Healthy Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

2014-09-08 19.52.53

When it comes to exclusively fall foods, pumpkin is one that certainly comes to mind.  No other time of year do I want to ingest a Jack-o-lantern, let alone crave it.  There is something so indulgent but at the same time healthy.  Pumpkin is a type of squash full of vitamins (A,B,C, and K) and minerals.  The flavor is distinct but it is easily used in seasonal drinks, desserts, and now healthy smoothies.  I feel like I’m playing a trick on my body with this treat because it tastes so good but is really good for me.

I used my Vitamix blender to get the rich and velvety quality of the smoothie, in just 45 seconds of blend time you have guest pleasing dessert…or breakfast if you desire.

Ingredients:

-1/2 cup of pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
-1/2 cup of almond milk or coconut milk (I mixed the two 50/50)
-1 frozen banana
-1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
-1/4 heaping tsp of pumpkin pie spice
-1/2 Tbsp of vanilla extract
-1 Tbsp maple syrup (I used a grade B syrup with rich flavor, you can use agave or brown sugar here too)
-1 Tbsp chia seeds (optional)

Directions:

Place all ingredients into the Vitamix blender and slowly increase speed to high, blend for 45 seconds.  Add more milk if needed for consistency.

2014-09-08 19.53.44

Note:

-If you don’t have your banana frozen, put it in fresh and add a small handful of ice, you may need more milk when doing this.

-To make this more of a breakfast treat, try adding 1/4 cup of rolled oats or sprinkle with flax seed.

-Top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg if serving for dessert.

Advertisements

Tangy Herb Vinaigrette

2014-06-22 19.04.51 Our summer CSA has been full of greens for salads, which means I was in the market for a new dressing to spice things up a bit.  This dressing is tangy and using the Vitamix makes it smooth and creamy without adding any dairy.  I adapted this vinaigrette from a recipe for pasta salad, but it pairs well with a classic summer salad topped with fish, chicken, or just veggies.

2014-06-22 18.59.51

Ingredients: 

1/4 cup of Avocado oil or another vegetable oil
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/3 cup of red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp dijon mustard
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
1 Tbsp of chopped dill
1 clove of garlic
dash of salt and pepper to taste

Directions: 

1. Add everything to the Vitamix and blend increasing to high until smooth and creamy.

2014-06-22 19.10.27

I used fresh parsley and dill, however I am looking forward to trying out other herbs to change the flavor profile: basil, thyme, cilantro, oregano, chives or whatever you are growing in abundance.

Enjoy and Eat Well!

Vitamix Skills: Coleslaw

Since purchasing my Vitamix blender I find that I am always searching for ways use it that are out of the ordinary.  When my friend told me about chopping cabbage in the Vitamix I thought it was an urban legend.  How could the Vitamix roughly chop, doesn’t it just pulverize?  It has been months since I have had the blender and for as much as I love coleslaw I haven’t yet tried to shred cabbage. Tonight was the night to experiment.

2014-05-15 19.43.42

It took me several rounds to figure out exactly how to make this work, but I think I finally found the best setup for a restaurant quality chop.  It’s not that cabbage is hard to chop, but it is time consuming and it’s so tempting to buy the bag of shredded mix.  Save yourself the money and add some freshness to your life by shredding yourself.

Step 1:

Take a small wedge or two of cabbage and place in Vitamix.  Fill with water to the point that the wedge floats just above the blades.

2014-05-15 19.38.53

Step 2:

Turn the blender on and increase to level 4 quickly, let run for under 10 seconds.

Step 3:

Pour into mesh strainer to separate from water.

2014-05-15 19.42.08

Blend in batches for desired amount.  Don’t forget to check out side dishes for my summer coleslaw recipe: https://seasonsforcooking.com/2013/09/01/summer-bbq-coleslaw/

Mushroom and Vegetable Casserole

2014-04-24 20.26.28

On a busy weeknight a quick casserole is a healthy, easy, and filling dinner.  I made this dish originally by combining fresh vegetables with sliced chicken and a can of cream of chicken soup.  The result was good, but I felt guilty about using a can of processed cream of chicken soup.  The next time I decided to use some of my homemade chicken broth to make my own creamy soup.  After doing some research I found a few recipes that used corn starch and a lot of butter to thicken and flavor a seasoned broth.  Then I found the good stuff, using vegetables to thicken seasoned broth.  Cauliflower was a popular choice, but I turned to mushrooms to add more flavor depth to the casserole.

2014-04-24 19.08.16

Ingredients for cream of mushroom puree:

-1/2 onion, diced
-1 Tbsp of butter or oil of choice
-3 sprigs of thyme, center stem removed
-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
-1 tsp celery powder
-1 clove of garlic, minced
-1 1/2 cups of sliced mushrooms (I used baby portabella, but you can use any fresh mushroom)
-1/4 cup of chicken stock (I used a homemade version)
-1/4 cup of coconut milk (whole fat from a can).  If you eat dairy, you can use heavy cream.

Ingredients for casserole:

-2 boneless/skinless chicken breasts, diced
-1/2 onion, diced
-1 red bell pepper, diced
-1/2 cup of sliced mushrooms
-3 cups of diced zucchini
-1 handful of kale, sliced into manageable pieces
-Fresh thyme to taste, center stem removed
-salt and pepper to taste

Directions: 

1. To make the mushroom soup/puree start by browning the diced onion in butter or oil over medium heat.  Add mushrooms and cook until softened.

2. Add thyme, red pepper flakes, garlic, and celery powder.  Stir for 1 minute until fragrant.

3. Add chicken stock and coconut milk, heat through but do not boil.2014-04-24 19.05.14

4. Pour mushroom mixture into the vitamix or another high power blender and blend until smooth.

5. In a casserole pan mix together vegetables, diced chicken, and mushroom puree.  Season with salt and pepper lightly.

2014-04-24 19.27.23

6. Place in oven at 375 for 35-45 minutes until chicken is baked through and browned.

2014-04-24 20.23.446. Serve over brown rice or mashed potatoes.

You can use any vegetables of choice in the casserole such as carrots, celery, cauliflower, potatoes, brussel sprouts, or spinach.  To make this vegetarian, skip the chicken and substitute vegetable broth in the puree.  If you aren’t too into mushrooms, try steamed cauliflower in place of the mushrooms in the puree.

 Enjoy!

Strawberry Mimosa

2014-03-29 17.56.27

No Sunday brunch is complete without a delicious mimosa.  For this morning I made it a little extra special as the sun is shining and spring is slowly showing itself.  This is a must repeat for Easter Sunday brunch!

I used fresh strawberries for this recipe and liquefied them in the Vitamix with a little lemon juice.  If you use a regular blender you will probably have a few strawberry chunks or seeds floating around, but I’m sure it will still be delicious!  This recipe was a good amount for 4 mimosas, so double or triple as needed :).

2014-03-29 17.45.22

Ingredients:

6-7 Fresh Strawberries, more for garnish
1 Tbsp Fresh Lemon Juice
Domaine De Canton (Ginger Liqueur)
Champagne

Directions:

1. Blend strawberries and lemon juice together in Vitamix increasing speed to high for up to 45 seconds to liquefy.

2014-03-29 17.49.39

2. Add strawberry mixture to champagne flute to taste, about 1 Tbsp.  Add 1/2 Tbsp of ginger liqueur to the glass and fill rest of the way with champagne.  The bubbles from the champagne will mix everything together in a minute or so, no need to stir.

3. Garnish with a strawberry or lemon wedge.

2014-03-29 17.54.07

 

You can make the strawberry and lemon juice the night before, sealed in the fridge in an airtight container.  I am looking forward to making this with other types of fruit as they come in season this summer.  Adding fresh mint or basil to the Vitamix would create a nice flavor as well!

Cheers!

 

Fresh Almond Milk

2014-01-25 09.16.33

Project Adventures in Vitamix is well underway.  This morning I made fresh almond milk to use in coffee for the weekend, so easy and way better for you than the processed store bought stuff.  Usually I don’t go through the trouble of straining the almond milk after it’s out of the Vitamix, but today I decided to use my new fine mesh strainer to see what the big difference would be.  I have to say, there is a big difference between the strained and unstrained product.  The unstrained milk has a very nutty quality and naturally a thickness to it that stands out in coffee or when drank alone.  The strained product is a lot softer in flavor, mixes into coffee well and…for lack of a better descriptor…is milky tasting.  The vitamix really pulverizes the almonds, what you are straining out is the very fine shell and meat of the nut that has escaped the 2 horsepower blades.  This will make just over 3 cups of milk and about a half a cup of froth.  The best part is that the frothy goodness left over in the strainer is a perfect nutty base for a smoothie.  Talk about starting the weekend out strong!

Ingredients:

1 cup of raw almonds
3 cups of water
1 tsp of agave (or sweetener of choice)

Directions:

1. Add all ingredients to your Vitamix (or other high power blender) and increase speed to high, run for 2 minutes.

2014-01-25 08.55.16  >>> blending>>> 2014-01-25 08.56.09

2. Slowly pour mixture through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth, using a spoon to remove the froth as you strain.  Use the milk immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  I’m not sure about the storage life, but I try to use the milk up in about 2 days.

2014-01-25 09.02.53

I like to add a very small amount of sweetener to my almond milk since I’m using it in my coffee, but you do not have to.  If you are going to use the milk for baking or another cooking project, just skip the sweetener.  You may want to substitute for a little salt if you are planning to use it in a soup or savory meal.

I had a lot of frothy goodness left after straining the milk, and of course didn’t want to let it go to waste.  I put the froth right back into the Vitamix and added a frozen banana, 3/4 cup of frozen strawberries, large handful of kale, and 1 cup of water.  Blend on high for 45 seconds, makes 2 smoothies.  AMAZING!

2014-01-25 09.26.57(Breakfast of Champions)

Enjoy and Stay Healthy!

Coconut, Strawberry and Basil Smoothie

2014-01-04 09.31.21

Today I was looking for a creamy smoothie with a different flavor profile from the norm.  I have a basil plant that is holding on for dear life by the front window, begging for sunlight in the middle of winter and unfortunately too close to the window to stay warm on these sub-zero days.  With the 5-6 living leaves that remain I wanted to make something to recall the days of summer when fresh herbs are robust.

To add creamy smoothness the combination of banana and coconut milk (from a can) are pretty great.  The coconut milk gives more thickness to the smoothie than almond milk or regular milk, and the coconut flavor in the finished product is perfect.  Of course this was blended in the Vitamix for optimal consistency.

2014-01-04 09.08.53

Ingredients:

1 Ripe Banana
1 cup of Red or Green Kale
5-6 large frozen Strawberries
5 small Fresh Basil Leaves
1/3 cup of lite Coconut Milk, canned.

2014-01-04 09.11.07

Directions:

Add ingredients to Vitamix blender in order provided and blend on high for 45 seconds.  Add more or less coconut milk as needed for desired consistency.  I didn’t put any ice in this as the frozen berries give a cool icy quality, but you can add ice if you like.

Stay healthy and Enjoy!