks & Smoothies · kid-friendly · Recipes

Banana Date Smoothie

Does anyone else love dates? Like a lot? I sure do! They’re considered a super food for a reason, and are easy to work into your repertoire.

So delicious and full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, they are a great source of energy and have been a satisfying component to many Mediterranean diets for centuries. Eaten in moderation, which is always a good idea with dried fruits, dates can boost digestion and keep you fuller longer, and lend a special flavor to any appetizer spread, smoothie, or even dessert. In fact, I did just that on Christmas Day with Sticky Toffee Pudding, and it turned out so well that I made a batch to share with my co-workers a week later. I’ll be sharing it with you in just a few days! Sticky Toffee Pudding uses blended dates as the basis for a delicious, dense little cake topped with butterscotch sauce, and it would be simply perfect for Easter Sunday, too.

You know what? If you make that Sticky Toffee Pudding, you’ll have just enough dates left over to toss in this smoothie. How perfect! If you are interested in learning how to make a healthy smoothie using dates, bananas, nut milk and oats, read on.

BANANA DATE SMOOTHIE

Ingredients

  • 2 frozen bananas (or add a couple ice cubes if using fresh bananas)
  • a handful of dates, about 10 (I buy them by the box at Trader Joe’s)
  • 2 cups almond milk
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats

Directions

In a blender, add the almond milk then the dates. Blend at medium speed until the dates are mostly broken down.

Add the bananas and blend again. Then, add the oats and let them sit for a minute to soak and soften. You can probably skip this step if you have a high-end blender such as a Vitamix or BlendTec.

Puree the entire mixture on medium-high until smooth. Makes two servings.

Enjoy!

So we had a huge snow storm last week (and it’s freezing this week…spring, WTF are you hiding from??) which meant I was trapped at home for two days with no school and barely-plowed roads. I love getting in extra time with my G, but we definitely ran out of things to do after a little while. Often when that happens, we start cooking or baking together. She loves making smoothies, and this is one I’ve been wanting to try for a long time because it is so filling and fiber-rich that it really qualifies as a meal replacement. It’s delicious and good for you, and boy was I glad I’d made it a few days later when I had some early mornings and evening meetings that otherwise would have forced me toward the drive-thru for sustenance. The only thing I’d change next time is to make sure I have two smaller frozen bananas, because the ones we got at Costco last time around were so gigantic that the flavor *almost* took over the dates in my smoothie. If you find that you can only get larger bananas too, then I’d just use one or one-and-a-half.

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I thought you’d all appreciate a glamorous behind-the-scenes shot of my life testing recipes and staging food photos while home with a mischievous toddler and elderly cat. Have a great weekend everyone! 🙂

Drinks & Smoothies · Grow Your Own Way · kid-friendly · Recipes

Carrot Cake Smoothie

After a month of staring down my new Vitamix in intimidation and fear, I finally asked Georgia to help me figure out how to use the darn thing this weekend. We were trapped at the house while Mark jetted down to New York for new headshots, and we had some pretty random things in the fridge to use up. I remembered seeing a recipe for a smoothie using carrots this winter, and going on memory, I tried to make something refreshing for all seasons. I swear, I’ve never had a smoothie come out this, well, SMOOTH before — I’m about to go get married to this Vitamix so I can keep it forever. It’s that good. Best combo birthday/Mother’s Day gift EVER.

Since it’s summer, you could definitely tone down the warming spices in the recipe to keep it tasting lighter and fruity.

Carrot Cake Smoothie

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup almond milk (soy also works well)
  • 1 plain low/no-fat yogurt (about 5 oz.)
  • 2 TBSP rolled oats
  • 1 TBSP dry chai tea mix, such as Trader Joe’s*
  • 1 frozen chopped banana (or 1 fresh, plus two ice cubes)
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped (or at least 1 cup shredded/packaged)

* To approximate chai tea seasoning, use a dash of cinnamon, vanilla and 1 or 2 cloves. You can also omit the cloves, or use 1 TBSP pumpkin pie mix instead.

DIRECTIONS

Add the ingredients in order of liquidity: first the almond milk, then the yogurt, then the grains and spices, and finally the fruits and vegetables. If using a high-powered machine like a Vitamix, blend for less than one minute on low and increasing up to high. Makes enough for two days, or to share with a friend (like my G!) Enjoy 🙂

Baby & Toddler · Recipes · Tips and Tricks

Why we’re going nuts about almonds

Last week, Georgia had her (very belated) 18-month checkup. In addition to hearing that my baby who once wouldn’t gain weight is now in the 65th percentile (!), I was thrilled to get the green light on introducing almond milk and other nut products to her diet. Why? Because, pre-Georgia, that was all we used! We were not dairy consumers, and buying three cartons of cow’s milk every week has honestly been a weird adjustments for me to make when grocery shopping. We always follow G’s pediatrician directions on food, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been excited about the prospect of one day trying things like sushi, tofu, smoothies, natural nut butters and almond milk together, which I always loved before having her.

she's a growing girl who needs her protein!
she’s a growing girl with an appetite to match!

New evidence, which our pediatrician pointed to, shows that children who are exposed to peanut products earlier in life may have a lowered risk of developing allergies later on. That, in combination with their nutritional value, is why our doctor encouraged us to offer Georgia all varieties of nut butters, flours, milks and crackers at home, now that she’s at an age where she can tolerate it. And I’m always excited to offer her new things to expand her palate.

Not quite what I had in mind...
Not quite what I had in mind…

When we gave her almond butter on apples and bananas, and made her a berry shake by pureeing frozen fruit with almond milk this week, she loved it! Now there’s so much more I can’t wait to try. And there are great reasons we use almond products beyond just the taste and the fact that I, like so many people, can’t digest lactose, or that eliminating cow’s milk (while adding exercise) has helped Mark control his once-serious (and hereditary) acid reflux.

another new food buddy?
making new food buddies every day!

Nut products are a great source of protein, which is important if you or your child eat little to no meat, and they are loaded with healthy fats, fiber, fewer calories than cow’s milk, and powerful antioxidants. By including plenty of calcium from sources like organic, low-sugar yogurt and real cheddar cheese in your toddler’s diet, you can confidently replace some of their cow’s milk with almond milk.

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What are some of the ways we use almonds, almond butter, almond milk, and almond flour in our home?

  • A post-workout shake that I created for Mark
  • A creamy, green, fruit smoothie for breakfast
  • An afternoon pick-me-up while at work: I keep raw almonds and walnuts in my drawer at all times!
  • This pasta dish with kale
  • These tasty breakfast Muffins
  • This better-for-you baked Mac n’ Cheese
  • As a substitute for pricey pine nuts in Classic Pesto
  • To make gluten-free treats for friends with dietary restrictions, since almond flour is naturally free of gluten and can seamlessly sub for wheat flour in baking recipes
  • In lieu of cow’s milk as a drink or in almost any recipe. I blend almond milk with one banana and a dash of cinnamon for Georgia, and she loves it!
Pioneer Woman’s Apple-Nut Butter Delights: click photo for recipe

We also love Martha Stewart’s Five-Ingredient Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, which uses 1 cup almond butter, 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, 1/2 cup packed brown sugar, 2 large eggs and 1/2 tsp coarse salt. You mix together the almond butter, chocolate chips, sugar, eggs and salt until a dough forms, preheat the oven to 350, drop tablespoon-sized dollops of dough about an inch apart onto a parchment lined baking sheet, and bake for 10 minutes or until the cookies puff up and the tops are set. After cooling on a wire rack, you can store these in an airtight container for up to three days!

I’m so glad Georgia been an adventurous eater so far, and I can’t wait to keep discovering new foods together.

Nuts.com gave me the opportunity to share this infographic on the health benefits of almonds here on OrganicGlory. As with all such posts, opinions are my own, and I never endorse anything my family doesn’t already love. Please check with your doctor or pediatrician to make sure you follow their guidelines on when and how to introduce nuts to your family diet.

mac n' cheese and apples: still our two favorites.
mac n’ cheese and apples: still our two favorites.

How about you — how do you cook, bake and snack with Almonds or other nuts? Do your kiddos like them? 

Drinks & Smoothies · Recipes

Creamy Strawberry Smoothie

Yup, another smoothie post! The baby is Boss Lady and she’s the one who keeps demanding new smoothies! How can I not comply?

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Creamy Strawberry Smoothie

Ingredients
  • 1 package frozen strawberries* (12 oz.)
  • 1 cup milk (regular, almond or coconut)
  • 1 frozen banana or a few scoops of yogurt, for creaminess
  • a splash of juice for tartness, your choice. I used cranberry.

 * add some ice cubes if you’re using fresh strawberries instead of frozen

Directions

Adding milk first then strawberries, combine all ingredients in your blender and process until smooth. Adjust thickness by adding more of the yogurt or banana if desired. Tastes like summer!

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PS: Is anyone else planning to go to the BlogHer Food Conference in May?

It’s being held in Miami and I’d love to go, and to make plans to meet up with any fellow bloggers or readers who will be there! Of course, this all depends on my mom or someone else being able to take care of the baby while I travel, since I’m pretty sure Mark is booked through May for this next theater season. Which is a good thing. I just … am still adjusting to factoring a baby into my long-term plans. And she’s not even here yet! But she will be, any day now…..

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Drinks & Smoothies · Recipes

Cran-Raspberry Smoothie

New favorite alert! As promised in my post from last week, I’m sharing a new smoothie recipe. I made this when Mark accidentally bought cranberry juice concentrate instead of cocktail, and I love how it makes the smoothie just tart enough. I added bananas to sweeten it, fresh juice from two delicious Florida oranges I still have hanging around from our shipment in late January, and almond milk for creaminess. yumyumyum.

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Cran-Raspberry Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 1 bag (12 oz.) frozen raspberries
  • 1 -2 frozen bananas
  • juice of two oranges
  • 1/2 cup cranberry juice concentrate (not juice cocktail)
  • 1/2 cup almond milk

Directions

Blend ingredients until smooth, making sure you add liquids to the blender first. It will be very tart if you use just one banana; two will make it sweeter. I used 1.5 (I always keep frozen ripe bananas, cut in half, in a baggie in the freezer so they are ready for smoothies). Add more almond milk to make the smoothie less thick.

SO refreshing!

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Drinks & Smoothies · Recipes

Chocolate-Almond Protein Shake

When Mark had to get ready for a role last year that might involve a shirtless scene (it didn’t in the end, much to his relief), he signed up for a boot camp at our gym that totally kicked his butt and left his muscles in deep need of recovery. The instructors advised the group to eat something before the workout in order to have enough fuel to power through — ideally, an easily-digestible meal with a high carb/moderate protein/low fat ratio — and to recover with a small meal or drink one to two hours after working out. The pre-workout meal was easy: whole wheat toast, a boiled or scrambled egg, one orange and plenty of water. But the post-workout meal was a mystery. What would help him recover but not plateau?

I did a little research and then devised this delicious and easily customizable protein shake. Now, he takes it on the go when he has short meal breaks during rehearsals and needs to refuel quickly without getting too full. The best part? You can tweak it to your liking very easily. Swap peanut butter for almond butter, or combine equal parts of each; add more banana if you like the taste (Mark doesn’t). You could use soy or rice milk instead of almond, but I wouldn’t use dairy since the whole idea is that this is easy to digest. If you really want to make this an indulgent treat instead of a post-workout recovery shake, you could even toss in a scoop of chocolate gelato 🙂

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup almond milk

  • 2 spoons full of almond butter (and/or peanut butter to taste)

  • 1 spoon full of chocolate protein powder (I like Trader Joe’s organic hemp version, above)
  • 1 frozen banana (you can also use fresh; I keep plenty of frozen ones around in small pieces so they are easy for the blender to process in smoothies)

  • optional: cashew cream to taste/creaminess level

  • also optional: ice and/or water to chill it or thin it out

Directions

Starting with the liquid on bottom, blend all ingredients until smooth; taste and adjust to your preference. I often add more almond butter if it’s too chocolate-heavy, or I might throw in another piece of banana to thicken it (or a splash more almond milk to thin it out).

Serve cold and enjoy!