Monthly Archives: May 2013

05/31/13

Beach-ready Smoothies + Tips on freezing fruit

It may be the end of May and the end of my 30 Day Green Smoothie Challenge, but my green smoothie challenge is going to follow me into June and all the way to the beach this week.

What can I say? I have come to enjoy, crave, and expect them along with my cup of hot tea each morning.

So, in order to transport green smoothies as easily as possible, I made a few different ones I enjoy, poured them into Ziploc bags, laid them flat, sealed the bags, and froze them in thin, solid layers. I found that the easiest way was to lay them in a 9×13 glass pan and separate them with sheet of foil just so the bags don’t freeze together too!

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A nice wrapping of newspaper, a couple of ice packs, and a medium sized cooler later, we were off! Simply defrost in the fridge the day before you want to enjoy it and Voila! Smoothies to go.

In order to prepare for the grand smoothie transport, I prepped all of the ingredients in advance.

Did you know you could freeze fruit? Greens? Nuts? You can freeze it all!

Bought a big bag of spinach or kale at the farmer’s market? Throw it in the freezer. Yep, you heard me. You can put it all in the freezer.

As fruits go, I freeze them in a 9×13 glass dish in one single layer. Try not to let them touch! Flash freeze them until just frozen and popsicly enough and then place them in a Ziploc bag together until you are ready. They won’t stick together at this stage.

Delicious, ripe blackberries perfect for smoothies, for baking, or for a fresh yogurt topping!

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Even fresh spears of juicy pineapple! Love a few of these popped in with 1/2 banana or a few mangoes and a splash of fresh OJ for a tropical green smoothie. In fact, that’s one of the smoothies I packed.

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There really is no limit to the freezing goodness.

Found avocados on sale?

Peel and pit the avocados and slice in half. Then place them cut side up on a plate and freeze until the outside is a bit icy and the flesh is firm.

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All these bad boys will have to do is thaw out in the fridge overnight the day before you want to chop them up for guacamole! Perfect!

So, let me share with you one of my most recent smoothie finds. If you have ever considered, even if it was just a passing thought, and wondered if you could do this challenge, if you could learn to drink green smoothies, than this smoothie ought to change your mind!

Really. I’m being serious.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Green Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 2 big handfuls of greens (I used baby spinach for this one)
  • 1 frozen banana (cut into small rounds)
  • 1 Tablespoon Cocoa Powder, raw and unsweetened
  • 1 Tablespoon almond butter or peanut butter depending on your taste
  • sweetener if needed (honey or agave)
  • 1 cup of crushed ice (this is optional, but I like a nice frothy, milk shake consistency for this one)

Blend together and enjoy! This smoothie is for 2, so I warn you, don’t be left alone with this smoothie. Okay?

Plus, this smoothie’s color isn’t so bright green and scary for those that find the color is the big turn off. Honestly, the color wasn’t an issue for me.

Just trust me, it was really good.

Yep! You guessed it. It’s one of the ones I packed…

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If I am going to drink a smoothie as a meal replacement, why can’t that smoothie be a chocolate one? 🙂

Smoothie bliss! Even while on vacation.

What kind of snacks do you pack for vacation???

I’m sure I’m not the only one who does this… right?

Right?

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05/29/13

Summer Lovin’ Roasted Vegetable Pasta Salad

I love summertime.

I love that the days are longer, the sun is brighter, the weather is warmer (sometimes too warm mind you), the baseball bats are cracking at the local ballparks, the kids are out of school and the school buses are off the roads, and for just a brief few weeks, you can sit out on your porch and watch the lightning bugs flit across your back yard. Summertime is simple and always makes me feel a little reminiscent and nostalgic for childhood.

As an adult, summertime brings my annual trip the beaches of Hilton Head, SC, nights of alfresco outdoor dining, gatherings of friends and family, BBQs, and the countdown begins for college football in the fall.

Memorial Day weekend is the gateway to summertime. It’s that first weekend where you can literally feel that, yes, summer has arrived.

To commemorate the long weekend, I made this fresh and delicious pasta salad  and it couldn’t have received any more praise. So yummy and so versatile!

Recipe for Roasted Veggie Pasta Salad with Balsamic dressing

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound short, organic pasta (penne, macaroni, ziti, rigatoni, farfalle)
  • 1/2 pound fresh green beans, washed and trimmed
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and small diced
  • 1/2 sweet Vidalia onion, chopped and petalled
  • 2 grilled chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup small cubed hard cheese (Parmesan, Asiago, Gruyere, Cheddar, etc)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • a few splashes apple cider vinegar (1-2 Tablespoons give or take)

Directions:

1. For the dressing, combine mustard, balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar, and olive oil and whisk until combined. The mustard will completely emulsify this dressing and it won’t separate on you. Add salt and pepper.

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2. Boil your water and prepare the noodles according to package directions. Drain completely, pour into large bowl, and toss with just enough dressing to coat each noodle.

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3. Now for the veggies! Toss the potatoes and onions with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast the potatoes and onions at 400 degrees until tender and just starting to brown. Add the green beans to other side of pain and roast for additional 10-12 minutes or until beans are lightly browned, but still crisp. Allow to cool slightly.

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Yum! I could eat these just as is.

4. Add cubed grilled chicken*, cubed cheese, and all the warm veggies to pasta bowl. Add remaining dressing and toss to coat.

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So delicious, so colorful, so delicious and a complete meal! I served mine with a fresh fruit salad, but would be great with a tossed green salad, or just a big hunk of bread. Toasty bread always counts for a side dish. 🙂

*A note on the grilled chicken– I had 2 leftover grilled chicken breasts from a meal earlier in the week. I place them in a foil packet and heated them through in the oven with the veggies for about 10-12 minutes, same amount of time as the green beans. If you do not have leftover chicken, I do think the salad is perfectly fine being vegetarian, but you could certainly add some baked chicken, a few pieces of rotisserie chicken, or grill up a few chicken breasts the day you are wanting to prepare this dish.

A few suggested variations…
 
Same pasta and same dressing, but the ingredients could certainly be altered to your tastes. Here are some other good combos:
  • Roasted cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cubed, and fresh chopped basil for a real, bright and summery Italian- inspired pasta salad
  • Roasted green beans, asparagus, butternut squash, and toasted pumpkin seeds in the fall
  • Grilled shrimp, grilled fresh corn, fresh chopped tomatoes, and roasted green beans
  • Or, want to go Asian? Replace the balsamic with low-sodium soy sauce and add cooked shrimp or chicken with snow peas, chopped carrot, bean sprouts, roasted broccoli, a can of drained water chestnuts, and top with toasted peanuts or sesame seeds. How about a Mexican inspired pasta salad? Replace the balsamic vinegar with lime juice for a citrussy dressing. Add a can of black beans rinsed and drained, grilled or roasted corn, chopped fresh tomatoes, chopped fresh avacado, and a good sprinkling of parsley or cilantro at the end. I promise you will not be disappointed with this recipe and I think you will find its one you will discover new variations on each time you make it!

Enjoy it!

And remember to always make life delicious…

XOXO,

Jamie

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