Summer in Winter: a smoothie and salad to cure your winter blues »
My “cooking” style can best be described as hodgepodge. The more I try new things in the kitchen, the more comfortable I get, just like most things in life. Even though I needed to text TWO separate people asking them how to work the rice cooker that was immediately in front of me, and even though I’ve never finished preparing a meal without my sous chef, Chef Google-Search, I’m always pleasantly surprised at the finished product. And that’s saying a lot because I am the most self loathing person I know.
Back to the food. I say hodgepodge because I enjoy throwing many ingredients into what I’m making to try to find something that I haven’t tasted before or just switch things up from the monotony. Case-in-point, the rice cooker. In an effort to save money and not waste food, I try to eat as many things left in the closets, cupboards, and ‘fridge on the day I bring groceries home. Rather than gorging myself on all the new treats. A couple months back I did a post on SooFoo and their grain blend. I came across the nearly empty bag, buried in our bulk-food drawer, and decided I was going to finish it off but with some new twists. Then saw a bag of salad about a day before it was set to turn slimey and dark, a bag of bread that only had one heal left, and a soft kiwi. It was like the Island of Misfit Toys, but with vegan friendly food from your local grocer. That’s when it hit me, let’s make a cheap meal that will bring all the boys (or girls, or both) to the yard.
First up: the SooFoo.
Normally, you follow your ricers directions of 1 cup (which isn’t a real “cup” and no one has given me an explanation of why) of the blend and some water up to the “1” line and a teaspoon of oil. I said, to myself, “NAH SON.” Threw the rest of the bag of the blend in the ricer, along with a handful of roasted/unsalted peanuts and a handful of raw pecans. For the water, I felt that was the easy way out, so I threw one part water and one part Trader Joe’s Low Sodium Garden Patch juice. Think V-8 but way less gross and actually good. And not disgusting. Then I pressed the button and let this interesting concoction boil in that plastic and metal cauldron. After it was finished, which I should have done way earlier but my kitchen neuroses kicked in, I threw in a gang of spices—thyme, garlic powder, sea salt, black pepper, chili powder, and cayenne pepper—then mixed it in and was taken aback by
my its awesomeness.
Next: The smoothie.
I like to brag about my smoothie skills. But that’s like bragging about exercising and we all cannot stand that person who loves to tell you how much they just ran, all before the sun came up too. But I wear my smoothie skills like a badge of courage—or more realistically, a badge of healthy poo. Because let’s be serious for a moment, that’s all the really matters in this world. The smoothie began with an extremely squishy kiwi that would not have been fun to eat normally. Then half of an avocado. Then a good sized handful of that almost wet and slimey salad. Followed by some almond milk. After blending those ingredients and getting a nice green, milky consistency, I threw in the frozen portions. Blueberries, raspberries, and spinach. Then blended like crazy and poured into a re-purposed glass peanut butter jar that any hipster on Pinterest would be envious of. I garnished it with a cuke moon because I’m classy (ignore aforementioned poo reference in previous paragraph).
Lastly: the salad, which is English for ensalada.
There was a giant Fuji apple nearby, that must have been in the bottom of a shopping bag because it had a dent and gash in it in the shape of a cereal box. Instead of doing some mouth-maneuvering around the bruise, I figured I’d use the apple in my salad. I chopped it up to 1 CM squares, which is way smaller than I usually make my salad-bound apples. I wanted each forkful to have as much of the many ingredients. After the apple came the other half of the avocado, cut, while still in its skin, into similar sized squares as the apple, then squeezed into the bowl. Next up with throwing the rest of the bag of salad in, followed by 1/3rd of a cucumber, cut into half moons. I toasted that lonely heal of bread and chopped it up to make semi-homemade croutons. Sandra Lee woulda been proud.
Finally I threw a heaping of the SooFoo blend into the salad and mixed it all with some goddess dressing. Between the kiwi in the smoothie, the apple and avocado in the salad, the (relatively) cold SoCal winter seemed to wither away. It was like, all the way down to 59 today. But this extremely fresh, resourcefully made, and low budget-friendly meal was reminiscent of just 3 weeks ago when it was 70. (hash tag California)
Andrew E. Irons is a blogger from Long Beach, Calif. He co-created and contributes to Rhode Island-based hip-hop website The Echo Chamber Blog under the pseudonym Verbal Spacey. You can track his daily diatribes by following him on Twitter.
Product Review: Emmy’s Organics Superfood Trail Mix and Peanut Butter Banana Granola! »
Emmy’s Organics is a pretty amazing company. The owners met at a music festival, and the good vibes seem to permeate their raw macaroons, granolas, trail mixes, and other tasty all-gluten-free raw vegan products. sent me a complimentary batch of their new Superfood Trail Mix featuring cacao, goji berries, raisins, and cashews. I used the superfood trail mix and Emmy’s outrageously yummy Peanut Butter Banana Granola containing hearty buckwheat, and rich large chunks of nuts and banana atop a homemade raw vegan strawberry banana smoothie. It was the most delicious and decadent breakfast I’ve had in a while!
Raw vegan strawberry banana smoothie
Serves 1 to 2
2 cups strawberries
1 cup almond milk
6 to 7 drops Stevia, or maple syrup, or coconut nectar, or agave
1 tsp. maca
1 tsp. cacao powder
1 Tbsp. chia seeds
1/4 cup ice (optional)
Blend and top with superfood trial mix and granola!
It’s rare to find raw food that hits the mark in multiple categories—savory, breakfast, and dessert—but Emmy’s truly do. I approve of these products! Check them out online and in stores!
Product Review: Williams Sonoma and Navitas Naturals smoothie mix belongs in your porridge! »
I rarely make it to big-chain malls these days (I mean, who has the time!) but I do remember visiting the Williams Sonoma at the mall as a tweenager—and that it didn’t have too many veg options. When I heard the exciting news that Vedge Restaurant co-owners Kate Jacoby and Rich Landau are doing a deal with them for all-vegan sauces and they’ve now teamed up with beloved raw vegan company Navitas Naturals to make superfood smoothie mixes, I got so excited! Looks like Williams Sonoma has totally decided to make vegan deliciousness happen on a large scale (they have more than 250 stores nationwide).
I haven’t tired the Vedge Sauces, but Navitas Naturals and Williams-Sonoma did send me a complimentary bag of one of their three new organic superfood smoothie blends—the Protein Smoothie Mixer! It’s high quality (As you’d expect from Navitas) and made with the nutrient-densest superfoods, including hemp powder, maca, and cacao powder. You can definitely taste the hemp, but the low-glycemic sweetener lucuma (grown in Peru) helps offset that a bit. This certified organic powder blend is super simple to use, making smoothie-making a no-brainer: Just toss it in a blender with ripe fruit and and any other nut milk or fresh ingredients you like. No guessing, no measuring. It’s superfood smoothie-making for the average bear! Get it at Williams Sonoma stores and online.
While smoothies are great, sometimes you’re living with five people in a two-bedroom apartment in the Mission and your roommates left for Burning Man and forgot to pay the electric bill, and the Vitamix just won’t run that day. Or maybe you just don’t feel like slurping your breakfast all the time—chewing is nice, too. Regardless of your motives for going blender-free, this superfood smoothie mix chia porridge will satisfy your palate and keep you going for hours!
Superfood smoothie mix chia porridge
Serves 2 to 3
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup Navitas Naturals-Williams Sonoma Protein smoothie mix
1/4 cup raisons or goji berries (or both!)
1/4 cup blueberries (optional)
7 drops liquid Stevia
2 cups almond milk
1/4 cup water
Mix all ingredients in a bowl or container. Let sit for 20 minutes or overnight in the fridge. Enjoy!
Product Review: Sproutein, Epic Protein, and Sprout mixes turn smoothies into nutrition explosions! »
Confession: I think everything Alex Malinsky touches turns to gold. Known in the raw food world as the “raw guru,” Alex got into raw foods super young and has emerged and maintained his status as an A-list raw goods preparer and purveyor. Although Alex hobnobs with celebrities, he still takes time to let me know about his new products, and sends me free samples now and then. I’ve tried a bunch of his stuff over the years—Rawmio is sooo good—but I have to say that I think his new protein powders are the most delicious products of his I’ve ever tried!
I drink raw vegan smoothies almost every morning and I’m always on the lookout for newer and better protein powders and superfood add-ins. I’m not satisfied with enjoying the same smoothies every day, and I think variety is what keeps me coming back to the blender on the reg. Alex and his brother Mark’s Sprout Living's new line of Sproutein and Epic protein powders and sprout mixes are really, really high quality stuff. They come in a variety of really mild-tasting yet nutritionally dense flavor varieties, including Vanilla Lucuma, Chocolate Maca, Original, and Sproutein.
Anything Alex puts his energy into has to be organic, raw, vegan, bioavailable (read: has usable protein and nutrients), fiber, ethically sourced, low glycemic, sprouted, etc. but these really go above and beyond. The Sproutein contains high quality sprouts that are easier to digest than full-grown greens and high in minerals and chlorophyl. Ingredients include such dreamy ingredients as: Freshly Freeze Dried Sprout Powders (sunflower, amaranth, millet, kale, quinoa, mung bean, alfalfa, chia, and golden pea), Hempseed Protein Powder, Goji Berry Powder, Maca Root Powder, Yacon Root Powder).
All of the powders contain healthful ingredients, but If you’re particularly interested in bombing yourself with hearty protein, the Sproutein blends have nine grams of protein per serving, and the Epic Protein blends (my favorite is the Vanilla Lucuma, with Chocolate Maca in close second!) contain 19 grams (!!) per serving.
My verdict is that these powers are very low glycemic and blend so nicely with my typical berry-banana smoothie combos that they’re a no-brainer addition to my breakfast—and maybe yours? I also tried and loved the Sprout Living Broccoli and Kale Sprouts Powder Mix in the smoothie too, because superfood smoothies can have all kinds of rad ingredients!
I’ve included a recipe for an absolutely delicious smoothie I made this morning, topped with millet puffs and some Rawmio Raw Chocolate Truffle Cake shavings. I added in Vanilla Lucuma Epic Protein and Broccoli and Kale mix. Amazing!!! And my colon is so happy. Enjoy!
Strawberry Banana Epic Protein-Sprout Mix Smoothie
2 cups frozen strawberries
1 1/2 frozen bananas
1 cup almond milk
1/2 cup water
2 heaping scoops Vanilla Lucuma Epic Protein
3/4 tsp. Broccoli and Kale sprout mix
5 small ice cubes
6-8 drops stevia (to taste)
Blend and enjoy with your favorite ingredient toppings.
Get Sproutein, Epic Protein, Sprout Mixes and all other Alex Malinsky-approved products online and in select health food stores nationwide.
Live Superfoods Are Luxury In Your Blender »
I love raw vegan smoothies so much! I tend to drink them at least once a day, for breakfast and/or after my weight lifting class (I’m trying to get super jacked on plants! Wish me luck!) Since I tend to drink the same few smoothie ingredient combinations on the reg, it’s important for me to stop—hold up—and try new flavors and ingredients.
Live Superfoods sent me samples of their organic raw maca powder, organic raw cacao powder, and organic raw coconut palm sugar to try. Though I’m used to adding maca and cacao powder in raw vegan drinks and desserts, Live Superfoods’ versions of these were truly spectacular. I feel like I’ve been adding boxed wine to my smoothies all my life and suddenly someone reached out of the sky and handed me a bottle of Chteau Haut Brion Pessac-Lognan 1982. I’m not sure that high class wine would taste great with chia seeds, but you get the point—these are very classy ingredients!
I’d never used low-glycemic coconut palm sugar before in a smoothie, and I am happy to report that it’s a wonderful add-in! Coconut palm sugar has a different maple-y flavor than stevia, my usual go-to sweetener, and nicely complements berries and other frozen fruits. The Live Superfoods cacao powder was bold and slightly fruity, and the maca was rich and malty. I have to say, this mint-infused smoothie combination is my new favorite, and is destined to be my new go-to in the morning!
Coconut Chocolate Maca Mint Smoothie (serves 1-2)
1 tsp Live Superfoods Organic raw coconut palm sugar
2 tsp raw cacao powder
1 tsp maca powder
1 cup strawberries
1/2 tbs chia seeds
1-2 tsp fresh mint leaves
Strawberries and/or vegan granola
Product review: Perfect Fit brown rice protein is superb in smoothies! »
I know there’s a lot of debate out there about what should go in smoothies. Greens? Nut milk? Berries? Durian mixed with agave and raw cacao sauce? It can be tough to decide what your smoothie should have in it—I know I’ve stood, mouth agape, in front of my blender for upward of two minutes trying to decide whether 1/4 cup of maca is overkill (note: it is).
There are as many ways to blend as their are ingredients under the moon, but I highly recommend whatever you put in your smoothie, you start it with a protein-rich or green-rich base. That way, you’re at least fortifying yourself when your smoothie consists of just cacao nibs and avocado (admit it, you’ve tried that combo at least once!).
Perfect Fit Protein by Tone It Up scared me with its name—I’m not interested in toning anything when I drink smoothies, except maybe my hair if it’s that time of the color cycle—but its ingredients are absolutely non-scary! I love that it has so much protein (15g serving! Woohoo!) yet includes only organic raw, gluten-free, non-GMO brown rice protein, stevia, and no common allergens. The company sent me a bunch of samples and I absolutely could not taste the flavors (in a good way!) in my usual berry-maca-almond milk-chia seed smoothie.
I highly recommend adding this stuff if you’re interested in a no-fuss protein boost without tons of added ingredients you’ll likely find in other vegan protein powders. This is a winner! Find it online.
Get crazy with smoothies for Nativas Natural’s “Smoothment!” Plus: smoothie recipes! »
On Saturday (that’s tomorrow!), Nativas Naturals is launching the Back-to-Basics Smoothment—a smoothie movement! From what I gather on social media, a bunch of you hippies are into this kind of “healthy milkshake” thing. You’re in luck—Nativas has got your back. Just head on over to the website, and sign on up! It’s all free of charge, and you’ll gain access to instructional videos, receive free recipes and even get discounts on featured raw, organic products. Just the incentive you needed to plug in that blender, isn’t it?
When it comes to smoothies, I like to think of my friend Caroline as the professional between the two of us. I prefer my blended drinks at a tiki bar, but Caroline actually drinks smoothies for breakfast. I thought that’s what coffee was for? Silly me, I have so much to learn! For all of our sakes (mine especially), I recruited Caroline as Vegansaurus’ own Miss Smoothment! Armed with products and a blessing sent to us from Navitas, Caroline agreed to share a couple of her own recipes with us, to kick off the occasion. Take it away, girlfriend!
“Anyone who follows me on Instagram is well aware that I’ve been obsessed with smoothies lately (I mean, why eat your food, when you can drink it?), so I wasn’t totally surprised when Jenny asked me to help review some of the Navitas superfood products.
You may have seen the colorful Navitas packaging in your local health food stores—I’ve definitely used some of them before (namely the chia seeds and cacao powder—great for raw desserts). Needless to say, I was STOKED when I had a whole box of their goodies to play with.
I usually start my day with a protein smoothie of some sort (using a vegan protein mix and my kitchen staple, the immersion blender), so I did what any excessive American girl would do — I mixed all the powders together for the mother of all breakfast smoothies. I wanted to see how this stood up to my “rigorous” morning workout (hello, I’ve got to be at my best when working out beside the retirees in the San Francisco Presidio Y). I also wanted to see how it compared to the more “performance”-oriented mixtures that I’ve been using. The verdict? I felt totally energized (as much as I can at 8 a.m.), and wasn’t hungry afterward. Not to mention, it was super delicious! (Bonus that all their products are organic—I’m not a fan of drinking chemicals and pesticides in my smoothies—raw, and gluten-free.)
Here’s what my typical morning smoothie looks like:
Serves 1 (6-foot girl)
2 Tbsp raw Hemp Protein powder
1 Tbsp sprouted Flax Seed powder
1 Tbsp Freeze-Dried Acai powder
1 tsp raw Maca powder
1 Tbsp raw Cacao powder
12 oz almond milk (or a mixture of half-almond, half-rice)
Handful of blueberries
Handful of ice
Lately I’ve been having a smoothie for lunch—again, why go through the hassle of chewing your food? Below is the recipe for one of my favorite combinations. I added a few of the Navitas superfoods to the mix, and felt extra pumped. (My boss has a Vitamix, which I try to put to use as much as possible.)
Lunchtime smoothie, serves 2:
3 Tbsp raw Hemp Protein Powder
2 tsp raw Maca Powder
12 oz almond milk
Handful of baby spinach (kale is good, too)
1/2 of an avocado
Handful of raspberries
Handful of strawberries
3 Tbsp organic peanut butter
Handful of ice
I shared this with a friend of my boss and she said it was the best thing she had ever tasted. Not bad for a testimonial, eh? I totally agree—why else would I drink this almost every day?
Since I’m already armed with so many of Nativas amazing products, I have no choice but to participate in their Smoothment. I also can’t stand not joining things (only child syndrome). Perhaps you’ll give it a whirl, too (Get it? Bad smoothie puns!).”
As usual, please share your personal recipes with us! Don’t forget to follow my girl Caroline on Twitter and Instagram (@wakeupcaroline)—I can’t wait to see all the smoothie talk that will ensue, while wondering if rum is also a suitable ingredient in your icy beverages.
Guest Recipe: Chocolate Smoothie! »
This smoothie is one of the most delicious, creamy, filling and energizing drinks I’ve ever had. It’s inspired by Cafe Gratitude’s raw chocolate smoothies that blew my mind when I first had them. I could literally drink 3 or 4 cups of this and not get bored—it would just make an amazingly delicious meal!
The recipe requires a 1-2 hour wait because you have to pre-soak the cashews to make them extra creamy.
1 Handful raw soaked cashews (3-4 oz)
1 Tablespoon raw Cacao powder
1 teaspoon raw cacao nibs (optional, adds a nice chocolate crunch)
1/2 oz agave nectar
4 medjool dates
16 oz water
(Optional) Ice Cubes, just to add a thicker, slushy-like texture.
Soak the cashews in water, making sure they’re fully submerge, for at least 1 hour. You can also soak them overnight ahead of time to prepare for an amazing delicious energetic breakfast smoothie. Soaking the cashews helps not only improve their taste and creaminess when blended, it also helps improve enzyme activity and digestion of the cashew’s nutrients.
After the cashews are soaked, drain the water, then rinse them and drain the water again.
Add the soaked cashews and the rest of the ingredients to a blender. Blend for at least 60 seconds to turn the dates and cashews into a nice creamy mixture.
What you’ll be left with is pure heaven! Make sure to drink it right away as you’ll get most of the nutrients still active and the taste will be best. If you must, you can store it in the fridge for 24 hours.
Thanks to Tom Corson-Knowles from Authentic Health Coaching for sharing this great recipe! You can check out Tom’s blog about nutrition, healthy meal plans, and more great recipes at www.TomCorsonKnowles.com/blog
Vitamix: The Über Kitchen Tool Every Vegan Should Own! »
I have wanted a super-fancy blender for a while now, and read a bunch of comparisons of Blentec and Vitamix models. But you know, while these blenders are very high quality, come with extended warranties, and can perform miracles in the kitchen, they are also quite expensive. So, I made inferior smoothies with my existing blender and dreamed of better, more smoothly mixed times.
And then: a deal to purchase a Vitamix Aspire blender on a payment plan, no interest. What’s a newly knocked-up lady to do? I need awesome smoothies for protein, guys! So a few days later, a Vitamix arrived at our house.
The Vitamix really is a handy machine, one that replaces your blender and food processor in pretty quick order. You can blend. You can chop. You can even heat up stuff to make soup! If you get the dry-goods attachment, you can mill your own flours. You can make homemade milks like almond and cashew. You can make smoothies so velvety and perfectly blended you’ll swear they were from your favorite shop. And you can make delicious salsas, chunky or otherwise. You can even make baby food!
The Vitamix comes with a recipe book, but it’s pretty hit or misss. It’s a good way to get ideas but I wouldn’t stop there. There are no shortage of recipes online—check out the wide variety at Healthy Blender Recipes to start off. You can filter them by several options, including vegan, raw, and gluten-free. Oh She Glows also has a ton of great smoothie recipes, all vegan and many gluten-free. For books, I’d check out Green Smoothie Revolution and Liquid Raw, though there is no shortage of publications with great ideas for juices, smoothies, desserts, sauces, and soups.
As you can tell, I really like my Vitamix. If it weren’t so pointy, I’d sleep with it at night. If you’ve been thinking about getting one, add this testimonial to your considerations! I’ve always been a shopping enabler.
Terri Coles lives in Toronto, where she enjoys barbecuing, feeding feral cats, going to local music shows and getting really mad about hockey games. She blogs about her adventures in plant-based eating at The Vegina Monologues. We edit out all her extra vowels.
eBook Review: The New Green Smoothie Diet: Going Green Never Tasted So Good »
These days, it seems like everyone in the health world has a different perspective on what we should and shouldn’t put in smoothies. Some say all-fruit is the way to go, while others advocate using only low-glycemic fruits like berries and grapefruit (including the medical doctor who runs the raw vegan retreat center where I worked for two years). Well-known raw foodist David “Avocado” Wolfe advises tossing in durian, mangoes, bananas, goji berries, and every “superfood” on the market. Others say not to use any fruit at all. Even regular self-help people want to weigh in! Martha Beck, a personal favorite motivational life coach of mine (with several Harvard degrees, to boot!) says in her latest book Finding Your Way in A Wild New World that we should blend following a 1:1 fruit to veggie ratio. Kris Carr’s new smoothie e-book is out, and though I haven’t read it yet (I want to!) I strongly suspect she’s got her own spin on the smoothie ingredient debate.
The New Green Smoothie Diet: Going Green Never Tasted So Good by Hilary Greenleaf predictably stakes a claim about which ingredients belong in smoothies. Greenleaf says we should drink smoothies that are 60% fruit and avoid putting powders, nut and soy milk in our smoothies, and only use water for liquid. I guess that’s good for some people who may get all confused by labels and accidentally toss in something crazy like, say, whey powder or maybe arsenic along with their produce. But what about super nutrient-dense add-ins like raw, vegan supplements Vega, Green Grasses, hemp protein, maca, cacao powder, and HealthForce Vitamineral Green, spirulina, chlorella, etc.? I just had a smoothie this morning that included many of the aforementioned discouraged smoothie ingredients, so I’m a bit biased, but I wonder why would she suggest these added raw vegan organic ingredients are a bad idea, without much explanation? Greenleaf includes lots of studies and research in her 50-page ebook, but I wish she would’ve rounded up some optimal smoothie ingredient studies, because somebody needs to get the final word on the smoothie debate once and for all!
Once I got past my initial distaste for yet another dogmatic yet scientifically unsubstantiated approach to smoothies, I found plenty to like in this e-book. I appreciate that it cites lots of articles and studies on obesity, health and nutrition, and mentions the importance of choosing organic when possible. Other claims made by author Greenleaf, like how green smoothies can combat “liver sluggishness,” I wasn’t so sure about, but I am intrigued by all of the recipes here that include guava! According to Greenleaf, a small guava added to smoothies can lead to strong hair and clear skin. Sounds yummy and healthful! I’m willing to pick up some guava and give it a whirl. Other highlights include weird recipes like The “Salty Smoothie,” which Greenleaf says also works as a cold summer soup. As the title suggests, all recipes include some greens to give you caffeine-free energy.
There aren’t tons of recipes in this book—it focuses mainly on the nutrition benefits of smoothies and the recipes feel like kind of a side note. Still, there are some gems that are worth trying! This morning I made the Energy Smoothie, “a great salty smoothie to help increase your energy levels and ‘warm’ you up.”
Here’s the recipe (with permission from author!):
(Note: author does not indicate how many servings this makes; I’d say based on my experience it makes 1-2 servings)
One head of lettuce (author recommends red, which I used)
1 cup Swiss chard
1 medium cucumber, peeled
1 cup turnip or collard greens (I used collards)
1 lemon, peeled and seeded
1 tsp seaweed (I tossed in a little bit of kelp)
I’m not sure about the whole “warm” thing, but I did enjoy my thick, chewy puddle of green nutrition! Normally, I’d be very tempted to separate out the pulp using a nut mylk bag after blending just greens and citrus, but I abstained from straining this time and actually enjoyed the chew factor. If you like your green smoothies strong like I do, this recipe is pretty rad!
If you’re open to looking past Greenleaf’s strict smoothie rules and advice about how many calories you should aim to eat at every meal (this totally assumes we all have the same physical activity levels, body types, weights, and AH THIS FRUSTRATES ME SO MUCH SO I’M JUST GOING TO STOP), then The New Green Smoothie Diet isn’t a bad place to start if you’re just getting into the blending game. Overall, this recipe ebook is a winner. Happy blending!