Tag Archives: spinach

Blueberry Spinach Mint Smoothie

Yesterday was my first day back at the office, after enjoying two weeks of vacation at home. It was a glorious two weeks. We didn’t do much – we visited Lonesome Dove in Fort Worth, saw a movie, visited the Dallas Museum of Art and the Nasher Sculpture Center, played with the XBOX 360 and Kinect, and I met Amy of Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free for lunch one day (which was wonderful!). Other than those things, some shopping, errands, and doctors appointments, there wasn’t a lot of schedule or planned activities. Which left me with LOTS of time to test recipes for my upcoming book!

Testing recipes starts out as fun. First, there’s an idea. It’s like a spark in your brain. This can happen anytime – many times, I’ll be immersed in another activity, such as running, watching TV (okay, so watching shows like Top Chef Masters does help get those creative juices flowing!), or chatting with my husband, and a concept will pop into my head. Then it’s as if I have little control over the mind flow that happens next – I start to envision a dish, and components fall into place. A bit of color here, some fresh herbs there, and a bit of citrus for acidity and balance…and suddenly, I need to do one of two things: either hop into the kitchen and start making my creation immediately, or else grab whatever I have to write on (or type) and jot down my ideas. During these past two weeks, many times, I had the freedom to hop into the kitchen. That was liberating and great fun.

But then reality starts to set in. Sometimes these grand ideas work the first time. But sometimes (many times), they don’t. Not that they’re all failures (although I’d had my share of those!), but they need tweaking. So I start again. And again. This is where it starts to not feel as “fun”. However, if I can persist through multiple trials, and see a successful dish arise from my experiments, then it’s all worth it. There is nothing more rewarding than working hard at something and finally feeling that sense of accomplishment.

But there’s another side to recipe testing. This is the side “they” don’t talk about. The part where you have to taste. And taste. And taste again. All day, you’re nibbling. Next thing you know, that scale creeps up, bit by bit. That fourth and fifth version of your cookie recipe is slowly doing your figure some damage! Not to mention all those nibbles are not likely to add up to a balanced diet by the end of the day.

So I am trying to balance however I can. Being back at work this week puts me back into my routine, which helps. (It also slows down recipe testing progress, but c’est la vie…) I’m also trying to incorporate a good, nutrient-rich smoothie pretty often in my diet. This is a smoothie I’ve enjoyed quite a bit lately. For some reason, the combination of blueberries, mint, and spinach works well for me. It’s fresh, just barely sweet, and with a scoopful of protein powder, it’s filling enough and has staying power to get me through the morning. It certainly helps that blueberries are plentiful this time of year, and the mint in my garden is beginning to really take off. It’s perfect on a hot summer day, when the thought of a hot breakfast just doesn’t appeal.

Rarely do I follow a recipe when making my smoothies. It’s more of a dump-random-stuff-together-and-see-what-happens event. So if you don’t have something, feel free to substitute. A banana would work well in here. So would some coconut milk or yogurt (dairy or non-dairy, your choice). Change up the greens – use kale or swiss chard instead of spinach. Or omit them entirely, and add multiple varieties of berries for a berry-mint smoothie. It’s YOUR smoothie – make the most of it!

Blueberry Spinach Mint Smoothie

About 2 cups of baby spinach

1/2 c packed mint leaves

1/2 c fresh blueberries

1 T brown rice protein powder (I’ve been using Jarrow Brown Rice lately)

1 T hemp seeds (optional)

1 c coconut water

Ice

Stevia to sweeten, if desired

Add spinach, mint, blueberries, protein powder, hemp seeds, and coconut water together in a blender. Blend until smooth, adding more coconut water or ice if desired. Taste – if it’s not sweet enough for your liking, add a few drops of stevia extract and blend again.

Serve cold. Makes 1-2 servings.

Don’t forget! You can enter for your chance to win  Gluten-Free Made Simple by Carol Field Dahlstrom, Elizabeth Dahlstrom Burnley, and Marcia Schultz Dahlstrom! Check out my giveaway post here. Hurry, because the giveaway ends Saturday, June 25, 2011!

This post was submitted to the June 2011 SOS Challenge over at Diet, Dessert and Dogs and is linked to Gluten-Free Wednesdays at Gluten-Free Homemaker.

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Filed under breakfast, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Quick and Easy, Vegetarian

Fresh Express and Orange Beet Spinach Salad

I am a Featured Publisher at Foodbuzz.com. This means that in addition to meeting other great food bloggers, there are additional perks. The Tastemaker program is one of them. This program gives members an opportunity to receive certain featured products, and write recipes using those products. Most of the time, the products aren’t gluten and dairy-free, so I don’t participate as often as some others. This time, however, the product was something I would happily use – Fresh Express bagged salads!

While I love to get fresh greens from the farmers market, life and the various seasons get in the way for me to be able to do that consistently. Often, I fill my need for tons of salad with bagged salads. When I received coupons for the Fresh Express bags, I went and picked up some Spinach and Ruby Red bags. I already had some beets and oranges at home that were begging to be included in this salad, so the addition of spinach and red lettuce would be perfect.

Other than roasting the beets, which took some time (but it was mostly hands-off time), this salad came together very quickly. It was bright and eye-catching, but most importantly, it was full of sweet, tart, and slightly spicy flavors. Definitely a salad I can turn to when entertaining!

And because I was so lucky to receive such a bounty of coupons for free Fresh Express salads, I’ll be happy to send some out to a lucky winner. Please leave me a comment telling me what you would do with a Fresh Express bagged salad, and you’ll be entered for a chance to win. That’s it – no strings attached. But act quickly, because this giveaway ends Saturday, October 23.

And now, for the salad.

Orange Beet Spinach Salad

3 medium beets, peeled and cut into eights

1 T grapeseed oil

Salt and pepper to taste

2 seedless oranges, one zested and juiced, one sliced into ½ inch slices

2 T chopped fresh basil, plus leaves for garnish

1/8 t ground chipotle chile powder

Salt and pepper to taste

1 T white balsamic vinegar

2 T olive oil

1 bag Fresh Express Ruby Reds blend

¼ c toasted walnuts

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Toss cut beets in grapeseed oil, salt and pepper and roast in a glass baking dish for 40-45 minutes or until easily pierced with a knife. Allow to cool.

Meanwhile, combine the orange zest, juice, chopped basil, chipotle chile powder, salt and pepper, and white balsamic vinegar in a bowl. Whisk in the olive oil until combined. Adjust seasoning as needed.

To assemble salad: Place Fresh Express salad blend on a chilled plate. Arrange beets, orange slices, and walnuts on top. Drizzle dressing over and garnish with basil leaves.

Serves 3-4.

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Filed under Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Quick and Easy, Salads, Side Dishes, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Sauteed Patty-Pan Squash

Rarely can you find patty-pan (aka scalloped) squash in the grocery store. However, many farmer’s markets have them. In Texas, it seems that every farmer’s market is overflowing with squash come June.  However, if you can’t find them, any summer squash will do. I also have made this recipe using yellow squash and zucchini and it was quite delicious. The freshness of the ingredients scream “summer.”

4-5 medium patty pan squash, sliced ½ inch thick

1 T olive oil

1 T butter

½ medium sweet yellow onion (preferably Vidalia or Texas 1015), sliced thinly

3-4 cloves garlic, crushed

¼ c chopped fresh parsley

1 T chopped fresh basil

Dash lemon pepper

½ T grated Parmesan

½ lemon’s worth of juice

1 ½ c fresh spinach leaves, packed (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

 

 

Heat pan to medium high, add oil and butter. Once butter is melted and foaming, add onions. Cook until onions are beginning to become tender and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic, and squash. Season squash with lemon pepper. Sauté until squash can be pierced with a fork, 5-6 minutes. (don’t overcook, or squash will become mushy) Add parsley, basil, and spinach, if using. Sauté until spinach wilts, about a minute. Squeeze lemon juice over squash, and sprinkle Parmesan over. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

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Filed under Budget-Friendly, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Quick and Easy, Side Dishes, Vegetables, Vegetarian