Friday, September 27, 2013

Green Juice Smoothie

This green smoothie has been my Moby Dick. I've been chasing it all month long. Here it is finally, just as Vegan MoFo is coming to a close. And the VegCookbook Club is moving on to another book. Looks like October will be devoted to Mouthwatering Vegan by Miriam Sorrell.

But first, the third and final smoothie from Vegan Indian Cooking: 140 Simple and Healthy Vegan Recipes by Anupy Singla. (Free PDF version available here.)

Green Juice Smoothie - action shot

Green Juice Smoothie
There are 12 ingredients in this smoothie, not counting the ice and water. I scored them all with the exception of apple juice. I substituted coconut water instead. The actual blending was a breeze, thanks to my new blender. (I know that I need to pipe down about the Vitamix soon. The honeymoon glow will subside. Did I mention that it is chainsaw loud?)

How did it taste? Great. You could clearly pick out the citrus (lime, orange, and pineapple). The grapes, apple, banana, and cucumber were more subtle. My favorite ingredient was the ginger. (Wow, I need more ginger in my life!) The carrot and spinach provided the veg. And the chia seeds made it nicely thick.

Overall, a lovely juice-smoothie hybrid. Worth the wait and the blender purchase. I know that I enjoyed it because I forgot to photo it again until the cup was half empty full. 

Green Juice Smoothie - half full cup

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Greens, Cucumber, and Pineapple Smoothie

Here's a second smoothie from Wild About Greens by Nava Atlas, which I have checked out from the library. I made the Greens and Apple smoothie earlier this month but found it too pulpy. That's not a problem here, thanks to my new Vitamix blender. The blender processed the challenging produce (kale, apple, and pineapple) perfectly.

Greens, Cucumber, and Pineapple Smoothie
Nava Atlas calls this smoothie "incredibly refreshing and hydrating" and I must concur. The tropical pineapple added a nice level of sweetness without requiring agave or other sugars. I used coconut water rather than juice for the liquid. And I added the red raspberries to the top for color. They didn't sink! That's proof of a thick yet well-blended smoothie.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Red Velvet Smoothie and Chickpea Poppers

I finally made another smoothie and a snack from this month's VegCookbook Club selection, Vegan Indian Cooking: 140 Simple and Healthy Vegan Recipes by Anupy Singla. (Free PDF version available here.) After falling in love with the first smoothie recipe that I tried from the book, I've been eager to tackle the remaining two. However, I didn't think I could blend any other challenging produce to the desire consistency. Until now. Yes, the Vitamix package has arrived to much fanfare.*

Red Velvet Smoothie
This inventive recipe made a smooth and luscious drink with a lovely strawberry-pink hue. And I still can't get over how my mighty new blender dealt with a whole, raw, and unpeeled beet. It liquefied that sucker. Plus the almonds, goji berries, and apple too.

Chickpea Poppers
I also made this roasted chickpea snack from the cookbook. This popcorn-like snack is reminiscent of the chickpea nibbles from How It All Vegan! However I think I liked the Indian spices here more. I used high quality garam masala and paprika (thanks to a kind relative's spice gift). Plus, low quality cayenne pepper and chili powder. I think I'll reduce the salt when I roast the chickpeas again. This recipe is a keeper.

*Here's my cat, clawing at the Vitamix box:

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Black & Blueberry Smoothie

My new blender arrived today and in all the excitement I almost forgot to post this smoothie recipe. This is another smoothie that is in my normal morning rotation. Today I made this version slightly thicker than normal and added some coconut and berries for toppings, ala The Colorful Kitchen blog.

Black & Blueberry Smoothie

Blend the following:
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup frozen blackberries
  • 1/4 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1 Tbsp ground chia seeds (optional)
  • 1 tsp maca powder (optional)
Serves 1.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Richmond bites

Enjoying the rocks on Belle Isle
Here's a brief respite from healthy smoothies. This past weekend my boyfriend and I made a mini trip to Richmond, VA. We went to a beautiful park, called Belle Isle, which is an island in the James River. It was a POW camp in the Civil War and later used for industrial purposes. Now it's a revitalization project with an impressive retrofitted pedestrian bridge under the car-centric Robert E. Lee Memorial Bridge. The revitalization seemed to be working, as the scene was vital -- with lots of brave bathers in the rapids.

The park would make a fine spot for a picnic. However we were also in Richmond to dine out, which we did at these three veg-friendly spots.
Vegan breakfast burrito with salsa and grits

821 Café 
We hit 821 Café for brunch.  Located at 825 West Cary Street, this busy café had a kitchen staff of very energetic punks. It was fun to watch them slice massive amounts of onions from the counter bar stools. My boyfriend and I both ordered the vegan breakfast burritos with sides of grits and salsa (above). The burrito was filled with curried tofu, vegan sausage, rosemary potatoes, and black beans. My boyfriend thought his burrito was too bland but I doused mine in the readily available hot sauces.

The grits were rather meh; like Cream of Wheat. But I think that's a style. (We are spoiled by the delicious jalapeño vegan grits at DC's Smoke & Barrel.) 821 Café also had an impressive draft list, good coffee, unsweetened tea (hard to find sometimes in the South), and spacious bathrooms.

Vegan Buffalo Wings

Strange Matter
Next we visited Strange Matter, a barcade/music venue at 929 W Grace Street, for pints and classic 1980's video games. We weren't going to get any food but could not resist the Vegan Buffalo Wings, served with vegan ranch dressing (above). Made of tofu, these greasy, breaded faux wings did the trick. Overall, Strange Matter is a little funky but lovable. Half of the arcade's games are out of commission but that adds to the charm of the few working machines. It's like playing in a video game graveyard.

Panda Veg Buffet plate
Panda Veg
Finally we ended our Richmond excursion at an old favorite, Panda Veg, located at 948 West Grace Street. Okay, I guess this restaurant has, in fact, changed their name to "Panda Garden" and they are no longer all veggie. They now offer meat. But the inviting sign on their facade continues to read "Panda Veg" and that's what it is in my heart.

Panda Veg still has an all vegan buffet on weekend nights. Yes, an all vegan Chinese food buffet. The quality and quantity of the buffet was very good on the night that we visited. Although some of the dishes are laughable. Like the salt potatoes, which are my boyfriend's favorite buffet item. I enjoy the donuts for dessert but you shouldn't overdo. (Once, with my parents, we got an entire Chinese take-out container of them. Too much of a good thing.)

Dessert of oranges and donuts

Friday, September 20, 2013

Crazy Sexy Goddess Smoothie

My refurb Vitamix has shipped. The shipping notice reads, "Congratulations!" Like it's a new baby or another happy life event.

Meanwhile, today I am playing old favorites, and posting a repeat. I first blogged about this smoothie in January, when I decided to make all the smoothies in that month's VegCookbook Club selection, Crazy Sexy Kitchen: 150 Plant-Empowered Recipes to Ignite a Mouthwatering Revolution by Kris Carr with Chad Sarno.

Crazy Sexy Goddess Smoothie

This smoothie is still a winner, maybe my all-time favorite. (Although I've also made this Blueberry–Green Smoothie four times this month. That's huge for a Mofo month.) I do love the combo of cucumber, coconut water, kale, blueberries, and banana. For the Goddess, I skip avocado but add chia seeds, cacao, and some nut milk. Pairs well with Prince's Purple Rain, opening track "Let's Go Crazy."

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Superfood Chocolate Heaven Smoothie

Here's another Vegan MoFo blogger's smoothie creation. This time it's a recipe from the blog, The Colorful Kitchen, where Ilene is making colorful, gluten-free (and processed sugar-free) smoothies all this month. I even decided to copycat her habit of sprinkled toppings.

Superfood Chocolate Heaven Smoothie
I think this smoothie has aromatherapy points with the delightful raw cacao and vanilla. For the Superfoods, I added maca and ground chia seeds. Unfortunately, I had no nibs. But some nut "shake" and the coconut flakes did the trick. This smoothie is super decadent. Definitely a "dessert smoothie" recipe to have on hand.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Quick smoothie tip

No time for a smoothie? Eat fruits and nuts. 

Some mornings, smoothies just can't happen. This morning, I didn't even have time to slice or peel fruit. Or pour a side liquid. Luckily, fruit and nuts are portable and speedy solutions. Call it a "deconstructed smoothie" and get on with your day. 

What are your smoothie tips? 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Peanut Butter & Jelly Smoothie

Peanut Butter & Jelly Smoothie
I found this smoothie recipe on another MoFo blog, Vegan Noms. Now that we are halfway through September, the Vegan Month of Food, I want to try some of these inspired creations.

This smoothie is a decadent dessert with a fall back-to-school angle. I went lighter on the PB but it was still super rich and sweet. The cherry and strawberry "jelly" combo is genius. And the soft serve consistency is fun. Break out your spoons!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Greens & Apple Smoothie

I made another green smoothie over the weekend. This one is from Wild About Greens by Nava Atlas, which I have checked out from the library. (I really enjoyed Nava Atlas' Vegan Holiday Kitchen, the VegCookbookClub December pick.) This leafy greens cookbook has a full chapter of green juices and smoothies.

Greens & Apple Smoothie

For this smoothie, I used curly kale, green apple, and cucumber--all from the local farmers' market. Plus unsweetened vanilla almond milk, chia seeds, agave, and lemon juice. This was a nice combo but my blender really couldn't handle the pulp from the apple. I'm going to have to try making this one again when my new blender arrives. Yes, I've ordered a high-powered, refurbished machine from Vitamix. Maybe it'll arrive before Vegan Mofo concludes?

Friday, September 13, 2013

A smoothie and book pairing

Here's another smoothie inspired by my current read, Calling Dr. Laura: A Graphic Memoir by Nicole Georges. Drink as you remember childhood longings.

Cherry Vanilla Smoothie

Blend the following:

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup frozen cherries
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1 tsp matcha 
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 Tbsp ground chia seeds (optional)
  • 1 tsp maca powder (optional)
  • 1 tsp hibiscus powder (optional)

Serves 1.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Heirloom Shake from Purée Artisan Juice Bar and pizza from Mellow Mushroom

Heirloom Shake from Purée Artisan Juice Bar

Last weekend I made it to the recently opened DC location of Bethesda's Purée Artisan Juice Bar. Located inside MINT Health Club, at 1724 California Street NW, Purée Juice Bar occupies a sunny side corner of the gym entrance. You don't have to be a member to wander in for a 100% cold pressed, organic juice or a raw vegan nosh.

But I was interested in their smoothie offerings, which they call "Shakes." (They also call their friendly baristas, "Puristas.") I ordered the Heirloom Shake. The artfully-designed drink menu listed this particular shake at $9.75 and said it was good for glow and fiber. It certainly was a glowing orange color. What a beautiful drink! It contained carrot juice, ginger, coconut, and banana. Ginger was the dominant flavor and I swear it made my whole body hum.

Purée offers a host of cleanse packages. And, strangely, they promote bee pollen. (Which I had to google, the worried vegan that I am. Seems like an animal byproduct with allergen potential. So I won't be doing a shot of that. Must be a fitness thing.)

They have a to-go case and a shelf with cool vegan items, like Ape Man Food's Walnut Meat Tacos, Totally Rawganic desserts, and Gnosis chocolates. Also some dry brushes, vegan nail polishes and removers, and something called Cocoa Vegan Booty. (Must investigate.)

Mellow Mushroom pizza

Afterwards, my boyfriend and I hit the rooftop bar of Mellow Mushroom Adams Morgan, located at 2436 18th Street NW. A Southern chain, Mellow Mushroom is often a veg-friendly oasis when we travel in the South. 

Mellow Mushroom has many vegan options with nutritional info on their website. I especially love their build-your-own salads. Plus, the servers know what's up. When you order a pie with Daiya cheese, they offer not to brush the crust with butter or cover the pie with Parmesan.

Mega Veggie Specialty Pie

This nicely charred Mega Veggie pie (above) had red sauce, sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, green peppers, mushrooms, onions, black olives, Roma tomatoes, broccoli, banana peppers, artichoke hearts and crumbled tofu. And, boy, did it have Daiya. We ordered the small, 10" size but could only eat a few slices; it was that loaded. The pizza made excellent leftovers.

Mellow Mushroom also has a great beer list, with many local options. And three floors of seating. If you want to score the rooftop tables be prepared to hover. The only downside is the music. Sometimes it's awesome, often it's not. This time it was blaring 90's slacker rock. Quite a counterpoint to Purée's chill health club vibe.    
Mellow Mushroom, exterior night

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Blueberry–Green Smoothie

Here is a smoothie from this month's VegCookbook Club selection, Vegan Indian Cooking: 140 Simple and Healthy Vegan Recipes by Anupy Singla. (Free PDF version available here.) This smoothie has an ingredient I've never used before: bitter melon. I scored it at my local farmers' market.

Bitter Melon (Karela)

Blueberry–Green Smoothie

The other ingredients in this smoothie were familiar. Who doesn't love blueberries in a smoothie? The almonds required an overnight soak, which was the main prep. Otherwise, I had chia seeds, flax seeds, bananas, vegan milk, and coconut water all at the ready.

The bitter melon is supposed to have many health benefits. But how did it taste? I couldn't taste the bitterness when drinking this amazing smoothie. It did have a subtle after-taste though. Not at all unpleasant; you simply feel like you drank something slightly medicinal.  

If the bitter melon isn't for you, Singla recommends subbing spinach or kale for the "green." I enjoyed this smoothie and can't wait to try other recipes in this cookbook.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Quick smoothie tip

Invest in a large measuring cup for handy measuring and serving.

My trusty 2-cup measuring cup recently shattered on our kitchen floor, as glassware tends to do. And to replace it my boyfriend decided to supersize it to this 4-cup giant. At first I was taken aback. Did I even have shelf space for this sucker?

However, this Pyrex measuring cup has already earned a prized spot in my smoothie accoutrements. It's so handy when measuring ingredients and serving large batches of smoothies. I'm looking forward to soup-making with it this fall too.

What are your smoothie tips?

Monday, September 9, 2013

Raspberry mint smoothie

I made this raspberry and mint smoothie over the weekend. I liked the combo and found it most refreshing. But my boyfriend thought it tasted like cough syrup. Maybe adding chocolate would have helped? Sadly, I didn't have any form of chocolate in the house. How did this happen? So I have placed an order with my favorite smoothie powder source, Mountain Rose Herbs. Raw cacao is on its way. It's organic and fair trade too.

Raspberry Mint Smoothie

Blend the following:
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 cup frozen red raspberries 
  • 2 Tbsp ground flax seeds (optional)
  • 2 tsp maca powder (optional)
  • 1 handful of fresh mint leaves
Serves 2.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Drink Your Greens Smoothie

Today's smoothie is from July's VegCookbook Club pick, Eat, Drink, & Be Vegan: Everyday Vegan Recipes Worth Celebrating by Dreena Burton. I didn't get to this smoothie in July, although other Clubbers did. I did love the "But Where Do You Get Your Protein?" smoothie that I made.

If you haven't heard of VegCookbook Club yet, I highly recommend it. It's a relaxed and inspiring year-long version of VeganMoFo. You can join in any time. Look, I'm still pining for this recipe from July!

The current month's selection is Vegan Indian Cooking: 140 Simple and Healthy Vegan Recipes by Anupy Singla. It even has a free PDF version available here! I am going to try a smoothie recipe or two from this cookbook. However, I think I need to upgrade my blender first.

Drink Your Greens Smoothie
I used spinach rather than kale for the greens. However avocado also adds to the emerald hue. What else is in it? Fresh OJ, cantaloupe (my new favorite freezer item), banana, and agave. This lovely smoothie really did make me want to drink my greens. I think more green smoothies will be coming this month.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Vega Energizing Smoothie

Vega Energizing Smoothie packets have taken over the checkout area of my local Whole Foods. In fact, I was standing in line with green smoothie ingredients when first I noticed them. I've read Thrive, the book by Vega-formulator and front man, Brendan Brazier. (It's a great gift for aspiring athletes.) But I haven't experimented with the Vega product line.  

So in the name of my VeganMoFo smoothie theme, I decided to give this ubiquitous smoothie product a chance. Of course, I had to get the Choc-A-Lot flavor. However, it comes in other flavors, including Bodacious Berry, Oh Natural, Tropical Tango, and Vanilla Almondilla

The smoothie was simple to prepare. You simply blend the powder pack with water or another liquid. I opted for equal parts unsweetened almond milk and water. The result wasn't chalky or cloyingly sweet, as I expected it to be. It also wasn't very tasty. To me, the flavor was almost metallic or chemically. Perhaps it's an acquired taste? I'm not a fan of stevia, which is an ingredient.   

The other ingredients listed are impressive. A single packet packs in loads of plant-based protein, flax seeds, greens, and digestive enzymes. All for $1.99.  After drinking the smoothie, I didn't feel "heavy." I also didn't have teeth full of seeds and fibers, like I do after berry-rich smoothies.

I'm sorry that I didn't enjoy this smoothie experiment more. The Vega smoothie is totally vegan. Dairy, gluten, and soy free too. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Quick smoothie tip

Freeze your bananas in chunks for easier blending and portion management.

I went home for the holiday weekend and was making smoothies with my parents. My Dad gave me a whole frozen banana for the blend and I was taken aback. Surely, he knows to chunk up his smoothie bananas?

I picked up this habit because I don't have a powerful blender. These smaller pieces of frozen banana are easier to cream into submission. Plus, I can portion out managed amounts for single or double batches.

What are your smoothie tips?