New Smoothie for the New Year

HAPPY 2015!!

Just a short post to share this new recipe I concocted today.  It is delicious!

I used my new Oster MyBlend 20 oz.  I am in LOVE with this thing.  Single serve and it’s already in the bottle?  So convenient.  It mixes way better than my old blender (which shall remain nameless), and it’s quieter, too.  Highly recommend.  I got it at Lowe’s for $20.  Worth every penny.

Anyway… here’s the recipe rundown:

2 Cups greens mix, any (mine was Attitude greens, idk what kind)

Eyeball about 1/2 cup Almond milk coconut/almond blend unsweetened

3-4 ice cubes

Handful frozen blueberries

Handful frozen cherries

Half banana, ripe

1/2 pack Vega Sport protein powder, vanilla

1 packet Justin’s Maple Almond butter

1 scoop collagen powder

No frills, but your taste buds won't mind.
No frills, but your taste buds won’t mind.

MIX!  Enjoy!  It’s not too slushy and not too thick and SO yummy.  You can add infinite things to this, no sweetener required, the fruit really takes care of that.  I sprinkled some roasted sunflower seeds on top because I enjoy sweet and salty together. Normally I might add hemp seeds but I had them with my oatmeal this morning.  I also try to add ginger, cinnamon, and turmeric to EVERYTHING I eat lately because they soothe my tummy and the holiday eating has it upset.

Resolutions/Goals for this year:  Eat more plants, write more blog posts, finish the book, travel, be kind, be fearless.  OH and I am going to try to read the Bible front to back.  A daunting task, but something I have always wanted to do.  What are your resolutions or goals this year?

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My Growing Vegan Pantry

(Not to be confused with the following post at Oh She Glows:

My Vegan Pantry

However that one is one of my favorite blog posts, ever, and I highly recommend viewing it.)

I am pretty committed to meatless eating.  This way of eating is not exactly new to me, in fact it’s my “default” get-well from a cold diet, feel better when I’m in a slump diet, clear up my skin diet, sleep better diet, faster workout recovery diet, make sure I’m regular diet… it’s THE best way to eat, I am sure of it.  WHY it’s taken me so long to make it permanent, I couldn’t say.

The commitment part of this is new to me.  I’m used to storing away thoughts, way in the back of my mind, that I can have diet soda any time.  I can eat a big, juicy hamburger if I want to.  I don’t know why this kind of thinking comforts me, but it does.  I guess it’s because of the freedom – or perception of freedom – is something I need psychologically.  Breaking away from that will be challenging, but it’s helped by how good I feel being vegan.

The more I eat this way, the better I feel.  Physically, see above.  Lots of benefits almost immediately.  Internally, spiritually you might say, I feel lighter. I feel enlightened. I feel joy.  There is some serious smiling going on over here, and sometimes I can’t even help or explain it.  Yes, I’m sure it’s because of cutting out animal products but no, I cannot explain how I know that.  Just take my word for it.

So tonight I took a couple of pictures.  The first one is a cell phone picture of the “beginning” of my new pantry.  Here it is:

IMG3412
Tri-color couscous, wild rice, quinoa, oats.

I am SUPER excited about this.  Perhaps disproportionately so.  I took the next couple of photos while preparing my food for work tomorrow:

Banana, kiwi, orange, and medjool dates.
Banana, kiwi, orange, and medjool dates.

This is my afternoon snack.  It’s fresh and alive, full of nutrition and nourishment.  As much fruit as I might have eaten in 2 or 3 days before.

Steamed green beans, ripped spinach leaves, kidney beans, steamed zucchini and steamed squash, tomatoes, and some Amy's veggie soup on top.
Steamed green beans, ripped spinach leaves, kidney beans, steamed zucchini and steamed squash, tomatoes, and some Amy’s veggie soup on top.

This is my lunch.  With these two combined I’m eating 10-12 different types of NOURISHING, nutritious, plant foods.  Now, as these photos illustrate, I am what I have come to call “guerilla vegan”.  Meaning, my style is less organized and more, “throw lots of flavors in a bowl and wolf it down”.  I don’t slice precisely, I don’t measure or count anything, which I think is fantastic. That’s just what I do, I know everyone has their own style, but this works for me.

This weekend I hope to get out and pick up more vegan “staples” and start organizing my spice rack.  One of the best things about eating vegan or vegetarian that I’ve yet to mention?  The cooking.  OH, the culinary places you’ll GO!  Places you never even knew existed or that previously only existed in your wildest imagination.  At least, this has been my experience.

So… what’s in your pantry?  What’s your “go to” staple?  What’s the best “quickie” veggie meal?  What is the one item you can’t live without?  If you are vegan or vegetarian, what has been the biggest benefit?  How have you stayed on track?  Do you think there are any drawbacks to this way of eating or lifestyle?  I love comments.  Leave me some.

Mango Banana Ice Cream

Happy Memorial Day! I don’t know about your family, but for mine today marks the traditional beginning of Summer. The weather outside was gorgeous here, all blue skies and sunny but not sweltering. The pool is lovely, if a tad chilly, but the kids were brave enough to swim for a bit. Lunch was hot dogs, nothing too fancy. The real Summer time celebratory treat came for dessert.

I had a ripe mango in the fridge. I don’t know a lot about mangoes, or even how to cook with them, so I thought a day when the husband is home and I have some free time would be perfect for experimenting. After looking around at breakfasts, smoothies, and a few odd beauty masks, I decided to follow my own path. Mango Ice Cream! Yes! Sounds delicious, I’m sure I can make something work. I have a fancy new “retro” ice cream maker I bought on Amazon.com for quite a good price, I’ve only used it once and I’ve been itching to use it again. Perfect.

Retro, turquoise, and all kinds of snazzy.
Retro, turquoise, and all kinds of snazzy.

This is a recipe of my own design, and I’m not one to use measuring tools, I trust my “eyeballing”, but I’ll be as detailed as I can in case any readers are interested in making it for themselves.

I am Mango.
I am Mango.

I assembled my ingredients and went to work. I began with one mango, very ripe as I wanted to get the full sweetness when I used it. Cut and peeled it on the cutting board, which is the messiest part of this, but honestly I like how it feels to squish mango in my hands. Moving on… I had half a banana in that had been chilling in the fridge, since my daughter wanted some on her cereal this morning. My mouth was watering. This is going to be GOOD. For a moment I felt all “love it when a plan comes together”. It’s a good amount of banana to add flavor and sweetness but not overpower the mango. I hate it when I buy something that has banana in it and banana is all I can taste. I tend to avoid smoothies or yogurts or other products that are “Something AND Banana”.

Just the right amount of banana.
Just the right amount of banana.

My food processor is small (by the way, I’m taking donations), but thankfully everything fit. I used:
1 ripe mango
1/2 chilled banana
“eyeballed” almond milk, (Almond Breeze vanilla flavor) probably 1/4 C
“eyeballed” Fage 0% Greek yogurt, probably 1/4 C
3/4 C granulated sugar

Greek yogurt to add thickness
Greek yogurt to add thickness

Greek yogurt is wonderfully bitter, and acts to dial down the sweetness of the banana a bit. It worked perfectly for this recipe, and I like to use it in recipes that call for heavy cream. Heavy cream is just so… heavy. I wanted this to be light and fresh and guilt-free.

All mixed up.
All mixed up.

Pulse in the processor on “high” for maybe 30 seconds, just until the mixture is smooth. And voila! Ready for the ice cream machine. My wonderful husband took care of the ice and rock salt, and 30 minutes of churning later, here’s what we had:

31 Flavors has nothing on us!
31 Flavors has nothing on us!

Beautiful, no?

It was cold enough to serve immediately, but I put it in the freezer for a couple of hours so it would get a bit harder like store-bought ice cream. To each his own, but I’m glad I did this, as it melts quickly. It came out like a cross between ice cream and gelato. The flavor is off the charts, maybe a little too sweet for me so I might use less sugar next time. I got “thumbs up” across the board from husband and kids. My three-year-old said “This is TASTY!” That’s it. I’m ready for “The Chew.”

Calamity Cookies

Sounds exciting, right?  Ooh, I promise, they are!

This evening after dinner my husband decided to cut the grass.  Our lawn is rather large, so I knew it would take him a while, and I figured I’d use my free time to bake something.  Usually, the mood to bake strikes at a time when I am not able to go to the store, and tonight was no different.  As a result, I end up foraging in the pantry and fridge to see what I can put together.  This accidental mash-up just happens to be a masterpiece.

Here are the ingredients I found and mixed together.  I didn’t do any exact measuring, sorry. I don’t really cook that way.

Calamitous Ingredients
Calamitous Ingredients

[Preheat oven to 350 degrees.] I started with one medium-ripe banana, mashed with a fork.  Add some oats.  Eyeballed, I’d call it 1/2 cup.  Sprinkle some cinnamon, because I put cinnamon in everything.  Cut up some Green and Black’s Organic 85% Dark Chocolate, wipe drool from face, wash hands, continue.

Mmm...chocolate
Mmm…chocolate

Add a generous serving – maybe 2 tsp – of Agave nectar.  [Not pictured is a packet of nuts from a popular fast food chain.  It was really just a handful of pecans, so I chopped them up and added.]   As the ingredients fall into the bowl, this mixture already smells amazing.  I don’t really love the idea of chewing raw oats, otherwise I probably would have just eaten it all with big spoon, no baking required.

Smells even better than it looks.
Smells even better than it looks.

I suppose you could put these on parchment paper, if that’s your thing, but like I said before these were spur-of-the-moment fluke cookies, so I just lightly sprayed a cookie sheet with non-stick spray and scooped them out.  I ended up with 6 cookies.  Perfect.  Five for me, one for husband if he finishes mowing the lawn in time.  Maybe.

Before baking
On the cookie sheet and ready to go.

Place the cookie sheet with these divinely aromatic balls of sweet misadventure into the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes.  Mine took closer to 15 minutes.  Be careful not to leave them in too long expecting them to harden like cookies do.  These are made of banana.  They are supposed to be squishy.  Scoop onto a rack or plate and allow to cool [if you can stand the wait.]  Me, I ate one piping hot and it was worth the burn on my lip.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I must say, particularly for something I didn’t mean to do, these “Calamity Cookies” are one of my finest culinary achievements.   Pros: they took all of about 20 minutes, start to finish.  There’s virtually no clean-up.  And the nutrition!  These cookies are totally healthy, great for kids’ snack or for when friends pop over.  I made sure to scribble on a notepad a rough estimate and description so that I can make them again one day.  Oh, and if you’re wondering, Husband did finish his chores in time to try one.

A photo of deliciousness.
A photo of deliciousness.