Tag Archives: berries

Cherry Berry Fizz

 

I know I’ve talked before many times about how drinking enough water is such a crucial aspect of being healthy. I’m pretty sure I’ve also talked about how much I struggle with this! For all my good habits and self-control, drinking enough water is just. so. difficult.

It’s not that I mind the taste, or dislike it. I just forget.

I’ve begun leaving water cups with straws all over the house and at work and in my car… I find that a straw really helps! For some reason, I can drink more at once and keep drinking more water when there’s a straw involved versus just a cup. It’s funny, because hubby has the exact opposite preference, he hates straws and drinks much faster in gulps.

But I digress.

The other way I’ve found to trick myself into my 8-to-10 daily glasses is fizzy water! I used to think that seltzer was so gross, and why would anyone want fizzy water when they could just have a pop? (NOT that drinking pop regularly is ever a good idea, please don’t. But still.) I just didn’t get it.

Well, fast forward to last year, a coworker of mine had cans of fizzy water regularly. There were all kinds of different flavors, setlzer and not. (I’d recommend ones without added sugars, even the fake kinds, but beggars can’t be choosers and if it gets you into the water habit to start with, do what you must). I reluctantly tried one… and liked it. And so I bought another. And then a case.

And then I had a new habit! Which is great… ish. Fizzy water is still water and is so good for me. But it is not so great for my bank account, or my planet. All those cans and bottles, just going to waste. Even if I recycled, I still felt that twinge of guilt each time I tossed a can or bottle and heard it hit the inside of the bin.

Berry cherry fizz

Since then, I’ve also gotten hubby onto the fizzy water bandwagon. It’s a perfect beverage with dinner, while watching TV, or a great alternative to alcoholic beverages for just any random weeknight when you want something fun and different. So now we were going through twice the aluminum and plastic!

After some research and discussion with many friends, we decided it might be time for a fizzy water machine. There would be a larger up-front cost, with small ongoing fees (CO2 replacements mostly) but the perks included: cheaper overall, no more bottle/can waste, we know where the water is coming from and what flavorings are added.

We crunched the numbers, and decided on a SodaStream Fountain Jet. And then my wonderful inlaws surprised us with it for Christmas! So that saved us the initial investment as well. (THANK YOU!). The 60L tank claims to make something like 50L of fizzy water, so by the time we finish our first refill (i.e. 2 tanks) even at the cheapest I’ve ever seen a liter on sale at a store we will be ahead financially. And we intend to use this bad boy for many years to come too.

You don’t have to have a SodaStream for this recipe, you can use bottled fizzy water of course. Or even regular tap water. But if you buy it bottled, try buying a 2L at a time, for less waste. This is refreshing, light and fruity, and perfect for summertime or after a hot and sweaty run. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups fizzy water
  • 1/2 cup pure cherry juice
  • Handful frozen berries (I used blueberries)

Step 1: Pour the frozen berries into a cup, these will be your ice cubes. They won’t water down your drink, and you get a healthy snack at the end!

Step 2: Pour in the cherry juice (you can use any kind of juice here, try for no sugar added organic kinds if possible) and the bubble water.

Step 3: Hydrate!

This also looks very pretty, the bubbles lift the berries around the glass like a lava lamp. And with the red and blue colors, this would be an ideal beverage to serve for a Fourth of July party! You could even add a shot of a little somethin somethin, I won’t tell… 😉

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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!

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Chocolate Shortcake with Balsamic Honey Strawberries and Patrón Cafe Whipped Cream

 

This post was developed in association with The Daily Meal and Driscoll’s in honor of National Strawberry Shortcake Day this June 14th!  #Driscollsberry @strawshort

Driscoll

As the days grow longer and hotter, we crave fresh, juicy fruits and light, refreshing desserts.  Every foodie’s favorite thing about summer is the abundance of fresh produce rolling in. From farmer’s market kale to home-grown lettuce to ripe berries, summer is a fresh food paradise.

Driscoll’s has been committed to growing strawberries for over 100 years. Each berry is loaded with vitamin C, folate, fiber, potassium and antioxidants. Driscoll’s ensures year-round availability by growing strawberries in multiple locations. However, the summertime strawberries carry with them the warmth of the sun and long days to ripen, and are best used at the peak of the season.

strawberry bowl

Therefore, in celebration of summer, fresh berries, and sweet deliciousness, I decided to make the world’s finest Strawberry Shortcake. This was to be no ordinary biscuit with berries sprinkled on top. I searched the world wide web for inspiration, considered all kinds of crazy flavors, and took apart each element of the classic cake to come up with this recipe.

Dense, moist, and decadent chocolate shortcake. Thinly sliced plump Driscoll strawberries bathed in sweet and tangy balsamic vinegar and local Colorado honey, and the tour-de-force, a homemade French Vanilla whipped cream spiked with Patron Cafe.

choc shortcake

If you aren’t salivating by now, just keep scrolling for the pictures…

Shortcake Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 3 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup cold butter (4 tbsp)
  • 1/2 cup milk

choc cake ingredients

For the strawberries:

  • 2 cups strawberries
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup honey

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For the whipped cream:

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 oz French Vanilla coffee creamer
  • 2 oz Patron cafe (or other coffee-flavored liquor)
  • 3 tbsp powdered sugar

Patron creamThis may seem intimidating, but trust me, it takes less than 30 minutes altogether. And the only ingredient I had to specifically go buy was the heavy cream. You can omit the Patron if you don’t like the taste or the alcohol content as well. Let’s jump in.

Step 1: Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl, mix your dry ingredients. Flour, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder, salt, sugar. Sift together if you do things that way.

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Step 2: Cut in the cold butter or use a pastry cutter, until it resembles coarse crumbs.

Step 3: Stir as you pour in the milk. Batter should be just wet, and a bit sticky.

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Step 4: You can just drop the batter onto a wax-paper-covered cookie sheet, but I chose to bake mine in cupcake pans for shape. Pour about 1/4 cup into each well.

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Step 5: Bake at 400 for 15-17 minutes, until beginning to brown on top. Remove from the oven and cool.

Meanwhile, chill a bowl and whisk in the refrigerator or freezer to make the whipped cream.

Step 6: Cut the tops off the strawberries, then stand them on end and cut into thin slices.

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I will totally not tell if you sneak a few as you’re cutting. Fresh strawberries are hard to resist! I know I had a few…

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Step 7: In a bowl, mix the balsamic vinegar and honey. You may need to microwave for 15-20 seconds to get the honey and vinegar to mix well. Dump the sliced berries in, and mix well to coat. Set aside.

honey vinegar berries

Step 8: The home stretch, whipped cream time! Take out your cold bowl and whisk. Pour in 1 cup heavy whipping cream, and then whip the crap outta the cream.

whipping

The cream will start to thicken, and form stiff peaks. Add the 2 oz of creamer, powdered sugar, and Patron. Mix well again. Be sure to not over-beat it though, you don’t want alcoholic butter. Or maybe you do…

Patron
As you can see, my arm got tired and I resorted to a hand mixer. =)

Step 9: Now you have all three ingredients to assemble your masterpiece. Cut the cooled shortcupcakes in half, and smear on some cafe cream. Add a few slices of berries, and a drizzle of the extra juice.

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Put the top layer on, smear on some more cream, and top with berry slices.

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And there you have it! A delicious, fresh, unique dessert to wow a crowd or make a summertime picnic extra special. This recipe makes enough for 8 small cakes, you can easily double it to make a larger 9 inch round pan.

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The cake is flaky on the outside, yet moist on the inside, with just a hint of cocoa flavor. The whipped cream adds a mysterious bite, with a chocolate-complementing essence of coffee. Likewise, the balsamic vinegar is a unique, yet balancing tang to the coffee-chocolate notes, and the honey is just the right amount of sweet without being overwhelming. The longer you let the berries soak, the more they will take on this amazing flavor combination. You might want to make extra to just eat with a spoon!

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Now the next time you have a birthday, office gathering, garden party, or dinner you know where to turn for a uniquely impressive dessert that’s sure to bring compliments for years to come!