Smoothies

I am a creature of habit and one habit I’ve had for a number of years now is my breakfast smoothie.  Rarely do I eat anything other than my smoothie for breakfast.  I like to make them thick and creamy — almost like a soft-serve ice cream.  I never imagined that this would be a satisfying breakfast but it sure fills me up and gets my day going.  Here are some of my favorites.

TIP: To really mix it up, double the recipe and put it in an ice cream freezer.  Eats more like “ice cream”, very satisfying.  I make 4 cups at a time, freeze in 1 cup containers and eat these as a dessert after lunch or supper.

TIP:  When making the fruit purees, they don’t have to be perfectly smooth because you’ll be adding them into a blender to make your smoothie and that will complete the puree process.  Also, if making the purees with the skin included, be sure you use only organic fruit since you won’t be peeling them and the pesticides are usually found in the skin.

Another TIP:  Be sure to mark your containers so you don’t get one out expecting a certain fruit and then find you’ve made an entirely different flavor!  Been there done that.

TIP:  Change up the flavor of your smoothies by alternating cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ground cloves, etc., depending on your taste.  Use one or several spices.  You can also alternate the flavor of your protein powders for entirely different tasting smoothies.  I usually use the vanilla flavors but chocolate goes very well with the strawberry and wonderful with prune.

TIP:  I usually find these are sweet enough for my taste but add a little stevia, agave or coconut nectar, date syrup or honey if you want them sweeter.

TIP:  I also add a scoop of marine collagen for my skin and nails.  It doesn’t change the taste however it does affect the texture making it slightly smoother or creamier.

Put in a blender:

  • 1 cup non-dairy milk of choice
  • 1-2 scoops of protein powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seed (the golden work best since you don’t get the discoloration)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of frozen fruit (see suggestions below)
  1. Strawberry
  • Add 6 ounces of frozen strawberries

Start blending on the lowest setting and as the smoothie starts to come together, increase speed.  If you find you’ve added too many strawberries (often happens to me!), add milk until you get the correct consistency.

I sometimes like to add some frozen acai, 1/2 a frozen banana or 3-5 pieces of frozen mango.  Be sure to adjust the strawberries to account for the other fruit so that you still have 6 ounces of fruit.

2.  Fig or Prune

This is one of the creamiest smoothies I’ve found and is also my favorite.  It involves some planning since you have to prepare the figs ahead of time but its well worth the trouble.

First, in a saucepan:

  • 10-12 fresh ripe figs (1 pound), washed and stems removed
  • 2 tablespoons of water

OR

  • 24 ounces of dried figs or prunes
  • 1/2 cup of water

Cover the saucepan and cook over a low heat until the figs are soft. Be sure to stir if you’re using the dried figs to be sure all of them become rehydrated.  Cool and then using a potato masher, mash the figs (or you can put them in your food processor and pulse for a few seconds).  Place in 1 cup containers (don’t fill completely but leave a little room for expansion), freeze and use as above.  Will make 2-3 cups of puree depending on the size of your figs.

3.  Pear and Blackberry

Depending on how much you hate seeds, you can either use whole frozen blackberries or cook 2 cups of blackberries in a saucepan with a little water and then put the mixture through a sieve to get rid of the seeds (TIP: I freeze this, when cooled, in an ice cube tray and after it freezes, I put the cubes into a freezer bag).

The pears are much easier.  Just quarter and core your pears (my favorites are the Asian or Korean pears but any pear will work), and then pulse in your food processor.  Place in 1 cup containers and freeze.  Usually, I’ve found that 1 pear will make roughly 1 cup of puree, depending on the size of the pear.  Also, I don’t worry about peeling them since the processing will take care of the peel.

This is case, I like to add the 1 cup of pureed pear and then 4-6 whole blackberries or 2-4 of the frozen blackberry ice cubes.

4. Plum, Peach or Apricot

One of the easiest to prepare, just wash and make sure you remove any stems from the fruit, half to remove the pit and pulse in your food processor.  Put into 1 cup containers and freeze.  Depending on the size, 2 plums will make roughly 1 cup of plum puree, same for apricots, but 1 1/2 peach will make you roughly 1 cup of peach puree.  I like to add some raspberry coulis to the peach smoothie.

If you prefer, you can cook the diced plums, peaches or apricots in a little water; this will make the skins more palatable while keeping the fiber contained in the skins.  It only takes 5-10 minutes to cook them and you can spice them up at the same time.

5.  Pumpkin or Sweet Potato

  • 1 cup of canned or prepared pumpkin or sweet potato
  • 6-8 ice cubes
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon of stevia, 1 tablespoon of agave or coconut nectar, or honey

6.  Carob and Cherry

Use a 1/2-3/4 cup of frozen pitted cherries.  I add 1 tablespoon of carob powder (you could use cocoa) along with 1 tablespoon of date syrup and 1 teaspoon vanilla.  Yummy!

Tomato Vegetable “Stoup” (vegan, dairy- free, gluten-free)

This time of year with all the fresh vegetables, this is one of my go to dishes.  My husband and I love this soup/stew.  Its one that is easy to customize to your taste since its basically whatever vegetables you have on hand.  Instead of using canned diced tomatoes, I peeled and chopped some of my husband’s fresh off-the-vine tomatoes sitting on my counter top.  Best of all, its delicious whether you serve it hot or cold.  Add some croutons for crunch (made with gluten-free bread of course!).  In the winter, this soup is a great vehicle for cooked chicken. Feel free to play with it and make it your own by adding the vegetables your family likes the best.  But keep the carrots since they add that sweetness that takes care of the acidity in the tomatoes (the parsnips help with that as well).  Makes 8-12 servings.

Peel as needed and dice into like size pieces:

  • 1 medium onion (I used a red onion)
  • 6-8 stocks of celery
  • 1 medium purple top turnip (or a regular one if you like them but the purple top have a milder flavor)
  • 1 medium yellow squash
  • 1 medium zucchini squash
  • 2 small parsnips
  • 2 baby bok choy (you could use regular chopped cabbage instead of the bok choy and then add some kale or spinach for the greens of the bok choy)
  • 1/2 pound mushrooms (I like to mix them up so I used half baby bella and half porcini)
  • 1 cup chopped or grated carrots
  • 1 cup green peas
  • 1 cup green beans

Add 4 cups (1 quart) of vegetable stock to a large stock pot (if you want, you could add 4 cups of chicken stock).  Be sure to use stock and not broth for that “cooked all day” flavor.  Add the onion, celery, turnip, squashes, bok choy and mushrooms and cook covered over medium heat until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

Add:

  • 1 cup diced tomatoes
  • 1 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes (I find the Muir Glen organic canned tomatoes taste less metallic than regular canned tomatoes)
  • 1 12 ounce can of your favorite beans (I love the cannellini beans or great northern)

Cook over low heat for another 10-15 minutes until tomatoes and beans are heated through.