Antioxidant Cherry Berry Smoothie

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Another green smoothie for you! What’s exciting about this one is that it is banana-free. Don’t get me wrong…I have nothing against bananas. In fact they are a staple in my kitchen. But I love this smoothie because it’s sweetened only with the most nutrient-dense, high-fiber, low(ish) sugar fruits. (No offense, bananas. I still love you and your lower fiber, higher starch attributes). Enjoy this nutritious start to your day!

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Ingredients

  • 2 handfuls spinach or chard (about 2 cups)
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen pitted cherries
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1 cup milk of choice (I use unsweetened almond milk)
  • 1 tbsp chia seed (optional)
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder (probably optional, but if you omit this, you may need to add more fruit to keep the spinach from overpowering the flavors)

Directions

Place all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.

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Sweettart Strawberry Peach Smoothie

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It’s been hot around here lately. Hot, as in – my coconut oil is completely clear and liquid in my cupboard.

So, cooking up oatmeal is the last thing I want to do in the morning. Seeing as how I rarely have the forethought to make overnight oats the night before, smoothies are my go-to. This one turned out pretty darn tasty. The flavor is something between sweet and tart, reminding me a little of those SweetTart candies….hence, the name!

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Directions

Serves 2

  • 1 1/2 to 1 2/3 cups frozen peaches
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 2 tbs chia seed (optional, but really good)
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder (optional)
  • Just enough milk to run the blender smoothly – I used unsweetened coconut milk

Directions

Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth.

A Trio of Homebrewed Kombuchas: Lavender Chamomile, Lemongrass Ginger, and Apple Spice

Hello everybody! The good news is – my camera (and therefore blog) is back in action! The bad news is – I’m heading overseas again for two weeks this weekend. Well, this should keep you busy.

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I’ve had quite a kombucha obsession for a while, particularly GT Dave’s Gingerade Kombucha. But my pocketbook was begging me to quit the habit, as those little 16-oz bottle run about $4 a pop.

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Enter homebrewing.

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A friend gave me a SCOBY, the disc of bacteria and yeast necessary to ferment sweetened black tea into kombucha. If you don’t know anybodyย  that brews, you can order them online. They are really good at making babies so it should be a one time purchase. Consider yourself warned though: SCOBYs are not pretty.

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The actual process is really simple. This source is a really good guide, as is this one. I recommend reading through instructions before you start. Here are my simplified tips in summary of what I’ve learned:

  • Don’t use metal utensils withย  the SCOBY or kombucha
  • Don’t wash your hands with antibacterial soap before you handle the SCOBY. Rinse them well with water and pour vinegar over your hands before you touch it
  • It works best with plain black tea, nothing flavored like earl grey.
  • It works best with plain, old-fashioned white sugar. Maple, honey, turbinado sugar, agave, etc. won’t work because they cause the wrong pH for fermenting. This is the only use for white sugar that I recommend! ๐Ÿ™‚
  • You can use tap water but it works best with purified, filtered water without the added fluoride and other minerals.
  • Watch for signs of cross contamination like mold, or damage to the SCOBY like black spots.

You will need:

  • Large glass container
  • Clean kitchen towl
  • Large rubberband
  • Black tea bags
  • Purified water
  • White sugar
  • SCOBY
  • Starter liquid: 2 cups plain commercial or homemade kombucha from a previous batch
  • glass bottles or jars for second fermenting
  • flavors (optional)

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The process:

1. Make sweet tea! Combine the water and sugar, and then add tea bags when it reaches a boil. I have a 1 gallon container so I made 1.5 gallons of water, used 1.5 cups white sugar, and 12 teabags. If you have a smaller container you can use these amounts: 1 quart water, 2 teabags, and 1/4 cup sugar.

2. Let it steep a long time. I did 10 minutes. You want it a lot stronger than you would if you were drinking it.

3. Let the tea cool completely. If it’s too warm, it can kill or damage the SCOBY.

4. To your clean glass container, add the starter liquid, cooled sweet tea, and scoby.

5. Cover with the clean towel, and rubberband it. The SCOBY may float, sink, or hang out somewhere in the middle. All are normal.

6. Allow it to sit and ferment for 1-4 weeks. A “baby” SCOBY will start to form over the top surface. At 1 week, begin tasting it periodically. I used a straw – slid it down past the baby forming, covered the top opening with my finger, and pulled some up like a pipet.

7. When you like how it tastes, it’s time for the second fermentation – where you flavor the kombucha and/or allow it to carbonate. I used small mason jars but I’ve heard flip-top bottles are much better. The second fermentation lasts 5-14 days. It’s ready when you like the flavor. Here are my recipes for the three flavors:

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Lavender Chamomile

For every 8 oz of kombucha, add 1/4 tsp chamomile flowers and 1/8 tsp lavender buds.

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Apple Spice

For every 8 oz of kombucha, add 2ย  slices of apple, 1/2 inch thick, and 1/4 tsp whole mullling spices (blend of cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg)

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Lemongrass Ginger

For every 8 oz of kombucha, add 2 pieces of whole lemongrass (each about 2 inches long) and 1-2 tsp chopped fresh ginger

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I actually tested out a whole bunch of other flavors -ginger, lemon ginger, lemon chamomile, jasmine, pomegranate, pomegranate ginger, and plain.

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After the second fermentation, store the kombucha in the fridge so the fermentation slows down. You can store the SCOBYs until your next batch. I made a SCOBY hotel. ๐Ÿ™‚

I would love to hear your experiences and ideas for brewing kombucha!

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Peach, Coconut, and Greens Smoothie

It all began when I was out of almond milk (gasp!), but remembered the sale on coconut milk last week at the corner store. Thank goodness for properly stocked pantries!

About the greens: I usually use spinach, or a spinach/kale combo, because spinach’s flavor blends in really well (so you can squeeze more in before the flavor starts to change). If you have a high-powered blender, kale will do wonderfully; if not, you might end up having to chew your smoothie. I’ve recently started using fresh rainbow or swiss chard, and it works great! I also found a bag of packaged “power greens” in the packaged salads section at the grocery store, containing baby bok choy, baby red/green chard, collard greens, mustard greens, and red spinach. Greens like that are a lot more flavorful (read: bitter) so I either use more banana or less greens. Play around with the amounts to suit your tastes.

Ingredients

Makes 2 medium-sized smoothies

  • 2-3 cups greens of your choice (see note above)
  • 1 15-0z can coconut milk (full fat or light)
  • 1-2 medium ripe bananas (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 cup peach slices (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 tbs orange juice concentrate (or 1/2 cup orange juice)
  • optional: 1 tbs chia seeds
  • optional: 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • optional: shredded coconut for topping

Directions

Add all ingredients in a blender, with the greens first. Blend until smooth. Adjust ingredient amounts to suit your tastes. Top with shredded coconut if desired.

Basil Lemonade “Slushy”

Happy Friday!

Here is a quick, end-of-summer refresher to kick off your weekend. Maybe it’s just me, but basil seems to be all the rage right now…popping up in everything from ice cream to smoothies and cocktails. Since lemon and basil are such a killer combination for savory dishes, I had to try it sweetened and summer-d up! Loved how it turned out.


Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 14 ice cubes
  • sweetener of choice (I used 1/4 cup agave nectar…use more/less to taste. How tart do you like it?)
  • 3 large leaves (or 5 sm/md leaves) of fresh basil
  • Water (just a splash)

Directions

In a blender, add the lemon juice and ice cubes. Add a little water as necessary to keep the ice crushing smoothly.

Add the basil and sweetener…

and blend until smooth.

Best enjoyed with a good book in the sun.

PBJ Smoothie + Blog Awards!

Hello everyone! I recently returned from a trip and while I was gone, I was nominated for two blog awards! I’m sorry for the delay in my response…but here it is! Get excited for all the wonderful blog links you are about to discover. ๐Ÿ™‚ Also, I hope this doesn’t make me the world’s worst blogger, but I might combine them…I’ve always been bad at coming up with random things about myself, haha

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First, Beyond The Green Door has graciously nominated me for the Illuminating Blogger Award! Thank you so much! Theirs is definitely a blog you’ll want to check out if you haven’t already…chock full of brilliant ideas relating to all things entertaining, home management, and, of course, recipes.

My nominations for this award are: (Go check out these wonderful bloggers!)

A Nerd Walks Into a Kitchen

Just Clean Food

The Vegetable Centric Kitchen

In Sustainability and in Health

Dan Barton Blog

Also, Lazy Hippie Mama was kind enough to nominate me for the Versatile Blogger Award. Her site has lots and lots of interesting thoughts relating to all sorts of topics, and I always love to hear what she has to say.

My nominations for this award are:

Vogue Vegetarian

A Lot on Your Plate

Toy Kitchen Chef

Veggie Yogi

The $35 Dollar a Week Project

And…last but definitely not least, Dare to Eat a Peach has nominated me for the Lovely Blogger Award! So kind of her! This is a blog that will make you drool, so it’s definitely worth keeping your eye on.

(Not sure where to get the badge…sorry ’bout that!)

My nomination for this award are:

A Tempting Vegan

Gazing In

Food Fitness Fresh Air

The Green Veggie

Words and Herbs

AND….

Here are a handful of facts about myself…For all the above combined. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • I have never broken a bone, though I have dislocated ones ridiculously often.
  • I am (slightly) afraid of escalators. Yes, I am an adult.
  • I won a science fair award in middle school for a project on boomerangs.
  • My favorite book is Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.
  • My close second favorite book is De Anima, by Aristotle
  • I lived in Paris when I was in middle school while my mom when to Le Cordon Bleu
  • I love any and all things outdoors, and worked in the outdoor sports industry for years, but have never been downhill skiing.
  • I love clouds, fog, and rain and get grumpy when it’s too sunny for too long.
  • I trip over my own feet a lot. Yoga has not helped my clutziness.
  • I have never eaten bacon, even in my pre-vegetarian days.
  • I really, really love cats though I don’t have one

Ok that’s enough…Now for a quick recipe to wrap up this looong post

PBJ Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 2 cups spinach (optional…I just really like green smoothies ๐Ÿ™‚ )
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen strawberries
  • 1 tbs peanut butter
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup your choice of milk (almond milk goes really well here!)

Directions

Blend in a blender until you get a nice smooth texture. Enjoy!