Wednesday, March 30, 2011

More Green Smoothie Ideas & Tips

Since I wrote about making green smoothies in Africa, it's been almost 3 years now. I thought that it was time for an update on how I make them here in the states. I've also attended an event where Victoria Boutenko appeared and saw first hand how she makes her smoothies.

Use a different type every day, preferably organic. Spring mix, spinach, romaine, collards, kale, parsley, etc. I use 5 to 6 ounces per batch, which makes about 2 quarts. I put the greens in first in the blender and yes, it will look like a lot. It will get smaller when you add some water and blend a little, then you can add fruit and other ingredients. I absolutely love parsley as the greens in smoothies and I didn't even think I liked parsley! Try mint for part of the greens.

Water is my standard, adding about 1-2 cups, depending on how juicy the fruit is. This depends on how thick or thin you want it. I also add a few tablespoons of fresh lemon juice, either freshly made or in small frozen cubes I make when I juice a bunch of lemons at once. Coconut water from a fresh young coconut is fantastic and considered the best way to replace electrolytes that nature can offer.

Fruit portion...

Save money when buying bananas when they are reduced. Take home, peel, then freeze (make sure they don't touch each other) on a baking sheet, if you have many of them. After I peel them, I cut them into thirds, so they freeze faster and are smaller for my blender to break down easier. You do not need to use bananas at all or you can use less. It gives the smoothie a creamy texture and sweetness, but these qualities can be obtained other ways.

I add 1 or 2 apples to stretch my other more expensive fruit. I always use organic. I add seeds and all, cutting out only the stem and blossom end.

Other fruit:
Put in what fruit you like. It helps to have something sweet combined with berries to make up for their not-so-sweet taste. I don't usually add any citrus (other than lemon juice), but when I make an exception, I always peel with a knife only the outer colored part, leaving the white on (bioflavanoids). Pineapple cores can go right in with the pineapple if you have a good blender.

You may not need to add anything since you have fruit in the smoothie. But sometimes you may feel it's not sweet enough. If I don't have room to add much bulk, I might add a tiny bit of stevia (doesn't spike blood sugar), remembering a little goes a long way. If I have some room, dates might go in to sweeten, unless fresh fruit would do. When I can, I try to use fresh or frozen fruit instead of dried fruit because I want more water and less concentrated sweet.

Optional veggies:
Cucumber, celery, sweet bell other words, mild, but juicy veggies can work here. I don't add too much of any of these since it may be hard to get the right sweetness I want. Also, don't add starchy veggies (carrots, peas, corn) as this will slow the digestive process down. Stick with those things that combine well with fruit and greens. Avocados work well and especially so if you don't use any bananas and still want it "creamy."

Other optional additions:
I realize some would not add in these other items, because it can slow the process of digestion down some. I feel that now and then it is a good idea to "supplement" this way. For children in the house not used to these things, it can be a way to get them into their bodies in agreeable ways (works for the greens!). I have added in (about 2 at one time) the following: 1 tablespoon chia seeds or 2 tablepspoons flax seeds (good for creamy texture), 3 tablespoons hemp hearts (great protein and good fats), 1 tablespoon whole leaf aloe vera juice (good digestive), 1-2 teaspoons fresh ginger (gives a great flavor, not hot this way and great to help digest), and/or carob powder as desired (gives it a chocolate-y flavor).

Remember that with smoothies you adjust amounts as desired. The point is to get the greens in and the more the better. Fruit helps to make it palatable. The liquid is to make it blend. Have some fruit frozen in small pieces to give it a cold temperature or you can add some ice in with the liquid.

It helps to have a powerful blender to blend some of these things. I love my Vitamix. It gets a workout everyday. Now if only my workouts were as often!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Miso Soup

Sometimes when I want something light and warm I think of miso soup. Since I don't use bouillon, but I like brothy type soups, this hits the spot.  Remember that for each serving, you'll need to multiply accordingly (ex: 4 servings for 4 people = 4 times recipe).

Wakame is a sea vegetable sold in dried form. Scallions are also called green onions. Try adding any or all of the following: finely shredded carrots, minced celery, finely sliced cabbage, or sliced shiitake mushrooms. I skip the tofu. I tend to use more water than called for and may soak the wakame in another bowl. Children love to watch it "bloom."

I like the American Miso Company Miso Master brand of miso. They use only organic ingredients. I usually have one dark (saltier) and one light (sweeter) in my fridge. When I made this soup I used the red miso. This is their recipe from the insert inside the container. Look around on their website for more recipes that use miso, sea vegetables, and other Japanese items.

Miso Soup

For each serving, simmer:
1/2 teaspoon chopped scallion
1/2 teaspoon wakame
several pieces of cubed tofu
1 cup water or stock

Dissolve in another bowl:
2 teaspoons miso in small amount of water

Remove soup from heat and add in the miso. Do not boil miso.