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Post-Workout peanut butter-banana smoothie

23 Mar

Recipe source: Super Smoothies: 50 Recipes for Health and Energy

Everyone knows that food can be a great way to cure what ails ya, whether your ailments be physical or emotional. For the latter, we have a whole genre of much-loved cuisine dubbed “comfort food.” But for a lot of us, the act of cooking itself is therapeutic. If you read this blog regularly, you might have noticed a month-long hiatus between my last two posts. Life has been a lot busy and a little stressful lately, and I’ve greatly missed the therapy and joy I get from cooking as well as blogging. So with the one-year milestone of my blog come and gone, I hope to renew my commitment to this endeavor.

frozen banana

One of the additions to my life recently has been running. On March 13th, I participated in my first half-marathon in seven years, with my first time ever running a good portion of it. Taking up this hobby has meant a lot of new learning about my body and the sport. I’ve long been afraid of running because of friends’ horror stories of battered knees, but this time around, I’m loving the idea of the simplicity of running. Like my first love, yoga, running requires very little equipment (shoes, mat). You don’t need a fancy gym membership, fancy machines, a fancy outfit or even a fancy instructor. You use your body to work your body. It’s a great way to get fresh air and get moving, especially for an office worker like yours truly, and an opportunity to get out of my head and into the immediate responses of my physiology. Doing it well (aka not hating life) means listening to my body and giving it the right kind of fuel to burn.

peanut butter-banana smoothie

Of course, the best thing about running is stopping running! After 6+ miles, eating is a fabulous experience. This smoothie is a favorite for a quick nutrient replacement while I prepare something more substantial, like a sandwich. It’s high in protein, gives a little sugar, as well as potassium to heal muscles.

And don’t worry, this smoothie is delicious even when you’re not working out!

RECIPE – Post-Workout Smoothie
(dubbed The Incredible Hulk in my recipe cards… eh… not so much)

1/2 cup soft silken tofu
3/4 cup low-fat milk
2 tablespoon creamy peanut butter
2 frozen bananas, sliced
1 teaspoon honey
dash of cinnamon

Combine the tofu and milk in a blender. Add all the remaining ingredients. Blend until smooth.

Makes about 2 1/2 cups; serves 2

Per serving:
Calories – 287
Cal from fat – 110
Saturated fat – 3g
Total fat    – 12g

Protein – 11g
Carbohydrates – 39g
Fiber – 4g
Cholesterol – 7mg

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Lillian’s Lavender Lemonade

19 Jul

“We are living in a world today where lemonade is made from artificial flavors
and furniture polish is made from real lemons.”  -Alfred E. Newman

Recipe source: my mother

lemons

As a follow-up to my last post on summery picnic foods, I bring you my mother’s lavender lemonade. Two summers ago, we took a trip to Green Acres Lavender Farm in Atascadero, CA and my mom picked up two lavender plants that are doing very well today. She came up with this recipe as a way to use some of the flowers. What brilliance! (Jump to recipe)

lavender & bee

The thing that makes this lemonade a lavender lemonade is a simple syrup infused with lavender flowers. I think making infusions is a really neat thing in cooking, because it’s so easy but brings out so much flavor, and you can create some of the same things at home on the cheap that you would pay a high price for in a gourmet market. (See my post on rosemary popcorn for another example.)

dried lavender

First, make a syrup by boiling 2 1/2 cups of filtered water, then removing from heat and stirring in 1/2 cup of sugar until it dissolves. Then add 1 tablespoon of lavender, cover, and leave to infuse 30 minutes.

lavender infusion

While the lavender is releasing all its floral goodness, squeeze enough lemons into a 2 qt pitcher for 1 cup of juice. I’d recommend Myer lemons for this, if you can get your hands on some.

juicing lemons

Strain lavender and add syrup to lemon juice, then top with water to fill pitcher.

Depending on the tartness of your lemons, you may want more or less sweetness from the syrup. If you’re concerned about too much sweetness, add the syrup gradually. If anything, you will most likely want more sweetness. In that case, you can add plain simple syrup, which I’d recommend having on-hand anyway, as it’s great for mixing into all sorts of beverages. You can make a simple syrup by dissolving 1 part sugar into 1 part water.

This lavender-infused syrup is also great for mixing into tea, sparkling water, or cocktails. In the case of tea, I prefer a 1:1 ratio of sugar to water, but you’ll figure out your preferences as you go.

Enjoy this one, and happy summer!

chairs in lavender field

Note for San Diegans: I found my culinary lavender at a great little herb shop in Ocean Beach, In Harmony Herbs & Spices. I have also seen it at World Market, and I’d imagine Whole Foods carries it as well.

RECIPE – Lillian’s Lavender Lemonade

2 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon dried lavender flowers
Icewater to fill pitcher (4 cups)

Dissolve sugar in boiling water. Add lavender flowers, remove from heat, and cover. Allow lavender to steep in syrup for 15 minutes to an hour, depending on desired strength. Combine lavender syrup with lemon juice in a large pitcher and fill remaining space with icewater.

VARIATIONS –

Make lavender iced tea by mixing lavender-infused simple syrup (1 pt water, 1 pt sugar) with freshly brewed black tea.

Mix lavender simple syrup into lemon sparkling water or use it to sweeten cocktails.

[blue] Fountain of Youth Smoothie

16 Apr

Today begins the final challenging trio of ROYGBIV Week; blue, indigo and violet. Blue food is especially difficult to find, unless we’re talking about M&Ms or “blue razberry” flavored whatever. (What IS that flavor, anyway?!) So today I’m taking it easy on myself with a smoothie… while eating leftovers from the past four days. Since the blue chakra governs the throat, what better food than a refreshing smoothie to slide right down on a warm Spring day?

Today’s chakra: Vissudha – With Purity (Throat)
Color: Blue: inspiration, expression & loyalty
Location: Along the spine behind the pit of the throat
Associated body organs: Throat, ears, thyroid & parathyroid
Controlled emotions: Communication and self-expression

[For an explanation of the chakras, see Sunday’s post.]

———————————–

But fear not, loyal readers! I’m not just giving you *any* smoothie, this is my absolute favorite smoothie of all time. The final color is actually magenta (womp, womp)… but the recipe involves blueberries, thus – blue food.

cherry yogurt, cranberry juice, cherries & blueberries

Blend it all together…

Ta-da!

One disclaimer I feel compelled to make, for your health: I used Yoplait Cherry Orchard and regular Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice Cocktail in this recipe. Use of these brands will result in astronomically high sugar content – 21 grams per serving, or the equivalent of 5 sugar packets. The Yoplait also contains high fructose corn syrup (boo, hiss). I bought them because I’ve used them before, but it would be worthwhile to look into other brands. The frozen berries are unsweetened and healthy for you. Substituting plain yogurt would even be enough to cut down the sugar calories.

From Super Smoothies: 50 Recipes for Health and Energy:

Cherries, blueberries, and cranberries are all fantastic sources of vitamin C and anthocyanins, antioxidants that may protect against some types of cancer.

Vitamin C supports the growth of strong collagen fibers in soft connective tissue and bone, which may help prevent some of the ravages of age. Enjoyed on a regular basis, this smoothie just may be one of the secrets to staying young.

1 cup low-fat cherry yogurt
1/2 cup cranberry juice (*original recipe says 1/4 cup)
1 cup frozen pitted cherries
3/4 cup frozen unsweetened blueberries

Combine the yogurt and cranberry juice in a blender. Add the cherries and blueberries. Blend until smooth.

Makes about 2 1/2 cups; serves 2.