Green Smoothie Challenge: Day 1

Green Smoothie Challenge: Preparation
Green Smoothie Challenge: Day 0.5

Yesterday was the first full day of our Green Smoothie Challenge, and it went surprisingly well. I did have a slight headache throughout the day but other then that I felt good.

I also have two of my own recipes to share with you: Italian White Beans and Gomae. Enjoy!

I think the hardest part for both Jem and I is going to be staying warm. The weather’s pretty cold and damp around here, making the idea of a ice-cold smoothie less than desirable (especially when you have to have it before the sun comes up or the heat comes on) and we sure were looking forward to a big bowl of hot soup for dinner. We have been combatting the cold with lots of hot herbal tea, which does help some. Putting stevia in the tea also helps combat our sweet-tooths’ cravings.

The past couple days I’ve been having one smoothie for breakfast, a salad and soup for lunch and dinner, and then another smoothie in the evening. The evening is when Jem and I both crave snacks and sweets the most, so sipping on a semi-sweet smoothie at this point really helps.

Just a reminder that you can find more info and all the recipes mentioned below (unless I give a different link) here.

What I Ate (Monday October 21)
I started the day with 2 cups of lemon water, then made a Tropical Colada Smoothie. I used 1/2 cup of our Greens Puree in place of the spinach, used only 1/2 of a banana, and left out the coconut. I don’t have a cup big enough for these smoothies, so I put half of it in the freezer for about 45 minutes, while I drank the other half. This made the frozen half like a slushy by the time I  ate it so I used a spoon, and enjoyed it even more than the first.

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Mid-morning I snacked on a little bit of hummus with cucumber and carrots.

Around 1pm, I had a big salad for lunch that included romaine lettuce, red leaf lettuce, carrots, zucchini, cucumber, artichoke hearts, Italian White Beans, and Tahini Cream Dressing. I love this simple salad dressing; tahini and lemon is always a winning combination!

Italian White Beans
1 can white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Place all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Let simmer, stirring occasionally, until heated through and most of the liquid is gone.

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I actually made this salad too big. I couldn’t even finish the whole thing!IMG_3014

During the afternoon I had 2 cups of rooibos tea with vanilla stevia and another 2 cups of water.

For dinner, Jem and I had about 2 cups of the Cheezy-Smokey-Spicy Black Bean Soup, and a small serving of home-made Gomae. This gomae isn’t made from freshly roasted sesame seeds like is traditional, but it is much simpler, and every bit as tasty. No, the challenge doesn’t really allow for sauces like this on the unlimited steamed vegetables, but we decided since we didn’t use our allotted 1/4 cup of salad dressing on our lunch salad, that this would be okay.

I did end up pureeing the soup again to get a smoother texture and I enjoyed it much more than the other day.

Gomae (Serves 4 as a Side)
2 large bunches spinach, rinsed
3 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
1 tsp rice vinegar
1/2 tsp ginger powder
1 tsp coconut sugar or 5 drops liquid stevia
2-3 tbsp warm water

Note: If I hadn’t made this for the Challenge, I would have also added 1 tsp of sesame oil to the sauce, for a stronger sesame flavour.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Turn the heat to medium-low, add the spinach to the pot and let cook it cook for 2-3 minutes. Transfer the spinach to a colander and rinse it with cold water. Over the sink or a bowl, press on the spinach to release excess water, then let it sit while you prepare the sauce.

For the sauce, just mix all the ingredients together in a blender or by hand. Press on the spinach once more to release any more liquid, place some spinach in a small bowl, and drizzle with 1-2 tbsp of the sauce. Sprinkle with roasted sesame seeds if desired.

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After dinner I got on the elliptical for the second night in a row! I did a 30 minute program and then 10 minutes of stretching.

Later on, I added the second half of my Apple Pie Smoothie (from Day 0.5) into the blender and blended it up with 1 cup of frozen blueberries and 4 drops of vanilla stevia. Yum!

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Jenn and I ate pretty much the exact same thing for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but she had a different smoothie in the evening: the Blueberry Vanilla Smoothie. She used 1/2 cup Greens Puree in place of the greens, used vanilla stevia, and left out the water and ice to get a thicker texture (which we both feel makes the smoothie feel more like a milkshake/dessert).

P.S. – Between all the herbal tea and water I drank, I made it up to 11 cups of water again! (Not including anything in the smoothies or other food.)

See you tomorrow!

Green Smoothie Challenge: Day 2

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Pineapple Mango Creamsicles and Mixed Berry Ice Pops

It is definitely summer around here and while I’m loving the sunshine, I’m not a huge fan of the heat. What better way to beat the heat than with an icy totally guilt-free treat?! (Really didn’t intend for all the rhyming there!)

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Store-bought popsicles may be fruit-flavoured, but they are usually just frozen sugar-water, without any actual fruit in sight. These home-made popsicles taste even better than store-bought, are almost completely all fruit, and therefore completely guilt-free! They are also super quick and easy to make. If you know how to turn on a blender, than you can make these in about five minutes. The hardest part is waiting for them to freeze!

Pineapple Mango Creamsicles
1 cup pineapple chunks
1 cup mango chunks
1 cup canned coconut milk
1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk (or more coconut milk, for an even creamier creamsicle)
1/2 tsp orange extract
Optional – sweetener to taste

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Mixed Berry Ice Pops
1 cup blueberries
1 cup other berries (raspberries, blackberries, cranberries, strawberries…) – You can choose one kind, or a mixture.
2 cups water or non-dairy milk
Optional – sweetener to taste

For both kinds, just throw everything in a blender and blend until smooth. Divide into whatever ice pop molds you have and place them in a freezer to freeze. Wait impatiently. Enjoy!

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Notes:
– For both recipes, you can use either fresh or frozen fruit, or a combination of both. 

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I’ve shared this post with Raw Food Thursday (7/18/13), Allergy-Free Wednesday, Gluten Free Wednesdays (7/17/13), Healthy Vegan Friday #52, Gluten Free Friday #49, and Wellness Weekend (July 18-22).

Questions
Ice cream or popsicles?

What is your favourite popsicle flavour? Or the craziest flavour you’ve tried?
Feel free to share or link to the recipe!

Smoothies of 2013: Part 1

Thanks to my new (to me) KitchenAid 5-Speed Blender that I bought off a friend right around Christmas, and some awesome inspiration in the form of Somer’s Green Smoothie Challenge I’ve managed to restart my smoothie habit after many cold months of going without.

While I haven’t been having a smoothie every day, like I originally planned to do, I think I’ve been doing quite well. Having all of the following smoothies in roughly the past two weeks, is a huge improvement over not having any at all for months! At the moment, mostly due to the cold weather, I haven’t had any interest in having smoothies for breakfast (I simply don’t want anything cold to make my morning colder) but I have found ways of fitting them in during the rest of my day. Smoothies make a great meal when I start work at odd times, and would be starving on my first break if I don’t eat quite close to my start time. On these occasions I like to make my smoothie right before I leave the house and take it with me on my way to work. I’ve also had them a couple of times for lunch while I’m at home, sipping on it while I continue to get things done around the house.

The following smoothies all either yield 2 or 4 cups. For me, 2 cups seems to be the perfect meal size, no matter what kind of smoothie it is (keep in mind I almost always have Vega or hemp protein powder in mine). The 4 cup smoothies can be shared with someone (as I did for the Blueberry Vanilla Almond Smoothie) or can be split between two meals/snacks (as I did for the Razzleberry Lemonade Smoothie and the Pumpkin Pie Smoothie). And of course, if you want to drink all 4 cups at once, go ahead!

1) Razzleberry Lemonade Smoothie (Yields 4 cups) [from the Green Smoothie Challenge]
I basically followed the recipe, but switched spinach for kale and used 1 scoop of hemp protein powder in place of the choice of flax, hemp, or chia seeds. I used mostly raspberries, with some blueberries for the frozen berries. Despite my blender having some trouble with the lemon (I think next time I would use the lemon zest and pulp, without the rind) this smoothie was awesome! The addition of lemon made this very different from any of my usual smoothies, and I mean different in a good way.
Collage, Raz Lemon Smoothie

2) Pumpkin Pie Smoothie (Yields 4 cups) [Recipe from Oh She Glows]
I followed Angela’s recipe, except replaced the almond milk with soy milk (just because that’s what I had) and reduced down to 1/2 a frozen banana. I also added 1/2 a serving (1 scoop) of Vega Vanilla Chai Whole Food Health Optimizer for some extra nutrients because I knew the flavours would fit perfectly in with the pumpkin pie flavours.
This smoothie tastes great and is super rich and creamy. It does not taste like it could be a meal, though it easily could be (especially with the addition of Vega), and half of it was a filling meal for me.
This was the first time I’ve tried putting oats in a smoothie, and I’m not so sure whether or not I like the result. I’m sure they contributed to the thick creamy texture, but the smoothie felt a bit too heavy for me (at least compared to my usual smoothies). I don’t think that adding oats to my smoothies is going to become a regular thing.
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3) Blueberry Matcha Green Smoothie (Yields 2 cups)
1 cup frozen blueberries
1/4 cup frozen banana slices
1/2 cup packed spinach
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp matcha powder
1/3 serving Natural Vega One
1/2 cup unsweetened dairy milk (I used soy)
1.5 tsp maple syrup (or to taste)
1 1/4 cups cold water
If you like matcha than you will like this one! Tastes mostly like matcha, though its not overpowering: you can still taste the blueberries and the vanilla.

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4) Blueberry Vanilla Almond Smoothie (Yields 4 cups)
2 cups frozen blueberries
1/2 cup spinach
1 scoop (1 serving Vega Vanilla Almondilla Energizing Smoothie)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk (I used soy)
2 cups cold water
This one is definitely a keeper! If you like vanilla and almonds (does any one not?) then you will love this! I actually meant to put some banana (maybe 1/2 of one) in this as well, but I forgot.
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5) Vanilla Almond Matcha Smoothie (Yields 2 cups)
1 cup frozen blueberries
1/3 cup frozen mango
1 scoop Vega Vanilla Almondilla Energizing Smoothie
1/2 tsp matcha powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 cups cold water
(optional) Sweetener to taste
This one is a mix between the previous two. This one tastes more like the vanilla and almond than the matcha, but it is still detectable (and delicious).

6) Tropical Colada Vega Smoothie (Yields 2 cups) [based on the Tropical Colada recipe from the Green Smoothie Challenge]
1 cup packed spinach
Zest and flesh from 1/2 orange
1/2 banana
1/2 cup frozen pineapple
1 scoop (1 serving) Vega Tropical Tango Energizing Smoothie
1/2 cup vanilla soy milk
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup crushed ice
1 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut
This is similar to smoothies I’ve made in the past using the Vega Tropical Tango Energizing Smoothie, but this one just seems to be on a whole different level. So good! I also love the beautiful green colour of this smoothie! I love green smoothies, but as soon as you add something like berries or chocolate (or berry or chocolate Vega) they can turn some pretty strange and not so pleasant colours. This one is just a pure vibrant green!
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You might have noticed I’ve mentioned Vedged Out‘s Green Smoothie Challenge a lot in this post. I did because I think it is pretty darn awesome! While I haven’t yet followed the actual challenge, I have tried two of the smoothie recipes and one of the salad dressing recipes, and following Somer’s daily posts throughout her week of the challenge provided some serious inspiration to do some healthier eating. The basic recipes and all the information can be found by clicking the 2013 Green Smoothie Challenge link on this page. There are also other recipes and lots of photos in Somer’s 7 daily posts about the challenge.

healthy vegan friday button This post has been submitted to Healthy Vegan Friday #31. If you haven’t checked out Healthy Vegan Friday yet, you really should!

Questions
Like smoothies? What is in your favourite one? 

Are you trying to make any positive changes to your eating habits this year?

Smoothies!

I love smoothies & shakes! I make smoothies with Vega One, Vega Energizing Smoothie or hemp protein powder for meals, and simpler smoothies & shakes for snacks. They are quick, easy, and portable: perfect for quick breakfast before a workout or meal before work. And the best thing? Infinite possibilities!

Here are a few smoothies that I’ve made in the past couple of weeks.

Mocha Banana Frappe
Frozen banana slices
4 ice cubes
2 tbsp Starbucks Hot Cocoa Powder Mix
Original Coconut Dream (non-dairy milk)
Cold coffee
Jem and I shared this for an afternoon treat! We didn’t intend it to taste like banana, but it was still really good.

Carob Peppermint Green Smoothie
1 handful frozen baby kale
Frozen banana slices
Frozen pineapple chunks
1 tsp chia seeds
1 tsp ground flax
1/4 tsp peppermint extract
2 tbsp carob powder (or cocoa)
1 serving (30g) hemp protein powder
Unsweetened almond milk

Hemp Protein Powder

Before milk & blending.

Greens + chocolate never makes a pretty smoothie, but tastes great!

LOVE this cup!

Spiced Tropical Smoothie
1 serving (1 scoop) Tropical Vega Energizing Smoothie
Frozen mango, pineapple, & banana
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
Pinch nutmeg
Pinch cloves
1 tbsp hemp hearts
Unsweetened coconut milk (I mean the stuff in cartons sold for drinking, not the cans)
I really liked the combination of sweet tropical fruits paired with spices. And I love the pretty yellow colour of this one!

Questions
Do you use any protein or meal replacement powders, and what do you think of the ones you’ve tried?

Have you tried Vega?
You should! In addition to the Vega One, and Vega Energizing Smoothie, I also use Vega Sport Recovery Accelerator.

Do you have a favourite smoothie recipe, ingredient, or flavour combination?