Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Chocolate Cherry Smoothie

Dessert for dinner?  Yes, please :)  Actually, I would say this smoothie would make an awesome breakfast, lunch or dinner.  In fact, I've had this for dinner one day and breakfast another day over the past week.  It filled me up and satisfied my sweet tooth all in one, yet there's no added sugar in sight.  I think the key ingredient here is the raw cacao powder.  I used Navitas Naturals Organic Raw Cacao PowderThe difference in taste between this and your standard super processed cocoa powder is incredible.  And less processing with low heat means more nutrients stay in the final product.  

Check it out:

They sell this brand at Whole Foods and David's Natural Market (my favorite) among other places, but if you can't find it in your local store, I've included an Amazon link - just click this picture:

Also, frozen spinach or kale is an excellent addition to a smoothie - you can barely taste it, since it is frozen it helps keep things thick and cold, and it adds a ton of nutrients.  Kind of like a salad in disguise.

Chocolate Cherry Smoothie

By GreensForMe

  • 1 Tbsp raw cacao powder
  • 1 C frozen cherries
  • 1 banana
  • ~1/2 C greek yogurt
  • ~1/2 C frozen spinach 
  • 2 Tbsp ground flax seeds
  • almond milk - a few splashes to help things blend easier
Put all in a blender and process until smooth.  Once you've enjoyed this, a late night sweet snack won't even cross your mind tonight :) 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Carrot & Parsnip Mash

Over the past couple of years, Thanksgiving has easily become my favorite holiday.  It has definitely helped that my mom has been hosting her Thanksgiving meal the Sunday before, leaving the day of Thanksgiving to really relax and head over to hang out with Howie's family all afternoon and into the evening.  We truly get to enjoy both families, not feeling rushed, and getting to enjoy lots of awesome food without feeling too stuffed.

I made this recipe the other night to try it out - we had a similar parsnip puree at Jack's Bistro in Canton a few months ago, and I've been meaning to make something similar ever since.  This turned out pretty tasty, Howie even snuck a few bites when I wasn't looking ;)  I think the greek yogurt is key here for the flavor and texture.  It would fit in great at a Thanksgiving feast, easily replacing mashed potatoes and/or steamed carrots.

Carrot & Parsnip Mash

Serves 3-4, definitely double it if you are cooking for a crowd.
  • ~1 lb mix of carrots and parsnips (I used 2 parsnips and about 6 large carrots)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3/4 C. plain greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • salt & pepper

Peel and roughly chop your carrots and parsnips.  It is best to chop into even-ish sized pieces so they all take the same amount of time to cook.  Steam for about 10 minutes, or until a fork easily pierces them.

  Meanwhile, heat up a tablespoon or so of oil in a pan on medium heat and add the garlic.  Stir and cook until the bits start to turn brown.

Add the greek yogurt, butter, cooked garlic (and the oil it was cooked in), and some salt and pepper to your blender or food processor.  Once the carrots and parsnips have cooked, add them to the mix and blend until smooth.

That's about it!  The color should be a pretty vibrant/neon shade of orange, perfect to catch people's attention at a Thanksgiving feast :)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Spain & Portugal

Delicious dinner at a hole in the wall tapas restaurant in Barcelona.  Octopus with an Old Bay-like seasoning, grilled prawns and salad topped with fried goat cheese - delicious!

La Boqueria Market in Barcelona - so many fruits and veggies here, and everything was so beautifully displayed.  The only problem we found in Spain was that unfortunately so little of these fresh items were featured on menus.  I'm not sure where the disconnect was.

Ham snack, anyone??

No lack of pig in Barcelona.  We bought some chorizo from this shop, hoping to bring home to share with our friends, and I got some for Howie.  US Customs had other plans for us :(

Somehow we resisted the delicious looking chocolates and sweets from La Boqueria.

More colorful beauties in La Boqueria.

Fried squid on a stick!  Cleverly photographed with a picture of an octopus in the background :)

So many different types of chorizo.

Mushrooms for days!

So many spices to choose from - the colors were amazing.

Starting the night with goblets of sangria!

Monica shaking her artichoke maracas!

At Barcelona Cooking School, learning the secrets of making paella.

Yummy...simmering paella.

Made some butternut squash soup with in-season local ingredients.

Git 'er done, Carolyn!

Menu del dia at Lost In in Lisbon - Octopus cakes with spinach rice and salad - I devoured the greens as my body was seriously lacking at this point.

Just taking a cheese break after conquering the super hilly streets of Lisbon.  We stumbled upon this cheese shop and got the sampler - a mix of goat and cow cheese, all of which were amazing.  Carolyn and I were practicing eating super slow and enjoying every bite - I think we're on our way to becoming true Europeans!
At Pharmacia in Lisbon - awesome trendy spot with old time-y pharmacy decor.  Such a cool place and the food was excellent as well.

Eggplant rolls stuffed with goat cheese and nuts - potential recipe inspiration :)

We had to try the classic Lisbon dessert from Pasteis de Belem.  They were these custard-like tarts which were excellent and super rich - we gladly washed them down with some cappuccinos.

Crazy veggies!  I loved all the art and graffiti in Spain and Portugal.  This was on a street near our flat in Lisbon.

The market in Madrid - I seriously loved the displays.

Squid - straight up.

Beautiful seafood - the prawns looked so yummy.

Super scary monkfish!

Beans look so nice when they are called legumbres and displayed in cloth sacks.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

My Go-To Green Juice

So in October, Carolyn invited me to meet up with her for a girls' week in Spain and Portugal after her week of working in London - she's getting a lot of blog love lately :)  Knowing I would not be able to turn this offer down, we immediately started checking out travel blogs, booking flights and awesome spots to stay on - which, if you have not used this site yet definitely check it out for your next vacation.  I'm pretty much tired of hotels at this point, so I love that there is a site where you can find awesome apartments, rooms or entire houses to rent for vacations and short term stays.  The reviews are super helpful too.  But, I digress. 

So we settled on Barcelona, Lisbon and Madrid.  Not too shabby.  Monica got to come for the Barcelona part too, which was so fun.  We ate (and even learned to cook) a ton of amazing food, drank our fair share (and beyond...whoops!) of local wine, and soaked in as much culture as we could in that week.  Photos to come in a post soon.

By the end of the week, I was pretty sure I didn't need to eat again for days.  While everything was really amazing and we thoroughly enjoyed our experience, there was a serious lack of vegetables on the menus there - so cheese, calamari and paella it was then, oh darn :)  I knew I needed to get back on track at home, and I knew the perfect way to help do that.  Juicing is something I got interested in a few years back.  I remember my aunt first telling me about green juice a long time ago, and not being able to fathom how anyone could possibly want to drink spinach?!??  This is of course, before I tried it myself.  

There are so many great juice recipes out there, and it really is so easy to make a great tasting and super nutritious juice.  Juicing really helps let your system take a break and easily absorb lots of vitamins and minerals.  I've only had juice in place of one meal since I've been back, but I can already feel my body thanking me.  While I have experimented with many different recipes, below is the combination I always find myself going back to.  Give it a shot, you may be surprised how much a glass of juice made with real ingredients will fill you up :)

My Go-To Green Juice

  • 3-4 large leaves of kale
  • 1 handful of parsley
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 2 apples (I used golden delicious here)
  • a couple handfuls of baby carrots, or 2-3 whole carrots

Wash your veggies and core the apples.  That's all the prep you should need to do.  Juice them in the order shown above, add a few ice cubes if you'd like, and enjoy!

If you happen to be in the market for a juicer (Christmas and the holiday season is coming up soon!), check out the Breville Juice Fountain.  We've had it for a couple years now and it does an excellent job of getting most of the juice out of your fruits/veggies.  It is a centrifugal juicer, so the spinning of the center piece does produce a small bit of heat, which cuts down on the nutrients you end up ingesting.  To help retain more nutrients in your juice, you can always go for a cold press juicer, but of course that often comes with a heftier price tag.  Breville does make both types, but I have not personally tried out the cold press version.  If you have, I'd love to know your thoughts on them :)

Breville BJE200XL Juice Fountain (Centrifugal)