Monthly Archives: March 2012

Spring Superfood Smoothie

Oh geez, people.  I have so much to tell you.  There are apple cinnamon cookies, there’s lemony quinoa asparagus salad, there’s a really impressive bourbon carrot cake.  There’s also hiking and rock climbing and some crafty stuff.  There’s probably a lot I’m forgetting.  But before all that (especially before the cake…that’ll come next, and it’s sinful) there’s the renewing, refreshing superfood power of this smoothie.

Don’t be fooled by the spinach AND kale in this smoothie.  You won’t be able to taste it, I promise.  That green power is amped up by the antioxidant power of frozen berries, plus the protein and good-for-you fats of Greek yogurt and almond milk.  Make a big tall glass of this and feel good about the rest of your day!

Superfood Smoothie

Makes 1 tall glass, about 16-18 ounces

  • scant 1 cup almond milk (I like the kind that’s sweetened but not flavored)
  • 1/4 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup loosely packed baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed kale, torn
  • 1 cup frozen mixed berries (I do a third each of blackberries, blueberries and raspberries)
  • 1/2 frozen banana, sliced
  • drizzle of honey (about 1 tablespoon)

Put the almond milk, yogurt, spinach and kale in the blender and blend well.  Then add the remaining ingredients and blend until you get a thick, well-combined smoothie.  You might need to pulse it a little bit, or put it on grind for a few seconds and stir it with a spoon if your blender is having trouble with the frozen stuff.  Your finished product should be thick and purple!

You might need to eat this with a spoon (side note: I am obsessed with mint green nail polish).  You can change up the ingredients a little bit, but the way I make it produces one big, satisfying serving with about 300 calories.  Now your body is prepped and ready for carrot cake and french fries…just sayin.

Also, a lesson on frozen bananas: peel the bananas before freezing.  I made the mistake of popping them in the freezer whole and the skins are close to impossible to remove.  Just a bit of wisdom from me to you.

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Weekly Ponder (Sort Of)

I’m bad at keeping an ed cal.  Hush.

Okay, it’s late on Saint Patrick’s Day…scratch that, it’s early the day after Saint Patrick’s Day, so I’m not going to spend a lot of time extrapolating on these quotes.  But these are two thoughts from the Dalai Lama that have really helped me this week, dealing with unkind people and tough situations.  I always marvel at the simple but profound truths in what the Dalai Lama has to say.  I hope they can help you, too, when the time comes that you might need the wisdom:

“True compassion is not just an emotional response but a firm commitment founded on reason.”

“If you have fear of some pain or suffering, you should examine whether there is anything you can do about it. If you can, there is no need to worry about it; if you cannot do anything, then there is also no need to worry.”

I’ll also need to write a post on the seriously golden wisdom from my capoeira mestres…but first there will be cookies.

 

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Mushroom Polenta as a Lesson in Time Management

I haven’t been posting a whole lot lately.  You know this, I know this, I’m sure whatever government agency monitoring our computers knows this.  And I apologize.  I’ve been very busy lately…well, I thought I was very busy.  Really I was just making bad choices about my priorities.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been running around like a crazy lady, with capoeira, volunteering, starting my business, working, meeting friends and of course spending time with my boo.  Oh and laundry.  Lots of laundry.  But the truth is, in my down time (scarce as it is) I’ve just been sitting on my butt, watching reruns of Food Network shows online and eating WAY too many brownies.  So now it’s back to blogging, meditating, crafting…the good stuff.  More good stuff.

Anywho. Who remember’s Stick Stickly from Nickelodeon?  If you do, you know why I ask.

ANYWHO.  What better way to teach a lesson in time management than baked polenta?  There are several steps and (literally) several pots on the stove, but it’s not as hard as it looks.  And it’s oh so rewarding!  I’ve adapted this recipe for mushroom polenta from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home, that lovely book I got for Christmas.  I changed up a few things – adding veggies, changing the cheese, pairing it with a spicy cream tomato sauce – but as we know, recipes are just jumping off points, right?  Right!  Especially with something as versatile as polenta.

Mushroom Polenta with Spicy Cream Tomato Sauce

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 3 cups water or low-sodium vegetable stock
  • 6-8 crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 portobello mushroom, sliced
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • optional: handful of baby spinach (or whatever green you want to put in)
  • splash each low-sodium vegetable stock and red wine
  • 3/4 cup grated smoked provolone or mozzarella
  • 1 28-ounce can low-sodium crushed tomatoes
  • 1-2 tablespoons cream
  • olive oil
  • dried basil and thyme to taste
  • paprika, chili powder and red pepper flakes to taste
  • salt and pepper

This is one of those recipes where you want your mise en place to actually be in place – you’ll have to sautee the veggies, cook the polenta, make the sauce and then bake the finished product.  I’d start by at least cleaning and prepping your mushrooms, plus chopping your onions and garlic.  Remember to remove the gills of your portobello with a spoon!

Then you can start by adding half your onions and garlic to a large sautee pan with some olive oil.  When the onions begin to turn soft and translucent, add your mushrooms, plus a splash of vegetable stock and red wine to help them cook down.  Continue to sautee the vegetables until the mushrooms begin to soften, then add some salt, pepper, basil and thyme to taste (I tend to go a little heavier on the basil).

Toss in some spinach or other green if you want to (or, as I did, some baby romaine I needed to use up – weird, I know, but I’d rather not let it go to waste and I’m one of those weird people who doesn’t mind wilted greens).  Keep turning everything until the greens begin to wilt and the mushrooms and onions are cooked through, then remove from heat and set aside.

While your onions and mushrooms are cooking you can start the polenta by bringing your 3 cups of water or veggie stock to a boil in a large pot.  When it begins to boil, slowly pour in your cornmeal while stirring with a whisk to prevent clumps.  Reduce the heat and simmer the cornmeal uncovered for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently – be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan so the polenta doesn’t scorch!  Add in a generous pinch of salt, plus some pepper, paprika and maybe a dash of chili powder if that’s your fancy.  When the polenta is thick and the water is absorbed, pour it into a greased 9-inch glass pie dish.

Oh!  Did I mention you should also be making your tomato sauce?  If you want, you can move the mushroom topping mix into a bowl and reuse your sautee pan.  Just add some olive oil and sautee about another quarter of your onion with a couple more cloves of garlic.  When they begin to get soft and translucent, add in your can of crushed tomatoes and season with salt and pepper, plus a good dash of paprika, basil, chili powder and a generous sprinkling of crushed red pepper flakes.  Adjust all the seasonings according to how spicy you like things – I like em spicy!  Heck, throw in some oregano if you want.  Simmer the sauce on low heat to marry the flavors and cook off some of the liquid; after about 5-10 minutes, remove the pan from the heat and stir in a tablespoon or so of heavy cream.  Be conservative here – a little cream will go a long way, so add a little bit at a time until it’s to your liking.  Then top your polenta with a thin layer of the sauce.

Next, top the polenta with about half your cheese, then the mushroom mixture, then the rest of your cheese.  Add another sprinkling of pepper if you want, then pop it in the oven at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.  Hit the broiler for a few minutes more, and when the top looks brown and bubbly take it out.  Let it cool a bit, then serve in slices topped with more sauce and a fresh green salad.  I know it’s a lot of juggling, but trust me, you’ll get the hang of it.  Show that mise en place who’s boss!

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5-Minute Chocolate Cake in a Mug

I feel like, before I go ahead with this recipe, I need to issue a warning: this recipe is dangerous.  It’s way too easy, way too convenient and perhaps just a little too indulgent (the cake base on its own is about 400 calories).  You might find yourself whipping up this cake far too often for your own good, so proceed with caution.

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On the other hand, this cake might be your best friend on days you really need a quick boost of warm chocolate without going to the store or spending an hour baking a cake.  In fact, you can make this little gem in five minutes flat, I guarantee it (I don’t actually guarantee it).  It’s especially nice on snow days with coffee, and it would totally impress an unexpected guest – most if not all of the ingredients are probably in your kitchen anyway!  If you don’t believe how easy it is, go ahead and give it a try.  But know the awesome addictive power of a five-minute cake.

5-Minute Chocolate Cake in a Mug (adapted from The Family Kitchen)

  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3 tablespoons plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon water (or a bit more if needed)
  • optional: sea salt, chopped walnuts, cinnamon and cayenne pepper, salted caramel candy, instant coffee, peanut butter…?

In a small bowl (think soup bowl sized), mix your mandatory chocolate cake ingredients.  All of them.  Seriously, just throw that stuff together and stir away.  If you’re adding in something that will fill the whole cake, stir it in now: a small handful of chopped nuts, a quarter teaspoon each of cinnamon and chili, a half teaspoon maybe of instant coffee powder?  Not all of them of course.  Don’t be greedy.  Pick a theme, you can always make another one later.

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Then grease or spray a regular-sized coffee mug (something around 12 ounces) and pour the batter into the mug.  If you’re adding something that isn’t incorporated into the whole cake batter, pop it in now: drop a couple caramel candies in the center, swirl in a tablespoon of peanut butter, top with crushed pretzels or sprinkle with sea salt.

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Finally, microwave your mug of goodness for one-and-a-half to two minutes on high power.  The mug will be hot, so remove it carefully and let cool a minute.  Then…indulge.  It’s really that easy.  And addictive. Beware!

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