[Recipe] And without further ado… GREEN SMOOTHIES

Green Smoothie Two

This little smoothie has strawberries…

I’ve had the intention of posting this for ages, but as it is wont to do, life got in the way. This past Saturday, my Grandpa passed away (you can click here to see a little bit I jotted down, as well as my favorite photo of him). And then some connected (and some unconnected) family dramas really brought me down in the dumps (you can click here to see how I fought against that!) But, the point of this post is not to ramble on and on about the sadness I have felt — the point is to talk about how I have been working to HEAL myself from the inside out.

You see, it’s not just about a positive mental attitude (although that helps). And it’s not just about having a strong support group of family and friends that listen and hug and send love electronically across vast distances (though that helps, too). For me — and this is most likely true for the rest of you, as well — if I’m not taking care of my body, there is no way my head and heart can start to heal.

So, besides the obvious benefit of increased endorphin-release by making sure I get in my daily workouts, what is the #1 thing I have re-committed to this week to take care of ME… mind, body, and soul? Sweet, sweet, beloved green smoothies, my dears.

This little smoothie has none…

Where to even start when it comes to green smoothies?! Let me just first tell you how pumped I am that green juice and green smoothies are all the rage right now. With the interwebz all abuzz with inspiring human stories from the likes of Joe Cross, his film Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, and his Reboot community, and the fabulous Jadah and Jen with their 30-day challenges, recipes, and tips at simplegreensmoothies.com, there is a veritable wealth of information at our fingertips. I could go on and on about the health benefits of juicing, of eating raw fruits and veggies, and of incorporating as many nutrient-dense leafy greens as you can into a daily (or how about TWICE daily?!) green smoothie. But I feel like I’d just be rehashing yesterday’s news.

What I WILL say is that there is practically nothing that feels as good inside your body as drinking a fresh, bright-green, living smoothie. It gives you energy up the yin-yang, it literally scrubs out your insides, you feel mentally more alert and vibrant, it can clear your skin and improve your vision, it makes you KINDER to people because it improves your mood and ability to deal with stress, and yes, blah blah blah, it can even help you lose unhealthy fat while increasing your ability to put on lean muscle and protecting your vital organ function. PHEW. You want documentation on all of this? Look it up. I promise you, it’s all out there for the absorbing.

And this little smoothie is hanging out with the airplant that Bijou ate (jerkfaceCAT!)

Because I feel like I should at least give a wee bit of scientific fact in all of these meandering trains of thought, here are my favorite leafy greens to incorporate into green smoothies with SOME of their nutrients and positive side-effects noted (believe me, this in no way encompasses all of the health benefits of leafy greens):

  • KALE: Vitamins A, C, K, calcium, iron, folate, and potassium — Excellent source of antioxidants, anti-cancer health benefits, eye health, lowers blood cholesterol, reduces the risk of heart disease.
  • SPINACH: Vitamins A, C, and folate — Excellent source of antioxidants, protects the digestive tract, anti-cancer health benefits, eye health.
  • CHARD: Vitamins A, C, E, K, manganese, magnesium, potassium, and iron — Excellent source of antioxidants, bone and muscle-building benefits, energy-producing and anti-inflammatory benefits, eye health.
  • COLLARDS: Vitamins A, C, K, manganese, folate, calcium, and dietary fiber — Excellent source of antioxidants, cholesterol-lowering and anti-cancer benefits, cardiovascular support.

Even when I’m traveling, I adapt to what’s available and make whatever kind of green smoothie I can get my grubby little hands on! Working with a different blender meant chunky pieces of spinach in this mix, but I didn’t mind. There’s nothing wrong with chewing a smoothie.

All good smoothies start with a base. Some people like to use just plain ol’ water or their favorite juice, others like non-dairy milks (almond is my personal favorite, but from rice and soy to hazelnut and hemp, I LOVE ALL THE MILKS!) What I typically do is start with a freshly juiced green juice, because I like to cram as much “green” into my green smoothies as possible. To keep things moving along, I chop and store my veggies in reusable containers so they are all ready to juice each morning. Makes the whole process quicker. I wish I was a cold-presser kinda gal, because cold-pressed juice is even BETTER for you. But I am beyond grateful for my Jack LaLanne Power Juicer (big thanks to my parents for a birthday gift that gets BRUTALIZED every single day and keeps on ticking!). It really does the trick. Here is what I juice to make the base for ONE smoothie:

Vibrant Green Juice
(Makes about one 8 to 10-oz. serving)

  • 1/2 organic Granny Smith apple
  • 1/2 organic cucumber
  • 4 stalks of organic celery (leaves included)
  • 1/4 organic lemon (rind roughly removed)
  • 4 leaves of organic romaine lettuce
  • 2 huge handfuls of organic dark, leafy greens (spinach, kale, chard, collards, or any combo thereof!)
  • A nub of peeled ginger (about the size of my thumb, tip of the nail to the knuckle)

Isn’t she purdy?! Vibrant green juice, you are sexy stuff!

Juicing is probably the longest part of the process. After that, it’s always a what-else-can-I-throw-into-the-Vitamix kinda morning (another big thanks, this time to my daddy-in-law, for the best early holiday gift last year — while typing this, I’m reminded that even as adults, our parents continue to look out for our health and happiness. Talk about making my heart swell…) Really, a good blender is a fantastic investment. And if you don’t have a new blender, be kind to your old faithful. Take breaks while blending to let that motor cool down. If you smell plastic, that is a BAD sign.

My green smoothies vary from day-to-day, but essentially I stick to the following recipe (and have noted some of the variations below). Blend all ingredients, except for the toppings, and you’re good-to-go!

The Ladyapplesauce Superfood Green Smoothie
(Makes one serving)

  • 1 serving of Vibrant Green Juice (see recipe above); or 8 oz. almond milk (or your favorite non-dairy milk, juice, coconut water, or just water!)
  • 1/2 to 1 full frozen organic banana, sliced in half (depending on how sweet and thick you like your smoothies); or 1/2 to 1 full frozen apple, sliced; or a big handful of frozen blueberries (you get the idea… add frozen fruit!)
  • 1 tsp. to 1 tbsp. of raw nut or seed butter (I like raw almond butter the best, but I also love cashew, hazelnut, and sunflower seed butter); or 1 tbsp. organic peanut butter or PB2 (depending on your dietary requirements, if you are counting calories, I like that PB2 adds some of the nutritional benefits and taste of peanut butter without a lot of fat — just remember that most of the health benefits in peanuts come from that oil that you’re missing out on with PB2!)
  • 1 scoop of vegan protein powder (I’m still using and loving Vega One, rotating daily between Chocolate, Vanilla Chai, and Natural)
  • 2 big handfuls of raw, organic leafy greens (spinach has the mildest flavor while collards are the strongest, and kale and chard are somewhere in between)
  • A dash of spice (I use pumpkin pie spice, which is a combination of cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, nutmeg, and lemon peel)
  • Optional toppings: sliced organic strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, chia seeds, hemp seeds, flax seed, raw granola, dried goji berries, raw cacao nibs, raw cacao powder… the list is endless!

Sometimes, I go a little crazy and turn my green smoothie into… a green smoothie bowl! Then I call it “dessert” ❤

In case it wasn’t already apparent, I am seriously SERIOUSLY obsessed with green smoothies. If I go a day without one, I get stupid cranky and I simply don’t feel like myself. The kind that I make are typically meal replacements, so they are higher in calories, protein, and fiber than most, so keep that in mind if you’re following my recipe above. Not everyone needs to be supplementing with a protein powder like I’m using, it just so happens that I’m a vegan in training to build lean muscle mass, so that’s what’s right for me. I’m not a health professional, so always check with your doctor or nutritionist before supplementing meals with juice or smoothies.

I’m gonna leave you with some sentimental thoughts because I’m still feeling super sentimental: live vibrantly, love yourself, travel often, move your body, try new things, think outside of yourself, and take nothing for granted. Your life, your body, and your thoughts are all gifts — you don’t need to be religious or even spiritual to accept that fact. Even if all you see is random chaos swirling inside and outside of you, you’re still terribly fortunate to be a part of this great, big, beautiful dance.


[Recipe] Vegan Apple Chai Protein Pancakes

Like every other red-blooded human I know, I crave pancakes. Every day, if I’m going to be honest. But ESPECIALLY on the weekends. I blame YOU, Mom!

Well, well, well. I’m finally back from my latest adventure in geekdom (visiting family, Disney World, and of course, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, FL). If you want to peruse my nerdiness, just check out ladyapplesauce on Instagram (that’s me!) It was the exact nerdcation I was craving and provided tons of bonding time with my Mom, which I was in desperate need of.

I know that I promised a green smoothie post waaaaaaaay before I started traveling. And I have EVERY intention of sitting down and actually writing one today. But, heck, I’m a Pisces and I’m easily distracted — plus, it’s Monday and I’m severely missing the weekend already. And so, in honor of Sunday mornings and lazy afternoons and cat-cuddling and too much coffee, I feel like posting about PANCAKES.

Pancakes rule. Mostly when someone else cooks them for me. Because I’m not that good at pancakes. I blame my griddle (but it’s a really awesome cast-iron griddle). I blame my spatula (but it’s a really awesome thin, metal, Cutco spatula that costs way more than spatulas really should). And I blame my ingredients (but they’re really awesome, organic, vegan, and who are we kidding?! I know the problem with pancakes is ME). It might be a patience thing — maybe I don’t let the griddle heat properly. Or maybe the first two pancakes are always embarrassing in everyone’s batches and it’s just that no one really talks about it. But I always end up scarfing down those first two disasters before anyone can see them. It just makes me feel like a bad, bad, fat, fat cook.

Regardless, I still love pancakes. I love making them. I love making them for people I love. I love making them for just me. I love eating them. I love eating A LOT of them. I love smothering them in maple syrup or agave nectar and Earth Balance and fruit and cinnamon and… damn, now I really want pancakes. So I was getting at a point. Right. Since I started seriously training at the gym, several months before the wedding, I have deprived myself of pancakes. Yeah, sure, I could make them and attempt to eat only one and feel really good about myself — but when I start, I can’t really stop, and I easily consume 2000+ calories of pure pancake awesomeness.  Which is fine if I didn’t really feel like eating ANYTHING ELSE for the rest of the day. And thus, I needed a solution that could combine the miracle of pancakes with my strict, self-imposed fitness goals. I scoured the interwebz and found these little gems. I modified them to what I had available in my pantry (because after all the adventuretimes, I am one broke little vegan…) Here is the result:

Aaaaand, here are the mostly usual (some not-so-usual) suspects.

Aaaaand, here are the mostly usual (some not-so-usual) suspects.

Vegan Apple Chai Protein Pancakes
(Makes about 3 – 4, depending on how big you dig ’em!)

  • 1 scoop Vega One Nutritional Shake powder (I used the Vanilla Chai flavor!)
  • 3 tbsp. organic spelt flour (of course, you could use any flour you like; to make this gluten-free, try Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose GF Baking Flour, or a combo of rice and coconut flours would be good, too.)
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 Stevia packets
  • A big pinch of pumpkin pie spice: it’s a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, ginger, clove, and lemon peel
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened organic applesauce
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup of fruit (for this batch, I chopped up apples, but you could use blueberries, strawberries, what have you!)
  • About 1 cup of water, give or take
  • Oil or vegan butter for the griddle (I’m really into coconut oil spray, at the mo…)
  • Toppings! More fruit, maple syrup, agave nectar, more vegan butter, coconut oil, it’s up to you. DUH.

To prepare:

  • Heat your griddle to medium-low and grab your ingredients, two bowls, a whisk, a wooden spoon, a thin, metal spatula, and a soup ladle.
  • Combine dry ingredients in one bowl; I use a whisk for this.
  • In a separate bowl, mix together applesauce and vanilla.
  • Add the applesauce/vanilla mixture into the dry ingredients; it won’t be super moist.
  • Slowly add the water into the batter; just a little at a time until you reach your own desired consistency (depending on whether you like super thick or thin pancakes — more water = thinner batter.)
  • Use a wooden spoon to fold your fruit into the batter.
  • Add a light coating of oil to your griddle; like I mentioned before, I am seriously pancake-challenged, but I would assume you do the drop-of-water test on the griddle (when it sizzles, it’s hot enough). Medium-low is the way to go!
  • Using the soup ladle (I love this trick!) scoop your batter onto the griddle; using the back of the ladle, you can kind of smooth out the circle of batter to make your pancakes a bit more even.
  • Just like non-protein pancakes, keep your eye on them; when the little bubbles start to pop on the outer rim of the pancake, it usually means it’s time to flip.
  • Repeat until your batter is no more! And don’t forget to top with your favorite fixins. I didn’t really need to add anything to these except for a touch of Earth Balance, though my husband loved them with lots of maple syrup. Now that I’m thinking about it, to further boost the protein packed power punch, you could add organic peanut butter or raw almond butter — I bet that would be DELICIOUS.


[Recipe] Lazy Blackened Tofu and Steamed Veggies

Sippin’ green juice, writin’ about last night’s dish…

I love Mother’s Market & Kitchen. My favorite location is in Huntington Beach. I literally grew up there. And every face that works at that spot is familiar (total creep that I am, I have to resist hugging them ALL!) Plus, I want to eat ALL THE FOODS in the Kitchen — like, every little thing on the menu. That’s what happens as a vegan when you have so many options. From açai bowls to tempeh wraps, pancakes to split pea soup… I want it all in my belly (oh, and the freshly baked VEGAN biscuits? To die for).

But what I normally fall back on, on an average day, when I’m being as health-conscious as possible (read: avoiding splurging like a maniac), I order the same self-concocted meal: 8 oz. of steamed veggies, 8 oz. of blackened tofu, and a side of Mother’s handmade salsa. It might not sound like much, but it does the trick every time. And if I feel like my body needs some extra healthy fats, I grab a side of avocado, as well.

I love the way lightly steaming veggies brings out the subtle flavors of broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, and yellow squash, without destroying essential vitamins and nutrients. And yes, I know that over-indulging in soy isn’t a smart move, but I rarely eat it, so protein-packed tofu is a treat for me. Plus, add in the incredible, smoky zing of salsa and a rich, creamy smear of avocado, and I’m in Valhalla.

So last night, I wanted to re-create this go-to meal myself, right here in our kitchen. Feeling super lazy, and fighting a nasty cold, I took way more shortcuts on this than I normally would. BUT I REGRET NOTHING. It was exactly what we needed…

DISCLAIMER: I often don’t measure things precisely when it comes to cooking (baking, on the other hand, that’s math, man… I wouldn’t mess around with that). So forgive my estimates.

Steamed broccoli, cauliflower and carrots mixed with spicy, blackened tofu, topped with double roasted salsa and Rawmesan!

Steamed broccoli, cauliflower and carrots mixed with spicy, blackened tofu, topped with double roasted salsa and Rawmesan!

Lazy Blackened Tofu and Steamed Veggies
(Makes a crap-load)

The veggies:

  • 4 cups of chopped organic carrots, broccoli and cauliflower
  • Steamer, bottom boiler filled with filtered water and a dash of salt
  • Garlic salt grinder
  • Rainbow peppercorn grinder
  • A nice ol’ knife and cutting board

The tofu:

  • 15.5 oz organic firm tofu
  • A deep dish
  • Bragg Liquid Aminos
  • Several dashes of blackening spice
  • Light spray of extra virgin olive oil
  • Cast-iron skillet
  • Thin, metal spatula

Yum, yum, yum… hot-n-spicy blackened tofu is just what the doctor ordered.

The blackening spice (from The Native Foods Restaurant Cookbook; makes about 1 1/2 cups):

  • 1/4 cup cayenne
  • 1/4 cup paprika
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 2 tbsp dried oregano
  • 2 tbsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground mace
  • Storage container

The plating:

  • Trader Joe’s Double Roasted Salsa
  • Gopal’s Health Foods Rawmesan
  • Plates/bowls/spoons/forks, I don’t really need to tell you these things, do I?
The usual suspects: Bragg Liquid Aminos; Trader Joe's garlic salt, rainbow peppercorns, olive oil, and Double Roasted Salsa; homemade blackening spice; Godol's Health Foods Rawmesan.

The usual suspects: Bragg Liquid Aminos; Trader Joe’s garlic salt, rainbow peppercorns, olive oil, and Double Roasted Salsa; homemade blackening spice; Godol’s Health Foods Rawmesan.

To prepare:

  • Chop and start steaming your veggies. Add a few grinds of garlic salt and rainbow peppercorns on top of the veggies (because these things are delicious, and the salt will keep your broccoli greeeeeeeen).
  • While the veggies are steaming, chop your tofu into chunks, squares, triangles, WHO CARES?! Dredge them in a deep dish of 1/2 water and 1/2 liquid aminos (this doesn’t have to marinate long).
  • Mix up the blackening spice, one ingredient at a time (I like using a mortar and pestle, but a spoon/fork/your fingers will work fine, too). Reserve a few dashes for the tofu; store the rest in an airtight container and it’ll keep as long as the spices in your cupboard normally keep.
  • After the tofu has marinated for a few minutes, drain it, add in your dashes of blackening spice, and toss it around to evenly coat (I like a lot of spice because I like it REALLY spicy. If you don’t like it really spicy, take it easy on the spice. DUH.)
  • Heat your skillet and spray with a light, even coat of olive oil (I was lazy and used a store-bought spray can; you can save money and make your own spray olive oil; or you can wipe a little oil on a rag and add it to your pan. Let’s not judge, okay?) Do the drop of water test in the pan; when it sizzles, add your tofu mixture.
  • Keep your eye on the tofu and keep scraping and flipping, scraping and flipping, with your thin metal spatula, otherwise it will stick and you will be sad. There’s no real rule, IMHO, for how long you need to cook it. You want it crispy? Cook it till it’s crispy. I wanted it heated all the way through, but still soft, so I cooked it just till I could smell the tofu cooking (did you know that rule of thumb? My smarty sister taught me this. When you can really smell your food cooking, it’s probably cooked. This rule only applies to vegan food though, I truly know nothing about cooking poor sweet animals, so don’t go killing yourself by taking my advice here).
  • At this point, when your tofu is done, I’m going to assume the veggies are probably pretty well steamed. Now you get to plate! (I LOVE plating!) Take your plates/bowls/etc., divide up the steamed veggies then divide up the tofu. Now, like I said, I was seriously lazy. I didn’t make my own salsa (which you should absolutely do if you have more time or energy than I). And I didn’t make my own cheezy, nutritional-yeasty topping (which you should also do, if you can, and maybe in a future post I shall chat a bit about that). But right now, I’m broke and tired, so I used Trader Joe’s Double Roasted Salsa and spooned about 4 tbsp onto each serving, plus a couple good shakes from my favorite jar of Gopal’s Health Foods Rawmesan.
  • Now comes the really hard part: EAT IT.