Blueberry Peach Smoothie


Woooo! It’s hot out there today! Chill out with an icy-cool smoothie like this delightful blueberry peach version:Blueberry-Peach Smoothie

1 cup peach juice or nectar

1/2 cup frozen blueberries (I used wild Maine bluebs)

1/2 cup frozen peaches

1/2 banana (I used room temp but you could use frozen)
a few drops vanilla extractoptional:

1/8 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp powdered ginger

directions:

blend until smooth, enjoy immediately!

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(Makes 1 full-sized smoothie – much larger than in my pics! I just got so excited that I drank most of it before I thought of snapping some photos!)

 

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Killer maple mustard cider vinaigrette!


To balance out the heavier foods of fall, I’ve been making side salads like crazy!  I’ve been craving fresh, crisp greens and salad cucumbers daily.  I found that the farm stand near my house still has greenhouse grown organic arugula which is deliciously peppery.  SO GOOD!  You’ve probably been told throughout your life to ‘eat your greens!’ but do you know why?  Greens oxygenate the blood and increase circulation which helps to boost the immune system, detoxify the blood, refresh detoxification organs such as the kidney, liver and gall bladder, clear out excess mucous in the lungs, provide us with energy and mental clarity, and lift our spirits.

There are many ways to get your greens, but fresh is best!  We often get bored with salad after salad, so why not experiment with making your own customized salad dressings to add some extra delicious nourishment to your greens?  Vinaigrettes are simple and easy to make at home.  Try using different vinegars (balsamic, plum, cider, white wine, etc.) and different oils (olive, flax, coconut, sesame, etc.) to produce a variety of flavors.  Add in whatever seasonings and spices you desire and voila!  Incredible, fresh, house-made dressings!  You can even print out some labels and give away bottles to guests as gifts!

KILLER MAPLE MUSTARD CIDER VINAIGRETTE

2 cloves of garlic

4 tbl mustard seeds

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup maple syrup

1 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Combine garlic, mustard seeds, 1/4 cup of the maple syrup and a healthy splash of the cider vinegar in a blender or food processor.  Pulse until most mustard seeds are cracked.  Add in the rest of the vinegar and maple syrup, pulse until combined. Slowly add in the olive oil until everything is combined and opaque.  Add more olive oil or maple syrup to taste.

(Note: I am very fortunate to have a good supply of maple syrup!!!  Honey would be an excellent substitution in this recipe!  🙂

Spice up your life!


Many people shy away from healthy foods because they have had bad experiences with flavorless cuisine.

I can’t count the number of times someone has told me that they don’t like tofu or kale, when really they just haven’t had a properly seasoned tofu or kale dish.  Many foods have naturally subdued tastes, taking on the flavor qualities of whatever herbs and spices you add to them.  Having your pantry well stocked with fresh seasonings can make healthy cooking a snap.

In addition to being delicious, many culinary herbs have anti-inflammatory properties, aid in increasing circulation and promoting detoxification, are packed with anti-oxidants, and even have anti-cancer properties.  With the exception of salt, you can spice and season to your heart’s content!

Salt – The best kinds of salt for your body are mineral rich sea salts.  These have been minimally processed and retain the natural coloration from the mineral content of their particular region of the world.  There are many types on the market, ranging from simple and inexpensive to extraordinarily gourmet.  Two of my favorites are Himalayan pink sea salt (which can add gorgeous color to spice blends and rubs) and smoked sea salt, which adds a delectable smoky flavor to food.  Sodium intake should be limited, so add your other seasonings first, taste your food, and then lightly salt as necessary.

Dried herbs – To get the most flavor out of your dried herbs, it can be beneficial to find a store that sells herbs in bulk jars.  Generally at these stores there is good product turnaround to assure you get the freshest herbs.  You can often see and smell the difference.  More recently dried herbs will have more vibrant color and more fragrant oils than old, stale herbs, and therefore, more flavor.  A second perk to buying from a bulk jar is that you may purchase just a little bit, if you are looking to experiment with a new spice.  If you like the results, you can always come back and buy a full jar.  Sometimes seasonings are available in powdered form or a larger, less processed form.  If you find you have the time and drive, you can powder your own seasonings at home with a mortar and pestle or coffee grinder.  This gives you even more flavor in your powdered seasonings.

Fresh herbs – The most flavorful herbs are fresh herbs.  This is because of the volatile essential oils that are present in the highest quantity in a fresh herb.  These oils are what give the plant its characteristic scent and taste.  You can buy many fresh herbs at the supermarket, or your local farmers market, or grow your own.  In the early fall, the harvest is particularly great for rosemary, sage and thyme.  Fresh herbs can be diced and added to food, or made into a delicious pesto.  You can freeze fresh herbs or pestos for use throughout the year.  You can also dry your fresh herbs at home.

Pepper – Fresh cracked black peppercorns are infinitely more flavorful than store bought ground black pepper.  Investing in a pepper mill will up your flavor potential significantly.  Beyond black pepper, there are many types of hot peppers available whole and dried or already ground into a powder.  I will frequently use cayenne powder, red chili flakes, and chipotle powder in my cooking.  Chipotle powder gives spicy, smoky flavor to whatever you add it to.  Try it with beans, meats, or on popcorn.

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Quinoa!


As a vegetarian, I am often battling meat-eating friends on the issue of protein.  I tell them that I get protein from eating a wide variety of vegetables and being sure to add-in nuts and beans every so often.  A few years ago I discovered the glory of quinoa!  An ancient Peruvian grain that provides a complete protein all by itself and can be used in as many forms as rice.    Pronounced KEEN-wah, this grain comes in a standard ‘white’, as well as red and black forms. Each grain has a little curly white ‘tail’ that sometimes detaches during cooking.  I find the red and black varieties to be crunchier in texture and delicately nutty in flavor, but expensive.  I often blend two or three varieties together.

I tend to explain protein sources like this:  Some foods are complete proteins all by themselves like animal proteins (meat) and some vegetable sources (like quinoa).  A complete protein means there is a full and balanced panel of amino acids in the food.  You can also consume a complete protein by combining two or more sources with partial amino acid chains (most vegetables).  For example, beans are a nutritionally dense food but they lack an amino acid that corn possesses.  Eating beans and corn together gives your body a complete protein.

Of course protein isn’t the only nutrient the body needs.  We also must eat a fair amount of fiber, vitamins and minerals to feel balanced.  However, a vegetarian source of protein can help many people reach their weight loss goals by cutting down on animal fat.  Quinoa is easier for most bodies to digest than animal protein, so the body stands a better chance of absorbing all of the nutrients and energy that it can.  Additionally, quinoa is gluten-free, and offers a tasty and nutritious alternative to rice-based foods.

Cooking quinoa is similar to cooking rice: combine 2 cups water and 1 cup quinoa and bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cover for about 15 minutes, turn off heat, fluff and serve.

The flavor of quinoa is very mild and a bit bland.  Therefore, it lends itself to infinite taste combinations!

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