Meatless Monday – Cherry Berry Banana Green Smoothie

A few months ago I read that a shot of cherry juice before bed could help with insomnia. So when I saw cherry juice on sale at Costco, I added it to the cart. But we’re tired and forget to a) drink it and b) make anything resembling scientific study when we happen to remember to drink it.

And now it is officially spring! Even though there’s still a chilly bite to the morning air, I have returned to my most-days green smoothie routine, in part prompted by the presence of cherry juice in the fridge.

As already noted, I am not scientifically inclined, aka, imprecise. I have tried to measure, but really, I throw ingredients in the blender until they “look right.” Be warned: you may want to experiment yourself for the exact ratios, if exact ratios are your thing.

Another tip: red cherries/berries + green spinach = interesting color. Pour your smoothie into a colored cup with a lid and enjoy it through a straw. Now you’re ready to take it on the go and no one (including you) will be distracted by your otherwise delicious drink.

Cherry Berry Banana Green Smoothie
Serves 1

1/2 c frozen cherries
4-6 large frozen strawberries (add to cherries and you should have just under 1 c fruit)
1/2 frozen banana
1 large handful spinach (approx 1 c packed)
1/4 c cherry juice
fresh ginger (about the size of the first digit of your pinky finger)
water, as necessary to blend

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Keep adding water a little at a time until you have good blending consistency.

No idea if the cherry juice at bedtime has helped us sleep better. But I can attest to a cherry smoothie helping to jump start my morning!

Meatless Monday – Roasted Veggie Marinara

Some days food is about sustenance. It has to be easy, quick, just satisfying enough. I was sick last week and no way was I going to spend extra time on my feet and in the kitchen when I really needed to stay in bed. That’s when I’m grateful for a husband and kids who know their own way around the kitchen. And food in the freezer. And easy food. Brown rice and a few chopped veggies + soy sauce = Asian bowl. Whole wheat tortilla, hummus, fresh spinach and those same chopped veggies = veggie wrap. That kinda thing.

We also had some grape tomatoes edging their way out. Roasting veggies is about the easiest food prep ever. I put the tomatoes in a bowl and added rough chopped red onion and baby bell peppers. I peeled some garlic and left the cloves whole. No measurements, because it’s about the look of the mix–mostly tomatoes, with a good assortment of complementary veggies (okay, guessing, about 1/2 of a large red onion and 5-6 baby peppers, which might be 1 whole large pepper, erring on the side of a lot of garlic!). I tossed them with olive oil, a couple dashes of balsamic vinegar, Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute and red chili flakes and roasted at 400 for about 20 minutes. I checked them and gave them a little more time. This isn’t rocket science, just roasted veggies.roasted-veggie-sauce

When the tomatoes were beginning to blister, I threw the whole gorgeous lot into a stock pot. I added two 16 oz cans of chopped tomatoes in their juice and brought to a simmer. I splashed in some red wine from an open bottle, about 1/3 cup. I drizzled in a little more olive oil. I may have added some extra spices to taste–oregano, basil, etc–but brain in the clouds, I wasn’t really keeping track. I could have added a few handfuls of spinach, but forgot. When it was all hot and smelled amazing, I used my stick blender to puree it into sauce. Meanwhile I had made some whole wheat spaghetti. Even my kid who doesn’t love tomatoes and wouldn’t choose spaghetti marinara, pronounced it “Delicious!”

All in, it took about 5 minutes to prep veggies for roasting. Another 3 to get the sauce and pasta going. That’s about as easy as it gets.

Some days food has to be easy. Other days food makes the party. Today was a no-school day for our kids, and one of our family traditions has been making those days special. The challenge: adolescents who would rather play video games and watch YouTube than hang out with their parents. Forced family fun has its time, but today wasn’t it. So tonight, dinner will make the party. We’re doing Build Your Own Pizzas, with fresh dough from Trader Joe’s and–did you guess?–the leftover marinara sauce. I’m sure one kid will go all cheese. The other will go light on cheese and sprinkle on veggies. Mine will be sauce, no cheese, lots of veggies: more garlic, zucchini, red onion, artichoke hearts, olives, mushrooms. Almost as easy and more fun than take-out.

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Meatless Monday – The Greenest Soup

It was one of those weeks when the Universe declared, “Your plans be damned!”

Extra meetings. Tasks took too long. Hormones flared. Perfectionism roared. Memories failed. Schedules ran amok. The internet went down at work and, as soon as it was restored, it went down at home: three repairmen in three days, to discover that the service we’ve been paying for – for years! – is not available at our home due to lack of wiring. You’d think the company would know that…

But we had spectacular weather. After a week of downpours we enjoyed bright blue skies, light breezes, and itchy eyes from pollen storms produced by gorgeous bursting blooms. I even got a little too much sun during an outdoor lunch break.

Spring arrived yesterday and brought with it more rain. California is still trying to recover from disastrous drought so I say, “Bring it on!”

Besides, cold weather means more soup days! I had intended to post this recipe last Monday in anticipation of St. Patrick’s Day. Not because it’s traditional, but because it is So Green. Truly, the greenest soup. And it’s delicious. If you want something a little more Irish-traditional, try soda bread or leek & potato soup.

But I couldn’t post last week (see above) so I’m posting today and now it is once again soup weather. See? Everything works out.

broccoli

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Thai Broccoli Soup
Serves 4-6

½ large yellow onion (approx. 1 c), diced
3-4 garlic cloves, pressed
1 Tbsp fresh ginger root, diced
1-2 Tbsp green curry paste*
1 (13.5-ounce) can coconut milk
3 c veggie broth
Sea salt and cracked black pepper
1 pound broccoli (approx. 4-6 c), chopped
2 c spinach leaves
1 c cilantro leaves + more for serving
Juice of ½ lime
2 scallions, shredded
¼ c peanuts, chopped (optional, for serving)

Sauté onion, garlic and ginger in a large soup pot until onion begins to brown, about 4 minutes. Add 1 Tbsp of water at a time as necessary to prevent sticking. Add curry paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until fragrant. Add coconut milk, broth, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Add the broccoli, cover and cook for 10 minutes or until the broccoli is tender. Remove from the heat and add the spinach leaves and cilantro. Using an immersion blender, blend the soup until smooth. Juice lime into soup and top with cilantro, scallions and peanuts.

*Note: Green curry pastes can vary widely in heat! I use Thai Kitchen and noted that they recommend on the jar 1-2 Tbsp of curry paste per can of coconut milk, so that is what I used in this recipe.

Tip: Don’t toss the broccoli stems! Once you cut off the florets, use a veggie peeler to peel the tough outside of the stem, then chop and add them to the recipe as well.Bsoup3