Tag Archives: greens

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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Creamy Peas and Panchetta Pasta

 

Nothing is quite so satisfying and delicious as enjoying a brief crop of produce in its prime.  Spring peas are a great example.  They burst into bloom in the early spring, swell to full pods, and then quickly disappear, leaving round seeds to dry and protect until next year.

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The beauty of frozen produce is that you can lock in all the enzymes and living nutrients of a fresh item and keep it for use many days or weeks or even months later.  Flash frozen vegetables can be the next best thing to right-from-the-dirt produce, and maybe even better because it is washed and minimally processed. This way, you can enjoy this fresh taste of spring any time of the year!

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The cream sauce is made with a minimal amount of fat. I used some half and half and some regular 2% milk. Add fresh grated Parmesan cheese and if you desire a tbsp or so of flour for a thick, creamy, salty sauce that tastes like velvet and will satisfy any Alfredo lover.  You can use other types of cheeses too, don’t be shy about trying mozzarella or reggiano, asiago or feta.

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 – 1 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • 1 cup torn greens of choice (kale, swiss chard, collards, spinach)
  • 2 slices thick cut bacon (optional, you can omit for a vegetarian recipe or use turkey bacon instead)
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup grated hard cheese
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 pound cooked fresh pasta, drained

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Step 1: Boil and drain your pasta.  In a frying pan, cook the bacon until crispy.  Remove and drain all but about 2 tsp of fat*, and crumble the bacon.  Cook the peas and greens in the bacon fat for 5-10 minutes, until softened.

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Step 2: To the pan, add the milks and bring to a slow simmer.  Add the cheese and salt and pepper to taste.  Mix well until thickened, add flour 1/2 tbsp at a time if desired.  Pour it over the hot drained pasta and top with a sprinkle of fresh grated cheese!

 

*If you want a vegetarian dish, omit the bacon and use vegetable of coconut oil instead!

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Chia, Quinoa & Greens Salad

 

For an awesome, easy lunch/side dish/snack that you can take on the go or whip up without heating the kitchen on a smoldering summer day, try this salad packed with power players. This would easily be layer-able in a mason jar, to take to work or school or anywhere on the go, or throw together right out of the fridge. It also tastes good made in advance if you use hardy greens that are amenable to some marinating.

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The base of any good green salad is of course the greens. Leafy greens are the super-veggies of the plant kingdom, and it is REALLY tough to have too much. There are plenty of species whose only food is leafy greens. We should try to emulate that as much as possible.

According to author, dietitian, and nutritional educator Jill Nussinow MS, RD, “Greens are the number 1 food you can eat regularly to help increase your health” (WebMD). Leafy greens are packed with vitamins & minerals, as well as heart- and gut-healthy fiber and plant-based chemicals, many of which we haven’t even discovered yet.

Leafy greens include kale, collards, mustard greens, beet greens, romaine, spinach, arugula or rocket, swiss chard, broccoli,  cabbage, and even iceberg. Start with a big heaping handful, at least 1-2 cups.

Next up is the buzz-worthy quinoa (pronounced keen-wah). Quinoa was domesticated 3,000-4,000 years ago in South America. It is a psuedocereal with edible  seeds, closely related to amaranth and buckwheat.  Quinoa contains essential amino acids (which our body cannot make on its own) like lysine, as well as an exceptionally high protein content, and minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, and iron. It is also gluten-free, making it a great “grain-like” choice for those with Celiac’s disease or a gluten intolerance.

The raw seeds have a soapy coating (called saponins) that make them unpalatable to birds. This is handy because the crops need less protection. However, that means most quinoa crops must be processed before sale for humans, so that we are able to eat it without feeling like we just licked a Dawn dish soap dispenser.

And our final power player here is the chia seeds. Chia seeds are a massive nutrition powerhouse, with just one ounce (2 tablespoons) containing 11 g of fiber, 4 g of protein, and about 100 calories while also providing about 1/3 your recommended manganese, magnesium, and phosphorus. There are claims that some ancient cultures would survive solely on chia seeds in times of duress.

Chia is easy to incorporate into baking, simply sprinkle a tbsp or two into any batter, from pancakes to muffins to oatmeal. You could also try a refreshing Chia Fresca as a beverage to get some chia in your life. While a little weird at first, it is a great habit to start to get enough water every day.

And finally, we top it off with whatever fresh veggies you are partial to. Just make sure to incorporate a variety, and at least 1/2-1 cup total. A tbsp of other nuts or seeds is also a great addition. Steer clear of too-high-fat toppings like cheese, meats, or even eggs. Add spices to taste.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups mixed greens
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup julienned carrot & cucumber
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • Handful grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 tbsp sunflower seeds
  • 2 tbsp vinaigrette

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Step 1: Lay down your greens. Mix in your quinoa. (To cook: mix 1 cup with 2 cups water, bring to a boil. Cover, turn off heat. Let stand 10 minutes, fluff with a fork.)

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Step 2: Add in your vegetables, sprinkle chia on top.

Step 3: Whip up a fresh, super-simple vinaigrette by mixing 1 tbsp lemon juice, 1 tbsp olive oil, and 1 tbsp vinegar in a bottle, then shaking. Or drizzle on 1-2 tbsp of bottled dressing.

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If you want to make a portable layered salad, add ingredients in the exact opposite order: dressing on the bottom, then hard veggies, soft veggies, quinoa & greens.

Power Greens & Beans Salad

 

If you’re looking to fill up, super-charge your cells, up your fiber intake, and feel AWESOME for around 300 calories a plate, look no further!

This phenomenal salad uses a strong base of mixed greens (romaine & spinach) combined with the vegan four-bean salad from a previous post, and topped with fresh green onion to create a super heart-healthy, cholesterol-reducing, vitality-restoring super salad!

(Claims not investigated by the FDA. I made all this up so far.)

But seriously folks, this is delicious, and there is so much gorgeous color and fiber here, it might be a challenge to finish the whole plate! And with the vinaigrette from the four bean salad, you don’t even need dressing, which is where a lot of salad calories tend to come from.

So you can feel really super awesome about eating this.

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 romaine leaves, chopped or torn
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 1 cup vegan four bean salad
  • 2 green onions, chopped

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Step 1: Create a giant bed of greens on your plate. The more the merrier!

“Oh no, not more green leafy vegetables!” — Said no one’s internal organs ever.

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Step 2: Smother the greens in the bean salad. Chop the green onions on top and that’s all there is to it. Enjoy your phenomenally healthy and tasty lunch/dinner/whatever.

Optional substitutions: Use any kind of leafy green here, kale would also work, even iceberg if you must. If you don’t like green onion, use any other fresh herbs. You can also add other toppings like raw nuts or seeds, croutons, olives, sliced peppers, etc.

 

Power Greens & Beans Salad

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Yield: Makes one huge plate of salad

2-3 cups greens and beans

Ingredients

  • 4-5 romaine leaves, chopped or torn
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 1 cup vegan four bean salad
  • 2 green onions, chopped

Instructions

  1. Create a giant bed of greens on your plate. The more the merrier! "Oh no, not more green leafy vegetables!" -- Said no one's internal organs ever.
  2. Smother the greens in the bean salad. Chop the green onions on top and that's all there is to it. Enjoy your phenomenally healthy and super tasty lunch/dinner/whatever.
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http://www.budgetepicurean.com/vegan/power-greens-beans-salad/

Balsamic Brussels Sprouts – Less Than 5

 

Brussels sprouts tend to be a polarizing vegetable. Love it or hate it.

I love it. Bet you didn’t see that coming. =)

That hasn’t always been the case. Tastes change over time, as most children don’t enjoy the taste of many vegetables, but as we grow and our palates expand, things we once found revolting become favorites.

Brussels sprouts are in the Brassicacea family, along with broccoli, cabbage, kale, and collard greens. They may have originated in Brussels, Belgium, where they may have earned their name. They contain high levels of vitamin C and K, B vitamins, trace minerals, phytochemicals, and fiber. They, along with other brassicas, contain a chemical called indole-3-carbinol, under study for its effects on DNA repair and apparent ability to block growth of cancer cells.

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Boiling used to be the only way brussels sprouts were prepared, and gave these beauties a bad name by boiling all the taste and life out of them . Better options for cooking to maximize texture and taste include steaming, frying, and my personal favorite, oven roasting.

Brussels sprouts are healthy and plentiful in the fall, making them an affordable option for side and main dishes. They tend to feature in Thanksgiving and Christmas meals. Umami and salty flavors tend to go well with the slightly bitter taste of these sprouts.

This side dish is simple and quick, as well as healthy for you. It is hearty enough to be a main dish as well if you please.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh Brussels sprouts
  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 red onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 tbsp olive or coconut oil

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Step 1: Cut the ends off the Brussels sprouts and slice large ones in half. Thinly slice the red onion. Heat the oil in a frying pan.

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Step 2: Add the sprouts to the pan, and cook 4-5 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar and red onion, and cover. Let cook 5-7 minutes, until the onion and sprouts are tender.

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That’s all there is to it! Serve warm, on its own or as a side dish.

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The sprouts are tender yet still with a bit of crunch. The onions add a perfect sweet complement, and the balsamic coats everything in a sweet, slightly salty, and tart flavor.

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Balsamic Brussels Sprouts – Less Than 5

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh Brussels sprouts
  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 red onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 tbsp olive or coconut oil

Instructions

  1. Cut the ends off the sprouts and cut large ones in half. Slice the red onion thinly.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan, and add the sprouts. Cook 4-5 minutes, then add the onion and balsamic vinegar. Cover and cook another 5-7 minutes, until onion and sprouts are softened.
  3. Serve hot on its own or as a side dish.
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http://www.budgetepicurean.com/vegan/balsamic-brussels-sprouts-less-than-5/