Drinks & Smoothies · kid-friendly · Recipes

Blueberry Super Smoothie

Inspired by the Blueberry Bliss Smoothie at Mother Juice in the Boston Public Market, I set out this week to create a smoothie recipe that had more complex flavors than the results I’ve gotten with just frozen berries and coconut milk alone. While there’s nothing wrong with tossing frozen fruit and milk into the blender, I always suspected there had to be a way of packing even more nutritional clout into something built on antioxidant-rich blueberries. I also wanted to give this smoothie some heft, to make it a real meal replacement possibility and filling enough to satisfy that afternoon sugar craving. I really love how this turned out, and I think you’ll be surprised at the secret ingredient that gives it that extra edge!

Blueberry Power Smoothie (3).png

Blueberry Super Smoothie

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup blueberries (I used frozen)
  • 1/2 cup juice (I chose cranberry)
  • 1/2 an avocado
  • 1 ripe or frozen banana
  • 1 container vanilla yogurt (Greek or regular; about 4 oz.)
  • a small palm full of pistachios
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • a dash of pumpkin pie spice*

DIRECTIONS

In a high speed blender such as a Vitamix or Blendtec, add all the ingredients, placing juice on the bottom and spices/seeds on top. Blend until smooth and enjoy cold!

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*Did that last ingredient surprise you?? That’s one of the things that made the Mother Juice smoothie so good! You couldn’t put your finger on it, but it tasted SO GOOD. If you want to really amp up the spice factor, add in some cinnamon! And if you want even more protein, make the yogurt Greek (I like Trader Joe’s vanilla bean) and add a tablespoon of almond butter, too.

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You can also swap out the nuts if you don’t like pistachios — I think almonds would be good. And if you don’t use frozen berries or banana, then throw in a couple ice cubes. I make this at night and put it into to-go containers so I can grab them the next morning. With chia seeds, letting them sit in the smoothie overnight lets them plump up and give your drink a wonderful, thick texture! They also add lots of fiber, too.

Read more about chia seeds and find my recipe for chia pudding right here.

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Have a great weekend everyone!

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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? 

Grow Your Own Way · Recipes · Tips and Tricks

Classic Pesto

Mmmm, Pesto…it’s so savory and versatile. With more basil than I can handle in my garden right now, how could I not make some pesto to put up this past weekend? I usually double this recipe and freeze it.

I like to throw in parsley as well. It adds a bit of freshness and complexity to the flavor!

Classic Pesto

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts (optional)

DIRECTIONS

Blend olive oil, basil, garlic, parmesan and pine nuts (if using) in a blender or food processor. I’ve used both; I find a food processor to be much easier, but it can be done in a blender.

If I don’t have pine nuts on hand, or if I’m feeling too cheap to buy them, I might substitute almonds, which I almost always have in the house. Toasted and blended into pesto, they add a nice flavor. You can also leave the pine nuts out completely if you have guests with an allergy to nuts.

Variations on Pesto:

  • Throw an avocado into the blender for a very creamy pesto
  • Experiment with different varieties of nuts, like walnuts, pine nuts or almonds (just remember to toast them first, which prevents bitterness)
  • Add in arugula for a zippier taste
  • Switch some of the parmesan for pecorino cheese
  • Add in parsley and/or cilantro

How to use Pesto:

  • Put it on a pizza, topped with the veggies & cheese of your choice
  • Toss it with tortellini and chunky tomatoes and fresh basil
  • Slather in a sandwich with mozzarella and tomato
  • Use it as a dip for sliced veggies like peppers and carrots
  • In this awesome recipe for grilled pesto potatoes
Most importantly, enjoy your pesto, however you serve it.
CSA 2011 · Recipes

Harvest vegetable pasta

I created this after roasting a bunch of root vegetables together with nuts and raisins in a (failed) attempt to make something compelling. Luckily, even though they bored me as a standalone dish, these harvest veggies tasted excellent once I tossed them with rotini pasta and a nutmeg-infused sauce. Easy as pie….kind of tastes like pie too, actually.

INGREDIENTS

  • Red potato, sliced into quarters (unpeeled)
  • Turnips, sliced in half
  • Pumpkin, peeled and cubed
  • Squash, peeled and cubed (or buy this way)
  • Raisins (I used about one small box)
  • Carrots/parsnips, sliced (unpeeled)
  • Almonds (handful)
  • Vegetable broth (enough so an inch or two coats the pan)
  • Cinnamon to taste (be liberal with it!)
  • Nutmeg (generous spoonful)
  • Ginger (to taste)
  • Honey (about a half cup)
  • Kosher Salt
  • Pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375. Prep all the chopped ingredients (or do this a day ahead). Toss with olive oil, nuts and raisins on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger and drizzle with honey. Season with salt and pepper. Add an inch or two of vegetable stock to the bottom of the pan. Roast in the oven, uncovered, for about 20 minutes or until tender.

Meanwhile, boil your pasta — I used rotini because it can “grip” chunky sauces like what you’re making.

You can use premade white sauce (I bought a great nutmeg sauce at Dave’s Fresh Pasta in Davis Square that I used as a base); or, you can make a simple white sauce by whisking butter, flour and then cream together over low heat, and then add the nutmeg in. Here’s a great example. I also added some leftover cream cheese into the pan to thicken the sauce even more (I never claimed this was health food). Combine the veggies, pasta and sauce in a large pot with a dash of pasta cooking water to help it all stick together! You can loosen it up with some more milk (I like almond milk) if it looks too thick or sticky.

This reheats well, but I’d recommend pouring a dash of  almond milk (or whatever kind you use) into the tupperware container and also putting a pad of butter on the top of the pasta when heating up leftovers to re-moisten things in the microwave and to keep it all from turning sticky.