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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Blue Apron · kid-friendly · Recipes · Uncategorized

Coconut Kale & Sweet Potato Casserole

Well, I guess the nasty weather has officially arrived. The Southern temps were fun while they lasted! (Although 70 degrees on Christmas just felt wrong). Now that we’ve had to turn the heat back on and bundle up for commuting again, it feels like it’s time to start making casseroles again. Especially all that holiday cooking…who wants to do anything fussy now? This vegetarian dish is hearty, nutritious and as spicy as you want it to be (or not). A few inexpensive ingredients will feed you for days and warm you from the inside out. As a bonus, you can make tea from the leftover ginger peels, and that’s great for healthy digestion (and for kicking the common cold, if you toss in some honey, lemon and bourbon 😉 ). Cuddle up for some home cooking and, as Georgia likes to say, “get cozy.”

Coconut Kale & Sweet Potato Casserole

INGREDIENTS

  • 5 Ounces Egg Noodles
  • 1¾ Cups Light Coconut Milk
  • 1 Bunch Kale
  • 1 Pound Sweet Potatoes
  • 2 Tablespoons All-Purpose Flour
  • 1-Inch Piece of Fresh Ginger
  • ⅓ C Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • ¼ C Panko Breadcrumbs
  • If you want it spicier, add some red pepper flakes or chilli powder. Totally optional.

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 475°F. Wash and dry the fresh produce. Heat two large pots of water to boiling on high. Peel and medium-dice the sweet potatoes. Peel and mince the ginger. Remove and discard the kale stems and rough-chop the leaves.

Add the sweet potatoes to the first pot of boiling water. Cook 7 to 9 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a fork. Drain thoroughly and place in a large bowl.

While the sweet potatoes cook, add the noodles to the second pot of boiling water. Cook 5 to 6 minutes, or until just shy of al dente. Drain thoroughly and transfer to the bowl of cooked sweet potatoes. Rinse and wipe out the pot.

In the pot used to cook the noodles, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the ginger and cook, stirring frequently, 1 to 2 minutes, or until slightly softened and fragrant. Add the flour and spices, if using; cook, whisking frequently, 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until toasted and fragrant. Slowly add the coconut milk (shaking the can before opening) and ¾ cup of water; season with salt and pepper. Cook, whisking frequently, 3 to 5 minutes, or until thickened. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Stir the kale into the pot of béchamel sauce. Cook, stirring frequently, 1 to 2 minutes, or until the kale has wilted. Turn off the heat. Add the cooked sweet potatoes and noodles; stir until thoroughly combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer the finished filling to a baking dish. In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs and cheese. Stir in enough olive oil to moisten the mixture; season with salt and pepper to taste. Evenly top the filling with the breadcrumb-cheese mixture. Place the baking dish on a sheet pan. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until bubbly and browned on top. Remove from the oven and let stand for at least 2 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

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This recipe is modified from my Blue Apron delivery subscription. I love when they have budget-friendly, easily-replicable recipes for our family to add to our repertoire! I hope you enjoy this as much as we did. The first time I made it as part of my Blue Apron delivery, it came out rather spicy, so I toned it down a LOT the next time I made it. I’m really happy with the non-spicy version and will likely make it that way from here on out. I hope you like it! It reheats for lunches and leftovers so well.

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Happy New Year, everyone! Here’s to a healthy, fulfilling 2016.

Tiny Prints - Birth Announcements and More

Recipes

Slow Cooker Chicken Curry

Ever on the hunt for easy, family-friendly recipes, I tried to make a simple chicken and vegetable curry with minimal spice (to please Mr. Boring Meat and Potatoes Palate) in the slow cooker last weekend. Can I just say…wow! This is a definite winner! It’s officially added to our regular rotation.

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I kept it bland, but you can amp up the spice if you like, and serve over the rice of your choosing (or plain).

The original recipe called for cauliflower, which I love but Mark hates, so I doubled up the other veggies, in particular the Brussels Sprouts since they’re a fave in our house. You can really customize this however you like, though, and make it vegetarian by leaving out the meat. If you keep the chicken, though, I think you’ll be pleased to find that it cooks down into flavorful, really moist shredded pieces in this recipe. Perfect for spooning onto a sub roll for lunch the next day!

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Freeze leftovers or take them for lunch all week long. I paired this with a salad for lunch one day, and this veggie dish another. (Belgian Salad? Brussels Sprouts? Do we have some kind of weird theme happening here?) Again, this has no heat to it whatsoever, so fear not, wimps! Mark can’t even tolerate a hint of spice, and it didn’t hurt this dish one bit.

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Slow Cooker Chicken Curry

INGREDIENTS

I bought all mine at Trader Joe’s but all are widely available.

  • 1 lb. boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cups Brussels sprouts
  • 1 medium white OR red onion, chopped
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained & rinsed
  • 15 oz. tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk, light
  • 2 TBSP curry powder
  • 2 TBSP lemon juice (about half one fresh lemon)
  • salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

Start by chopping all your dry ingredients: peel and cube the sweet potato, dice the red pepper, and chop the onion. Place all veggies in the slow cooker (including frozen Brussels sprouts) except the frozen peas and lemon juice. Pour in wet ingredients (coconut milk, tomato sauce, chicken broth) plus the beans, drained and rinsed, and curry powder. Stir, then place chicken breasts on top. I cut mine in half first, but that’s a matter of personal preference.

Set slow cooker for low and cook 8 hours, stirring occasionally if you are home. Or, cook on high for four hours. Just before serving, pour in the frozen peas and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to your taste. Enjoy with rice on the side, or plain.

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If you are making this vegetarian, be sure to increase the amount of vegetables to compensate for the space the chicken would have taken up, and cook for less time (about 6 hours on low). If you decide to add the cauliflower back in, the original recipe calls for 1 cup chopped. If you’d like for this to be spicy, I’d recommend adding 1 tsp cayenne (or hot sauce to taste) at the beginning when you add the curry powder.

You really can’t go wrong with this one. I hope you like it! Great for having a crowd over, or just for stocking up for the work week and before all that cooking over the holidays.

My other go-to for weekend cooking, especially right before a week like Thanksgiving when your kitchen is focused on holiday prep, are these vegetarian stuffed shells. So easy, so yummy, so filling. So Italian (just like me! And Georgia, who is VERY interested in helping in the kitchen these days).

This year, I am making Balsamic Roasted Green Beans and Homemade Cranberry Sauce for Thanksgiving at my dad’s house (gotta climb into the Wayback Machine for that first recipe!) And Georgia can eat everything this year ~ how exciting! Here’s what she looked like last Thanksgiving at just three months old 😦 I would be sad, but I remember how poorly we were sleeping back then, and I’d much rather take the craziness of toddlerhood with everyone getting a full night’s sleep.

Chicken curry recipe adapted from SarahFit, who says each of the five 3-cup servings has about 300 calories. She also puts the total cost at less than $25, which sounds about right. Cheap, healthy and tasty ~ awesome!

Drinks & Smoothies · Recipes

Cherry Berry Smoothie

This was the last smoothie I invented before my muse, Miss Georgia, was born. When I can find time to actually MAKE smoothies nowadays, they are great to have on hand for a new mom stuck in the house.

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Cherry Berry Smoothie

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 cup water
  • splash of cranberry juice or concentrate
  • 16 oz. bag frozen mixed berries (I used Trader Joe’s Very Cherry Blend, which has cherries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries)

DIRECTIONS

Blend ingredients together until smooth, adding liquids to the blender first. Serve cold.

If you don’t like cranberry or don’t have it lying around, you can toss in a splash of any juice, really. I just wanted a little bit more sweet and tart, and that did the trick. You may also find that the smoothie is too thick for your liking with just two cups of liquid, so you can always punch up the water or coconut milk to your preferred texture and consistency.

Berries are full of antioxidants and are super refreshing in the summer and early fall, so enjoy this one!

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By the way…I’m considering investing in a high quality blender. I found this great comparison of the BlendTec vs. the Vitamix, and I think I’ve concluded that the Blendtec is right for me. Do you have one of these? Any advice or info on which you prefer?

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 · Pregnancy · Recipes

Mango Smoothie

Yum! This closely resembles my tropical smoothie, which is made with pineapple, but here I use mango instead because I love the taste of them. Sometimes you just need to mix things up a bit (but not too much).

mango smoothie

Ingredients
  • 1 Cup Coconut Milk
  • 1 Cup Orange Juice
  • 1 Banana, preferably frozen
  • 1 bag frozen mango chunks (12 oz.)
  • water if needed for texture
Directions

Adding liquid to the blender first, combine all ingredients and blend. Drink cold!

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Inevitably, the cat photo-bombs me

I know I’ve been a little heavy on smoothies and drinks lately. The further along in my pregnancy I get, the more I’m loving that stuff to stay hydrated and keep my energy up without getting too full. I’m sure it’s getting boring for you, but baby can’t get enough fruit apparently! 

InstagramPsst — are you on Instagram? I’ve used it for almost two years, but am only recently realizing the power of connecting with folks over recipes. If you’d like to connect, check out my profile! I’d love to meet you.

Drinks & Smoothies · Recipes

Orange Berry Smoothie

Is anyone else out there feeling desperate for simple, healthful food after that holiday? Yeah, me too. As much as I love stuffing, casseroles and pie, they do take a toll on your energy level, complexion and waistline. Personally what I’ve been craving is fresh fruit, lots of water and NO bread! So I threw together a refreshing smoothie and a batch of low-fat breakfast muffins with broccoli and feta (which I’ll post here in a few days). Enjoy:

Orange Berry Smoothie

A refreshing blend of orange, strawberry & banana with coconut milk for creaminess.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup coconut milk (light)
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1 banana, frozen or fresh

Directions

Blend all ingredients together and enjoy cold. Makes enough for two!

I used a frozen banana because I always keep them handy; a little over a cup of the OJ and coconut milk, because that’s what I had left in the jugs in my fridge; and a heaping cup full of frozen strawberries.You can use full-fat coconut milk if you don’t mind the extra calories, and of course you can substitute greek yogurt to make it extra thick.

This is SO fresh and tasty in the morning!

Recipes

Sweet n’ Spicy Macaroni & Chili

Remember two weeks ago, when everyone stayed up past midnight to watch the election results right on the heels of Hurricane Sandy and just before a big Nor’Easter? Yeah, that’s when I made this. This cheesy lazy thing. I’m pretty glad it’s in my repertoire with the holiday craziness rolling in.

Sweet n’ Spicy Macaroni and Chili

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (1 16-0z. package) small whole wheat shells
  • 1 can (14.7 oz.) Trader Joe’s vegetarian chili (or similar)
  • 1 cup shredded cheese
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of coconut milk
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of salsa
  • Salt, to taste
  • optional but snazzy: 1 TBSP chutney

I used orecchiette, when I couldn’t find the small whole wheat shells I wanted; Trader Joe’s Organic Vegetarian Chili; shredded mozzarella and parmesan cheese (Target brand); Trader Joe’s Light Coconut Milk; Trader Joe’s Smoky Peach Salsa; and Trader Joe’s Mango-Ginger Salsa.

Obviously you can make this with real chili, any variety of salsa, another kind of shredded cheese, and dairy milk if you eat those foods. I personally love how this is safe for lactose-intolerant and vegetarian seekers of comfort food.

Directions

Set a medium sized pot of pasta on to boil. You want it slightly undercooked as it will continue cooking in the final pan. Once the pasta is done, set aside in a bowl.

In the same pan you cooked the pasta in, add the chili and cheese. Stir in the coconut milk, salsa and a pinch of salt.

Cook over medium heat until the mixture is warm and the cheese is melted; toss in the pasta. Stir, add the chutney if using, and taste. Adjust seasonings if necessary. Serve warm!

The original recipe also offered the following substitution to make the dish vegan: 1 cup Daiya vegan shredded non-dairy cheese, or 1/4 cup nutritional yeast and 1/4 cup coconut milk.

You can also feel free to add in a dash more coconut milk if this comes together too thick, and if you prefer even more heat than the salsa and the chutney offer, splash in some tabasco sauce or some jarred jalapenos (maybe these?)

Recipe inspiration came from healthy slow cooking.

Recipes

Coconut-Curry Lentil Soup

As soon as I saw this recipe from Delight Gluten-Free Magazine, I knew I had to try it! (I changed it up a little to suit what I had in my pantry).

I added a little more potato to compensate for the fact that I only had 1 cup of lentils on hand, and then used leeks instead of yellow onion because I had a cup of chopped leeks left over from making a batch of my spring risotto. I also made sure to use light coconut milk to keep all the flavor without quite so many calories.

This turned out really well, and we had tons of leftovers to eat for lunch all week. I served it with my Kale Salad — which is made with a simple avocado-lemon dressing — since I had half a bunch of kale leftover from making the soup, plus two avocados left from making some Lemon Pappardelle.

Coconut Curry Lentil Soup

Serves 8   Hands-on time 20 minutes   Slow cooks for 4 hours

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup dried lentils, rinsed
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 2 good sized potatoes, diced (skin on)
  • 1 cup chopped leeks (white parts only) or use a yellow onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch kale, or use spinach/collard greens, stems removed
  • 2 TBSP tomato paste
  • 3 cups vegetable stock, plus 1/2 cup at the end (two 14.5 oz cans total)
  • 1 can of light coconut milk (14 oz.)
  • 2 TBSP EVOO
  • 2 TBSP fresh lemon juice, to use at the end
  • 1 TBSP fresh ginger, or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1/2 to 1 jalapeno, seeded (or use jarred slices)
  • 2 TBSP curry powder
  • salt to taste (about 1/2 tsp)

This looks like a long list of ingredients, but I actually didn’t have to buy anything besides the fresh kale. I think you’ll find that you have most if not all of these ingredients already on hand.

DIRECTIONS

In a skillet over medium, heat the olive oil, then saute the garlic, leeks, ginger and jalapeno for 5 minutes. Turn off heat. (note: if you have someone who really doesn’t like heat, just leave these out. It will taste subtle to people who like a kick, but in a slow cooker peppers can really broaden their spice).

Stir into the pan the tomato paste, coconut milk, vegetable stock and curry; stir together.

Pour into slow cooker and add carrots, potatoes, lentils and salt. Set on low heat for four hours. After four hours, stir in the kale or other greens and squeeze in the lemon juice, adding the rest of the vegetable stock and any additional water that looks necessary for desired texture. Let heat for another 15 minutes, then add salt and pepper to taste.

This dish freezes well and is very filling. It’s probably most suitable for fall, but I made it during a cold snap the East Coast weathered in between some summer heat, and it really hit the spot. Enjoy!