Category Archives: Beverage

Peanut Butter Banana Power Smoothie


This has quickly become one of my absolute favorite breakfast recipes! Just one ‘dish’ to wash when you’re done. Smoothies are amazing because they are so versatile, so quick, and so healthy! Of course, that last part does depend on what you put into it.

Many stores and fast food options that claim they have “healthy smoothies” are really not so healthy. They are calorie and sugar packed health bombs masquerading as health food. Just because it has a teaspoon of spinach powder or banana puree does not excuse a smoothie with 118 grams of sugar and over 500 calories!

Peanut butter banana oat smoothie ingredients

So why not blend one up at home? Far healthier, super fast and easy, and way healthier for you.

This recipe takes your typical banana base, and adds several other super health foods such as peanut butter powder (for all the flavor with a tiny percentage of the fat!), gut-helping yogurt, healthy fats from coconut milk, fiber packed oats, and the ultimate tiny nutrition powerhouse: chia!


  • 1 banana
  • 2/3 cup yogurt or Greek yogurt
  • 2 tbsp PB2 or PBFit
  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds

Step 1: Combine all ingredients in a blender, and blend on high until well combined.

You could optionally add in a scoop of protein powder if you need it, or a cup of ice cubes if you want a different texture.

This recipe makes enough for 2 good sized glasses of about 16 oz each, so share with a friend or save the second serving for later, maybe after a good workout!

Healthy PB Banana Smoothie


Peanut Butter Banana Power Smoothie

Peanut Butter Banana Power Smoothie


  • 1 banana
  • 2/3 cup yogurt or Greek yogurt
  • 2 tbsp PB2 or PBFit
  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds


  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender, and blend on high until well combined.
  2. You could optionally add in a scoop of protein powder if you need it, or a cup of ice cubes if you want a different texture.
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Last-minute Valentine’s Day meal ideas



So, you want to have a romantic dinner but don’t want to shell out $20 and up? Me too!

With Valentine’s Day only 2 days away, you may be thinking about having a special meal with a special someone. It doesn’t matter if you’re cooking for yourself, some of your girlfriends or bros, your significant other, your parents, your dog, whatever, cooking a meal is always an act of love. An act of survival too, sure, but also you’re taking the trouble to turn raw ingredients into something edible.

Even if it’s a box of easy mac, or as fancy as a seven course meal, the person enjoying the finished product knows a little dash of love went into it.

And while a romantic dinner out on the town is nice every now and then, there are several advantages to cooking at home. One, you get to control the ingredients that go into your food. Restaurants use all kinds of ingredients you might not want to know about: stabilizers, emulsifiers, preservatives, MSG, salt and sugar by the tablespoon. At home, you know what is going into your food, and thus into your body.

Two, you can control portion sizes. There is a ton of research out there, not to mention if you’ve been around 2-3 decades or more you can see it for yourself, pointing fingers at ballooning portion sizes as a contributor to the obesity epidemic. When you eat out, you want to “get your money’s worth”, and restaurants know that giving you more food but with cheaper, less healthy ingredients, is good for their bottom lines. Terrible for your bottom, however, which will expand along with the size of the plate.

And finally, it is far cheaper per meal to cook at home. If you go out to a moderately priced chain, you are hard-pressed to find a full meal for less than $15 for dinner. Then add in tip, time, and gas money to get there. If you go out to a nicer restaurant or a place with a prixe-fixe menu, you are probably looking more into the $50 per person range. Restaurants know people want a special experience for Valentine’s Day, and take advantage by making fancy looking and sounding menus and tripling the prices.

Why not have just as special a meal, in a quiet place where you can actually hear each other talk, with no rush because the place wants to turn over your table? That’s right, I’m talking about your home!

Oh, and yes, you do have to do your dishes unlike at a restaurant. But you know what? That can be part of the experience if you know your dining partner well. Make it into an assembly line as you wash and dry together, laughing and maybe splashing each other throughout. Or tag-team dishwasher loading, then curl up on the couch with a good movie while it runs. You can make even chores fun if you try!


And now for the potential menu!

Below are a wide range of recipes, each will take you less than an hour, and I specialize in recipes that are affordable and simple. You won’t find more than 10 ingredients, and most of them you likely already have on hand.

Choose a few things that you know how to make, or know you will enjoy eating, and make some magic happen.


Appetizers – having multiple courses helps spread the meal out, giving you time to talk to your dining partner and bond. Appetizers don’t have to be complicated, give one of these a try.

Main course – even if you think you can’t cook, you should give it a try! Start with something very simple, and give it a test run today. Then you may find some ways to tweak it or make it better or easier. Or just jump in with both feet, what’s the worst that can happen, you order a pizza later?

Dessert – everyone loves dessert! You could even make your entire meal just a dessert buffet! But I’d recommend choosing just one thing you feel you can make, then sprinkle in an extra cup or two of love, and enjoy it.

Drinks – for adults and under-agers alike, a special drink makes a memorable addition to a special meal. You don’t have to get crazy with dozens of ingredients and multiple steps. Even something as simple as adding thinly sliced citrus to a glass of water can elevate the everyday to the special day.


Freezer Smoothie Packs


We all know mom always said breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  But we all know that sometimes it is the hardest meal of the day. It’s too early, we don’t have time, we can’t think of anything that sounds good, you don’t want to cook… the list of excuses goes on and on.

It’s hard to come up with something that is tasty, healthy, and also can be made in the 5 minutes you have before you rush out the door for the day.

Don’t worry dear reader, I’ve got your back.

Smoothie packs ready for the freezer

Enter: the freezer smoothie pack.

Just a few minutes of prep ahead of time on a weekend and you can have a whole week’s worth of healthy, on-the-go breakfasts ready and waiting in your freezer. These little bags are such a simple yet brilliant answer to the morning breakfast rush. And boy, are they customizable! All you really need is a good handful of greens, a fruit or two or three, and some baggies.

In the morning, just grab one bag, toss it in the blender with enough liquid (milk, almond milk, coconut water, tea, juice, whatever you like), blend and go. And if you have the kind of blender that makes single servings and you drink right out of it, your morning could not BE any simpler!


For each smoothie pack, you will need:

  • 1 medium zip-top baggie
  • 1/2 – 1 cup greens (spinach, beet greens, kale, collards, etc)
  • 1/2 – 1 banana
  • 1/2 – 1 cup chopped other fruits

You can try just about anything in these freezer bags. It makes a great answer to almost-mushy fruits in the fridge, halves of things left over, and whatever fruits are in season and on sale. I used peaches, pears, bananas, local blueberries, and avocado. I also had half a pineapple and some beet greens from my garden, so I tossed those into a few bags as well.


Step 1: Wash, peel, and cut up your fruits as needed. You can also slice your greens into smaller pieces to make blending easier.

Smoothie pack and blender

Step 2: Toss your baggies into the freezer. That’s it! When you are ready for a super quick healthy breakfast (or lunch, or snack, or dessert…) pour the contents of the bag into a blender, and add your liquid of choice. I like green tea for a gentle caffeine kick, or almond milk for some creamy smoothness.



Smoothie Freezer Bags


Happy 500th Post! Time flies when you’re having fun  😉

Let me describe for you a typical American’s morning.  We wake up to the alarm going off, maybe hit “snooze” once or twice or ten times.  Realize what time it is, maybe freak out about everything we need to do today. Finally coerce ourselves out of bed (probably with the promise of coffee soon).

We stumble into the kitchen and autopilot the caffeine of choice (hot tea, cocoa, Moutain Dew, but probably coffee. So much coffee).  Glance at the clock, think “oh crap I’m gonna be late!” run back to our room, look through closets and drawers trying to find something to wear that is appropriate / cute / in season / matches the weather / doesn’t smell like rotten garbage / still fits.

Finally clothed, we rush to the bathroom.  We shave, shower, do our makeup, brush our hair, bonus points for time to blow dry or style it, brush our teeth (hopefully!). Now with negative two minutes to go until we need to leave, we rush out the door, maybe with second coffee in to-go mug in hand, and off to work we go… And don’t even get me started on the ridiculous circus that is a morning when there are children involved!

Where is the breakfast in all this rush?

You know your entire life your mom always said breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and of course she is right. A healthy breakfast helps you wake up, gets your metabolism revved to create and repair cells, pump blood and oxygen, filter out the bad stuff, and move your muscles all day.

It keeps you from getting hangry right around ten or eleven am and making a trip to the vending machine / coffee shop / donuts in the break room and gets you through until lunchtime. It keeps your neurons firing so you can think and be your best all day.

But you just don’t have the time!

I get it. I’ve been there a million times. Drive through bagels, donuts or muffins from heaven when someone has a birthday or there’s a meeting and its catered, a granola bar hidden in a desk drawer. Some days you gotta do what you gotta do.

But there is a better way.

Enter: The Smoothie Freezer Pack!

Smoothie freezer bags

Oh yes, this thing is a busy persons’ dream. Just pull it out, dump in a blender with some milk or juice, push “go” and walk away for a few minutes. Pour it into a glass or travel mug and you have a real food, super healthy, breakfast of champions with almost no work! It just takes a few moments of prep and a bit of planning ahead.  Don’t get scared now, I believe in you.

On a weekend or whenever you grocery shop, just stock up on 5 bananas, 2-5 other fruits you like, and some sort of green (spinach is a good starter, but you can also use kale, swiss chard, beet greens, mustard greens, etc). Then grab some plastic zip top baggies and a knife, and here we go!

Smoothie Pack Ingredients

Step 1: Cut up all your fruits. You will notice avocados, and that may worry you. But trust me, if you’ve never tried it, avocado is AMAZING in smoothies! And it is a super way to sneak in some healthy fats and a creamy texture that no one will even know is there! It will be our secret 😉

Freezer Smoothie Bags

Step 2: In each baggie, add 2-3 types of fruits, one whole banana, and a big ol’ handful of greens. I used avocados, pears, peaches, blueberries, pineapple, spinach, and beet greens. Try different combinations until you find what you like the best.

Smoothie Bags

Step 3: Zip up the baggies, and pop them in the freezer. That’s it! Now all you need to do when you want breakfast in a hurry is take out a bag, pour it into a blender. Then add about 1/2 – 1 cup of liquid of choice, I recommend milk, juice, green tea, or kefir, and blend until smooth.

Smoothie to go

These smoothie packs can also be a great after-workout refresher, or a snack / treat anytime you want a blast of healthy fruits and veggies. You can add some protein powder or a tablespoon of peanut butter for an extra protein punch. Now go forth and conquor your day!


What is your favorite smoothie mix? Do you have a super quick breakfast you love? Share here!



Blueberry basil iced tea


July means blueberry season here in Connecticut, and boy am I happy about that! I am thrilled to have a farm share this year from Farmer Joe’s Gardens in Wallingford. Someday I’ll write a whole post about CSA’s and why they are amazing fantastic and wonderful. But for now, let me just brag on these blueberries!

I’m not knocking store bought or frozen blueberries, no matter what form they take blueberries are one of the most powerful sources of antioxidants and nutrients.  But you haven’t truly tasted a blueberry until you have an organic, farm fresh, just picked berry. They are so sweet, yet tart, plump and juicy and delicious! I could nom a whole pint in one night if I’m not careful!

Basil and blueberries

Our farm share also gave us a baby basil plant, which is awesome because I love basil in pesto! I already had a big ol’ basil bush of my own too, so this new plant will become my second harvest in a few weeks.  I harvested a ton of basil in anticipation of said pesto, and then wondered what else I could use it for.

Well, with the weather being as hot as it has been, in the 90s on average across the country, nice iced beverages have been what keeps me going each day.  While I am all in favor of massive volumes of water in general, sometimes you want something with a different flavor. You can of course simply crush some berries and add them right to water to add some flavor.

But iced tea is really what I crave on a midsummer day. So I thought, why not use this fresh pungent basil and plump blueberries together to make a refreshing summer beverage? The flavors seems strange, until you try them together. Then you realize the truth, they were made for each other.

Blueberry basil iced tea


  • 1/4 cup blueberries
  • Handful fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cups fresh brewed tea

Step 1: In a cup, crush the blueberries and muddle the basil leaves to release the juices. Add the fresh brewed tea and let it sit and brew for 5-10 minutes.

Blueberry basil iced tea with straw

Step 2: Strain into a glass filled with ice and enjoy!

You can definitely mix this up and use other berries such as strawberries, blackberries, raspberries. Try other fresh herbs like mint, sage, or lavender. And if you want, you can make this an adults-only tea and add a shot of rum or iced tea schnapps!


Blueberry basil iced tea

Blueberry basil iced tea


  • 1/4 cup blueberries
  • Handful fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cups fresh brewed tea


  1. In a cup, crush the blueberries and muddle the basil leaves to release the juices. Add the fresh brewed tea and let it sit and brew for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Strain into a glass filled with ice and enjoy!
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Green Tea Matcha Latte


Now, I know matcha powder has been around in culinary circles for a long time, being used in everything from baked goods to ice cream to beverages.  And it has been around long before that in Japan as a highly antioxidant-rich drink of choice.  Matcha goes back many centuries in China and Japan, where it was first made as dehydrated and crushed bricks of tea leaves for storage and travel.  Zen Bhuddists drank this tea in a ceremony prior to afternoon meditations, and found it enabled them greater clarity and sustained energy unlike anything before.

Powdered tea was made in very small batches, such that the expense meant only royalty could enjoy it.  However, a new harvesting method soon enabled more efficient processing, and as the price became more affordable matcha became available to the public.  By the 16th century, all levels of people took part it drinking tea and tea ceremonies to some extent.  To learn more about how to make the perfect cup of matcha green tea, and for a brand review and comparison, check out this site.

Frothy green tea latte

Many claim matcha is a great replacement for coffee because it is so high in antioxidants, yet still packs quite a punch, as one teaspoon of matcha contains 70 mg of caffeine (approximately the equivalent of a half a cup of coffee, which typically contains about 160 mg).  If you make or order a “koika” or “thick tea” this is made with twice the amount of matcha powder, and thus twice the caffeine content.  A high quality matcha powder will be bright green, and smell earthy and complex.  This is a fun drink to serve up for St. Patrick’s Day, or the day after when caffeine is maybe needed…

This recipe is a very simple one, which you could easily make at home, bleary eyed first thing in the morning.  Which is great, because that is when I made it!  I chose to use vanilla flavored milk, you could also use a vanilla bean or vanilla flavoring, or try something else like mint leaves or peppermint extract.  Or you can leave your latte plain and savor the complex flavors of the matcha.  I also used one medjool date as my sweetener, try agave nectar or pure maple syrup for something different.

Ingredients for a sweetened vanilla Matcha Latte


  • 1 teaspoon quality matcha powder
  • 1 medjool date, pitted
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup almond or soy milk
  • Optional: use flavored milk, or add the seeds from one vanilla bean or 1 tsp of vanilla flavoring

Dates in boiling water

Step 1: Put the water in a small sauce pan with the cut up, pitted date and bring to a boil.  This just softens the date in order to make it blend more easily.  Pour the hot water into the blender and blend on high for 30-45 seconds.

Matcha latte in a blender

Step 2: Add the milk to the sauce pan and bring to a simmer.  Add the teaspoon of matcha to the blender.

Foamy matcha latte

Step 3: Add the hot milk, and blend together for 30-60 seconds to make it nice and frothy.  You can of course whisk it instead, purists use a bamboo whisk, but I am far too lazy for that. 😉


Step 4: Pour into a mug, and enjoy!  The blender makes a light, bubbly layer on top, and enables the incorporation of the date.  It would be much harder to crush it up yourself, so if you are using a whisk you should probably use a different, liquid sweetener.  This is best enjoyed immediately, still steaming from the stove.



Green Tea Matcha Latte

Green Tea Matcha Latte


  • 1 teaspoon quality matcha powder
  • 1 medjool date, pitted
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup almond or soy milk
  • Optional: use flavored milk, or add the seeds from one vanilla bean or 1 tsp of vanilla flavoring


  1. Put the water in a small sauce pan with the cut up, pitted date and bring to a boil. This softens the date in order to make it blend more easily.
  2. Pour the hot water into the blender and blend on high for 30-45 seconds.
  3. Add the milk to the sauce pan and bring to a simmer. Add the teaspoon of matcha to the blender.
  4. Add the hot milk, and blend together for 30-60 seconds to make it nice and frothy.
  5. Pour into a mug and enjoy!
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Homemade Shamrock Shake


Can you believe that St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner already!  This year it is on March 17th.  And one of my favorite things about this time of year, though I avoid the place like the plague at all other times, is McDonald’s Shamrock Shake.

Yes, I know they are horrible for you, and probably don’t even contain dairy but “sugar infused plastic“, but damn are they delicious.  And it only happens once a year…

But, the facts remain that they are terrible for your health, so in an effort to swear them off I attempted my own homemade version.  The recipe I used is similar to this one from SparkPeople.  Now I don’t have to wait all year, or hope that the ice cream machine isn’t broken, I can have a Shamrock Shake anytime!


  • 1/2 cup frozen Greek plain or vanilla yogurt
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • Couple drops food coloring
  • Couple drops peppermint flavoring
  • 2 tbsp honey or sugar

Step 1: In a blender, combine all ingredients.

Step 2: Blend well until smooth.  Add as much green as you want.

Step 3: Pour into a glass and enjoy!


Homemade Salted Caramel Creamer


How many of you start your day off with a nice hot cup of coffee?

I know my hand is raised!  Coffee in the morning is as natural as breathing at this point, and is one vice I will never give up.  Yes, I know that caffeine is a drug, and it is possible to live without coffee, but honestly, … why?  Kidding… sort of.

One of several items in my house that has come under scrutiny lately though, is my coffee creamer.  I usually buy the store version of whatever flavor sounds good at the time or is on sale (french vanilla, hazelnut, mocha, peppermint…).  But if you check out the ingredients list, you will find things like: high fructose corn syrup, palm oil, sugar,  carrageenan, and tons of other substances I can’t spell or pronounce (and I’m a scientist).

Do I really want a cup or so of these things every week?  Do I want polysorbitol whatever building up in my body?  Do I know what the long-term effects of all these chemistry experiments (not to mention the cocktails of pesticides & hormones found in CAFO cows’ milk) are going to be?


The alternatives?

Stop using creamer & drink black coffee? HAHAHAHAHAHA… nope.

Make it myself?  Challenge accepted.


I started with whole, organic milk*.  Then I threw in some sugar (it has to be palatable, otherwise I could just use plain milk.  But my palate is still just a little too young to fully appreciate the “coffee-ness” of coffee).  A dash of vanilla and salt to draw out all the flavor, and we have a winner!

*Note: This is of course not a recipe for those who are lactose intolerant or trying to avoid dairy.  I am experimenting with various non-dairy milks too, and if I create a winning recipe I will share it!

This took me approximately ten minutes, basically just long enough to caramelize the sugar.  Then just mix it all up in a large jar (I use mason jars, but you could use any container, even an empty container from previous creamer) and you’re good to go for a few weeks.  With a waaaay shorter, and completely pronounceable, ingredients list.

sea salt and caramel and creamer


  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp water
  • 1/2 tbsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp vanilla


Step 1: Add the sugar and water to a pan.  Slowly bring it to just a simmer, and stir constantly for about 10 minutes.  You don’t want the sugar to burn!


Step 2: As the sugar caramelizes, it will become thicker and opaque.  Measure out the cream and vanilla, and slowly pour it into the pan while mixing constantly.


This creates a lovely caramel-like sauce.


Step 3: Pour the caramel into your jar and let it cool.  If there is some lingering sugar in the pan, either add the milk and whisk until dissolved, or add a few tbsp water and whisk to dissolve.  Pour the milk into the bottle as well.


Step 4: Add in a few tsp of salt, to taste, and shake it all up.  Done!

Salted caramel creamer ingredients

Now all you have to do is pull this guy off the refrigerator door, shake it up once or twice, and add a few tbsp to your morning cuppa.  It’s so delicious, you may be tempted to drink it straight from the jar… not that I’d know 😉

salted caramel creamer and coffee

Enjoy your healthy, natural creamer!  I will definitely be experimenting with more flavors in the future too.
Anyone have a favorite creamer recipe?  Have you ever tried making your own creamer, or would you consider it?


Pumpkin Cheesecake Shots


With Thanksgiving past, and Christmas looming, the flavors of fall still linger and mix with the onset of winter.  Pumpkins and gourds are in abundance.  Ginger and cinnamon scents fill the air as cookies bake, while the crunch of fallen leaves give way to pine scented boughs and trees.  And pumpkin spice flavored <insert anything here> is still king.

While you are rushing about grocery shopping, house cleaning, gift buying and wrapping, you may need a few moments to yourself amidst the chaos.  Especially if you will be hosting or staying with family (for multiple days), an adult beverage is always welcome.  With the ubiquitous pumpkin spice creamer, plus just a dash of two other players, you can whip up an amazingly delicious sugar-bomb of holiday spirit!  Careful, this stuff is so good, it’s easy to lose track of how many you’ve had!

This recipe makes enough for 4 shots, or 1 large glass over ice.  Feel free to whip them up as needed, or make a large container full and keep it in the fridge.  You know… just in case…

Pumpkin Cheesecake Shot Ingredients


  • 1 shot cake flavored vodka
  • 1 shot Khalua
  • 2 ounces pumpkin spice creamer

Pumpkin and Pumpkin Cheesecake Cocktail

Combine all ingredients in a glass over ice and mix.  Strain into shot glasses, or drink as a beverage.  I just made up a double batch, and keep it in the refrigerator in the mason jar the creamer was originally.  I make my own flavored creamer occasionally; you can follow this recipe from The Nourishing Gourmet, or if you’re vegan try this one from Girl Makes Food.



Morning Health Shot


One of the most consistent recommendations for better health is     always to drink more water.  It is almost certain the majority of        people do not drink as much water as they need.  (Take your weight, divide it in half, and that is how many ounces you need per day. For example, a 200 pound man needs about 100 ounces of water.)  The next most common advice I have found is to drink lemon water, possibly with cayenne pepper and/or honey every day.

The reasons for doing so range from boosting the immune system to cleansing the liver, kick-starting the metabolism and weight loss to a burst of natural energy.  Lemon juice itself has several health               benefits associated with it. It is well known as a useful treatment for kidney stones, detoxifying with Vitamin C, reducing diabetes risk, and aiding in alkalinizing the body.  Lemon is antioxidant, astringent, and contains boatloads of vitamins and minerals.

Lemon and Pepper

Cayenne pepper is recommended because it contains capsaicin, a spicy compound which stimulates the circulatory system.  It opens capillaries, aids digestion, and helps to regulate blood sugar levels.  It also kick-starts the metabolism and increases your internal body temperature, which can contribute to weight loss over time.

And finally, honey can also help in weight loss when consumed with warm water and lemon juice. Honey is packed with 22 amino acids and a number of valuable vitamins and minerals, many of which       benefit the body’s metabolism. By regulating metabolic function, food is broken down and utilized properly, fat is converted into usable energy, and overall health is improved. Be sure to use local, raw, unfiltered honey whenever possible.

Heart shot glass

I gave this a try for 4 weeks.  I could not handle the full-glass-of-warm-spicy-water, so I distilled it down into one shot.  I know, the whole drink-a-big-glass-of-water is part of the deal, but I always        followed it with a 16 oz glass of water.  Here’s what I did:

  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice (fresh when I had it, bottled when I didn’t)
  • 1-2 tsp local honey
  • Pinch chipotle pepper (I didn’t have cayenne, but it is basically the same thing)

Mix those in a shot glass, down it, and follow with a big glass of plain water.

The results?

Well, the horrible taste of sweet/acidic/spicy does kinda wake you up a bit.  Overall I didn’t notice a huge variation in energy levels, in the morning or throughout the day. Neither did I notice a big difference in how I felt, health-wise.  This may be because I already eat a pretty nutritious diet full of things that help detox and alkalinize me, but I didn’t notice a big enough difference to stay with it long term.


How about you guys? Have you ever tried a lemon water/cayenne detox, or is it part of your daily life? What benefits have you seen? Please share your experience in the comments!