The Clean Creative

healthy eating can still be awesome


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Fruit pizza

fruitpizza3Happy Easter, everyone!

OK, I’m a few days late, but you can’t expect me to make an Easter dessert, photograph it, haul everything over to the family gathering, AND blog about it, can you? (No, you can’t…just to be clear…)

This year, I was asked to bring a fruit plate to the Easter festivities. However, I’m an artist (graphic/web designer, to be exact), so I can’t possibly be normal! This is when the idea of the fruit pizza was born.

I wanted to do something that was gluten-free (currently a little nervous about my thyroid), egg-free (‘cuz I’m fascinated with flax these days), and sugar-free (since small children would be eating it). My three-year-old niece was pretty excited about this one. She followed me EVERYWHERE as I was trying to find a place to cut and serve it. So there you go…kid-friendly? You betcha! Yes, they had jelly-beans throughout the day. However, their “crunchy” auntie was not about to be the one to load them up on more sugar! They didn’t even get sugary treats from me in their Easter baskets. That’s just the way I am.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Crust:
2 c. oat flour (make your own in a food processor!!!)
1 tsp. guar gum or xanthan gum
3/4 tsp. baking powder
3/8 tsp. salt
1 1/2 sticks butter
3/8 c. honey
3/8 c. Sucanat
1 1/2 Tbsp. ground flax in 4 1/2 Tbsp. water
1 1/2 Tbsp. pure vanilla extract

Combine flax and water, and set aside in refrigerator for 20 minutes, until flax has an egg-like consistency. (I find this completely fascinating!)

Meanwhile, combine oat flour, guar gum, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Cream butter, honey, and Sucanat. Add flax mixture and vanilla. Add dry ingredients and mix until well-combined.

Grease a medium-sized jelly-roll pan and spread dough evenly. Bake at 350º for 18 minutes. Allow to cool.

Mine was a big nerd and pulled away from the sides of the pan while it was cooling. It still turned out just fine!

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I actually made my crust the night before, just to save on time! Next up, you need to make the creamy goodness:

Cashew cream:
2 c. cashews, soaked in water for 2 hours and then drained
1/2 c. almond milk
1/4 c. virgin coconut oil
2 Tbsp. raw honey
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Place all ingredients in your Vitamix and blend until creamy. You may need to add a little more almond milk to the mixture, if the consistency isn’t what you want. Refrigerate for 2 hours. (You could also do this the night before to save on time! I actually recommend it…)

When you’ve got all of that finished, spread on the cashew cream!

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And now – creativity at its finest…

CREATE AN AWESOME DESIGN WITH YOUR FRUIT!!!

I used strawberries, blueberries, kiwi, pineapple, mandarin oranges (not the stuff in the can, either), and bananas. Here’s a tip for you: after slicing your fruit, arrange it on a paper towel and let the towel soak up some of the juices. The fruit juices will do tragic things to the appearance of your pizza, otherwise!

For your bananas – do those LAST!!! They turn brown really quickly. You’ll also want to drop them in a little lemon or pineapple juice before placing them on the pizza. This helps to keep them from turning brown…but be forewarned – they’re slippery little things! Be ready for a few escapees…

If you have a particular design in mind, you can be a big nerd like me and sketch it out ahead of time. Seriously, this helps. I also used toothpicks to place the corners of my cross, just so I’d know it would be square. And then – create! Have fun! Who needs frosting when you’ve got all this fruit to play with?

My fruit pizza was an Easter dessert, so I went with an Easter-appropriate design. Really, you could do ANYTHING. Have some fun with it! Don’t be afraid to cut your fruit to make it fit the way you want it. My mind is already creating a billion designs, as we speak.

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Next design: ceiling of the Sistine Chapel…(not really).

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Cream of Spinach Soup

spinachsoup5I’ve been craving this soup for the longest time, and I FINALLY got around to making it! The original plan was to follow a recipe I found online. I should have known better. I found this recipe, but then, as always, I ended up doing my own thing.

I have also been known to do this thing I call “clean out the fridge” cooking. If I’m making a soup, a casserole, or something to that effect, I search for things in my fridge that need to be used up, and they end up in whatever I happen to be creating. I’m fairly careful when I’m baking, because I know it’s a bit of a science. When it comes to cooking, however, I’m kind of reckless. I remember my aunt once calling this style of culinary artistry the “close your eyes and dump” method. I kind of like it!

Anyway, here’s what you’ll need, if you decide to be more planned than reckless:

1 c. cashews (salted, unsalted, or raw) soaked in water for 1 hour and then drained
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, diced
1/4 yellow onion, diced
1/3 orange bell pepper, diced
2 celery stalks, sliced
1 zucchini, sliced
1 1/2 cubes beef bouillon (vegetarian, no MSG)
1 cube chicken bouillon (vegetarian, no MSG)
4 c. hot water
1 Tbsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. Penzey’s Fox Point spice
4 tsp. diced garlic
3/4 package raw spinach
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper

Soak the cashews in water for an hour. While you’re waiting for those to soak, toss your bouillon cubes in 4 c. hot water and wait for those to dissolve.

Pour the olive oil in a large soup pot, and add the red onion, yellow onion, bell pepper, celery, and zucchini. If you don’t have the exact amounts, it’s no big deal. I added 1/4 yellow onion because I had it left over in my fridge. The orange bell pepper was also added because I needed to use it up. My celery was looking a little limp, so I threw a little more of that in, too! Cook everything over medium heat until all the veggies are nice and soft.

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Normally, I would have used vegetable stock or chicken stock, but since I had these awesome “no MSG” (and vegetarian!) bouillon cubes in my fridge, I thought I’d use those instead. I had also planned to use fresh garlic, but when I pulled mine out, it was already growing a green mohawk. This made the pre-diced stuff in a jar the healthier option by default!

Add the now-dissolved beef/chicken bouillon and the water, along with the garlic, parsley, Penzey’s Fox Point spice (if you have it on hand), and spinach. Why did I use 3/4 of a bag? It’s what I had. I needed it to use it up, because it expires in two days!

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You’ll need to stuff the spinach down into the soup in order to get it to wilt, but within a few minutes, it should look something like the above photo.

Now here’s the fun part: blending it! Drain your cashews and put them in the Vitamix. Pour everything that’s in your soup pot into the Vitamix as well, without dripping part of it on the counter like I did. (Disclaimer: I couldn’t see it dripping down the side of the pot as I was pouring.)

  • Note: This should work in just about any blender, but if you don’t have a ginormous container, you’ll need to do it in batches.

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Of course, this is where that ginormous Vitamix container comes in handy! Make sure the lid is on, of course. Start at variable speed 1 and gradually work up to variable 10, and then HIGH. Blend for about a minute.

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When I saw this frothy green mixture (and when I tasted a little bit of it that had dripped on my hand), I knew this soup was gonna be a winner!

Pour everything back into the soup pot. Add salt and pepper (I just measured it into my hand and said, “Close enough!”) and simmer on low for about 10 minutes. Garnish with sliced spinach.

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If you’re one of those people who can have raw dairy, this soup is GREAT with a little bit if raw sharp cheddar cheese on top!

  • Note: I can tell this is just one of many versions of this soup. It’s awesome, but after having a few bowls, the creative juices started flowing again, and now I have more ideas! There may be a chunky version in my future. I’ll be sure to post it and link the two recipes!

Cream of Spinach Soup, in a nutshell:
1 c. cashews (salted, unsalted, or raw) soaked in water for 1 hour and then drained
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, diced
1/4 yellow onion, diced
1/3 orange bell pepper, diced
2 celery stalks, sliced
1 zucchini, sliced
1 1/2 cubes beef bouillon (vegetarian, no MSG)
1 cube chicken bouillon (vegetarian, no MSG)
4 c. hot water
1 Tbsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. Penzey’s Fox Point spice
4 tsp. diced garlic
3/4 package raw spinach
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper

Soak the cashews in water for an hour. Place bouillon cubes in 4 c. hot water and dissolve.

Pour the olive oil in a large soup pot, and add the red onion, yellow onion, bell pepper, celery, and zucchini. Cook everything over medium heat until veggies are soft.

Drain cashews and put them in the Vitamix. Pour soup pot contents into the Vitamix as well. Start at variable speed 1 and gradually work up to variable 10, and then HIGH. Blend for about a minute.

Pour everything back into the soup pot. Add salt and pepper and simmer on low for about 10 minutes. Garnish with sliced spinach.


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Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

mintchip3Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

I’m not Irish, but I really like green. In fact, my entire kitchen, dining room, and bathroom are decorated in various shades of green! I also really like anything vanilla-mint flavored. What could be better than mint chocolate chip ice cream?

I have to admit: the first time I discovered that I could blend a frozen banana and turn it into ice cream, I thought I was a genius. After doing a little Google research, I found out that I was NOT a genius, but rather a little behind the times in the world of non-dairy ice cream. OH, WELL! (I also thought I might get away with another ice cream post since it’s St. Patrick’s Day, and pretty much anyone will get excited about something if it’s green, no matter what it is.)

This recipe is actually quite simple – but you’ve gotta stay with me to the end after you read the ingredient list! Trust me…this stuff is really good!

Here’s what you need:

1/8 c. raw cashews, soaked in water for 1 hour and then drained
1/4 c. unsweetened almond milk
1 1/2 frozen bananas
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. pure peppermint extract
1/4 tsp. lime juice
3 coconut milk ice cubes (use full-fat canned coconut milk)
a small handful of spinach (I’M SERIOUS!)

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Yes, food fans, THIS is what’s going in your ice cream! Spinach, indeed. Now that I’ve lost half of my readership, hopefully the other half of you will believe me when I tell you that you’ll never taste it in your ice cream. (Moms – don’t show your kids! They don’t need to know that this ice cream is actually good for them!)

Put your raw cashews and almond milk in your Vitamix and blend for about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides. I was kind of experimenting with the cashew cream this time around, so I used half the cashews I normally do. I also made the mistake of purchasing unsalted cashews (which have a mild flavor), rather than raw cashews (which have almost no flavor), but the recipe still turned out just fine!

  • Helpful hint: I’ve found that if I start the cashew cream on variable 1 and leave it there for a good 10 seconds before SLOWLY increasing to variable 10 and HIGH, I get better results. The cashews look more like jumping beans as they bounce around in the blades, but they get chopped down a little more before being catapulted to the lid on your container (or your ceiling, in case you forgot the lid).

Add the rest of your ingredients in the order listed. Put the lid back on your Vitamix, unscrew the cap, and drop your tamper in place. (I’m learning that the Vitamix becomes twice as awesome with the tamper!) Start on variable speed 1 and work quickly up to 10, then HIGH. Use your tamper to push all the ingredients into the blades. Don’t worry about those grinding noises! That’s just the sound of your frozen ingredients being pulverized by the blades. They had it coming, anyway.

  • Note: If you’re going to use peppermint oil rather than peppermint extract, be very careful! Peppermint oil is much more concentrated. Using too much can have mild negative effects like causing your ice cream to taste bitter. Stronger effects can go as far as making your eyes water! One or two drops is probably more than enough.

Once four mounds form on top of your mixture, stop the machine. Don’t be like me and try to wrestle with one little piece of spinach that happens to cling to the side of your container. I ran the Vitamix for a few seconds too long, and…well…soft serve is still good!!!

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Hey, it looks like a shamrock! Even my Vitamix is getting festive. You can see that the four mounds on top of this mixture aren’t very pronounced. This is what happens when you insist on wrestling with a defiant piece of spinach, rather than just leaving it alone.

Scoop it into a festive dessert cup (in my case, it was a cute green mug that I found at Goodwill), and top with maltitol-sweetened dark chocolate chips or carob chips. (By the way, if you can find the chocolate chips at your grocery store, they’re probably a LOT cheaper!!!)

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You also have the option of dropping a few handfuls of chocolate chips into your mixture once it’s finished, and hand-stirring them in. I’m not a fan of frozen chocolate chips, so I just topped my ice cream with a few of them. You could also try blending them into the ice cream, but then you’ll lose that lovely green coloring!

Now remember: don’t tell your kids that they’re eating spinach ice cream! If they ask about the little green flecks…um…tell them it’s FOOD COLORING! Well, it is…that’s the only reason the spinach is in this recipe, anyway…aside from the vitamins and whatnot… Wow…ice cream without sugar, dairy, high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, yellow dye #5, red dye #1, polyethylene glycol, propylene glycol, ethyl acetate… (Yes, they actually put this stuff in processed food!!! And people say I’m crazy to put spinach in my ice cream…really?)

  • If you don’t have a Vitamix: If you’re using a standard household blender, this recipe might work for you if you increase the recipe to 2 bananas, and eliminate the coconut milk ice cubes. You’ll be stopping and starting a lot, and scraping down the sides each time, but it just might work!

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream, in a nutshell:
1/8 c. raw cashews, soaked in water for 1 hour and then drained
1/4 c. unsweetened almond milk
1 1/2 frozen bananas
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. pure peppermint extract
1/4 tsp. lime juice
3 coconut milk ice cubes (use full-fat canned coconut milk)
a small handful of spinach (I’M SERIOUS!)

Place raw cashews and almond milk in the Vitamix. Blend for 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides. Add the rest of the ingredients. Starting at variable speed 1, work quickly up to variable speed 10, and then HIGH, using the tamper to push the ingredients into the blades. Stop the machine once four mounds form on top of the mixture. Top with chocolate or carob chips and serve.

  • Note: I must share with you all that my inspiration for this recipe can be credited to the awesome Shamrock Shake, courtesy of the lovely Erika at alittleinsanity.com. Thanks for your inspiration!


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Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

bluecheesecake4There are some things that are so good, they’re worth waiting for. There are other things that are so good, you have to share them RIGHT AWAY. This is one of those things that falls into both categories. You see, I had planned this post for a much later date, since it’s another one that involves blueberries. However, it was just so good that I couldn’t help myself. I’ve also had a lot of requests for this recipe, so I thought I’d better get on it sooner rather than later!

Now before you get started with any ice cream making, you’ll need to make your cream cheese. This process takes a while (plan on a good two days) before it’s ready. And YES, for all of you dairy-free people out there, this is cream cheese you can eat!! It’s made with nothing but raw cashews, apple cider vinegar, and lemon juice. Amazing, huh? I can’t take the credit for this one. The wonderful Leanne from Healthful Pursuit came up with it, so you’ll need to check out her blog for the recipe. Thank you, Leanne! You’re a cream cheese genius!

So…at this point, your cashews have been soaked, blended, and have been draining in the cheesecloth…and it’s two days later and you want your ice cream! I get it. Calm down. You’ve probably also noticed that the flavor of your cream cheese is a little “zingy”. Don’t worry about that, either. When you combine the sharp flavor of the cream cheese with the mild flavor of the blueberries, you end up with absolute perfection.

My cream cheese looked like this when it was done. I don’t know if you’re a nerd like me, but I had a huge sense of accomplishment when I opened up the cheesecloth and found this little guy waiting for me!
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As for the ice cream, here’s what you’ll need:

1/4 c. raw cashews, soaked in water for 1 hour and then drained
1/4 c. unsweetened almond milk
1 frozen banana
1/2 c. frozen blueberries
1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 “glob” of cashew cream cheese (you just finished making this…see above)
3 coconut milk ice cubes (pour canned coconut milk in an ice cube tray and freeze)

Place your soaked cashews and almond milk in the Vitamix and blend for about 30 seconds. Your Vitamix absolutely will fling cashew bits all over the inside of your container, but it’s not a big deal. The whole purpose of this process is to get the cashew cream started before too much heat builds up in the blades. Remember: The Vitamix has a top speed of 37,000 rpms. That can, and WILL melt your ice cream if this power is not properly harnessed.

Cashew cream? Yes, if you’re a non-dairy person, raw cashews are your new best friend. I’ve found that I can make just about any type of cream by soaking raw cashews and blending them. In this case, the cashew cream gives the ice cream some of its creamy goodness.

When your cream is done blending, scrape down the decimated cashew bits so they’re all in the bottom of your Vitamix container. It won’t be perfect, but get as much of that cashew cream down into the blades as you can. Add the banana, blueberries, vanilla extract, cashew cream cheese, and coconut milk ice cubes. How much is a “glob” of cream cheese? If you look at the photo, it’s that odd-looking thing in the upper left corner of the container, and it’s slightly out of focus. It’s about the size of an ice cube – maybe a little smaller.

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Does anyone know how hard it is to shoot a photo of the inside of a Vitamix? I had to shoot these blind because the thing is so tall! Thank God for autofocus. Anyway, back to ice cream!

Put the lid on the Vitamix and put your tamper through that nifty hole in the center of the lid. Start at variable speed 1 and quickly work up to variable speed 10, then HIGH. Use the tamper to push all the ingredients into the blades. Your Vitamix will make horribly angry grinding and chugging noises as you do this, but don’t despair. This is all part of the ice cream making process! Honestly, I wanted to give up about halfway through. Don’t do it. Just keep pushing everything into the blades, and soon your mixture will start to look more blended. When the sound of the motor changes and you see four mounds form on top of your mixture, shut off the machine. It’s not that the Vitamix can’t handle it. Heck, it would blend it into blueberry cheesecake soup if you ran it long enough! The real issue is that it will melt your ice cream very quickly. Who wants that? (The challenge here is that your cashew cream will have already clouded up the sides of the container, so it’s hard to see what’s going on. Don’t be afraid to pull the tamper out for a quick peek!)

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Is that not the most glorious thing you’ve ever seen? Wonderful blueberry ice cream with swirled-in bits of cashew cream – where have you been all my life? Your tamper should be full of the ice creamy goodness, so when you pull it out, DON’T WASH IT OFF! God gave you a tongue, so use it! Wash it off after you’ve licked it clean.

It’s at this point in the process that I literally freaked out. With nobody in the kitchen to hear my exuberance, I kept saying over and over, “Oh my gosh…Oh my gosh…OH MY GOSH!!!” It was awesome. The flavor and wonderful creaminess was more than I could take. I literally started drooling. It’s as if my salivary glands got so excited that they tried to jump right into the Vitamix container before I could put more in my mouth! I tried to lick anything that had this stuff on it. If the blades on that blender weren’t sharp enough to shear off my tongue, I’m sure I would have found a way to stick my head in the container. (Feel free to run with that mental image!)

Scoop your ice cream out with an ice cream scoop (because it’s that absolutely perfect consistency), and serve it up with a few left over frozen blueberries. Unlike me, you can just eat it at that point. I, however, had to photograph this thing so that I could share the final product with all of you! Do you know how hard that was? The photography part was easy. Resisting the temptation to shove a spoon in it and eat the whole thing was not. Don’t say I’ve never done anything for you. (I recommend eating this right away. If you freeze it and save it for later, it isn’t as good!)

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As soon as I put my camera back in the bag, I devoured this thing. Really, there’s enough ice cream in the container for two people, but since there’s nothing “bad” in it, I see no harm in eating the whole thing.

By the way, I don’t recommend trying this in a household blender. You might be able to get away with a much gentler approach (blending this in little bits at a time), but I make no guarantees. If you use the rather aggressive “dump it all in at one time” Vitamix method, you can be sure you’ll burn out the motor. However, if you’re waiting for your blender to die so that you can finally justify getting a Vitamix, then jump in with both feet and get aggressive with it! 🙂 (You didn’t hear me say that, by the way.)

Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream, in a nutshell:
1/4 c. raw cashews, soaked in water for 1 hour and then drained
1/4 c. unsweetened almond milk
1 frozen banana
1/2 c. frozen blueberries
1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 “glob” of cashew cream cheese (recipe found here)
3 coconut milk ice cubes (pour canned coconut milk in an ice cube tray and freeze)

Place soaked cashews and almond milk in the Vitamix and blend for 30 seconds. Scrape down sides of container. Add banana, blueberries, vanilla extract, cashew cream cheese, and coconut milk ice cubes. Blend in the Vitamix (using the tamper) until for mounds form on top of the mixture. Stop the machine. Scoop and serve!


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Blueberry Banana Pecan Oat Muffins

muffins3When one has leftover blueberries in their fridge, what’s the best way to utilize them? Well, there are probably quite a few good ideas out there, but this time around they turned into a batch of blueberry muffins!

These are some of my favorites. In fact, my family raves about them. I’m not sure I was allowed over for family gatherings for a while if I didn’t bring any with me.

Normally, I’d make these with spelt flour, but this time around I decided to be creative and make a gluten-free version.

Now before I give you the ingredient list, I need to ask, “Does everyone know how to make oat flour?” If you thought that going to the store and buying it was your only option, you’ve been misled…and you’re paying way too much.

Here’s what you do: Put a cup or so of rolled oats into your food processor. Pulse about 10-15 times, and voila! – OAT FLOUR!!! Repeat this process until you have the amount of flour you need. If you want a more finely ground flour, pulse it some more. I decided to leave mine a bit more coarse, and I really liked the outcome. Think about what a container of rolled oats costs. Now think about what a bag of oat flour costs. I think you all see my point.

Do you see those rolled oats in the second container of my header image? Yup…those became oat flour, and now reside in these muffins!

Now that you all know how to make oat flour without spending an arm and a leg, here’s what you’ll need:

3 ripe bananas
1 egg, beaten (you could also use 1 Tbsp. ground flax, beaten in 1 Tbsp. water)
1/2 c. honey
1 1/2 c. oat flour
1 tsp. guar gum or xanthan gum (don’t add this if you decide to use spelt flour rather than oat flour)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1/3 c. olive oil (you could also use 1/3 c. unsweetened applesauce)
1/2 c. chopped pecans
1 c. fresh or frozen blueberries

Mash banans in a large bowl. Add egg (or flax) and honey and stir until combined completely.

In a separate bowl, combine oat flour, guar gum (or xanthan gum), baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add to banana mixture, alternating with olive oil (or applesauce) and mix well. Add pecans and blueberries. I generally use pecans in my baking, because my mom is allergic to walnuts. If you’re more of a walnut fan, those would work just as well!

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Don’t you just want to stop there and eat the batter when it looks like that? If you made it without eggs, go for it. However, you’ll be missing out on the muffin goodness that awaits you!

Grease a muffin pan and bake at 375º for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Yes, you can use those paper muffin cups, but I hate those things!!! They end up stealing too much of my muffin in the peeling off process.

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You can kind of see that I left my oat flour a little more on the “chunky” side if you look at the above photo real closely. I’m glad I did. They turned out awesome!

If you have leftover batter, you could either fill your muffin cups a bit more (which is what I should have done), or use your grandma’s mini muffin pan to make those cute itty-bitty ones (which is what I actually did).

When they’re done, let them cool in the muffin pan for about 10 minutes before removing them. (I just use a butter knife to pry them out, and then place them on a cooling rack.) Cool them completely before storing.

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Warning: If you bring these to any family gathering, you may be obligated to bring them to ALL family gatherings in the future. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. You could also empower your family members to make their own batch by sending them the link to this post!

(Give them a blueberry muffin, and they eat for a minute. Teach them to make blueberry muffins, and…oh, now you get it!)


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Kermit’s Favorite Green Smoothie

kermit1Kermit the Frog once said, “It isn’t easy being green.” He was only partially right. He failed to mention that being green is AWESOME!

You see, he just didn’t want you to get any of his green smoothie.

Now I know what you’re thinking: “Green smoothie? Ewwwww!” You need to trust me on this. Contrary to what it may look like, green smoothies are actually REALLY good! You’ve got to try it to believe it.

I should probably also mention that I LOVE green. It’s my favorite color. I was born in August, so peridot has GOT to be the best shade of green out there! I almost called this the “Peridot Smoothie”, but it’s a little dark, and Kermit was just too cute. Yes, I have a stuffed Kermit decorating my kitchen. Admit it: you’re jealous. Kermit is an old childhood friend of mine, and he now guards the radiator pipe in my kitchen.

Here’s what you’ll need (well…it’s what you’ll need for the one I just made!):

1 c. cold water
1 frozen banana
1 kiwi (leave the skins on if you have a Vitamix)
1 stalk of celery
1-2″ chunk of zucchini
4 large chunks of frozen pineapple (with the core, if you have a Vitamix)
4 frozen peach slices
1/2″ chunk of raw ginger, peeled
juice from 1/4 of a lime
a handful of unsweetened dried coconut flakes
1-2 tsp. extra virgin coconut oil
1-2 tsp. raw honey
2 Tbsp. ground flax seed
LOTS AND LOTS of spinach (1-2 c. raw)

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Put all of these fruits, veggies, and other whatnot in your Vitamix, in the order that it’s listed. As you can see from the photo, there’s no need to chop up your ingredients ahead of time if you’ve got one of these awesome blenders. It will power right through it! If you’ve got a normal household blender, you’ll probably want to add the ingredients a bit at a time (after chopping them up).

With your Vitamix, start on variable speed 1 and gradually work up to 10. Blend on HIGH for 30 seconds, and you’re done! You MAY need to use your tamper to shove the spinach leaves into the blades, but that’s about it!

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If you’re using a Vitamix, don’t peel your kiwi. The peel is where the majority of the nutrients are! If you’re using fresh pineapple and freezing it, be sure to include the core. The core contains lots of bromelain, which is a great anti-inflammatory. A normal blender won’t be able to chop it, but a Vitamix will pulverize it!

You can also add and delete ingredients if you don’t have them in your kitchen (no weaseling out on the spinach!) If you add an apple, be sure to throw the seeds and core in as well! Apple seeds contain Vitamin B17, which destroys cancer cells while leaving healthy cells alone. (Why not stay ahead of the game?) I do the same thing if I throw in a pear. I don’t know anything about the nutritional value of pear seeds, but I figure it can’t hurt!

I use coconut oil for all of its wonderful immune-boosting benefits. It also adds a great flavor! As for the coconut flakes, I just happened to have them in my pantry from another recipe I was trying out, so I figured I’d use them up.

Raw honey is another gem when it comes to healthy eating. It’s anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-cancer…it’s just all-around awesome! You want to be sure that your honey is RAW, as well. The pasteurized stuff won’t cut it. Your raw honey should last forever, meaning that it never expires. Raw honey was actually found in Egyptian tombs, and wouldn’t you know – it was still good! How’s that for shelf life? It also has amazing healing properties for things like burns, but that’s for a different blog.

Why raw ginger? Ladies and gentlemen, we have yet another powerful anti-inflammatory. It also has a healing effect on the digestive system. Did I mention that it tastes absolutely amazing?

Why do I use ground flax seed? If you remember from my last blog post, it’s loaded with Omega-3s, cancer-fighting lignans, and fiber, which binds to toxins and eliminates them. How cool is that?

If you’re freaking out about putting SPINACH in your smoothie, have no fear: spinach has relatively no flavor. However, it’s packed with Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Iron, Manganese, Calcium, Potassium, Selenium, Zinc…how’s that for a super food you can’t taste? If you’re blending it in a Vitamix, the blades are able to break through the cell wall of those leaves, opening up even more of the nutritional goodness of spinach.

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So there you go! If you’re a green smoothie nerd, this probably isn’t news to you. If you haven’t tried one, though, give it a shot! I bet you’ll be shocked to find out that something that nasty-looking could be so good!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go retrieve my smoothie from a stuffed frog.


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Berried Treasure Cupcakes

muffins3Delectable chocolatey goodness, we finally unite.

Now I have to admit: I came up with the name for these cupcakes whilst trying to figure out the baking time. I checked them in 10-minute intervals, so in order to pass the time, I watched ABT’s 1999 performance of “Le Corsaire” on YouTube. That’s probably where the pirate theme comes from with “Berried Treasure Cupcakes”.

The creation of these cupcakes all started out when I made some basic chocolate cupcakes a few weeks ago. I pulled them out of the oven, let them cool, and my taste buds made the determination that they were really, really AVERAGE. They needed something…like a little treasure…and more chocolate…definitely more chocolate.

That’s when I decided to push the recipe a bit further, and I came up with these guys!

Does anyone know the one thing that’s better than chocolate when you’re baking? You get 20 points if you guessed more chocolate!

Here’s what you’ll need:

1 c. almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1 c. spelt flour
1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 c. Sucanat
1/2 c. unsweetened natural applesauce
1/4 c. ground flaxseed (you can add more if you want)
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3/4 c. dairy-free maltitol-sweetened chocolate chips
(I recommend Hershey’s maltitol-sweetened chocolate chips or Yamate dark chocolate bars, broken up into pieces for your chocolate chips.)
72 frozen raspberries (fresh will work as well)

So, do you remember how we learned to make our own buttermilk in the last blog post? Good! We’re doing that again. In a small bowl, combine your apple cider vinegar and your non-dairy milk, stir it a bit, and set it aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together your spelt flour, ground flax seed, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set that aside as well.

In a large bowl, (oh, man – we’re using all the dishes!) combine your Sucanat, applesauce, and vanilla extract. Add the non-dairy milk mixture and mix well.

  • Helpful hint: I have a confession. I didn’t put Sucanat on my grocery list, and since I didn’t pick it up, I didn’t have enough for my recipe. (Sucanat is a natural replacement for brown sugar.) Did you know you can make your own brown sugar? Your ratio is 1 tsp. molasses to 1 c. xylitol, erythritol, or cane juice (whatever you choose). Combine it with a fork (this will take some work), and TA DA!!! You’ve got brown sugar.

Stir in dry ingredients until just combined. Add in your chocolate chips, and stir until they’re mixed in there real good.

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That looks awesome, doesn’t it? Here’s the good news: This recipe contains no eggs, so you can eat all the raw batter you want! YAAAAAAAY! Be sure to save some for the cupcakes…

If you’re using a traditional muffin pan, now is the time to put your paper liners in the muffin cups. I’m using a silicone muffin “pan”, so I didn’t need them. I know, I know…I’m bound to get some hate mail on this one. Hey, I like my silicone baking pan! Don’t pick on me. The good news is that if you want to use a traditional pan, you are more than welcome to.

OK…back to baking…

Put about 1 Tbsp. of the batter in each of the muffin cups. I didn’t measure it too exactly, but you want to make sure you’ve got enough to cover the bottom of each cup. Place 3 frozen raspberries in the center of each cup, being careful not to let the berries touch the sides. I’m serious. If they touch the sides, your cupcakes WILL fall apart!

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Fill the muffin cups with the remaining batter. You should fill 12 cups, as long as you didn’t eat too much of the batter before this point. If you’re using silicone like me, put your muffin pans on a cookie sheet in order to bake them. Otherwise, they flop all over the place!

Bake at 290º for 1 hour. Yes, I’m serious about that, too. If you bake your flax seed at any temperature higher than 300º, you’ll destroy the nutritional benefits of the flax. (Flax is loaded with Omega 3s, cancer-fighting lignans, and toxin-eliminating fiber!)

Your cupcakes will be done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean when they look like they’re done and the toothpick doesn’t come out too messy. Hey, who cares if they’re not completely done? You could eat ’em raw because they don’t contain eggs!

OK, but really, you want to bake them long enough so they don’t fall apart. An hour should do it.

When they’re done, let them cool for 10 minutes before removing them from the pan. Top each cupcake with three raspberries.

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The fudge I used in this photo is Wax Orchards Classic Fudge. It’s sweetened with pineapple juice, and it doesn’t have anything “bad” in it! It’s some pretty awesome fudge.

Berried Treasure Cupcakes, in a nutshell
1 c. almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1 c. spelt flour
1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 c. Sucanat
1/2 c. unsweetened natural applesauce
1/4 c. ground flaxseed (you can add more if you want)
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3/4 c. dairy-free maltitol-sweetened chocolate chips
72 frozen raspberries (fresh will work as well)

Preheat the oven to 290º.

In a small bowl, combine non-dairy milk and apple cider vinegar. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together spelt flour, ground flax seed, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

In a large bowl, combine Sucanat, applesauce, and vanilla. Add non-dairy milk mixture and mix well.

Stir in dry ingredients until just combined. Add chocolate chips and stir until they are well mixed in. If you’re using a traditional muffin pan, put a paper liner in each muffin cup. Place 1 Tbsp. batter in each muffin cup. Place three raspberries in the center of each muffin cup, being sure not to let the berries touch the sides. Fill muffin cups with remaining batter.

Bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted near the side of a cupcake comes out relatively clean. Cool in pan for 10-15 minutes before removing. Top each cupcake with 3 raspberries before serving.