Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A Symphony of Smoothies

I have been going buck-wild with my smoothies lately. I think I've finally had my fill of Chocolate Cherry and Chocolate Blueberry Smoothies. Plus, there's an exciting new superfood in my fridge:

Spirulina! I know, I know, I got the memo, like, 25 years after everyone else. Dude, spirulina rocks! I have had a blast coming up with new smoothie creations for my favorite blue-green algae.

Yeah, spirulina made me wink.

 Carrot-Berry Spirulina Smoothie

1 medium frozen banana
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
handful frozen raspberries
3/4 cup carrot juice
3/4 cup water
2 shakes cinnamon
1 shake nutmeg
2 big handfuls baby spinach
1 inch chunk of fresh ginger
1 tablespoon hemp seeds
2 tablespoons hemp protein powder
1 teaspoon spirulina
3 ice cubes

Blend with high-speed blender until smooth.

Strawberry-Ginger Swamp Monster Smoothie

1 medium frozen banana
8 large frozen strawberries
3/4 cup carrot juice
3/4 cup water
big chunk of fresh ginger
few shakes cinnamon & nutmeg
2 big handfuls baby spinach
1 teaspoon spirulina
3 ice cubes

Blend with high-speed blender until smooth.

Multi-Berry Protein Smoothie

1 medium frozen banana
4 large frozen strawberries
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 cup frozen blackberries
2 big handfuls baby spinah
1 teaspoon spirulina
2 tablespoons hemp protein powder
1 tablespoon hemp seeds
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup seltzer water
3 drops liquid stevia
3 ice cubes

Blend with high-speed blender until smooth.

Blueberry-Mango-Ginger Smoothie

1 medium frozen banana
3/4 cup frozen mango chunks
3/4 cup frozen blueberries
big chunk of fresh ginger
few shakes of cinnamon
1 teaspoon spirulina
1 cup water
1/2 cup seltzer water
3 drops liquid stevia

Blend with high-speed blender until smooth.

No spirulina here, but this was crazy delish. I think this one had frozen blueberries, frozen strawberries, goji berries, frozen banana, cacao powder, hemp protein powder, and hemp seeds. I topped it off with some goji berries, mulberries, and golden berries. Yum!

 Spirulina, I think I love you. We're going places, you and me.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Just Desserts

One of the truly fabulous things about smoothies is that they are so dessert-like. I feel like I am having a milkshake every morning for breakfast, even though my smoothies are fairly low-sugar and very nutrient-dense. Smoothies do such a great job of satisfying my sweet tooth that I rarely feel compelled to make desserts. But I am always happy to break out the whisk and baking pans for special occasions.

On the anniversary of the day my son came home, we celebrated with a Funky Monkey Pie from Peas and Thank You. Bananas, peanut butter, chocolate, and graham crackers? Sign me up! 

What, pray tell, would an avocado, cacao powder, dates, some collard ribbons (?!?), and a big blob of raspberry jam all be doing in the same food processor at the same time?!

Making Gena's Chocomole, that's what (well, the collard ribbons were my idea....obviously.) It was so creamy and naughty-tasting, and it made a fun little dessert topped with sliced bananas and some Kashi cereal.

Sometimes, I wonder if my photography skills could get any worse...

These are Black Bean Brownies from Peas and Thank You. Trust me, they tasted way more amazing than these pictures would lead you to believe.

This is Grandma's Perfect and Easy Apple Crisp from VegWeb. Easy? Yes. Perfect? Ehhh... Although I think it was my fault for not chopping the apples into smaller pieces. Oh well!

And, finally, I made Our Favorite Chocolate Cake from Vegan Express for Father's Day. I should have taken a picture of what this thing looked like after trying to remove it from the pan....let's just say, about 1/4 of the cake remained glued to the bottom. No problemo. I just scraped it up, mashed it onto a plate, and then plopped the rest of the cake on top and pressed down. My cake looked so terrible that it was actually kind of funny. Somehow that didn't stop us from shoveling this down our pie-holes :)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Duo of Green Smoothies

I am a huuuuge fan of green smoothies. I feel virtuous throwing some greens and veggies into my Vita-Mix (along with fruit, protein powder, hemp seeds, water, Amazing Greens powder) and blending my way to a virtual salad in a glass. It sure beats a Frappuccino for breakfast, I can tell you!

Look at that gorgeous color! I don't even remember what this one was. I want to say it was mango, banana, almond milk, chard, celery, and chia seeds, but I could be wrong. It could have been kale, or spinach, or collards in there. I dunno. It was delicious, regardless!

I do know what this one was - it was Gena's Lime-in-the-Coconut Smoothie. It was a little too tangy for my palate, so I added some frozen mango in there, too. I think it helped balance the flavors for me.

I really like this smoothie because it is avocado-based and not too sweet - it made a refreshing light lunch yesterday when I wanted something quick and hydrating after mowing the lawn.

I'm looking for other avocado-smoothie ideas. Any suggestions?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

BBQ Chickpea Pizza

Look at me...I'm finally getting past my fear of making bread and pizza dough from scratch!

Yesterday, I baked a kick-booty BBQ Chickpea Pizza. It rocked my socks! I made the Tried and True Whole Wheat Pizza Dough (from scratch!! kneading and rolling and stretching the dough and everything!!!) and Everything's Better With Barbecue Sauce from Peas and Thank You. The barbecue sauce is an answer to my prayers, because I've yet to find a bottled barbecue sauce that meets my strict criteria:
1) vegan
2) no tomato paste (hello, acid reflux!)
3) no crappy artificial ingredients like HFCS
4) not too spicy (hello again, acid reflux!)

Thanks to Mama Pea, I can have tummy-friendly barbecue sauce in just 30 minutes. Yay!

Here's my beautiful dough, all rolled out, stretched, and ready to bake. I'm so proud of myself!

Next, I topped the dough with the barbecue sauce, some thinly sliced onion, and a can of chickpeas.

On top of that went a mix of Daiya mozzarella and cheddar shreds:

Finally, it went into the oven for 18 minutes. What emerged was a gooey, melty vegan pizza that rivaled this pizza I used to shell out $18 for. Not anymore! I think this pizza cost me less than $5 to make, huzzah!

*Drool...* it was SOOOO good, especially with some frosty cold beer on the side. I think this is my new favorite pizza!

What are your favorite pizza combinations?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Appetite for Reduction Blitz

Anyone who's ever read my blog knows that I am quite fond of Isa Chandra Moskowitz's Appetite for Reduction. I have tried 79 recipes (and counting!!) from this cookbook, and it's the one that I reach for when I want something quick, healthy, and filling. Here are some things from AFR that I've made recently:

Tamarind Quinoa (left) and Curried Chickpeas & Greens:

Quinoa Puttanesca, arugula & tomato salad with white balsamic vinaigrette, and garlic bread:

Portobello Pepper Steak Stew, served over a baked sweet potato:

I substituted tempeh for the seitan, white onion for the red onion, and omitted the red pepper flakes. I wouldn't really call it a stew per was more like what goes into a Philly Cheesesteak sandwich. No matter, it was still tasty! Next time I'm going to add some banana peppers, Daiya mozzarella, and a torpedo roll and make a vegan Philly Cheez!

Finally, this was a dish I wanted to love, but it fell a little flat for me. This is Pasta de los Angeles (with brown rice penne instead of whole wheat angel hair pasta):

It's fresh jalapeno, garlic, tomatoes, spinach, black beans, shallots, lime zest, and lime juice tossed with pasta. It's supposed to have 1 cup of fresh cilantro in there, too, but I didn't have any on hand. Maybe that would have made the difference?? I don't know. I mean, I love Mexican flavors, and I love pasta, but I didn't love them together. Oh well. My hubby and son seemed to like it, though. And besides, there was bound to be a recipe or two that I wasn't crazy about!

If you have AFR, what are some of your favorite dishes?

Monday, June 4, 2012

Birthday Food: Homemade Bread, Muffalettas and Cake!

It was Mr. Bananas for Smoothies's birthday the other day, so I decided to go all-out and make him a birthday feast of his favorite foods.

I haven't made them in a couple of years, but I remember how much my hubby loved the Veggie Tempeh Muffaletta sandwiches from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan. It's a delectable mix of chopped olives, capers, red peppers (raw & roasted), sauteed tempeh, celery, green onions, garlic, red wine vinegar, and olive oil. It's salty, tangy, and uber-delish.

The filling is layered on crusty bread and topped with some avocado, spinach, and sliced tomatoes. Lousy baker that I am, I would normally have bought some bakery bread, but I took a chance and tried to make my own bread - the Sunflower Artisan Loaf from 1,000 Vegan Recipes.

Success! It rose beautifully and was super-easy to make, even for a novice like myself. In fact, the dough rose so much that I ended up splitting it into 2 loaves before baking. I just cut 5 minutes off the baking time and it came out perfectly.

I sliced one of the loaves horizontally, like so:

Then I scooped out much of the middle part in order to make room for the yummy filling:

Next, I added some sliced avocado:

Then I topped it with some sliced tomatoes and baby spinach:

Finally, I put the top back on and pressed down hard to smoosh everything together:

Finally, I used a serrated knife to cut the sandwiches in half. Here's an inside look:

I was tired after all my bread-and-muffaletta-making, so I just threw some sweet potato tots in the oven for a side dish:

My hubby was thrilled to have his beloved muffaletta sandwich again :) And he was very impressed by my attempt (and victory!) at bread baking!!

We made sure to save some room for birthday cake and ice cream. I don't make cakes very often, but I immediately thought of the delicious Apple-Cardamom Cake with Lemon-Maple Frosting from Vive Le Vegan!:

This cake is as healthy as cake can get - it is made with oat flour, whole wheat pastry flour, applesauce, spices, and a minimum of oil and (natural) sugar. The frosting is silken tofu-based and includes maple syrup, lemon juice, lemon zest, and agar powder. The best part is that you can eat an two enormous slice of this cake and not feel gross afterward. Yay for natural sweeteners and whole-grain flours!

The only thing I didn't make was homemade ice cream. Hey, that's what Trader Joe's is for! Cherry Chocolate Chip Soy Creamy....oh yeah!

Happy birthday to my sweetie!