Sweet + Tart + Green Lemonade

IMG_3941As I mentioned in my last post I was in Disneyland last week with my family. There is one thing holding Disneyland back from actually being the happiest place on earth…a juice bar. Ok, I admit I may be the only person in the world who thinks a juice bar is the one thing holding Mickey Mouse’s motherland back from being the happiest place on earth, but I’m pretty sure there are many people who would enjoy this service. Eating a nutritionally balanced meal is hard work at Disneyland. There aren’t many options. Which makes sense…I don’t think there are many kids who think broccoli and beets belong in the happiest place on earth. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely enjoyed some traditional Disneyland fare. Who can resist an ice cream bar shaped like Mickey Mouse? But I was craving some liquid nourishment.  Immediately upon my arrival home, I broke out my juicer and made a big batch of Green Lemonade. It was a great welcome home.

Hosting a ladies brunch? This would be delicious with a splash of champagne. A green juice mimosa…hmm maybe Mr. Walt should consider adding that to the Disneyland menu.

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Chocolate + Coconut + Smoothie

IMG_3932Thursdays are like the middle child of weekdays. The anticipation of Friday and hump day Wednesday steal the spotlight causing it to get lost in the mix.  This morning I woke up wanting to acknowledge the excitement of Thursdays. It is one day away from Friday, which means one day closer to the weekend. So what better way to honor a Thursday than to start the day off with a chocolate coconut shake. Special right? It’s not everyday I kickoff the morning with a smoothie that tastes like dessert. It is highly likely it will become my new Thursday morning trend. Although the smoothie tastes like a sweet treat, it is packed full of essential nutrients to start your day off right. Avocado, hemp seeds, banana, almond milk, raw honey…major benefits!

I should add that I love middle children. I don’t think they get lost in the mix, it’s just an old theory. My middle sister is my BFF. If you are a middle child you should feel pretty excited about being compared to a Thursday. Thursdays are awesome, you are awesome and this smoothie is awesome!

Feel free to skip the honey and just use dates to sweeten the chocolate shake. I prefer to use the honey for a nutrient boost, especially the allergy fighting properties it offers. Allergies are killer this time of year in Texas. Another option is to use only honey as a sweetener and skip the dates. Up to you.

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Veggie Spring Rolls + Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce

IMG_3728Now that the Seattle Seahawks are officially in the Super Bowl (we all saw it coming), it’s time to start menu planning for the big party.  First on my list- Veggie Spring Rolls. They are the perfect balance to the typical heavy game day appetizers. Light enough to keep you out of a food coma yet fulfilling enough to keep you satisfied.

Speaking of the Seahawks…unless you have been hiding under a rock for the past week there is a very good chance you have heard about Richard Sherman’s interview declaring he is the best corner back in the NFL. Well if you haven’t, let me fill you in. He proclaimed his amazingness in an interview with Erin Andrews seconds  after he tipped the ball out of a 49er’s hand to secure the win for the Seahawks. His adrenaline was still pumping and he may have let his mouth run a bit too much. At the time I thought he should have kept his confidence on the hush hush, but after making these veggie spring rolls I can relate to him.   Had Erin Andrews been in my kitchen the moment I finished folding my 12th spring roll I would have proclaimed (with certainty) that they are the best appetizer of all football appetizers. Just like Sherman I wouldn’t have been able to control my words or my confidence. Unlike Sherman, my declaration that veggie rolls are the best super bowl appetizer would not have made it on national news or in every single facebook post.

On a side note- This may be the only time in my life I will be able to relate to a NFL football player. Actually check back in a few months when I am 9 months pregnant. There is a slight chance I will feel as big as a line backer.

 

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Piña Colada Green Smoothie

IMG_3683The entire country seems to be jumping on the cold weather band wagon.  I think it is safe to say we could all use a break from the bone chilling weather. Lucky for you I have a way you can bring a tropical vacation into your kitchen, no airplane ticket or packing required. My Piña Colada Green Smoothie will take you from the numbing cold to white sandy beaches in seconds. It tastes like a vacation.

There are a few reasons this green smoothie has become a favorite of mine. Number 1- It tastes like a vacation. Number 2- it is the smoothie that turned my husband into a green smoothie lover. He is always a bit reluctant to drink my smoothies, but this smoothie was different. He smelled it, took a sip, took another sip and then finished it off in one big gulp. It was a proud moment of mine when he told me he could drink it everyday. I could too.

Swap kale for spinach or any other greens you have on hand. You’ll still achieve the full tropical vacation effect. If you don’t have any hemp seeds, feel free to use flax seed, chia seed or a mix of all three. They all blend well into this recipe

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Mint + Dark Chocolate Smoothie

IMG_3304Our house is officially ready for Christmas. This past weekend I bought Target, Hobby Lobby and Michaels out of all their Christmas décor and pasted it all over our house. Nothing makes me happier than walking through the door to a festive house. Actually, there is one thing that makes me happier than walking through the door to a festive house…that would be sitting on the couch, watching Home Alone while sipping on a holiday inspired smoothie. That is exactly how I spent my night last night. It was awesome. I put a festive holiday spin on my usual green smoothie by adding fresh mint leaves and dark chocolate. It tasted more like a milkshake than a smoothie. Very indulgent without being super heavy. A green mint smoothie is the perfect addition to a cozy night in or a great way to start a day of holiday shopping.

I used hempseeds in my smoothie. Flax seed or chia seed would also work well.

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Savory Mashed Sweet Potatoes

IMG_3200Remember when I said in this post that we should wait until the Halloween treats digest before blasting Christmas music? Well…I lied. Michael Bublé and Mariah Carey Christmas carols have been blaring through my Pandora this past week. And I am loving it. When I hear Christmas music I want to sprint to the kitchen and cook. There is something about it that gets me in the cooking mood.

When you think of sweet potatoes, what is the first thing you think of pairing them with? Maple syrup, brown sugar, honey…sweet toppings, right? Sweet potatoes are naturally sweet (the “sweet” in sweet potato gives that away), so topping it with more sugar can be a bit of an overload. Today I  decided to take sweet potatoes in more of a savory direction. Even with the savory ingredients, the natural sweetness of the potatoes comes through. The balance of sweet and savory is spot on.

I baked my potatoes before mashing them. Boiling or steaming is another option, but I find the best flavor comes from the baking method.

Are mashed potatoes on your holiday menu?  Sweet potatoes contain more vitamins than white potatoes. They are significantly higher in Vitamin C, Folate and Vitamin A. Plus, I think they have more flavor.  Think about swapping white potatoes for sweet potatoes. You will send your guests home a little bit healthier than when they arrived.

Criss-Cross Applesauce

pumpkinsWelcome back, Fall. The switch from summer to fall seemed to happen in the blink of an eye. Grocery stores swiftly change their entrance displays from flowers to pumpkins, the beloved pumpkin spiced latte makes a comeback, and Halloween super stores pop up out of nowhere. There is zero time to mourn the loss of summer. Although it is still 90 degrees here in Austin, I decided to jump on the fall bandwagon by making cinnamon applesauce. Nothing gets me in the mood for fall faster than the smell of cinnamon and nutmeg wafting through the house. I was ready to throw on my leggings, zip up my boots and wrap a scarf around my neck. Then I remembered I live in Austin and the weather won’t chill out until late October (at the earliest). I was tempted to blast the air conditioning in our apartment just so I could pretend it was a perfect brisk fall day, but decided that would be an irresponsible waste of energy. So instead I sat out on my patio in shorts and a tank top and enjoyed my applesauce full of fall flavors.

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Salt + Pepper Sweet Potato Chips

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Raise your hand if you enjoy a salty and crunchy snack. I am going to assume you have at least one hand in the air.  In case you are wondering, both my hands are stretched up to the sky. Years ago I was more of a sweets girl than a salty girl, but tables have turned and my heart belongs to sea salt. Baked Sweet Potato chips are my go-to snack. They fulfill my salt craving without being too heavy. Using sweet potatoes adds a nutritional punch and an extra layer of flavor.

These chips take a bit of time and patience. Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to crunchy baked Sweet Potato Chips. Cooking them at a high temp and short period of time has never worked for me. I am always left with crispy edges and soggy centers or burnt edges and crispy centers. Call me crazy, but I like the entire chip to be crispy.

 

INGREDIENT SPOTLIGHT                                                                                                                                                                                            Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are part of the super food family (the royals of all food groups). Rumor has it they are one of the healthiest veggies we eat.

-They are high in Vitamin A, which supports vision and reproductive health.

-Great source of fiber to help keep you regular.

-High in iron. Eat up vegetarians!

-Antioxidant overload. Vitamin C and beta-carotene work hand in hand to rid the bod of free radicals, which can be cancer causing and promote aging.

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The Honest Plate Cooking Class

The other night I had the joy of teaching a cooking class to a group of fabulous ladies. We created a delicious menu full of healthy summer appetizers paired with Matthews wine, my absolute favorite winery (www.matthewswinery.com).  Through the chatting, laughing and wine drinking we managed to pull together a menu of…

-Gazpacho Shooters with Prawns and Basil Oil.

-Chicken, Black Bean and Avocado Tostadas with Avocado Cilantro Crème.

-Crostini with Homemade Ricotta, Peaches, Honey and Basil.

-Dairy Free Coconut Milk Vanilla Bean Ice Cream with Decedent Raw Foods Brownie.

-Spinach and Arugula Salad with Blackberries, Walnuts, Pears and Blue Cheese tossed in  Lemon Vinaigrette.

Since the cooking class, the crostini with ricotta, peaches, honey and basil has consumed my mind. If you have ever wondered what heaven tastes like, this is it.  Homemade ricotta is creamy, clean tasting, a bit salty and every bit perfect. It is also suuuuuper simple to make.  Honestly, it is as easy as making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The moment you pull out this appetizer your guest are going to think you swapped identities with Giada De Larentiis. Don’t worry, the simplicity of homemade ricotta will be our little secret 😉

I will be posting the other recipes from the cooking class this weekend. Just like the Ricotta Crostini, they are guaranteed to be yumzo.

INGREDIENT                                                                                                                                                                                              SPOTLIGHT                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Raw Local Honey   

I am a big fan (and user) of local raw honey.   As cute as that little plastic honey bear bottle is, it lacks key nutrients found in raw honey. How is this possible? When honey is heated and pasteurized it loses many of it’s vitamins, minerals, enymes and powerful anti-oxidants. It has been said raw honey can cure the world of all aliments. I am not 100% sure it can cure the world of every single disease, but I do know it can aid in digestion, treat ulcers, cure a cold, reduce stress, balance blood sugar, strengthen the immune system, reduce pain and eliminate allergies. Local honey is especially important when it comes to eliminating allergies. It contains local pollen, which helps the body build a tolerance to seasonal allergies. While we are on the subject of bees…go ahead and run from them but don’t squash, swat or kill them.  They make our world go round. Stay tuned for more on that subject.

Needed materials- unbleached cheesecloth

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Gazpacho Shooters with Basil Oil and Prawn. Paired with Matthews Chardonnay.
Gazpacho and Prawn Shooter garnished with Basil Oil. Paired with Matthews Chardonnay.

 

Ricotta, Peach, Honey and Basil Crostini
Ricotta, Peach, Honey and Basil Crostini
Coconut Vanilla Bean Ice Cream with Decadent Raw Food Brownie. Paired with Mathews Table Red Wine
Coconut Vanilla Bean Ice Cream with Decadent Raw Food Brownie. Paired with Mathews Black Board Red Wine.

 

 

Chicken, Black Bean, Avocado Toastadas with Avocado Cilantro Crème. Paired with Matthews Claret.
Chicken, Black Bean, Avocado Toastadas with Avocado Cilantro Crème. Paired with Matthews Claret.
Spinach, Arugula, Blackberry, Pear, Blue Cheese and Walnut Salad tossed in Lemon Vinaigrette.
Spinach, Arugula, Blackberry, Pear, Blue Cheese and Walnut Salad tossed in Lemon Vinaigrette.

Cherry + Almond + Kale Smoothie

We have all heard the saying “breakfast is the most important meal of the day”.  This is as true as saying Justin Timberlake is the most beautiful man on earth (except my husband).  Breakfast  kick starts our metabolism and gives us the brain fuel we need to take on the day. Although I know this to be true, the simple task of making time to sit down for breakfast seems close to impossible.  It is a scramble to get out of bed,  showered, dressed and out the door on time. Which is why smoothies are my saving grace.   They are the perfect  on-the-go breakfast.  Quick, nutritious and delicious. To cut down on prep time in the morning, chop all ingredients the night before and put them in a mason jar. Come morning all you have to do is toss the mason jar contents into your blender, blend and go!

A few more reasons a Cherry Almond Kale smoothie is the right way to start your day…

-It will give you more energy than hitting snooze.

-Eating a nutritious breakfast ensures you won’t get hangry (hungry + angry) before lunch.

-Sitting in traffic is much easier when sipping on a delicious smoothie.

-You will be more focused and productive at work, which will lead to a promotion which means more money to spend at the Nordstrom’s Anniversary Sale

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break the fast