My Favorite Breakfast Smoothie

IMG_0845I love blending.  Being able to dump whole fruits and veggies into my Vitamix and have them be transformed into a smooth, delicious, nutritious drink excites me.  I love that you can use frozen fruit since it lasts longer and I also, now listen closely, put my fresh spinach in the freezer.  Yes, you heard me correctly.  I purchase one of the large containers of organic spinach and stick it right in the freezer when I get home.  It lasts for around 3 weeks (although I usually use it before then) which is much longer than it would in the fridge.  Plus, it makes my smoothies a little bit colder, and I like that.  Here’s my favorite recipe to use:

1 cup of Water
3-4 cups of spinach (or as much as your blender will hold)
1 apple, quartered
1 tbsp. Chia Seeds
1 tbsp. Ground Flax Seed
1 cup frozen grapes (they replace the need for ice cubes)

Add all of the ingredients in the order listed. Using the proper order is supposed to give your blender some help, however, you see that I did not follow my own rules in this picture.  You can add more or less water, depending on how thick you like the smoothie. On occasion I might throw in some hemp protein powder if I am going to work out that morning.

So there ya go, my delicious morning smoothie that just happens to have my entire daily fruit recommendation and 2/3 of my daily veggie recommendation. Can’t beat that!  See why it’s my favorite?

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Vivian the Vitamix Blender

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If you follow me on twitter or are my friend on Facebook, you know that I can’t stop making posts about my new Vitamix Blender.  And if you know me in real life, you also know that I name my major kitchen appliances (hence the name Vivian).  Well, I am still not able to shut-up about my new Vitamix.  I mean, look at her.  She’s beautiful!  I have been wanting a Vitamix for years and then I saw the new models that came out and I couldn’t resist.  I sold mostly all of my small kitchen appliances and drove to Williams-Sonoma and VOILA!  

I chose the Professional Series 750.  Sure, there were cheaper models but if you’re spending a little bit, why not spend a little more for Stainless Steel housing and the cool Pre-Set functions on the 750 model.  Vitamix really made some amazing changes with these models but the one I love the most is the 64 oz. carafe that fits UNDER (that’s right, UNDER) your countertop.  I have seen hundreds of videos of people using Vitamix Blenders and I always saw the base sitting on the countertop with the carafe sitting next to it because it was too tall to fit under the counter.  Again, those of you who know me know that I am slightly O.C.D. when it comes to my kitchen.  I have to have everything “just so.”  The thought of having the blender sitting on my countertop in two pieces was something that gave me the shakes.  But that’s not an issue anymore with the new models!  Vitamix.com also sells an even less expensive model called the Creations Elite and it has the same exact motor of the more expensive models.  Plus, if you are really looking to save a penny, you can get a refurbished model from them as well.  I, on the other hand, sold 5 kitchen appliances to pay for the old girl.  I was able to sell my Food Processor, Coffee Grinder, Blender, Mini Food Processor/Chopper, and my Breville Juicer.  My Vitamix has replaced ALL of these kitchen appliances and in 3 months, I haven’t missed one yet.  I have been able to chop veggies and make almond milk, smoothies, fresh juices, hummus, guacamole, peanut butter, and even grind coffee beans.  

With the exception of the week I was in Chicago, I have used it every single day!  One day soon I am hoping to get the “dry” container so I can grind grains, mill my own flour and knead dough.  The most exciting part about getting my new Vitamix is how it has simplified eating lots of whole foods and being able to make them fresh in my own kitchen.  So, there ya have it.  My Vitamix commercial.  I wish I could say that I am finished talking about it, but I am not sure when or if that day will come 🙂

Meatless Mondays

5c62f-meatless-monday-heart-300We started something in our household called “Meatless Monday.”  We love to eat meat, really, we do.  So why did we begin to reduce the amount of meat we consume? Well, according to the USDA, in the year 2000 meat consumption had reached a high of 195 lbs. per person per year. That was up 57 lbs. from what is was in the 1950’s and 60’s. They estimate that number has even increased another 30 lbs. per person in the last decade. There are a couple of reasons why this increase is bad thing.  Meat used to be a delicacy and a treat. People could not afford to eat meat everyday and looked forward to a nice Sunday pot roast and savored it more because they knew it was not an everyday occurrence. The same is true with sugar. Having something sweet should be a special thing and should happen only once a week or so. We have made these “treats” something we consume everyday. A downside to this is, to be able to afford meat everyday, we buy the least expensive, chemically filled, antibiotic ridden, lowest quality of meat on the grocery store shelves and believe a label that reads “all natural.” Another reason is the extensive amount of resources it takes to grow and transform that little calf into the juicy steak on our plate.  I listened to a cool podcast on NPR entitled, “A Nation of Meat Eaters: See How it All Adds Up” by Eliza Barclay, which talked about the harsh impact so much meat eating has on the environment.  It is extremely interesting (to me at least) to hear about how the daily demands of livestock affect us in more ways than one.

So my challenge to you?  Start viewing meat as a treat like our ancestors did and begin by joining the Meatless Monday challenge. The easiest way I have found is to put on a pot of your favorite soup but leave out the meat. Use beans and you will have a protein packed, super filling, healthy meal. Plus, by limiting the quantity of meat you consume, you can use the savings to purchase higher quality meat, which is better in both health AND taste.  From one carnivore to another, I promise you that going one day per week without eating meat will not lead to hugging trees or throwing red paint on fur coats but it might lead to a less bloated, less tired and healthier you! Meatless Mondays…go for it 🙂

Pilates

82ff8-pilates_1I know I am WAY behind but I just discovered Pilates this past week. Sure, I knew what it was…and sure I have had 2 Pilates DVD’s sitting in my closet for the past couple of years…but this week I decided to dust them off and give them a try. To be honest, it happened to come on a week where I was feeling “under the weather” if you know what I mean (which is SUCH a blessing to a PCOS girl and is just another confirmation from God that I am on the path He has for me). So I was wanting to workout but could not bring myself to do cardio. I had a couple of friends who had taken a class last week that mixed in some Pilates and it reminded me of the DVD’s I had. What a blessing (yes, another one) it turned out to be. I felt so balanced, strong, and RELAXED! And I have never been as sore as I was the day after my first workout. I have tried Yoga before and thought Pilates was kinda the same thing. Boy was I wrong. Pilates is the clear leader in my household. Did I mention that I really like Pilates? Because I do! As for the image at the top of this post…something to work towards 🙂

Kale Chips

69e18-kale_chips0As far as green veggies are concerned, my list previously stopped at broccoli and lettuce. Over the past few months I have tried to add more and now I find myself craving snap peas, zucchini, and spinach. In my search to increase my veggie intake, I came across Kale Chips. Yes…crunchy, salty, kale chips. They are so easy to make and you will find yourself not being able to stop eating them.

 
To make Kale Chips, pick out a fresh, organic bunch of kale. I tried using a bag of kale that was already torn into pieces, but it didn’t work at all. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Begin by tearing the kale into large pieces (about 3 to 4 times larger than bite size). Toss the pieces into a salad spinner and wash thoroughly. I spin the kale about 3 times because it is very important to make sure they are dry so they will crisp up. Spread the kale pieces on a sheet pan and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, and salt. Toss them around and place them in the oven for around 12 – 15 minutes. Test them by pulling the sheet pan out and shaking it. If the chips move around then you know they are ready.
 
Go buy some kale and try these now. For real. YUM!

FOOD, Inc.

FOOD, Inc.This movie is a “must-see” for anyone concerned with what we are actually ingesting on a day to day basis. I LOVE this film!!! It raises awareness without going to the extremes that P.E.T.A. does and it doesn’t get super gory or horrifying. But it does tell the story of how our food is processed and the history behind it. It also inspirational because along with showing the commercially prepared food, it also shows community farmers raising animals the proper way for food. My husband and I didn’t eat any meat for a period of 3 months last year. We felt GREAT but man, sometimes you just want a steak! So it was inspiring to see farmers raising animals the way God intended it. No chemicals. No hormones. No AMMONIA (yes, Ammonia!). There is even a lot of quotes at the end of the movie that try to motivate the viewers to take a couple of small steps in the right direction, like planting a garden, etc. I don’t want to talk too much about my views regarding the film because I’d like to leave room for personal impact, but I will just say that it is an awesome documentary filled with insight and hope. AND I am excited to say that this past week I actually purchased our first share of meats & eggs from a local farmer here in the Nashville area. If you live around here, you should definitely check them out at www.rollinghillsfarm.com. We didn’t have the time to visit the farm this weekend but I am hoping to make the trip in the next couple of weeks. I get to pick up my share of meat on Thursday and I couldn’t be more excited!  I am blessed because my husband is equally as excited. He was joking about wishing we had some fabric or vegetables that we could use to exchange for the meat. That would REALLY be getting back to our roots. But for now, we will just stick with paying cash.

Happy Christmas!

Happy Christmas!As you can tell by my lack of posts, it has been a crazy, but wonderful month. My husband and I traveled out of town for Thanksgiving, we were in the Christmas production at our church, we had a lot of our family come up to visit at different times, and we have been making quite merry this Christmas season. With everything that has been going on, I have not been too adventurous in my kitchen or with my research. Things have slowed down a little this past week and I have been thinking about some new things I want to try. I am looking forward to being able to get back to my pre-holiday routine starting next week, but I also don’t want to rush through my favorite time of year. So in the meantime…MERRY CHRISTMAS!