Thursday, February 7, 2013

Green for Life Book Review

Last night, I read Green for Life in one sitting. Liam ended up going to bed early, but he fell asleep in my arms on the couch. What better time to start a new book? Victoria Boutenko’s book Green Smoothie Revolution caught my eye yesterday at a local bookstore. I sat down for lunch with that and three other books and I really could not wait to thumb through it. I ended up reading three chapters while sitting there, and after having taken about half an hour of my short time to sit alone, I realized I had to put it down if I wanted to check out the other books I was interested in. It was tough because I was already hooked. I thought about that book for the rest of the afternoon until I got home and check out her other book, Green for Life and bought that one for Kindle. It took me about 3 ½ to 4 hours to read uninterrupted, and the information was mostly new to me. I have been researching health and nutrition since last year in March, so almost a year now! I have come to realize that there will probably always be something new I can learn, but this book really put things in perspective for me.

Last year in March, I had read Beauty Detox Solution by Kimberly Snyder, and that was the first I really learned about green smoothies. Kimberly was such an advocate of them that she even called hers the, “Glowing Green Smoothie.” I started implementing them after reading her book, and I stuck with it for a while. I really followed her food combining theories, but for whatever reason, I always felt like it was too difficult. I constantly felt hungry, and from what I was reading, I was not supposed to feel that way. Then, winter came, and the last thing I wanted was something cold. I had been using frozen fruit for my smoothies. At the time, it really didn’t occur to me to use room temperature fruit, and I ended up dropping the smoothies for nearly the whole winter, just starting them up again at the beginning of last week.

I was so stressed the entire winter. I was still eating what I consider to be healthy food. We ate baked oatmeal for breakfast, quinoa salads for lunch, and vegetable/bean soups for dinner for the most part. However, I was starting to gain back some weight. Trevor was gaining back weight quickly. I was tired, moody, forcing myself to roll out of bed when Liam woke up early. None of that was at all similar to how I had been feeling. My skin looked dull. I had bags under my eyes, and all the while, I was eating very healthy foods. I just wasn’t eating greens. At one point, I started sautéing greens because I wanted them back in my life, but I wanted them warm. I started adding them to any soups that I could just so I could say I was getting them, but I really didn’t feel any better. 

My stress peaked a couple weeks ago, and I decided I had had enough. In the back of my mind, I had this nagging feeling that all of this could end very simply if I could just start the green smoothies again. After all, when I started the green smoothies the first time, I was still eating meat and dairy and my mysterious orange rash disappeared, I was popping up out of bed at Liam’s first stir; I was sleeping 6 to 8 hours instead of 10 but still felt energized. My general outlook on life was better. Even when things should have been very stressful, I knew that they would eventually work. Nothing sent me into panic mode anymore. At the time, I didn’t truly realize that the green smoothies were behind it all, namely the greens. Who knew that simple green leaves could alleviate insomnia, depression, anxiety, obesity, sugar addiction, joint pain, rashes, yeast infections, PMS and painful cramping… I think my list of symptoms goes on, but you get the idea. The green smoothies alone, even if I hadn’t decided to stop eating meat, dairy and eggs, would have rejuvenated me.

I wasn’t worried about protein. I was wondering how I could fit the most greens into my diet. I didn’t feel like I needed anything. I didn’t feel deprived. I just felt good and energized. After reading Green for Life, I was so intrigued by her comparison of the RDA of protein and the amount of protein in one pound of Kale. I was shocked! Kale had amazing amounts of protein, having high amounts of nearly all the required amino acids. It is no wonder I wasn’t feeling like I needed meat, nuts, beans, etc. At the time, I was eating about 5 ½ cups of greens for breakfast! That is almost a pound of greens a day. Victoria also talks about varying your greens. Where some greens are lacking in certain amino acids, other greens are high. They seem to complement themselves, and all of this leaves me in awe. I attribute this perfect food to God’s creativity. You may choose to see it as nature’s learning curve. Either way, you have to admit that greens are kind of amazing.

These days, I am “eating” about 3 ½ cups of greens and 1 ½ cups of fruit in my smoothies that are usually around 24-28 ounces. In just one week, my sleep has regulated. I am no sleeping about 6 hours a night, and for awhile, I thought maybe something was wrong because I believed I needed 8 hours of sleep a night, yet every day I was going to bed around 10 or 10:30 and waking up at 4:30 am or so and forcing myself to go back to sleep. I would lay there for about 2 hours before I started to fall back asleep, and then Liam would wake up. It left me feeling woozy for a little while. I decided to try staying up later so I woke up closer to the time Liam would, and I am still only sleeping about 6 to 7 hours and feeling wonderful.

Another thing that really grabbed me in her book was her information on stomach acid and how necessary it is to good health. It definitely gave me more reason to follow what I had heard about sour and bitter foods being healthiest. They encourage your body to secrete enzymes and actually increase your stomach acid while still being alkaline forming to your body. Victoria states in her book that she truly believes that people could exist solely on greens as their food source if they had to. Greens are the only foods that have every single nutrient except B12. They are cleansing. They soak up toxins and help to eliminate them. Nevertheless, what about salads? Why is it they seem so unappealing without loads of dressing and cheese? Well, Victoria covers that as well. She talks about how food is digested and broken down in two ways: 1) by chewing 2) with stomach acid. Most people can’t chew greens down to liquid to make them more digestible, and on top of that, most people eating a standard American diet of processed foods, fast foods, and low/no fiber foods have very low or no stomach acid. You can actually be tested for this with your doctor, but one quick and easy way to test, she says, is to blend up a beet smoothie and wait to see if it turns your poop purple. If it does, you likely have very low stomach acid, which in turn means you could be malnourished because your body is not able to soak up the nutrients in the food you eat. Eating more greens and citrus foods will help replenish your stomach acid and allow you to break down your foods and really be nourished from them.

I am truly amazed! Greens are perfect food. They are super food! If you don’t believe me (and I wholeheartedly agree that you should never just blindly believe), try them for yourself. Read the book. Incorporate them into your life. I am pretty positive you will see a difference, given the time to let your body heal.

A good way to start is even with 60 % fruit and only 40% greens, working your way up to 50/50, 40% fruit/60% greens (where I currently am) and maybe even beyond where you try some raw soups that are made entirely of greens and vegetables (and Victoria explains why she really believes greens should be considered a separate entity from vegetables). Try it today!

Beginner Green Smoothie
2/3 fruit, 1/3 greens- Makes about 16 to 20 oz
·         1 cup spinach or other raw greens (collard, chard, kale, green or red romaine but not pale iceberg lettuce)
·         1 whole banana, sliced
·         1 whole apple, cored and chopped
·         8-10 strawberries
·         1 cup water
Add water and spinach to the blender and blend well. Then add sliced banana, chopped apple and strawberries and blend until smooth. Enjoy!

Friday, February 1, 2013

#YU30 Plant Powerful Challenge and Gluten Free Vegan Italian Sausage Pizza

Today is the beginning of the #YU30 Plant-Powerful Challenge, and my husband and I are both participating. We have already been eating plant-based diet since March of 2012, but we had only experimented with gluten-free living. At some point over the past year, we started to eat small amounts of gluten again in things like Ezekiel sprouted grain bread, wheat tortillas, and meals we ate while we were out. It was more about convenience for us. We thought we needed bread, and it seemed like a great snack for Liam. Ezekiel bread has about 4g of protein per slice with a handful of healthy sprouted grains and no extra garbage. I don't discount that it is a healthy part of anyone's diet that doesn't have any issues with gluten, but it was just one of the things that caused issues for us. After a short time, my husband had gained back 15 pounds of the near 80 he has lost since March last year. I gained back five, and since dropping gluten 2 weeks ago, we have both lost the additional weight we had put back on. While we haven't been clinically diagnosed as having gluten intolerance, it definitely seems best for us to avoid it for now. Not only had I gained some weight back, but my insomnia returned, I was bloated, cravings returned, etc. After 5 days gluten-free keeping a food diary, my insomnia subsided and my jeans fit again. I don't need a clinical diagnoses to tell me what my body is already telling me. :)

Anyway, all of that meant that the #YU30 Plant-Powerful Challenge came at the perfect time for us. Now, we could have a whole community of gluten-free, plant strong warriors to help us along! I was feeling pretty good about this, but then... the pizza craving hit. I had a boxed mix of gluten free pizza dough on hand that uses brown rice flour, tapioca starch, xanthan gum and a few other ingredients. I knew I would be able to get that going, but what I really wanted was a chewy, crunchy, cheesy pepperoni pizza. Every now and then, that craving alone can still knock me back a week in all my progress, but this time, I was determined to beat it. :)

I remembered seeing a post about beet pepperoni on Ricki Heller's blog. I knew it would be time consuming, but I was prepared for that. What I wasn't prepared for was the mold on my beets. :( Ugh! It was getting later, and in that moment, I just about accepted defeat and a week's worth of insomnia just to have the taste of that pepperoni pizza. Just then, though, I remembered the Raw Taco Salad I tried a couple weeks ago with taco meat made from walnuts. I had tweaked that recipe a bit to use both walnuts and quinoa, and it had crumbled so well and tasted so good. So, this could work! I just needed to find out how to season it to taste like Italian Sausage. Leave it to Google.

I found this recipe for Italian Pork Sausage Seasoning, and it all came together so well from there. Last time we made a vegan pizza, I had found a pretty great vegan Mozarella recipe, but I tweaked that one this time as well. The cheese was inspired by both that recipe and the YU Dairy-Free Ricotta recipe. All together, this pizza recipe was like an, "Aha" moment. We finally had a gluten free crust we could pick up and eat. We had a delicious cheese that wasn't just a puddle of goo on top of a soft crust. We had a beautifully browned veggie meat made with whole foods and no creepy soy meats. And here, you can see for yourself just how pretty it was.

I used the leftover veggie sausage to create little sausage crumbles and 4 sausage patties. I froze them like this on wax paper and will transfer them to a storage container for future pizza use. After seeing how beautifully they browned on the pizza, I can't wait to see how the patties will brown with a little coconut oil in the skillet.

Gluten Free Vegan Italian Sausage Recipe
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 cup walnuts (I didn't soak mine because I didn't plan ahead, but you can soak them for a few hours.)
  • 1 to 1/2 tbsp Italian Sausage Seasoning
  • 2 tbsp water
Process all ingredients in a food processor until it forms a dough-like consistency. Form little crumbles like pork sausage and place as much as you would like on pizza. This makes 1 1/2 to 2 cups. I didn't measure the final amount. I figure it could make at least 8 sausage 2" sausage patties, and I believe it would be just as good if you browned the crumbles in a skillet with coconut oil and used them in a biscuits and gravy recipe. ;o) Enjoy!

And remember, a gluten-free, vegan diet is only as limited as you allow it to be. My biggest tip for any beginners is to cook in advance. So many times this past November/December especially because I was so busy making up Christmas orders, I wished that there was more healthy vegan convenience food, but I failed to realize that that convenience was right at my fingertips. Now, at the beginning of each week, usually on Sundays, we make up a large batch of oatmeal bars for quick and easy breakfast. Each of us, including Liam, eats 2 oatmeal bars for breakfast. I usually have some grapefruit and green tea with that as well. We make up a whole bag of TruRoots Organic Sprouted Quinoa that I am able to find at Meijer for $5.99. We use it for any meal. Quinoa is so versatile. I have eaten it as breakfast in the Cinnamon French Toast breakfast bowl from YU, for lunch mixed with beans, chopped spinach, garlic salsa and some seasonings to make a quick salad that is great with blue corn tortilla chips (baked and organic if you can find them), and mixed into nearly anything for supper. Quinoa is a complete protein and a good source of lysine that many vegans may not be getting enough of. I prefer it over brown rice for not only its convenience but for its protein and nutrients.

We also recently started making our own beans. I bought 2 or so pounds of pinto, kidney, black, and garbanzo because those are the most used in our house. I got about 9 cans worth or more out of each that I bought. One can is about 1 1/2 cups of beans, so I store them in quart bags in the freezer in that amount. I saved at least $10 per bean type over buying canned organic beans, and now my freezer is running even more efficiently having over 30 "cans" of beans in it. :) Plus, the flavor is so much better! I didn't know if this would be true, but we compared some leftover canned garbanzo to our own cooked garbanzo beans, and suddenly, all I could taste from the canned beans was aluminum. Yuck!

So, if this is your first day of the #YU30, how are you doing and what are your tips?

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Fit for an Ogre

Okay. So, I know this is cheesy, but seriously, there are only so many ways to photograph a green smoothie. We had the cups, so it worked out perfectly. :) My husband and I bought these cups together when we were just dating (and still eating McDonald's foods). While we no longer indulge in McDonald's franchise, the cups are still pretty cute, and they are a nice reminder of the early days of our relationship.

This particular green smoothie is our version of Kimberly Snyder's Glowing Green Smoothie (a.k.a. GGS on her blog). If you haven't yet heard about Kimberly Snyder, don't feel too badly. I hadn't either until two days ago. I went into a new vitamin store (new to me, not the area) to pick up my probiotics. When I was checking out, one of the cashiers asked if I'd like to take a magazine home. The front cover displayed the words "HEALTH" (Extraordinary Health) in large letters and boasted articles about the USDA Organic seal and some extremely healthy athletes, so I said, "Sure." What do I really have to lose by taking home a free magazine? Apparently, I had more to gain than I realized.

Not only was the magazine pretty good, full of well-written, thought-provoking, fun and informative articles, it got my husband interested. Man, do I love things that grab his attention toward the health world. We are just beginners taking our baby steps in this journey, and neither of us were raised this way. Therefore, when I don't have to try extra hard to convince him, and he not only reads something but genuinely finds it interesting enough to share with me, I might literally hear a "Hallelujah" chorus ringing in my head.

I'll get that checked into later, but for now, let's talk more about Kimberly Snyder. Apparently, she is very in demand and works with a number of A-listers to better their health. All in all, this fact means almost nothing to me. I don't mean to sound snotty. I just don't tend to follow Hollywood and their trends. However, after reading the article about her recent book Beauty Detox Solution and reading about her 3 year travels around the world (50 countries in all!), I was interested enough to go download a free sample of her book from Amazon. After reading just the intro, I was ready to purchase the book. 

She is so passionate, and she employs some of the same philosophies my husband and I have recently adapted after my months of research on Candida Albicans. I don't want to give away too much information about her as I do want you to go check it out for yourself, but suffice it to say, she is very excited about health and beauty the natural way. That is very exciting to me. :)

Her Glowing Green Smoothie recipe can be found on her blog, and we tweaked it a bit. We will have to continue to do more tweaking because our budget does not allow for a 5oz box of baby spinach on a daily basis at the moment, but I can honestly say, as choc full of greens as it is, it tastes surprisingly well. I always tell people who are interested in the way my husband and I are eating now that I can guarantee you, I do not eat things that don't taste good. I am not going to try to force myself to eat disgusting things in the name of health. While I can say that changing your diet to a mostly raw diet takes some adjusting from the typical American red meat and sugar loaded diet, I can guarantee you, I do not eat things that taste disgusting. :)

First Draft Tweaking of the Glowing Green Smoothie
  • 4 cups chopped organic baby spinach
  • 1 head of chopped organic romaine hearts
  • 1 cups of water
  • 2 stalks of organic celery chopped
  • 1 cored, chopped organic apple
  • 2 pitted, sliced organic peaches
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 cup Silk Unsweetened Almond Milk (Silk is a Non-GMO brand)
  • 1 cup plain organic yogurt
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 4 tbsp chia seeds
I followed Kimberly's instructions on how to blend. We had to decrease the size of the original amount because my old blender only allows for 48oz. This recipe will actually yield the full 64oz (2-4servings), but we mixed the almond milk and yogurt in at the end by hand. If you don't feel like looking back and forth to directions and ingredients, here is what we did: Place 1 cup of water in the blender with chopped spinach and romaine. Blend on a slow speed as you chop the other ingredients. Once those are blended smoothly, add in the chia seeds, celery, apples, and peaches slowly as you slowly increase the speed of the blender to high speed. Add the lemon juice and banana last. If you have a 64oz blender, go ahead and add the Almond Milk and yogurt. If you do not, add them to the pitcher once you have poured your smoothie mix into it. I put mine in the fridge for awhile to cool because we didn't have any ice on hand. If you have ice and space in your blender, feel free to add the ice to the blender!

I think this is a really good base to start with and expand to try different fruits and vegetables. Kimberly recommends 70% vegetables and 30% fruits in these smoothies. I swear it tasted good to us. My husband drank his with no complaints. Just be sure to blend it long enough to get as smooth a consistency as you can. I blended for a few minutes because I didn't want my blender to overheat, and there were no chunks.

Let me know how it turns out for you, and I hope to let you know what I think of her book. I also signed up to receive her blogs in my e-mail. Oh! And for those of you who don't know yet, I am down my 17th pound today! My husband has lost 38 pounds, and we started this journey on March 22nd, 2012. Mine and my husband's goals are  to be 130 and 200 respectively by March 22nd, 2013. I have 53 pounds to lose. My husband has 90, and our goals for each month are about 6lbs for me and about 11lbs for him. So far, it is going exceedingly well!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Mint Chip Ice "Cream"

Now that we are mostly dairy free, processed foods free, and refined sugar free, I tend to make my own ice cream, or something similar to ice cream that is just as good. I have been experimenting with different milks, some cooked bases with eggs, other uncooked bases with different dairy free milks, and I have stumbled upon many other blog posts about non-dairy ice cream. I read in one blog that they thought a mixture of almond milk and coconut milk resulted in an ice milk that would not freeze into a solid block. So, I tried this, and I can honestly say, it doesn't freeze into a solid block. This is my first time making it that it hasn't. However, this recipe in its original form is not 100% dairy free, so maybe that had something to do with it. I want to try it again, or at least use the base ingredients again, with no dairy and see how it freezes.

Anyway, here is the recipe, and I truly believe that right out of the ice cream maker (Cuisinart ICE-21 at our house - 1 1/2 quart), it tastes and looks exactly like store bought, full of fat and bad sugars, mint chip ice cream. After it froze in the freezer, it was a little less sweet, but was still pretty good.

Mint Chip Ice Cream with Dairy Free Option
  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk (Silk original for us)
  • 1 can of organic full fat coconut milk (we use Thai Kitchen Organic, about 13.66oz)
  • 1 frozen banana, sliced (you may be able to use room temp. banana, but I don't know what the results will be)
  • 3/4 cup organic heavy cream (we used Horizon Organic) *omit and replace with an extra frozen banana for the dairy free option. We have not tried this yet, so I would love to know how it turns out for you.
  • 2 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 to 2 Tbsp mint extract
  • 1 Tbsp honey (omit and use all agave if you will feed this to any children under 1 year old)
  • 2 Tbsp organic raw blue agave nectar *(or your favorite sweetener. I hope to try it with stevia drops. I do not recommend stevia powder for anything as it uses maltodextrin which has the highest glycemic index- 150- of all sugars)
  • 10 drops of green food coloring optional (you could also try using spinach to color. I have read you can't even taste it, but my blender doesn't pulverize the spinach, so I am left with flakes that would be less than appetizing in ice cream)
  • 3/4 cup dairy free chocolate chips (We use Enjoy Life)
Add everything to the blender and blend until smooth. This should thinly coat the back of a spoon. From here, if it is sweet enough for your tastes, Place it in the ice cream maker. If you do not have an ice cream maker, move on  to the next step and place it all in a covered freezer safe container (preferably BPA free). I can't say for sure, but I believe this should be frozen over night or at least six hours without an ice cream maker. While the ice cream maker is running, melt the chocolate chips in either a double boiler or follow the instructions for melting in the microwave. Melt them until they are pourable. In the last minute or so the ice cream maker is running, pour in the chocolate. It will freeze almost immediately. I just used my spoon to shove it down into the ice cream maker and it made chunks and small chips. Another easy option is melt the chips in advance, pour them into a parchment lined 8x8 pan, and place the pan in the freezer. When the chocolate is frozen, pull it out of the pan with the parchment paper, place it in a gallon freezer bag and smash it into chunks and throw them in with the ice cream in the last 5 minutes (or mix them in with the liquid if you do not have an ice cream maker).

This makes 6 cups of liquid. It didn't all fit in my 1 1/2 quart ice cream maker. I strongly recommend against over-filling your ice cream maker because the ice cream will not freeze well. I may be saying this from experience. ;o) This ice cream is truly best straight from the ice cream maker. It was not rock solid when had frozen in the freezer, but it did require a 30 second thaw in the microwave (another reason bpa free is best).

My husband loved it, and it is even a contender in the running for which homemade ice creams I will be making for Liam's first birthday. :) It is now only 5 months away! hehe.

Do you have any experiences with dairy free ice creams? How do you get them creamy without dairy? What sweeteners do you use?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Peacoock Circle Vest... LOVE!

Last week, I decided to try Craftsy to sell my patterns. I uploaded most of my patterns there. I haven't had any sales there yet, but it is worth a shot if you are a pattern seller. Unlike Etsy, and even the much cheaper Ravelry, Craftsy lets you list your patterns for FREE! I decided to jump on it because, well, why not? I have nothing to lose.

Anyway, as I was going about adding my patterns, Craftsy would recommend patterns to me. A few of them were cute, but one of them really caught me eye. I loved it! The Crochet Circle Vest/Shrug was suggested to me, and I think it is so cute. It is drape-y, light weight, open and looks super easy to make. I did end up purchasing the pattern, but I haven't made it up yet. It sent me on a wild goose chase to look at other circle vest designs.

I looked all over Ravelry and Etsy, and yet another vest caught my eye. This one has a gypsy/bohemian style and is actually a dress/vest. I cannot help but be drawn to the gypsy/bohemian style. I love the long tiered skirts. I love the layers. I love the long wavy hair. It all just speaks to me. I think there is a romantic freedom that sort of emanates from this style that I really love. So... I bought another pattern! It is actually called the Spider Web Mandala Dress Vest, and, as far as I know, it can only be found on Etsy.

I was so inspired and in love with this dress that I managed to finish one in just 2 days! It reminds me of a peacock. It was super easy to customize. You can change colors whenever you like and use any colors you wish, but the designer does give suggestions for where to change colors if you are feeling uninspired. It was really easy to understand, and works up quickly. The finished product made me so happy! Check it out.

 Give it a twirl. ;o)
 I really love it over a simple cotton summer dress. I tried it over a plain lilac t-shirt and jeans yesterday and it works great for that as well.

What do you think? I don't often make things for myself. Usually when I do, I have to really love them. This just happened to be one of those things. What have you made for yourself lately?

Oh, What a ... Morning!

I have been pretty into green smoothies lately, and I decided I might try to make them in the morning as breakfast instead of my usual oatmeal. People always talk about how they are such a good start to the day, so I really figured I should try it for myself to find out.

Oh, how I despise changing up the routine! Why does it seem that every time I wake up with some sort of plan for my morning, Liam also wakes up feeling especially irritable? And why, then, does everything seem to go downhill from there?

Most mornings, I know how my day is going to go based on the way Liam wakes up. If he wakes up quietly and seems to be pondering, the day could really be good or bad. If he wakes up smiley and ready to play, I am usually going to have a fairly easy day with him. But, if he wakes up and starts getting whiny before I can even roll myself out of bed, and proceeds to throw a fit as I attempt to slap on whatever clothing is closest, I can almost bet, there won't be a shower or a warm meal in it for mommy this morning.

Well... let's take a guess how my morning started on the one day I wanted to change things up a bit and try a green smoothie for breakfast instead of the 2 minute oatmeal I normally have. Yeah... that's what I get, but guess who decided to shoot for the green smoothie anyway.

So, we come downstairs. I change Liam's diaper, put him in his walker. These are both normal parts of our morning. He plays for a little while, chasing the cats and throwing toys. ;o) I start the smoothie process, pulling out all the things I'm going to throw into this little green power house: kale, chia seeds, celery, carrots, apple, banana, peanut butter, almond milk, plain yogurt, etc. I get started on all the chopping, pouring, slicing, and once I have all the ingredients in the blender, I am feeling pretty good. Liam is still having a good time in the living room, and all seems well. Do you happen to hear some signature "shark attack" music in your head right now? Or maybe even a menacing, "Dun...Dun... DUN!"

Good, then we're right on track. I turn the blender on, and my 15 year old blender (the new one we got for our wedding a few years ago stripped the gears in my green smoothie making), and it made this slight shift to the side. I grabbed onto it thinking the top was going to blow off or something. Nothing happened, so I felt fairly safe. I just decided to hold onto it the rest of the time. But then... the blender started to make a different kind of whirring noise and didn't seem to be blending as efficiently (as a 15 year old blender can blend). I tried setting the speed higher, but the noise continued. I shut off the blender, and out of the corner of my eye I notice something green.

"Well, duh! You are making a green smoothie, Kylie. Just where exactly is this story going?" You may be thinking to yourself.

No! I mean, I noticed something green oozing out onto my counter... like the blob, only I was much more afraid of this. My green smoothie was leaking out the bottom of my blender, so I, being the genius I am most mornings, started to liftg the top of the blender off the base and... green slop comes flushing out everywhere! I drop the blender back on the base, and I cannot tell you what possessed me to do what I did next... I really can't figure out how I thought this was a good idea.

I picked up the blender from the base yet again. When the rest of the green slop started pouring out, I decided I had lost the war and just let it all flow out as I stood there thinking about the 6 cups of organic ingredients that were literally about to go down the drain. Awesome... And did I mention that Liam was having a full blown crazy fit by this point? So, not only did I get to waste all those wonderful, gorgeous ingredients. I got to attempt to clean up a mess worse than exploding poop from all over my counter fast enough to make Liam happy. I was not successful.

No worries, though. I ended up getting it all cleaned up, gave Liam a bottle, got him calmed back down, and later, I was able to completely remake my original green smoothie, and... it even turned out pretty well. So well, in fact, that my husband even drank one after work. I wish I could tell you how important that last fact is, but let it suffice to say my husband very, VERY rarely puts green things on his plate. ;o)

So, would you like the recipe? I mean, there must be some good to come from all my toiling and moments of insanity. Sure. Let's go with that.

Peanut Butter Banana Green Smoothie 
  Serves 2! 
  •  2 lacinato kale leaves with stems cut out (should be very large)
  • ½ cup baby carrots
  • ½ avocado (omit if you do not want a creamy smoothie)
  • ½ cup almond milk (1 cup if you do not want a thick smoothie)
  • ½ cup organic plain probiotic yogurt
  • 1/2 cup celery, chopped (2 6-7” stalks)
  •  ½ cup frozen blueberries
  •  6-8 frozen strawberries
  • 1 very ripe banana
  • 1 cored, sliced small red apple
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil melted
  • 2 heaping Tbsp raw, no salt peanut butter
  • 4 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 cup ice (1 ½ cups if you do not want a thick smoothie)
Cut the stem from the kale. Chop into 1” sections. I like to place it in my cloth steam bag at this point and steam it in the microwave for 30 seconds so it isn’t so rough. Throw it all in the blender and blend all until very smooth, being sure to place the liquid on the bottom. Makes about 38 oz (with only ½ cup of almond milk and 1 cup of ice). Divide and enjoy! To me, this tasted like a peanut butter and banana smoothie. I really couldn’t taste any of the other ingredients, and my husband agreed.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Healthy(ish) Fried Green Tomatos

I have just made and tasted my first EVER fried green tomato! 
Now, I understand this may not be such a big deal to most of you, and I understand you may be wondering how this could possibly be healthyish. First, let me tell you why I made these.
At some point in my early childhood, I remember seeing a movie where a boy was hit by a train getting his foot stuck in the track. Every time I walked on a train track (my mom would have had a cow if she had known), I thought of this movie, but I couldn't quite remember the name. Later, when I started dating my husband, the movie came back up in conversation once. After watching it, I was reminded of a simpler time in my life. Maybe that is all this lifelong wonder over fried green tomatoes has been about. Maybe it was the camaraderie of the southerners that made me wonder if they knew something I didn't. Maybe it was my inherent tie to the south, deeply rooted in my dad's side of the family. Who really knows?
Whichever, I always wondered just what was so great about a fried green tomato. I mean, they named an entire movie about it. Something had to be special, right?
Well, I hate to break it to you, but I still can't pinpoint the exact reason these are so coveted. I don't mean to say they didn't taste good. I just don't know what exactly it was that keeps people coming back. I do know, however, that upon eating these first ever fried green tomatoes, I felt I was sharing some sort of bond with my southern family, the grandmother I will never know that had 13 children, woke up before dawn to cook for them all and, from what I hear, rarely sat down or enjoyed much of the meals herself. I wonder what life lessons she might have shared with me?
Anyway...let's talk about what makes these so much more healthyish than any other fried green tomato. First, they are gluten free! Second, they are egg free. Last, they are fried in coconut oil.
"Wait... Didn't I hear that coconut oil was like, the root of all evil?" you might be thinking to yourself. No, no, silly. That was just another of the government's hair-brained, under-studied, over-generalizations. You can read all about the wonderful tropical secret in this awesome book: Virgin Coconut Oil.
Just one more thing, and then I promise I will give you the recipe. ;) Don't you want to know what I thought of my first ever fried green tomato? Well, here goes. It was tangy... or tart. It had a zing. It was slightly crunchy, slightly soft, mildly salty, and overall, I kept chewing, swallowing, sitting for a second to ponder, cutting, chewing, and swallowing. Each bite made me feel a little warm inside, but as for flavor, I just don't think these will automatically become something I crave (Though, these days, I don't fight the battle of cravings anymore. More on that later.) What do you think? Do you go back to fried green tomatoes for the flavor or for a deeply rooted family memory? I'd love to hear your own fried green tomato stories. is my recipe, adapted and tweaked from Lexie's Kitchen.
Gluten Free, Egg Free, Dairy Free Fried Green Tomatoes
  • 1 Large Organic Green Tomato
  • 1/4c. Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 tsp to 3/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 to 3/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup or so non-dairy milk (I used Silk unsweetened Almond)
  • 1/2 cup organic virgin coconut oil (or enough to coat the bottom of the skillet about 1/4 to 1/2")
  • 1 sheet parchment paper

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400.
  2. Slice tomato 1/8" to 1/4" thick. I read that if you slice them too thin, they will not have the tangy flavor of the tomato, and if you slice them too thick, they will not cook enough before the crust is done.
  3. In a small bowl, mix the flour, salt, garlic powder and paprika. In another small bowl, pour the almond milk.
  4. Prepare your coconut oil in the skillet, letting it melt all the way down if it is not liquid at your room temperature.
  5. Place the tomato slices on a shallow baking pan lined with parchment paper. This is a Paula Deen trick to making fried green tomatoes. :) Lightly salt each side of the tomatoes and pop them in the pre-heated oven for 2 to 3 minutes. Paula Deen says that green tomatoes hold a lot of water, and putting them in the oven cooks off some of that water so you don't have mushy fried tomatoes. It worked for me.
  6. Take the tomato slices out. Let them cool or use tongs. Dust each side of the tomato with the flour mixture. Dip the tomato slices into milk and dredge them through the tomato mixture. Place them in the heated oil. If it does not sizzle as you place it in, it is not hot enough. I read that foods are normally fried around 350 to 375 degrees. If you want to, check the oil temp before putting any tomatoes in.
  7. Fry until light golden brown, flipping carefully and frying both sides. My electric burner was on high heat and this took only a couple of minutes for each side.
  8. Remove to a paper towel covered plate. Allow to cool and enjoy! I sprinkled a bit of salt on one side of the tomatoes before drying the oil.
*Let it be known that my tomato-hating husband ate an entire slice and said, "They're not bad." Hehehe...