Things I’m Loving 3!

Click here to read Things I’m Loving 1! and Things I’m Loving 2!.

Now for Things I’m Loving 3!

1.) All your comments yesterday on my blog post about making good girlfriends as an adult. Thank you! It’s nice to see I’m not the only one struggling with this. Now, if we could just find an easy way for everyone to connect.

2.) This infographic I found on the web yesterday. I would never have understood this 6 months ago but I know it all too well now. Although we’ve yet to have that day in March, this is exactly how the seasons in New England feel.

Seasons Screengrab

[Source]

3.) Coconut Oil: I originally bought this to cook with but I’ve been reading a lot about the benefits of using coconut oil as a natural moisturizer. I love the idea of not putting a bunch of random chemicals and fragrances on my face so I thought I would give it a try. Turns out, I love it! Besides smelling amazing, it’s not as greasy as you’d expect, much less so than mineral oil. It makes my skin super soft and I might be making this up but I think it’s smoothing out some little wrinkles near my eyes too. It’s also unbelievably cheap. For $4.99 a jar you get months of moisturizer.

There are a ton of articles on the benefits and other uses for coconut oil. Here’s just one.

One caveat: I have extremely dry skin so I found this perfect. If you have oily or combo skin you’ll have to experiment with whether it’s too much.

trader joe's coconut oil

4.) The Soda Stream!

Michael and I love bubbly water. We used to buy 12 huge bottles every time we went to the store. Not only was it a pain to lug all those bottles upstairs, it’s wasteful and not very green. We bought a Soda Stream a few months ago and haven’t looked back since. It’s not cheap, we bought ours for about $120 at Bed, Bath and Beyond and the CO2 cartridges run about $30 a pop. We get about 30 bottles out of one cartridge averaging out to about a dollar per bottle. Pretty much the same as if you buy it at the store. But the ease and the green factor completely outweigh the costs. If you love bubbly you may want to consider it.

Soda Stream

5.) Writing for WalkJogRun. In the past couple of days I’ve shared two articles with their readers and thought you might like them too.

The first is how to pick the right yoga class for you. It’s a brief overview of the different styles and how to find the right studio and teacher. Check it out if you’re interested in yoga but feel overwhelmed by all the options.

yoga

The second is a smoothie recipe. Really refreshing and light!

breakfast smoothie

6.) A couple of weeks ago we saw the jazz band People vs. Larsen play. They were really good and are on Itunes. They are Brooklyn based so if you live in the NYC area check out their performance schedule.

People vs Larsen

That’s it for today’s list.

Enjoy and Exhale!

Triple Ginger Smoothie

It’s been a while since I shared a recipe. Sorry about that. This one was worth the wait!

ginger smoothie

A few weeks ago my aunt and uncle requested a smoothie recipe made with the candied ginger I used in these.

My first thought was a cherry ginger combo but I only had dried cherries and that didn’t sound particularly appealing. I may revisit this when fresh cherries are in season or if I think to pick some frozen ones up.

Then I played around with the idea of a chocolate ginger smoothie but I just made this Chocolate Peanut Butter version and they seemed to similar.

Finally I spotted a bag of dates and figured, why not? I’ve never used dates in a smoothie before but I’d seen it done on other blogs. All I can say is, wow! You’ll be seeing a whole lot more dates around here. They added the perfect amount of sweetness and a creamy texture that blew me away.

I couldn’t take the pictures fast enough and quickly gobbled up the entire thing before the photos had even finished downloading to my computer.

I’m not one to toot my own horn but if you like ginger…Make. This. Smoothie. The fresh, powdered and candied ginger all add a different kind of kick. It was so delicious and refreshing. I’m seriously contemplating making a second one.

Triple Ginger Smoothie (vegan, gluten-free)

1 frozen banana

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

2 dates, pitted

1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger

2 tablespoons fresh ginger, finely minced

2 tablespoons candied ginger, finely minced

4 ice cubes

————

Cut the skin from the fresh ginger. Chop fresh and candied ginger into small pieces.

Add all ingredients to a blender. Blend until smooth.

Top with more candied and powdered ginger if desired.

ginger smoothie ingredientsminced ginger DSC_0184triple ginger smoothie

Enjoy and Exhale!

Farewell to Football

I have come to dislike the Ravens A LOT! I care about three NFL teams and Baltimore beat all three of them in consecutive order leaving me feeling frustrated and sad. Okay, a little dramatic I admit. But we’re now so far away from football season, I would really like to have spent the next 6 months happy about the 49ers being so awesome. Oh well. Enough. I can see the virtual eye rolls from all you non-football fans. The silver lining is that with the end of football also comes the start of baseball and spring so not all is lost.

With no segue at all I’ll just move on to my weekend. Friday night I met a friend for drinks and snacks at a new-to-me bar called the Hawthorne. We got there early and managed to get a set of big, comfy chairs in the corner. I can’t say enough good things about this place. The service was stellar. The drinks were bubbly and cold. The food was tasty.

sparkling rose

We shared a hummus platter with veggies and potato chips and the pretzel rolls with honey mustard sauce. I love soft pretzels and these were soft, warm and accompanied by the perfect spicy mustard.

hummus platter pretzel rolls

I’ll definitely be back.

On Saturday morning I headed to All One to teach my Power Yoga class. That class is so fun to teach. There was a great crowd to heat up the room as we balanced, twisted and backbended our morning away. The collective sigh at the end of class when everyone peacefully surrendered into savasana filled me with certainty that I made the right decision to teach full-time. I’m really loving teaching and although I often tend to focus on what I don’t know, it’s good to remember that I have a lot to give in this very moment.

Saturday night I had my first opportunity to meet one of the friends I’ve made through blogging. Courtney over at Healthy Girl and the City was in town for the evening and we met up for a few hours. It was so nice to put a face and personality to the blog! Looking forward to more chances to meet my fellow bloggers.

Yesterday was all about football, duh!

Our friends came over for the game. For food, I made the typical Superbowl fare, mostly.

Southwestern Quinoa, 7-layer bean dip, guacamole and chips, veggies with vegan ranch, a vegan artichoke dip that was not good and will not be shared 🙂 and some gluten-free peanut butter cupcakes from my friend Nicole’s soon-to-be cookbook that were excellent. Hopefully when her cookbook is out later this year I’ll be able to share the recipe with you all.

Superbowl spread

Superbowl 2013

After the world’s longest game we crawled into bed to get ready for another week. Hello Monday!

Tomorrow, this smoothie that pretty much tastes like a chocolate milkshake.

chocolate banana smoothie

Enjoy and Exhale!

Quinoa Smoothies?

Every so often someone searches quinoa smoothies and lands on my site. I had never thought to add this wonderful little food to my drinks before but curiosity got the best of me this morning. I was working to meet my day’s calcium quota with a breakfast smoothie when I spotted a Tupperware of quinoa leftover from yesterday’s lunch. Now seemed like as good a time as any to try it.

I’m sort of on the fence about the results but wanted to at least share the recipe with you so you can decide for yourself. I’ll be honest, the texture was a little funny. For lack of a better word the quinoa made the smoothie a little…chunky. Not that that is necessarily a bad thing. I use chia seeds in my smoothies all the time so I’m used to a some crunch or bite in my morning beverage and prefer it to super smooth smoothies. This may just have been a little too much bite.

Again, to each their own. Maybe this will be your cup of tea smoothie.

Quinoa Colada Smoothie (vegan, gluten-free, soy-free)

1 frozen banana

1/2 cup frozen pineapple

2 tbsp chia seeds

1/2 cup light coconut milk

1/2 cup almond milk

1/3 cup cooked quinoa, using these cooking directions

————

Thaw your banana slightly in the microwave. 20-30 seconds should do.

Place all ingredients in a blender or measuring cup if you’re using an immersion blender.

quinoa colada smoothie DSC_0069

Blend for a minute.

Add extra pineapple and quinoa to the top.

As I type this I am just now thinking a couple of tablespoons of shredded coconut would have been a nice addition to this as well.

Serve in a pretty glass for no reason other than that you can. (Excuse the windows reflection in the glass 🙂 )

quinoa colada smoothie quinoa colada smoothieQuinoa smoothie

Enjoy and Exhale!

Works in Progress

I’ve made three recipes over the last few days. They are all good. Tasty. Consumed. But none of them made my taste buds do handstands and arm balances at first bite. My official taste tester was also less than impressed with one of the three recipes, he didn’t taste the other two. I believe his exact words were ‘it’s a little bland.’ I’m not going to share a little bland with you all.

But, because I still wanted to post something and say hello today I’ll share the works in progress. Not so secretly, I also wanted to show off my new camera which makes my bad photo skills a little more palatable. However I’m still hoping to find a Photography 101 class I can take over the next few months. I don’t think good equipment equates to stunning photos without some knowledge behind them.

On to the recipes or lack there of, I mentioned this beet quinoa salad yesterday. I liked the earthy mixture of the beets with the quinoa and I love the addition of slivered almonds. I also made a cashew garlic cream to go on top which was exceptional on it own. The salad just didn’t sing when everything was mixed together. It has potential and I have another beet waiting in the wings so I’ll work on it. The color is pretty fabulous though right?

beet quinoa salad

Next up, another calcium rich smoothie. Yep I’m making smoothies when it’s 10 degrees outside, God knows why. This smoothie was a mix of banana, apple, pineapple, almond milk and chia seeds. It was perfectly fine. I drank the whole thing this but it wasn’t amazing. I probably wouldn’t have shared it at all if not for the fact that the picture is nice. I’m going to try coconut milk instead of almond milk and may also add some sunflower seed or peanut butter. I’ll report back when I’ve got a winner.

Pineapple Banana Smoothie

Lastly, I tried to make gluten-free banana bread this morning. I wasn’t in the mood for dates so following my recipe for Banana Bread Muffins was out. The recipe I concocted seemed promising as I mixed the wet and dry ingredients separately. When I combine everything though it resembled something oddly familiar. This! It was by far the tastiest of the three recipes and I ate two slices for breakfast but this is not banana bread. It’s more of an oat loaf. It was lacking the airiness of bread with all its heaviness. I think I’ll play around with the flour mixture, maybe try my hand at some gluten-free baking flour that’s been sitting in my pantry since the pancake debacle of 2012.

Banana oat loaf

As you see, a lot of WIPs but not a lot of results. I suppose that’s all part of the process though. You have to cook a few duds or semi-duds to get to the really good stuff.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend. It’s still supposed to be bitterly cold here again tonight. But never free, we have a hot date planned with our fireplace and a bottle of wine.

I’m also teaching a bunch this weekend. My usual classes tomorrow at 9 and 10:30 and then subbing Sunday at 9 at Crossfit and teaching a special community class at Athleta on Newbury at 10. The community class is free if you’re not busy.

Happy Friday.

Enjoy and Exhale!

Green Smoothies

The reason for such a basic, whole foods recipe, if you can call it that, is two-fold.

One, we went out and had frozen yogurt last night that was the size of my head. We found a self-serve fro yo place about a block from our apartment. Between the two of us we managed to spend $13 on two cups, how is that even possible!? While it was super tasty as we ate it watching the debate, it has left me with a mild sugar hangover this morning. I’m not used to that much sugar in one sitting and it left me feeling rather sluggish this morning. Just another reminder that what you eat has a direct correlation with how you feel. Such a simple concept.

Two, I was chatting with a friend yesterday about introducing new foods to her family and it got me thinking. I’ve been reading food blogs, doing my own research and testing vegetarian and vegan ingredients for a long time, but many of my friends and family reading have not. So why not share some of the basic recipes that I use a lot, even if they aren’t that ground breaking to me or those more versed in plant-based eating?

The green smoothie or green monster as it’s been referred to by one of my favorite vegan bloggers is nothing new. There are a million iterations of it and you can use any type of green you like. I’d start with spinach if you’re just trying these for the first time but kale is tasty too. I’ve also made them with romaine and butter lettuce when I’m trying to use up greens on the verge of their expiration date but you will get a very earthy tasting smoothie which might be a little strong if you’re not used to it.

Here is the most basic recipe but consider it the foundation and add from there. The possibilities are endless.

Green Smoothie

1 frozen banana

2 big cups of spinach

Handful of ice

1 cup almond milk (soy, rice or cow’s milk can be substituted as well)

Just a side note on almond milk, I am a huge fan for its mild taste. We no longer buy cow’s milk and haven’t missed it. I use unsweetened almond milk in most of my cooking. We also buy a vanilla almond milk that Michael likes it in his coffee and tea. It’s really delicious in these smoothies if you want it a little sweeter. Our brand of choice is Blue Diamond but Trader Joe’s also carries a brand we like.

————–

Microwave frozen banana for 30 second. Place all ingredients in a blender and let ‘er rip. You can also use an immersion blender which is my preferred method for its easy clean up. Just blend until smooth.

As I said, there are so many different options for add ins.

Try it with flavored milks. Add a dash of vanilla. Include other types of frozen fruits: strawberries, blueberries and pineapple are some of my favs. Add a scoop of nut butter, some cinnamon. Get creative.

It’s a nice spin on the usual breakfast smoothie, plus you get a couple servings of added fruits and vegetables that you might not have gotten otherwise.

Welcome to the world of green smoothies. Enjoy!

One last thing, big shout out to my A’s. So sad to not be in the cheap seats with my girlfriends cheering them on this year. Let’s go Oakland!!