This is just a quick post to tell you about my latest infatuation.
(Unlike the Mediterranean Beans which I ate a month ago)
That ice cream craving was this week, though.
And while this is no ice cream, it is a deliciously creamy banana-less smoothie. And so cold, it gave me ice cream head aches.
Slow down, Janet…
Yes, this is the perfect drink to slow down with.. on a sunny summery day (thank you beautiful weather, Toronto).
Bananas are a common fixture in my smoothies, but Rob has stopped buying bananas, focusing on our freezer fruits. Vegetables are commonly added to sauce to make them smooth (cauliflower, zucchini, sweet potato and roasted tomatoes come to mind), and I have even added carrots to smoothies before (for a strawberry-mango-carrot delight). But this time, I wanted to try cucumbers. They worked well in my Cucumber Beet Ginger juice, so I figured out if someone had done something similar.
Now it didn’t seem so scary to pair cucumbers with strawberries. I’ve tried it with the seeds and without, and personally I just can’t be bothered to remove the seeds. To be honest, you cannot really taste the cucumber per se but it gives a fresh feel to the smoothie. I’ve made it with and without the vanilla and both are good. And the lemon juice? Definitely better with it.
Weird, but it works.
Definitely a comforting, guiltless drink for the summer. Thank goodness cucumbers are on sale this week. If you pick some up and make this, please let me know what you think… or if you have any other ways to enjoy cucumbers drinks. I was wondering whether they would freeze well for smoothies but ate through all my cucumbers before I could figure it out.
Joy says hers feeds two. It serves one Janet. And I’ve drunk my way through 2 cucumbers, if that tells you anything.
As I said, I should listen to myself more often. I am full of great wisdom.
Another piece of Janet tried-and-true advice: follow the recipe! I know I adapt many recipes to what I have on hand, but some recipes are best left untouched. Case in point: traditional hummus. I already have a recipe I love (LOVE!) and see no need to experiment. Winging it ends up with a subpar hummus.
For some reason, I also find juices and smoothies to be a bit finicky. Sure, I can wing random smoothies and juices, but sometimes the proportions are off, some flavours aren’t properly balanced and gosh, I know it can taste better.
Hence why I am sharing this recipe. It turned out great. When I winged this with raspberries, flax and protein powder, it was ok but not fabulous. Raspberries are more tart than strawberries and while I used flax seeds as my milk substitute, almonds and hemp seeds create a more lusciously, creamy drink. I still tinkered with the original recipe but not by much. Next time, I will add some protein powder, which can easily be hidden inside a smoothie.
I have eaten at Gorilla Foods a few times when visiting Vancouver and this shake is definitely one of my favourites. I found most of their dishes to be a bit lackluster although I thoroughly enjoyed their Main St. Monkey Sandwich: a raw squash-curry bread filled with olive tapenade, creamy mashed avocado, zucchini hummus, tomatoes, cucumber and sprouts. I thought there was raisin chutney, too, but I could be mistaken. In any case, it was a delicious sandwich to try if you are in their neighbourhood.
I often try to recreate resto meals. Inspired by Gorilla Foods, I’ve made a (non-raw) kabocha squash curried flatbread, but filled it with eggplant bacon as a BLT. Their raisin chutney has been on my hit-list, though. Although their guacamole recipe is in Thrive Foods, it wasn’t until they released their cookbook, that nearly their entire menu was available to be made at home.
We’re all out of raisins, though, so I started by making this smoothie. And as I already said, I wasn’t disappointed. Sweet creamy strawberries with a hint of malty maca and vanilla.
How do you usually make your smoothies? Wing it or measure it?
Other smoothies/drinks here and elsewhere:
Peachy Keen Vanilla Smoothie
Chocolate Maca Raspberry Smoothie
Raw Chocolate Milkshake at My New Roots (very, very good!)
Mojito Smoothie at My New Roots (different but good)
My first WIAW (What I Ate Wednesday). Which was actually a Thursday, and posted on a Saturday.
I have never been one to want to document everything I eat in a day, but by the end of Valentine’s Day, Rob had managed to do most of it on my behalf. HA! Not the best photos (thank you to fluorescent lights), but that’s all in the spirit of WIAW. (I have supplemented with some other photos).
Since I knew Rob had plans for dinner, I started off by baking breakfast for Rob: Peanut butter cookie baked oatmeal. Rob gasped at how much it tasted like a peanut butter cookie (without any flour!). Pictured with Rob’s card.
I usually wake up and immediately eat half a grapefruit. Lately I have been drinking some green juice (I make enough to last 3 days or so). This cucumber-beet-ginger juice was delicious. (See recipe below)
A few hours later, when I arrive at work, I eat my steel-cut oats with protein powder. Lately, I have been adding spirulina to it and it makes it an electric green.
For lunch, I had the last of my curry-miso squash and chickpea soup.
Late afternoon, I snacked on an apple.
For dinner, Rob made my African Sweet Potato and Peanut Stew. I like how he scoured my blog for a recipe he knew I would like (I am very predictable that way!). It was one of my favourite dishes in 2010 (such high praise!) and it had obviously been a long time since I’ve had it. He substituted white beans for the kidney beans and served it with red quinoa. He planned for a red-themed meal and solidified it with a sprinkle of smoked paprika. Still as delicious as I remember. Even better (I could taste the love).
For dessert, he surprised me with heart-shaped chocolate hazelnut truffles. Rob thought my recent post was a hint for Valentine’s Day (hahaha, I swear it wasn’t). He spiced things up by using hazelnut butter and made 3 versions: au naturel, some with a whole macadamia nut inside and some with shredded coconut. We obviously had to sample all three (each, of course). I think my favourite was the one with the whole nut. (PS. Yes, this recipe is so easy, Rob made them in under 20 minutes!)
What a keeper, eh?
Do you “celebrate” Valentine’s Day? If so, what did you do?
I know it is fall.
I unearthed my long pants to cycle to work last week. I now don full-fingered gloves as well as my cycling hat.
But, it isn’t fall until the winter squashes come out. And the apples.
I have been relishing in the end-of-summer produce for the past few weeks. Tomatoes. Green beans. Beets. I bought some squashes but have yet to cook with them. I also got some canned pumpkin and resisted the onslaught of all things pumpkin. Until now.
Maybe I can blame it on the equinox?
Now that I’ve started, I don’t think it will stop. Not only because I have to plow through the monster of a pumpkin can but because I have found a glorious way to enjoy pumpkin.
In my morning brew.
I love my tea and usually enjoy a nice cup in the morning. Technically, I enjoy tisanes because I prefer herbal-based blends. I like rooibos but have started to shun all things with black teas. My favourite tea remains a chai-based concoction and surprisingly, I have yet to create my own home-grown spice medley. No better time than to start today with this cup.
Savoury spices, including cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom mellow nicely with the pumpkin with the peppercorns and ginger offering a nice kick of spice. I used pumpkin butter (from Trader Joe’s) as my sweetener but I look forward to fiddling with this for a less sweetened version. In any case, this was so good I had to share the recipe immediately.
I am also excited to make this pumpkin chili with the leftover pumpkin puree! It was so good last year!
I have to update you on the Vitamix!
It is alive and well!!
Turns out it has an automatic shut off if the motor is overheating, which can happen when using low speeds.
The next morning, I tried it again… and it is all working fine and dandy!
I was really worried actually… Sorry for being such a downer for the past few posts.
Perfect timing to whip up this fabulous smoothie. The carrot tempers the sweetness from the mango and pineapple juice. It also adds a bit of bulk which I countered with some more water.
Rob laughs at me because one of my guilty pleasures is ordering fresh juices and smoothies from restaurants. Nothing beats a fresh blend of ripe vegetables, or a creamy smoothie packed with fruits. Feeling guilty about eating something so healthy seems so odd, but when they cost over $5 a pop, that’s when I feel bad. I mean, I could make something similar at home… on the smoothie aspect, that is. Unfortunately my old food processor can’t make fresh juice.
But now that I have a high-speed Vitamix blender (wahoo!), even my smoothies taste better! An immersion blender keeps things a bit on the chunky side, a food processor is better and now I know how the professionals get that secret creamy consistency without the cream (although they could also be adding cream, too, without me knowing). It’s the blender.
I know the Vitamix is not just for smoothie and drinks, but that’s all I’ve made so far (in the 2 days I’ve had it unpacked!). Even the lowly smoothie has been brought to the next level with the Vitamix. I mean, it better. I can buy a lot of drinks at restos for $500.
My latest smoothie craze has been devouring local Ontario peaches. Throw in a fresh, ripe, pitted peach, half a frozen banana, vanilla, chia seeds and some soy milk. Blend to reach creamy peachy bliss. Sip and enjoy!
I never quite understood why I would want to drink my breakfast. However, chilled smoothies filled with fruit and seasonings have been perfect before and after my bicycle rides.
I am currently testing recipes for Tess Challis‘ upcoming superfoods cookbook and have been loving her smoothies! Her “Maca My Day” smoothie is what got me hooked, and it is wonderful with frozen bananas and the malty goodness from maca. She has a few delicious smoothies planned for the cookbook, and I took some liberty to create my own variation.
Perfect for breakfast, a delicious treat for dessert, enjoy this smoothie guilt-free as it is packed with frozen banana, raspberries, chia seeds, toasted carob and vanilla.
Chocolate and raspberry pair well together. Except I didn’t use chocolate. I used toasted carob powder, which has a flavour similar to chocolate without the caffeine. Carob is a bit sweeter than cocoa, and definitely sweeter than raw cacao, so I didn’t feel like this smoothie needed any additional sweetener, but add to taste. Maca is also wonderful in it, but completely optional.
I should judge the difficulty of recipes on my ability to make them after a bike ride (yam and black bean stew, I’ve got my eyes on you!). To be honest, I don’t think any of my recipes are hard to make (heck, even I can make it!) but I know some can be lengthy, especially if dried beans are involved.
Last weekend, I cycled to Kitchener with a friend. We opted to take a shorter route home, cycling to the Aldershot GO Station in Burlington and training the rest of the way home. I cycled 209km that weekend, and with the shorter distance on Sunday, it meant I was home by 3:30pm and able to do some weekend chores.
Um, no. Utter fail.
I got as far as: a) blending myself a recovery smoothie with banana and maca; b) during the post-ride euphoria, calling Rob to tell him I arrived alive; c) taking a nice warm bath; d) throwing all my cycling clothes in the washing machine to get washed; e) making this soup; f) unexpectedly catching up with an old friend over the phone for an hour…. Giving my mom a well-deserved (brain-supported) phone call, unfortunately was not in the cards (=biggest failure).
Thank goodness I still had some delicious leftover raw pad thai for dinner that I picked up from Thrive Juice Bar in Waterloo (which travelled incredibly well over 80km on my bike!). (Their big green juice with maca was also exactly what I needed when I finally arrived in Waterloo).
Anyways, I had a few recipes on my week’s menu, but was only able to muster enough energy to make this Orange Beet Soup, adapted from The 30-Minute Vegan. I figured it would be a simple thing to throw together and should take under 30 minutes, right?
Obviously, in my post-cycle haze, my coordination (hand and mental) decrease. It took me more like 45 minutes and I didn’t even grate my vegetables by hand (thank you food processor!) plus another 15 minutes to clean (curse you food processor!) . I peeled my beets which took up a lot of time, and probably unnecessary in retrospect.
Also problematic: juicing my oranges. 1.5 cups of freshly squeezed orange juice. By me armed with my lemon squisher. 4 oranges later and many more minutes later, I had it all. Reinfeld may suggest 1-2 oranges, but that is impossible! Unless you get so much more juice with a juicer? Or pick an incredibly juicy one from a tree in Florida? Because I use all the pre-juicing tricks: microwave for 20 seconds, smash it and roll it around on the counter. And it took me just over 3 oranges.
Anyways, I will see if my kitchen speed increases if I were to make this at any other time.
Because this is a great soup and should get repeated. Like when I have a garden filled with beets (oh yes!).
Simple ingredients layer to create a nice, light, flavourful soup. Beet is at its core, but it is sweet from the layers of orange and carrots. The dill add another dimension with a nod to the Eastern European pairing of beet and dill, and the red miso creates that subtle complexity.
This soup is great warm and chilled. Chilled, it is a refreshing and bright starter and if I had a high-powered blender, this would make this the ultimate savoury summer drink (my immersion blender left a bit of pulp, which is fine for something labelled as soup).
After hanging up with my friend, it was 7pm, and I was positively pooped. I didn’t even photograph the soup. Yet. (It was photographed as leftovers the next day, which is also when my mom got the brain-active phone call she deserved!).
I cleaned up my kitchen and called it a night and fell asleep around 8pm, before the sun had even gone to bed.
It is no secret that one must stay hydrated during long workouts and to keep fuelled with carbohydrate-rich snacks. There are many ways to replenish water and sugar – from sports drinks, gels, energy bars, fruit, etc – and I have begun to investigate the various options. It is always best to experiment during your training, not during your event. Of course, though, I am experimenting with creating these options in my own kitchen.
Beware: I am also in the medical field, so as I wrote this post, I realized it quickly became quite academic. There is science to this which is why I tried to link to the pubmed resources I reference.
The benefits of remaining hydrated are obvious: your performance will be impaired if you are dehydrated by even 1-2%. It is therefore recommended to replenish the water you lose as sweat throughout your workout. The American College of Sports Medicine suggests drinking 500 mL of fluid 1-2 hours before you begin and then to replace as necessary with cold drinks throughout your workout. However, a 1:1 replacement of lost body weight is likely to overestimate your water needs and lead to hyperhydration. It is best to figure out your needs during training, based on the type of exercise, weather, level of training, etc, but aiming to replace 50-80% of the change in your body weight pre- and post-exercise is less likely to induce the ill-effects of drinking too much water. You may not feel thirsty during exercise (think fight or flight responses) and studies consistently show athletes do not adequately replace water. I am likely totally guilty of that and it is worse during long, hot rides.
Sports drinks are very popular because compared to water, they replace fluid, electrolyte and carbohydrate losses. Sodium and potassium are important to replace during prolonged exercise and they confer additional benefits like augmenting glucose and water absorption in the small intestine. A sports drink with 4-8% of carbohydrates is recommended as concentrations higher than that, as found in fruit juices and soft drinks, may delay gastric-emptying. In addition to the science behind sports drinks, a flavoured drink tastes better and encourages you to drink more. I can attest to that!
Most of the commercial sports drinks (Gatorade, Powerade, etc) contain 6% carbohydrate, ~100 mg sodium and ~30 mg potassium in each cup but also taste artificial and are sweetened with high fructose corn syrup. There is one benefit of commerical sports drinks, though, and that’s that they are fairly ubiquitous. I try to pack fairly light during long rides and this way you could buy drinks enroute and recycle the containers afterwards.
I was on a quest to find my own homemade sports drink and really like the one found in Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook. It is not too sweet and tastes great. It is also ridiculously easy to make and much cheaper than the commerical drinks. The recipe has also been posted here and here with other drink recipes. I’d love to hear about your own recipes for sports drinks.