Better Breakfast Smoothies

As I’ve mentioned before, I intend to do a cleanse many times a year. Seasonally, I will get the urge to detox, get distracted by something sparkly (and/or a doughnut), and move on. The urge to cleanse is strongest around this time of year; with all the rich foods, booze, sweets, booze, cheese, booze, etc., I feel like I need to spend a few days in a sweat lodge consuming nothing but water and wheatgrass juice to get rid of all the poison. I could practice moderation and not buy a half-gallon thing of peppermint ice cream knowing I’ll eat it all. I could also avoid the white fudge covered Oreos entirely but I’m obviously not going to because they are LIMITED EDITION and who knows when they’ll ever be sold again?! I could even pass on the various cheese balls, logs, plates, and so forth but, come on, cheese is delicious – it is the number one reason I gave up being vegan long ago. That and hot dogs. Anyway, my point is – holiday food is super-tasty and I am going to eat it all and wash it down with a poinsettia so I need to do something daily(ish) to counteract the abnormally high levels of shit I’ll have in my system between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve.

Enter green smoothies, hot yoga, and apple cider vinegar drink.

Green smoothies are amazing for all kinds of reasons – mostly because you get a huge serving of nature’s little scrub brushes into one quick drink hidden beneath the taste of yogurt, fruit, honey, and whatever else you decide to throw in. Lately, I’ve really been enjoying the following combination:

1 cup (ish) packed baby spinach
1 cup (ish) frozen blueberries
1 cup green tea (brew 1 tea bag in 1/2 cup boiling water for 5 minutes, remove tea bag and add ice)
1/4-1/2 cup plain Kefir
Local Honey to taste
I blend all this up using an immersion blender (the most amazing kitchen appliance EVER – thank you Mom and Dad!) and it is ready to go in minutes with minimal effort and clean up required. Greens are good for everything – they are rich in iron, potassium, phytonutrients, and vitamins E, C, and K which means they improve your skin, your immune system, your heart, your bones, and they help get things moving through your digestive system so you can make room for more artery-clogging cheeses. I used spinach because it’s what we’ve had around the house lately, but you can use any dark, leafy, green you like. The blueberries are rich in fiber, vitamin C, and magical antioxidants which fight free-radicals, help you age gracefully, and prevent various diseases. Allegedly. The green tea does all those wonderful things PLUS it gives you a pleasant little caffeine boost to help get rid of any hang-over related head-aches you may have. The kefir (I really wish they’d change that name) contains lots of friendly bacteria and yeast to help balance and maintain a healthy environment in your colon. It can even, supposedly, help reduce flatulence. Although, drinking it in combination with lots of fruits and veggies probably won’t have that effect. Local honey not only helps sweeten this delicious dish, it helps strengthen your immune system, too.
It turned our more purple than green, but that’s OK. As magical as green/purple smoothies are, they aren’t going to handle all the nasty business of cleansing my system of holiday funk alone. So, I started going to hot yoga again after many, many months off and it is even more amazing than I remember. After class, I feel like my body has been completely wrung out. I’m sure the rest of the class feels that way, too – I sweat even more than one might expect while doing yoga in a 100+ degree room. It really is almost alarming. But, when class is over, I feel clean inside and out. Granted, everything is sore and I’ve been walking funny as a result, but that will pass.

Finally, the apple cider vinegar drink. Not as delicious as the green smoothie. Not even close. BUT it does all these wonderful things and then some for your body. So, I’ve been mixing one shot (2 Tbsp) of the good stuff in my 32oz water bottle and drinking it over the course of the day. There are many other recipes online for more delicious apple cider vinegar tonics using honey or maple syrup, but I’m keeping it simple for now. It’s tart, but I’ve grown to like it.

It might just be a placebo effect, but it’s working for now.


Better Parmesan & Peas

Y’all, our co-op kicks ass. When we lived in Nashville we went back and forth about joining a CSA because it was just the two of us and, even though I love me some random veggies – and I can certainly put them away, we were concerned about wasting food. I know there are options like canning, pickling, jamming, and so forth but farm girl I am not and I know my limits when it comes to the kitchen. At any rate, when we moved to Raleigh we started the search for a CSA to fit our needs and found Carolina Grown. Every week we get to order from their ever-expanding menu of produce, meat, fish, dairy, eggs, grains, pasta, baked goods, etc. all from right here in North Carolina and it is delivered right to our doorstep every Friday morning. Like I said – it kicks ass. The beauty of the co-op is that it inspires me to experiment with different ways to prepare the abundance of vegetables we receive every week.

This week, we got some English shelling peas. I love peas. They are adorable and delicious. But, I’d only ever eaten them one of two ways – in a pasta/casserole OR blanched with butter and salt. I did some sleuthing online and found this lovely collection of recipes from 101 Cookbooks. I was particularly inspired by the Spring Pea Slathered Crostini recipe but didn’t have everything on-hand so I just went with what I had: peas, parmesan, butter, salt, and crushed red pepper.

In the recipe she says to boil the water while you shell the peas. Due to my giant (not quite man-sized) hands and sausage-esque fingers – these kinds of tasks take me a good minute to complete. So, I waited until I was about half-way through the bag of peas to start the water. I cooked them for about 30 seconds, then rinsed and tossed them in a bowl with a pat of butter and a pinch of salt. I added a large (not quite man-sized) handful of shredded parmesan and several generous shakes of crushed red pepper. I attempted to “make quick work of it” with my immersion blender (also known as the most amazing kitchen tool I’ve ever owned) but, apparently, didn’t quite have enough of the mixture to fully submerge the blender resulting in a quick spray to the face of pea/parmesan/crushed red pepper. So, I got out my food processor and took care of business.

I served it as an ever so fancy blob on a plate with a fresh baguette. It was delicious. The crushed red pepper added the prefect amount of heat and parmesan is amazing no matter what you do with it. Next time, I’ll try it with manchego (my all-time favorite cheese) and serve it on a baguette with a slice of jamón serrano. Though, I don’t know if the manchego would last long enough in my kitchen to make it to the Cuisinart…