First Guest Post: Blueberry Avocado Smoothie!

The other day I was searching for an email my brother had sent me and I typed “Joe radish” into the search bar. We tend to like the same sorts of food – and by like I mean rave like addicts – such as grilled vegetables, coconut anything, and of course sweet potatoes. We email at least 4 times a week, and a majority of those emails are about food. I love having a person in my life who gets as excited about making and sharing food as I do. I mean, how often do you pair a person’s name with a vegetable in your search bar? I thought I’d share a few of our missives first before moving on to this gorgeous, quick and easy recipe, perfect for an energy-packed breakfast or afternoon pick-me-up.

it’s go time

Kate:
ahhhhhhhhhhhh your produce box makes me so jealous!!!! salad and green smoothie every week, holla. and KALE. oh momma kale…

***

Joe: got some beef stew meat. What veggies should I put in it?
Kate: Hmm beef stew…sweet potatoes. Traditional is carrots, potatoes, peas. I think any kind of root veggie would be great: rutabegas, parsnips, acorn squash, butternut squash. Butternut squash! That would be really good. Spring onions. Garlic? I can’t think of any American produce right now….some sort of spinach or spinach family…Chard! No , kale. KALE.
***
Kate: Yeah if you could post it that would be great! You can also put your website up there too and get your name out. Btw, are you friends with civilized caveman on facebook????!!!!

Joe: yes walter yes
***
Joe: also, thought you would like my eating adventures… went to yoga first thing this morning and then was having a hungry day.  breakfast was:

9 over easy eggs
2/3 bag baby spinach
2 GF bagels with almond butter and sliced strawberries and banana
1 apple
handful baby carrots

was surprised by the quantity, but I think it was partially because I had a hungry day yesterday too and never quite satisfied the hunger…

Kate:
I do enjoy hearing about your eating adventures. What kind of GF bagels do you get? probably an extra hungry day from all the travel and whatnot. I can’t believe you eat an average of 7-9 eggs! and he’s roughly the size of a barge! Gastoooooooooon….

***
Joe:
today I made pecan-encrusted and walnut-encrusted chicken, and I think it is my new favorite thing.  I also want to try it with hazelnuts and try nut+salmon.  I also roasted my first kabocha squash!
Kate:
AHHH SO HUNGRY TODAY.but those nut encrusted things sound sooo delicious, esp the salmon right now. do you add any other spices? I’m feeling some nutmeg with those hazelnuts, but just a dash. also have you tried herbamare?  its really good
SQUAAAAAAAAAAAASH. I’m buying an oven with my next paycheck. roasting here I come…ps I am drinking this tea called “healthy tea” (or herushii, as the japanese say) and it has carrots, reishi, orange peel, some other random stuff I dont know, but it is for my “Beauty Feeling”. what a country
***

As you can see, my brother does most of the intelligent communication – asking questions, telling stories, sharing recipes and brainstorming ideas. I usually respond with emphatic capitalization of the foods I want to eat in that very moment. Can you turn vegetables into an onomatopoeia? One amazing oversight is that I haven’t included any of the other 10,000 emails where we use the word awesome repeatedly. But having someone like Joe to share food adventures, questions, and inspiration with is nothing short of awesome and awe-inspiring. I’m incredibly lucky to have him as a friend, role model, and brother. And we’re lucky that he is sharing his smoothie-making magic with us today! This guy is a wonder at the juicer, blender, and grill:
Blueberry Avocado Smoothies, by Joe Johnson of Feeling Terrific

Rushing to work and don’t have time to make a big breakfast? Need a summer cool-down but don’t want to reach for ice cream or sno-cones? Just want to experience the fantastic flavors of your favorite fruits and vegetables blended together? Green smoothies to the rescue!
I personally have a smoothie for breakfast every workday. It only takes a few minutes to prepare and I can enjoy it on the road while driving to work. I pack my smoothies full of fruit, greens, and healthy fats to keep me satiated and steady all morning.This version starts with blueberries, my favorite of fruits. I usually get frozen wild blueberries at Trader Joe’s, which remind me of picking blueberries with Kate near our grandparents’ house.

I made another version that used cucumber instead of blueberries – SO GOOD

Coconut milk was a staple in my smoothies until I discovered something better: avocado!
Avocado is an under-used smoothie ingredient that makes any drink incredibly creamy.
Start adding ¼-1/2 an avocado to your smoothies and I guarantee you’ll never go back!
The healthy fats keep my blood sugar stable and keep me full all morning – no crashes like after donuts or coffee.

I throw a handful of greens into my smoothies to give me extra energy and vitamins. Amazingly, they blend right in and you don’t even taste them. I usually use red or green kale, but swiss chard or spinach work well too.

Top your smoothie off with a superfood like raw cacao powder, maca, ground flax seeds,
or chia seeds, and you’ll truly have a breakfast of champions! This version includes chia
seeds, which become awesomely gelatinous and interesting when soaked overnight.

Blueberry-Avocado Smoothies

1 cup frozen blueberries (organic, if possible)
½ ripe avocado
Handful red kale
1 T chia seeds soaked overnight in ½ cup water
2 cups water (add more for a thinner consistency)
(optional) few drops stevia for added sweetness

Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Pour and enjoy!

Makes one Joe-sized breakfast, or two large smoothies.

with avocado and a dash of lime

***
I really enjoy kale in my green smoothies as well, but since you can’t get kale here in Japan (yet) I used komatsuna, which is a less-bitter cousin to fully-grown spinach. I recommend using baby spinach in green smoothies for it’s milder flavor. If you want to try regular spinach, I suggest steaming them first. Or you can make a silky green soup for another fantastic way to pack in greens during mealtimes! But back to smoothies, I totally agree about the fun texture of soaked chia seeds. It reminds me of the bubble tea that everyone used to go crazy for in college. I never liked it (too sweet, amazingly), but it always looked like fun to eat.

soaked chia seeds

So dive in to some great smoothie combinations and let us know what you think! I’ll leave you with one last email….
Kate:
AWESOME BREAKFAST THIS MORNING. I put my xmas meal leftovers into a cabbage wrap~ one was sunflower seed spread with tomatoes, avocado, roasted cauliflower, and sprouts. The other was mashed spiced sweets [sweet potatoes], balsamic chicken, perfect onions, and a pickled fig. Trying to do a new blog post on squash and vegetables, but my recent pictures arent uploading and I just formatted my camera! augh, distracting myself with  a snack of half a roasted sweet [potato] too. and I:m going home to make more chestnut soup!

did you find a suitable blender in MI? made some fresh almond milk last night, havent done that in a while and it was delish.

I LOVE FOOD
are you scheming? [skiing]

***
Joe: I like how we seem to be making similar diet changes independently…

Kate: well, auntie patty told me they used to say we had our own language. maybe its food-based
***

Oh. It definitely is.

***
Joined the awesome bandwagon at Diet, Dessert & Dogs Wellness Weekend July 5-9
Happily submitted to Fit & Fabulous Fridays #39

Creamy Pumpkin Pasta & Spring Vegetables + Our first giveaway!

Last night my friend asked me what my favorite thing was in my fridge at that time. I couldn’t come up with a good response until today. Leftovers. Leftovers are glorious. My usual strategy is to cook two big meals on the weekend: turkey & vegetable soup, maybe a Thai, Nepalese or Indian curry, or roast chicken, and enjoy quality meals with limited prep time throughout a busy week. The work is already done, and I’m eating food so good it makes me close my eyes and do a happy chair wiggle. You know what I mean.

But there are many people in my family who liken leftovers to dog food. I can understand that. Who wants to microwave something and end up with dry meat or fish, crunchy rice, or my ultimate nightmare -soggy vegetables? First off, I don’t use a microwave. I don’t like what it does to my food texturally and I think using a microwave is just plain bad for you. I gently reheat meat or fish in a saucepan over medium low or low heat. Same goes for curries or soups – into a pot and not nuked. I don’t eat a lot of rice, but if there are leftovers you can make yaki-onigiri (grilled rice cakes) or add it to soup. Anything braised, made into a chili, or prepared via slow cooker actually tastes better as leftovers.

The main reason I love leftovers, however, is because they have the potential to be not the pallid version of yesterday but the start, no halfway finish, to a new meal. Leftovers are great because most of the work is already done for you. Meat and veggies can go in omelets or tacos. Bits and pieces left on a roasted chicken can go in for soup stock along with bones and vegetable peelings.

No one illustrates this more beautifully than Tamar E. Adler in her new book, An Everlasting Meal. She makes me want to cook things I would never previously dream of enjoying, such as homemade mayonnaise or things containing anchovies. And her ideas on leftovers are a revelation. I’ve enjoyed this book so much, I’m going to give you the chance to win a copy! See details at the end of this recipe.

I don’t want to say too much for fear of breaking any sort of copyright laws, and you should just go straight to the source. Tamar Adler says it so much more beautifully and convincingly than I can. She encourages us to think of meals not in a linear way, dutifully plowing through dry or soggy leftovers in order to move on to better meals, but rather like a big circle. The best way I can illustrate this is to show you with a recipe I came up with last night after a long day out and little desire to make a big production for dinner. I still managed to feed two people, have leftovers, and start preparing some parts of my lunch today.

Breakfast: Roasted Kabocha

Wash the skin with fruit & veggie spray. Cut kabocha into quarters. Scoop out seeds and set aside to roast later for a snack. Spread 1 T coconut oil onto each pumpkin piece, and roast in a 400 degree oven until flesh is caramelized and easily pierced with a fork (or dull chopstick if you’re like me). This takes about 45 – 70 minutes, depending on the size of your squash. Set one of the pieces aside for dinner.

simultaneous roasting of sweet potato optional

Dinner: Creamy Pumpkin Pasta with Spring Vegetables

Makes 3 servings

4oz gluten-free noodles. I used Ancient Quinoa Harvest corn-quinoa blend.

2 tsp Herbamare salt, divided

1 large bunch of spring asparagus, no thicker than a pencil and cut into 1 ½ inch pieces

1 medium zucchini, sliced thinly on a mandolin

¼ roasted kabocha squash, flesh scooped out and mashed (I ended up with 2/3 c)

1/3 c pasta cooking water, reserved

¼ tsp thyme

In a large saucepan, bring water and 1 tsp of Herbamare to a boil. Add the gluten-free noodles once the water has reached a rolling boil. Cook according to package directions, but do not overcook. My instructions said 6-8 minutes, so I made sure only to cook for 6 minutes total. In the last two minutes of cooking time, add the asparagus and zucchini. Turn off the heat. This is why you want the vegetables to be thin so they cook quickly.

In a wide skillet, mash the kabocha with 1/3 c pasta water until it is smooth. Use tongs to transfer the pasta and vegetables into a wide skillet. Gently toss to combine, adding the thyme and remaining teaspoon of Herbamare. If the sauce looks too watery, simmer the pasta over low heat until the sauce has thickened to your liking. Of course if the sauce is too thick, add some more pasta water one tablespoon at a time.  Serve as is for a light meal or with a side of roasted chicken if you have hungrier dinner guests.

for Lunch Save the remaining pasta water. Bring to a boil and add shelled fava beans (you could also add green beans or any other veggie you want to flash boil). Cook for 3-4 minutes until the beans are tender. Strain, saving the pasta water for stock. Cool the beans overnight and add them to your usual lunch salad.

Another breakfast I plan on eating the pasta leftovers tomorrow! I’m also going to make chicken stock with the leftover pasta water and chicken bones.

Please please please buy a copy of An Everlasting Meal. It will make you love your kitchen, love your cooking mistakes, and love leftovers! If you can’t afford it – try your local library. If you want to win a copy, follow the instructions below!

Please leave a comment (and not anonymously) and share your favorite kitchen memory. Next time you are afraid to cook or don’t feel like it after a long day, remember that memory and try to recreate a good feeling rather than a perfect dish. Giveaway will be open until Sunday at midnight, Central Time in the US. I’ll announce the winner Monday.

Breakdown of Links

Turkey & Vegetable Soup from eatrecyclerepeat

Brown Rice Yaki Onigiri with Bacon & Avocado from La Fuji Mama

Stone Soup from 222 million tons

About Tamar E. Adler and her book, An Everlasting Meal

Roasted Delicata Squash Seeds from Civilized Caveman Cooking Creations

Excerpt from “How to Live Well”, a chapter about cooking beans from An Everlasting Meal

Anatomy of a Salad from eatrecyclerepeat

“cooking mistakes” aka Kitchen Failures from eatrecyclerepeat

Part of Diet, Dessert & Dogs Wellness Weekend May 17 – 21.

Many thanks to Joy the Baker for introducing me to this fabulous book.

Simple Green Smoothie + A Stroke of Squash Genius

I wanted to write “A Stroke of Sleep Deprived Squash Genius”, but I thought that might get a little long.

International travel, my friends, is a terrifically wonderful thing. So often we can take for granted the fact that we can get in a giant metal bird and FLY. Honestly, whenever I get a little tired of a flight: dehydrated, headachey, full of airplane food – I remember that it is a miracle that I am even above the clouds at all.

However, I do believe that our bodies have not quite adapted to the wonder of zooming through dozens of time zones in a matter of hours. After a few weeks of here-and-back-again, I am craving the balance of a few goods nights sleep in a row. While I wait for that balance to come back in my sleep schedule, I’ve noticed how incredibly valuable it is to support jet lag and travel with proper nutrition.

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Anatomy of a Salad

I was trying to decide what recipe to post this week. I wanted to share something that I eat often, and finally it dawned on me: salad. I eat it every day, sometimes twice a day as lunch and part of dinner. And I NEVER, ever get tired of it. When I travel for a few days and don’t get my daily salad fix, I find myself longing desperately for a giant bowl of crunchy green.

thinly sliced raw radish, steamed cod, okra, avocado, and lettuce salad with mustard vinaigrette

I know what some of you may be thinking. Salad? Really? That’s so…mundane and boring. Who truly enjoys eating salad? And when I think of the typical restaurant salad – limp, white lettuce, a few paltry out of season tomatoes, and the occasional shredded carrot – I wouldn’t be excited either. However, the key is variety! I eat salad every day, but not the same one. I love monster salads packed full of interesting ingredients and combinations.  Here are a few tips for building a stellar salad:

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A New Outlook + Braised and Roasted Cabbage

I was never a huge fan of cabbage as a child. It fell under the category of over-boiled, soggy vegetables, ruined by unfortunate preparation methods (Oh how I lament how many people must have been turned off lovely broiled Brussels sprouts or lightly sautéed spinach because they’ve only ever experienced bland, boiled, limp nothingness). And sauerkraut, sauerkraut was old people food – warm and weird and eaten other odd senior citizen favorites like creamed corn and bright yellow and pink packages of Oscar Meyer liverwurst.

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Grain-Free Okayu aka Cauliflower Stew

First off I must say that I was inspired by two things in this post – Gluten Free Girl’s “that persistent hope” on keeping her kitchen organized and La Fuji Mama’s podcast “Miso Hungry”. I’m always looking for ways to smooth out simple processes in the kitchen to make cooking, but more so cleaning up after cooking, more enticing. Especially on days when I am tired or not feeling the best – I don’t want to spend a lot of time on an elaborate meal or cleaning all the dishes afterwards.

What really struck a chord was what Shauna said about prepping vegetables as soon as she returned from the grocery store. Pre-prepped food means you are more likely to use it before it goes bad, saving on food waste and ensuring you’ll have healthy, nutritious meals rather than resorting to fast food or take out.

Cauliflower waiting to be sprayed, scrubbed, and washed

Tuesday night was a perfect illustration of produce prep harmony. My digestion had been off for a few days so I was really craving some soup. Luckily before I left for my weekend trip, I had washed, chopped, and frozen some celery so it wouldn’t go bad. I had also frozen some chicken stock, so I pulled those two out and defrosted them in some gently boiling water while I prepped the rest of the ingredients.

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Almond Hot Cocoa

On Sunday I was perusing a few food blogs, and I came upon this video from the Spunky Coconut. I haven’t eaten chocolate in quite a few months, since 1. it is hard to find any without refined sugar or sweeteners and 2. I haven’t craved it nearly as much since I chose to stop eating sugar, BUT that has only intensified my love for raw cacao. And after hearing about all the benefits of raw cacao (more antioxidants than blueberries?!), I was itching to make something with it.

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