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Posts Tagged ‘smoothie’

Excelsior! As promised, I’ve finally got around to finishing up the first piece in a new series of cook-the-book style posts! First at-bat is Stan Lee Presents the Mighty Marvel Superheroes Cookbook. 

The book begins with a brief introduction and some basic tips on safety and kitchen cleanliness. Then, as any good morning would, delves into some breakfast.

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A wise man once said “There has never been a sadness that can’t be cured by breakfast food” and a trip to your local diner will prove that every time. While studies have more or less debunked the conventional wisdom that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, starting your morning with good food is a great way to set the tone for the rest of the day.

With Captain America’s Day Starters, we get a few different options for easy, healthy and delicious kick start.

‘Fresh fruit or fruit juice. Lots of vitamins C and A’

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I’ve wrote on here a few times about how great smoothies can be for breakfast. Blend up your favorite mix of fruits and veggies with some juice or milk (I also like to throw some type of sea vegetable in the mix) and you’re ready to go. Once you blend your mix, you can freeze it in an ice cube tray to make things even easier while you’re still groggy. This particular blend I threw together features banana, pineapple, orange, mango and sweet potato.

‘Milk is the best source of calcium. It’s need for strong bones and teeth. It also supplies protein – essential building blocks for our bodies’img_4825

Milk is certainly nutritious, if not a little bit weird as a concept, but yogurt has even more calcium and is loaded with beneficial bacteria. Mixed with granola and some fresh fruit, it makes for a hearty, protein-packed breakfast.

‘Bread or cereal, lots of variations in this department’

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For simplicity, flavor and customization, look no further than Avocado Toast, loaded with Omega 3 fats and complex carbohydrates. The only two things you need are in the name itself. Apart from avocado and toasted bread, the possibilities are near endless. The folks over that The Kitchn have a great piece to get your creative juices going; Here, I’ve got 12 grain bread with butter and sesame seeds, mashed avocado, and thinly sliced cucumber tossed with salt, pepper, chili flake and lime juice.

Now, for those looking for a more traditional American-style breakfast, look no further than Hulk’s Fried Potatoes with Bacon and Eggs

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This dish needs little explanation, if any at all. Bacon, eggs, toast, breakfast potatoes; Maybe some coffee, if you’re so inclined. I will give one little trick I recently picked  up while working mainly breakfast shifts: par-boil your potatoes with onions and garlic. This cooks them through, so when you fry ’em up they’ll be soft on the inside and crispy on the outside. It’s the same principle to making great French Fries.

In Our Next Exciting Issue…

The Thing’s Clobbered Omelet

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I don’t really know a good way to start this post out. This one’s about more than just food and I kind of just need to get some thoughts out on paper (or pixels, whatever). As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’ve been going through a lot of really bad times lately. At the end of last year I went through a really tough breakup, which admittedly I initiated myself, but that doesn’t make it any easier. On top of dealing with that, work got increasingly stressful during that same period which just compounded a lot of difficult emotions. This was the first job that I ever really loved; the first one that I had deep personal investment in. I finally thought I had found the place that was going to be the one for a long time to come. I dropped everything I could into this place and dealt with progressively shittier treatment while still holding out hope that it would work out sooner rather than later. Eventually, I was told that the position I had worked so hard for no longer existed. I was dumbfounded. As bad as that sucked, I realized that it was the end of the worry and stress I had put into it. As bad as it was, it was over. Or so I thought. I began looking for another job that would be more fulfilling and more in line with what I wanted for myself and my career. I told my job that I was looking for something else and that I would give them a month notice before I left, because I still cared a lot about the business and the people I worked with and for. I thought I was on the right track. Before securing another position, I was told that my hours were being cut in half. I was so confused. How could the people that I’ve worked so hard for and a business that I had put so much of myself into treat me in such a terrible way? Up until this point, I had been constantly frustrated with the conditions I was working with, but now I was genuinely pissed off. How could they do that to me? I spent the next couple of days swearing up a storm and freaking out about what I could do to fix my situation. Eventually I calmed myself down, realized that it would somehow be for the better in the long run, and tried to carry on. Despite my best efforts, I went in to my part-time shifts more frustrated and short tempered than ever. I thought it would be fine, but dealing with the same level of stress with the knowledge that it would be to no avail made working a thousand times more miserable. After the three worst days I can remember working, I went in for the next shift and was fired. Fired. After every effort I had made. That was it. I didn’t and still don’t even have the words to describe exactly how shitty a feeling it is.

But what do I do next? I can sit around a mope myself to death or I can try and make the best of the time I have available. I started picking up shifts at another kitchen I used to work at and I’ve had a few interviews for other positions that seem really promising, so as far as work goes I think I have things planned out for the immediate future. But it seems like it’s bigger than just work. Sure, I lost out on something that I deeply cared about, but at the end of the day, it’s a job. It payed the bills, even if just barely. I can always get another job, especially in the restaurant industry of Vermont. Being at such a low point has made me really examine where I’m at with my life and come to the realization that I just haven’t taken care of myself at all. For a while now. I used to eat properly, meditate and work out every day, not stay up every night drinking spend time with the people I care about, spend more time cooking and writing, and just doing the things I enjoy…. that’s all fallen by the wayside. I’ve taken to studying Jediism in recent months as a way of trying to bring some balance to my life. Taking the highs with the lows and being patient with things. The Doctrine of the Jedi Order states ” Jedi understand that well-being consists in the physical, the mental and the spiritual [similar to part of the Boy Scout’s Honor: Physically Strong, Mentally Awake, Morally Straight]. A Jedi trains each to ensure they remain capable of performing their duties to the best of their ability. All of these are interconnected and essential parts of our training in becoming more harmonious with the Force.” Thinking in terms of that teaching, I am in no way in a state of well-being. Physically, I’ve seen better days: I hopped on the scale for the first time in too long the other day and realized that in the past 9 months I had gained back more than half the weight I spent 2 years losing. I can’t run as far or for as long as I used to, and my joints hurt even more than usual. I’d like to chalk it up to anxiety, depression, or stress, but honestly I think I’ve just gotten lazy. Take-out meals more often than cooking, drinking more heavily, and just not trying. That kind of leads into the mental well-being. For the better part of a year I’ve been consumed with stress and anxiety over various aspects of my life changing.Jobs, relationships, living situations, everything just seems to be uprooted quicker than I could process. I never really developed a way of dealing with things like that, so I just keep replaying things in my mind and get caught up in my own shitty moods. It’s gotten to the point where I lash out at the people I care about because I feel out of control. When I was younger I had really bad issues with anger, and as the years went on I really worked to not let things pile up to the point of freaking out on people. The work situation made it incredibly hard to not let cooler heads prevail, and I started going down a bad path, which I’m sure lead to my eventual termination. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to the Dark Side. With anger problems resurfacing, it did nothing for my spiritual well-being. I’ve been in a crappy mood, lashing out at people, and allowing myself to just wallow rather than doing anything to help myself. I’ve been expecting things to get better on their own without taking control myself. SPOILER: They don’t. Broken, jobless, out of shape and out of options, I’ve realized that now is the time to take an active involvement in my own happiness and well-being, rather than waiting for some miracle to come alone.

Mental and Spiritual are aspects that take a much longer time to achieve true balance. I’ve been going to counseling, I’m starting to practice meditation again, and working on recognizing what sets off my mood spirals. It’s a process. Physical well-being is something that I can take more immediate steps in remedying. That starts with eating more properly and cooking for myself again (see, it all comes back to food!). When I first started trying to lose weight in college, I followed a segment from the Dr. Oz show featuring Alton Brown. While Dr. Oz is a proven quack, I have infinite amounts of faith in Alton Brown because his ideas a rooted in science rather than entertainment. In the segment, Brown gives a list of foods that should be consumed, daily, several times weekly, weekly, and monthly in order to promote better weight loss. The daily list includes dark leafy greens, nuts, carrots, green tea, whole grains, and fruits. Pretty simple, right? While I was in school, I developed a meal system that worked for me at the time based on what was available, and it really did work. I didn’t get bored because it allows for a good amount of variation, and it actually helped me lose weight and feel better. Since I’m trying to start on a better track of eating properly, I knew I wanted to start there. I’ve been a fan of breakfast smoothies as a way of getting in a good amount of nutrients with minimal effort, so I made a batch of the freezer cubes with each of the recommended daily foods that actually doesn’t taste like crap (I won’t speak the the visual appeal, however)

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Kale is always a good place to start. I like the taste and it’s really good for you. I’ve read recently that raw kale can lead to thyroid problems. One way to remedy this is to cook the kale, and use it in conjunction with edible seaweeds that are rich in iodine.

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In comes Dulse,  a red seaweed local to the northern Atlantic. Like Spirulina, Dulse is incredibly dense with a wide array of nutrients and minerals. Smells and taste less like pond scum and more like salty fish. It just so happens that the store was out of Spirulina and had Dulse right on the same shelf. Go figure!

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Pecans: toasted and chopped. Super tasty, and also adds body to the smoothie as well as making it more filling.

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I really dislike carrot juice.

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However, if you steep green tea into it it’s a little bit less awful. Plus it’s probably eh best way to get green tea into the smoothie without adding any excess liquid. Green tea powder is gross and has a really chalky mouthfeel.

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Oats: cooked at a ratio of 1:2 with water, they, like the pecans, add to the body of the drink and help the feeling of satiety. Any whole grain could work, I bet barley would be really tasty too. You could even use whole grain flour if you really wanted, but I doubt anybody really wants to.

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Any superfood/breakfast/diet smoothie recipe would be woefully incomplete without blueberries. Delicious, nutrient dense and colorful, blueberries are just all around awesome. I also threw in some pineapple because I like pineapple, but canned pineapple looks terrible and nobody wants a picture of that.

You can feel free to add more, less, or different ingredients to suit your tastes. This is just the base I like working with. Add everything to the blender and puree until smooth. Portion out into two ice cube trays and let freeze until solid. One mistake I made with the last batch of smoothie cubes was not portioning them into something else after they were frozen and the turned a really gross shade of green-black on top and were pretty badly freezer burned. I would say take two or three cubes, depending on how thick you want your smoothie or how long you want them to last, and separating them out into bags or containers. Then just blend them up with your favorite juice, milk, or even water. BOOM. Healthy weight-loss-friendly breakfast.

Now the only trick is to stay on track with everything I want to do. I went for a short run yesterday and it feels like I’ve been hit by a train, so I think I need to ease myself back into the exercise portion. Focusing on eating properly will be an easier start. One thing that I’ve very sad to give up (at least temporarily) will be beer. Chris Pratt said that in order to get into shape for his role in Guardians of the Galaxy, he gave up beer for six months. I don’t know that I can hold out that long (I really, really love beer), but beer has a lot of calories and sugars and won’t help with shedding the pounds. However, it’s getting to be Gin & Tonic season again, so maybe I’m not out of luck just yet. All in all though, I just need to be patient with myself and let life take it’s course.

Although the ways of the Force may seem strange at times, a Jedi always knows their place and their role within it. May the Force Be With You.

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You know you missed me.

Well, its certainly been a bit. As some of you may recall, I decided that the end of the 2014 to take a short hiatus from writing in order to figure some stuff out in my life. I’ve been slowly working into what I need to  be doing professionally, I’ve been seeing a counselor for depression and anxiety related issues, and I’ve severely cut back on my drinking. And on top of that, I’m in a new relationship with somebody who’s helping keep me on track when I start being an asshole to myself. Overall, I’d say things are starting to shape up. I’ve been meaning to get back into writing for a few weeks now, but time has always managed to slip away from me. Work all night, sleep all day; there just never seems to be enough hours in the day. For the past five days or so, I’ve been sick, with only the past two days actually off from work. Since I have nothing better to do then sit around the house anyway, I no longer have an excuse to not write, so here we are!

We all say things that we don’t necessarily mean. At no time is  this more apparent than New Year’s. Resolutions abound, and yet everyone seems to still be trudging through things expecting change to just magically happen to them. I was not exempt from the lofty goals and quick failure of New Year’s. First unrealistic expectation: Run 1000 Miles over the year. Yeah, not going to happen. Vermont is colder than shit in the winter, so running outside is a no-go, and on top of that my bad knee won’t let me run more than a few miles a week at best, even during the appropriate weather. Second unrealistic expectation: Kale shakes every morning. This one wasn’t too unrealistic, I just didn’t keep myself doing it. Doing things every morning is hard when you’re up all night. Years ago, when I first started eating properly and exercising more regularly, I started making kale shakes because I got bored really quickly. I figured out that if you blend up all your solid parts and freeze them in ice cube trays, you can just blend them with juice in the morning for a nice quick breakfast. In my brash decision to start doing kale shakes again, in the beginning of January I made a big batch of smoothie mix and froze into trays for quick access. Being that it’s now March and I’m just getting around to writing about it now, you can see how much progress I made.

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As you can tell from the photo, a green machine this ain’t. However, it’s chocked full of all sorts of buzzwords that are super healthy for you. Here’s a quick rundown of the key players:

Spirulina: While it looks, smells, and taste like a dirty pond because it actually is, spirulina has has come to be widely known as an incredible superfood, meaning it’s incredibly dense with nutrients. 65% protein, 26 times more calcium than milk, and host to 9 essential vitamins and a dozen essential minerals, I could literally go on a full post about how great this stuff is. The folks over at Wellness Mama have summed it all up pretty nicely though. Just two tablespoons of this stuff is enough to make about two weeks worth of smoothie blend.

Chia Seed: Honestly, I have no idea what this stuff does. It doesn’t really taste like much, but it does give the smoothie base some nice texture. From what I’ve read, Chia is naturally very nutrient dense, like spirulina, is high in fiber, and has been shown to have anti inflammatory benefits.

Blueberries: Mostly used here for flavor, but blueberries have been known for being super healthy for decades.

Kale: The epitome of the health food craze. Everybody and their grandmother will tell you that kale is the El Dorado of health foods. And honestly, it’s pretty good for you and can be really tasty if prepared properly. I’ve had a lot of really good kale, but I’ve also had a lot of really bad kale. Do yourself a favor and learn how to work with kale. For the smoothie base, I used a full bunch, including the stems.

That’s what I normally start with. The best part about recipes like this is that it isn’t even a recipe at all. You can put nearly anything you want into this to suit your tastes. The real goal is to utilize foods that are very dense in nutrients. Typically, I’ll add in a couple bananas to thicken it up and some pineapple for sweetness. Kiwi is an awesome one to throw in if  you want that extra kick of vitamin C. Blend it up with your favorite juice, milk (I bet almond milk would be really good), or even just water and a superfood smoothie can be a great way to start your day. It packs in all the nutrients you’ll need to feel energized all day long, and I’ve also noticed that when you start your morning off on a good foot, you’re in a better mindset to make good food choices throughout the day.

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Jus Alpukat

In the past, the avocado had a well-entrenched reputation for inducing sexual prowess and wasn’t purchased or consumed by anyone wishing to protect their image from slanderous assault. The name avocado actually comes from the Aztec word for testicle, which makes sense since the avocado is technically a berry. Most notably known in the cuisine of it’s region of origin, the avocado has spread to all corners of the globe. Sushi, sandwiches, guacamole; the uses are nearly endless. In Indonesia, avocado is the main ingredient in a popular drink, Jus Alpukat.

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The recipe is pretty basic and seems to be fairly standard across the various sources I found. A few ripe avocados, blended with some milk and ice and topped with chocolate syrup. Now, I know what you’re thinking. At first, I too was skeptical about the chocolate-avocado combination. I’ve never really had avocado in a sweet preparation, so the thought of mixing it with chocolate seemed incredibly foreign to me. However, the end result was reminiscent of a chocolate covered banana, which is pretty much the only good way to have banana. The natural sweetness of the avocado was brought out by a little sweetened condensed milk, but I would have preferred mine to be just a touch sweeter. The fattiness of the fruit gave an incredible texture to the drink, kind of like the smoothest milkshake in the world. It may not be for everyone, I’ll even admit that it didn’t come out tasting quite as I expected it to, but it’s definitely worth giving a shot and simple enough that you won’t be out too much time or effort.

Jus Alpukat

  • Avocado, ripe, 3 each
  • Whole Milk, 1 1/2 cups
  • Sweetened Condensed Milk, 1/2 cup plus more as needed
  • Ice Cubes, 5 each
  • Water, 1/2 cup
  • Sugar, 4 oz
  • Cocoa Powder, 1.5 oz
  • Vanilla Extract, 1 teaspoon
  • Kosher Salt, 1/2 teaspoon

Cut the avocados in half, then remove the pit and remove flesh from skin. In a blender, blend avocado, milk, ice, and sweetened condensed milk. Blend until smooth, adding more sweetened condensed milk to sweeten to taste. In a small pot, combine water and sugar and bring to a simmer to dissolve sugar. Add cocoa, vanilla and salt, mixing to combine. Pour shake into a glass and top with chocolate syrup.

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As with many people these days, I’ve been trying to eat healthier. For a long time, I just had oatmeal with fruit and nuts for breakfast because I had read that it contained a good balance of nutrients to start off the day. What they didn’t say, however, was that this gets very, very boring quickly. After a while it seemed like I was eating it because I had to and not because I wanted to. That was when I decided to look into something that could hold my interest for longer, and still be really tasty and nutritious.

If you go into most any grocery store these days, you’re bombarded with the “all-natural” section’s vast array of hippie foods that have become available. While I still feel that some people’s idea of a healthy diet just being chocked full of anything labeled organic, there are definitely some good products out there that are tasty and good for you. One of these products is the Green Machine Superfood Smoothie from Naked Juice. Like it admits on the package, it looks really weird but tastes really good. I didn’t think that it would be practical to go out and buy a smoothie every morning for breakfast, so I set out to make my own.

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Apple, banana, pineapple, kiwi, kale and avocado, blended with apple juice to make a nice smooth mixture. To be honest, I actually like this better than the bottled stuff. Being that I don’t want to do too much work when I’m just getting up in the morning, I read about a good method for making smoothies quickly. If you puree the fruits and freeze the puree in ice cube trays, you can take out just as much as you need and puree it with the juice. I normally use 3 cubes to a cup of juice and the consistency comes out really nicely. I like to have mine with some nice grainy toast with peanut butter and honey. A quick, easy, balanced breakfast and a great way to start off the day.

Not only does it taste better, it’s actually a little bit better for you.

Nutrition comparison

Note: The serving sizes on these are both a bit skewed, and the homemade version doesn’t have any of the “boosts” that the bottled one has. Still, it’s a pretty significant difference. Not to mention the homemade version coming out to about $.77 a portion while the bottled comes in at $1.49 a portion.

Homemade Green Machine Smoothie

  • Kale, chopped, 1 cup
  • Banana, sliced, 1 each
  • Green Apple, peeled, cored, chopped, 1 each
  • Kiwi, peeled, chopped, 2 each
  • Pineapple, chopped, about 1/2 cup
  • Avocado, pitted, 1 each
  • Apple Juice*, as needed

Combine all fruits and vegetables in a blender and blend until smooth, adding apple juice as needed. Transfer into ice cube trays and freeze.

To make smoothie: Combine 3 fruit cubes with 8oz of apple juice and blend until smooth.

*You can really use whatever kind of juice you’d like to. I tried it with Odwalla carrot juice at first, but it make the whole thing taste like nothing but carrot juice. I’ve found that apple doesn’t really give it too much flavor and retains the nice green color a lot better.

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