Video: Plant-Powered Families Releases Today!

 

Today is the official release of Plant-Powered Families! I’ve made a brief video to talk about the book, and also to thank you for your ongoing support.

Few notes from the video:

I’ll keep it short today. I have a whole lotta’ house to clean up here. Been a busy week with wee girl’s birthday party and getting ready to for the book launch.

My gratitude, once again, to all of you for your support and community over the years. And, my thanks to the incredible team at BenBella Books for helping me bring this book to print. <3

x Dreena

Plant-Powered t-shirts, “weegan” onesies, and more!

 

Do you have a “weegan”? Are you a plant-powered cook? Do you want spread the word about eating vegan and Living plant-powered?

Now you can… with these energetic, bright t-shirts, totes, and aprons. Yes, even onesies!

Since I started writing Plant-Powered Families two years ago, I’ve wanted to bring out some feel-good vegan t-shirts and items. So, a couple of months ago I hired a designer and an assistant to help out with these designs. I’m really pleased with them, and hope you like them too. Here’s just a few of the items (link through to see ALL).

"Plant-Powered" t-shirts and more! via Dreena Burton www.PlantPoweredKitchen.com #vegan

"Weegan onesie! via Dreena Burton www.PlantPoweredKitchen.com #vegan

 

 

My favorite so far is this bamboo tank! Yep, I ordered one for myself (and an apron, and kiddo tee, etc). And, if I had still had a wee babe, I’d have defintiely ordered that onesie too!

It’s almost cute enough to try for a 4th. Almost. 😉

These items and more (including mugs and aprons) are now available through this page. Just in time for Mother’s Day!

Also, remember you have a chance to win a selection of these goodies! Check out my post for details.

Stay tuned, next week I have a wicked giveaway for Mother’s Day… and a site makeover!

Plant-Powered shirts, totes, mugs, and aprons for the whole family! www.plantpoweredkitchen.com #vegan

Please tell me… do you like the designs? What else would you like to see down the road? More quotes? Different items? Please send along your feedback so I can create more designs for your plant-powered self and loved ones! 

 

This post contains affiliate links. Your support allows me to create more great content. Thank you.

Peanut Butter Pudding with Berrylicious Swirl (feature recipe from Plant-Powered Families!)

Our girls are on spring break this week and next, so I’m busy keeping them busy at home! They are spread out in ages (almost 14, 10, and almost 6), so I find they rarely want to do the same things. Sometimes the older two hang out, other times the younger two play together or do projects – today they are painting birdhouses. But, the girls are at a stage where they often don’t enjoy the same activities. Anyone else have this experience with their kiddos? Have any ideas or advice to share?

One thing we did enjoy this week was a walk through Redwood Park. This park is peaceful and beautiful in its own right, with majestic trees and serene paths…

 

fairy3

Recently, I heard about a “fairy kingdom” that has developed in the woods of the park. At some point, one or more children had the idea to put a couple of little wooden doors and wooden birdhouses on trees, where the fairies come to visit! Well, the idea caught on and now we have a wee enchanted forest with doors at the base of trees and painted birdhouses with charming personal touches. Here are a few examples, though the pictures don’t do justice to the entire scene:

fairy4

fairy6

We strolled through the kingdom, and all three girls were engaged with the fun. I was too! Of course, afterwards the younger girls were keen to paint their own contributions to the fairy forest. So, they started painting and decorating their little houses today. If you live in the South Surrey/White Rock area, go for a stroll in Redwood Park – the fairy fun is just beyond the treehouse.

peanutbutterpuddingtext

 

Now, when activities fail me, there’s one thing our girls always enjoy together… homemade treats! They all love this Peanut Butter Pudding with Berrylicious Swirl. Ok, our middle daughter opts for the pudding without the berry swirl, no surprise there. :)

This is a new recipe from my Plant-Powered Families cookbook, but my publisher is sharing the recipe now. This pudding is very easy to whip together, and tastes like a PB&J sandwich – without the bread! It’s all whole-foods based, from the pudding to the swirl!

NEW! Plant-Powered Families cookbook by Dreena Burton

Oh, and for those of you possibly wondering… “uh-oh, is there a lot of peanut butter in this book? I’ve already preordered!”… No, there isn’t. In fact, I believe this is the only dedicated peanut butter recipe in the book. And, you can substitute a nut butter like cashew or almond if you have peanut allergies in your household.

And, if you missed my last post and don’t know about the preorder offer of a bonus ebook and special giveaway, check out my last post for details!

Peanut Butter Pudding with Berrylicious Swirl! from "Plant-Powered Families" cookbook by Dreena Burton #vegan #glutenfree

Pudding photo credit: Nicole Axworthy

Enjoy the pudding, friends!

x Dreena

Plant-Powered Families is HERE! (+ bonus ebook and giveaway)

 

Plant-Powered Families is here! I’ve mentioned this new cookbook a few times, and today I can officially announce that it releases on May 12th! In this cookbook, I share over 100 recipes, plus insights and tips from my 14 years of raising 3 “weegans”.

NEW! Plant-Powered Families cookbook by Dreena Burton

This is my fifth cookbook, but my first cookbook with full-color design and photographs for every recipe (taken by my friend and colleague, Nicole Axworthy). Cover photo credit: Lindsay Faber.

All the recipes are vegan, whole foods plant-based, and many with allergy-friendly options to make them nut-free or gluten-free. This is collection of both new recipes along with selected “tried and true” dishes. I have revised some old favourites, making them easier, more nutritious, and also with some allergy-friendly alternatives. Of course, there are many new food creations, including:

  • Sunday Morning Pancakes
  • Cinnamon French Toast
  • Blueberry Lassy Muffins
  • No-Bake Granola Bars
  • Green Superhero Dressing
  • Cheesy Caesar Dressing
  • Potato-Meets-Egg-Salad
  • ‘Baconut’
  • Red Lentil Hummus
  • Vegan Feta
  • Motsa’ Dip
  • Ultimate Cashew Cheese
  • Cream of Cauliflower Soup
  • Smoky Bean Chili
  • Smashing Squash Soup
  • Thick ‘n Hearty Tomato Sauce
  • Polenta Pizza Crust
  • Artichoke Sunflower Burgers
  • Ta-Quinos!
  • Autumn Dinner Loaf with Homestyle Gravy
  • Saucy BBQ Chickpeas and Green Beans
  • Creamy Fettucine
  • “ShipShape” Joe’s
  • Balsamic-Glazed Sweet Potato Fries
  • Peanut Butter Pudding with Berrylicious Swirl
  • Fudgesicles
  • Vanilla Bean Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Crazy Brownies
  • Apple Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
  • Protein Power Balls
  • Apple Nachos Supreme… and more!
Cinnamon French Toast from "Plant-Powered Families" cookbook by Dreena Burton

Cinnamon French Toast

Artichoke Sunflower Burgers from "Plant-Powered Families" cookbook by Dreena Burton

Artichoke Sunflower Burgers

Red Lentil Hummus from "Plant-Powered Families" cookbook by Dreena Burton

Red Lentil Hummus

Vegan Feta from "Plant-Powered Families" by Dreena Burton

Vegan Feta

Cream of Cauliflower Soup from "Plant-Powered Families" by Dreena Burton

Cream of Cauliflower Soup (with Seasoned Polenta Croutons)

Autumn Dinner Loaf from "Plant-Powered Families" cookbook by Dreena Burton

Autumn Dinner Loaf with Homestyle Gravy

Saucy BBQ Chickpeas and Green Beans from "Plant-Powered Families"

Saucy BBQ Chickpeas and Green Beans

Crazy Brownies from "Plant-Powered Families" cookbook by Dreena Burton

CRAZY Brownies with Chocolate Ganache

Apple Spice Cake with "Cream Cheese" Frosting

Apple Spice Cake with “Cream Cheese” Frosting

Apple Nachos Supreme from "Plant-Powered Families" by Dreena Burton

Apple Nachos Supreme

Beyond the recipes, this is where you will find my vegan mama insights and food tips… answering the questions I hear from readers so often, including:

  • What do you pack in your kids’ school lunches? How do you make them nut-free?
  • What do you serve at birthday parties? Do you send your children to non-vegan parties and social events?
  • How do you handle weekly food preparation? What do you batch-cook/freeze?
  • … and the ever-popular: HELP! I have a picky eater!

I answer all these questions — and more — sharing what I’ve learned and as a mom of three for the past 14 years. I’ve also included a nutritional FAQ section, with help from my friend and colleague Heather Nicholds.

Plant-Powered Families releases on May 12th (perfect for Mother’s Day)! I encourage you to pre-order now and receive a special early order gift, a bonus ebook with 15 NEW plant-powered, family-friendly recipes. (If you have already pre-ordered, yes, you are still eligible to receive the pre-order bonus.) Your 15 bonus ebook recipes include… Lemon Coconut Muffins, Amaranth Porridge, Soy-Free Vegan Feta, Roasted Red Pepper Dip, Greek Lentil and White Bean Soup, Pumpkin Seed Poppers, Banana Chocolate Chip Cake with Chocolate Mousse Frosting, and more!

Lemon Cranberry Coconut Muffins from bonus "Plant-Powered Families" ebook by Dreena Burton

Lemon Cranberry Coconut Muffins

Mango Hemp Dressing from "Plant-Powered Families" bonus ebook

Mango Hemp Dressing

Pumpkin Seed Poppers from "Plant-Powered Families" bonus ebook!

Pumpkin Seed Poppers

Soy-Free Vegan Feta from "Plant-Powered Families" bonus ebook!

Soy-Free Vegan Feta

Banana Chocolate Chip Cake with Chocolate Mousse Frosting from bonus Plant-Powered Families ebooks by Dreena Burton

Banana Chocolate Chip Cake with Chocolate Mousse Frosting

To receive this bonus ebook:

  1. Order Plant-Powered Families (Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | IndieBound | Indigo) before May 12th.
  2. Email your proof of purchase to plantpoweredfamilies@gmail.com.

That’s it! PLUS…

I know many of you will be sharing news of this book via social media, so I’m offering a special giveaway. To enter the giveaway:

  1. share this post on social media (Facebook, twitter, IG, etc) using the hashtags  #plantpoweredfamilies
  2. then leave a comment with rafflecopter (below), and you will be entered to win ALL of these prizes…

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A+ Healthy Baking Recipes for Back-to-School (nut-free)

I’m late with a back-to-school post year, but that’s because our kids aren’t back in school yet!  In British Columbia, there is a teachers’ strike that began in June, so our girls still haven’t returned to school yet, and probably won’t until October. Our girls have a tutor right now, and are doing some daily online work. It’s not the same, for them it’s an extended summer. Nevertheless, I am trying to feel the “back-to-school” vibe, and getting in to my regular baking routine!

During the school year, I rely on a few key baked goods to put into lunch rotation for the girls’ lunches (and also for hubby’s work lunch). These snacks are all nut-free, so perfect for school snacks. People always ask “what do you pack for lunches”. Last year I posted my top 10 recipes for packing school lunches, and today I’m sharing my A+ List of Healthy Baking Recipes for Back-to-School!

Top Healthy Baking Recipes for Back-To-School! #nutfree #vegan

1) Maple Banana Bread Muffins: These are a long-time family fave, and I cannot tell you how many tweets and notes I get saying something like “omg those muffins are wicked“. They really are good. And easy!  So, go bake them. :)

Maple Banana Bread Muffins by Dreena Burton, #vegan #oilfree

 

2) Apple-Hemp Muffins: I love these because they pack a good dose of nutrtient-dense hemp seeds in a fragrant, tasty muffin. Kids can be a little fussy about eating hemp seeds, they won’t even know they’re in these muffins!

Apple Hemp Muffins by Dreena Burton, #vegan #oilfree

 

3) Pumpkin Seed Chocolate Chip Oat Bars: These are the bars I make when I want a snack that will “hold up” well (ie: it won’t get squished in a pocket during a field trip!) These are dense, chewy, bars that are a much healthier alternative to storebought granola bars – and far more satisfying. I usually double the batch and freeze half! These are from my PP15 ebook, and if you don’t have a copy, I offered a special on my FB page last week. I’ll extend the offer, use code PP15school at checkout for 25% off!

Pumpkin Seed Chocolate Chip Oat Bars by Dreena Burton, #vegan #glutenfree #oilfree

Oh, and this particular photo of the bars was taken by Tami of Nutmeg Notebook. She shared on Instagram, and I’ve reposted a few times since!

4) Oat Snackles: (Pictured in background, on dishtowel) These are what I bake when I feel like I have literally 10 minutes to get something in the oven. If you make them enough times, I bet you can meet that time! The kids love them, and you can customize with dried fruit, chocolate chips, seeds, etc.

Oat Snackles, by Dreena Burton #vegan #oilfree #glutenfree

5) Power Cookies: These are a cookie treat, but still quite healthy. I’ll be putting this new cookie in rotation this year. For the kids… right. 😉

Power Cookies by Dreena Burton - #vegan #glutenfree #nutfree #oilfree

 

6) BF Blueberry Muffins: These I make a little less often just because the prep is a wee bit longer (not much, just slightly). When I do make them, the girls think they are quite the treat!

BF Blueberry Muffins by Dreena Burton, Plant-Powered Kitchen

 

7) Berry Scuffins: When you want a baked berry fix that’s a little quicker, this is your recipe! For the fall and winter, you can use frozen berries or substitute apple or pear (toss in a little lemon juice first to help prevent discoloring).

Berry "Scuffins" by Dreena Burton, Plant-Powered Kitchen #vegan #oilfree

 

8) Banana Oat Bundles. I’ve been making these since my 13 year old was a wee babe! They are the perfect grab ‘n go snack, for lunches or anytime of the day. (And the added chips, always welcome.)

Banana Oat Bundles by Dreena Burton, Plant-Powered Kitchen #vegan #glutenfree #oilfree

 

10. Cocoa Cookie Dough Balls. Ok, technically not a baked good, but certainly a healthy school treat (with a nut-free option) and most definitely a favorite for kids!

Cocoa Cookie Dough Balls by Dreena Burton #vegan

There you have it! My favorite, wholesome, baked snacks for packing into lunches. All of these recipes freeze well, so if you are energized to double batches, go for it!

Oh WAIT. I have another… these CINNABON MUFFINS...

Cinnabon Muffins by Dreena Burton #vegan

Brand new! Bit of a teaser, I have another round of testing to go, then I will share up. Promise!

What is your go-to baking recipe during the school year? Share what works for you!

POWER Cookies for Back-To-School

My wee girl starts full day kindergarten this year. It’s her first time in full-day school. And my first time with ALL my girls in full-day school! For the last 13+ years I’ve been with kiddos. So, it’s a big change for her, an even bigger change for me.

Once school starts, that is… our teachers are on strike here. But, eventually school will start again. Maybe I’m feeling the stress of the change, because I’ve been baking a lot. Ok, I bake a lot most days! But, it seems I’m baking more than usual – Berry Scuffins, Raisinet Cookies (from LTEV, I’ll try and post soon), and these new delicious Power Cookies.

Power Cookies by Dreena Burton - #vegan #glutenfree #nutfree #oilfree

 

These are the kind of cookie that satisfies a sweet tooth but also offers some nutritional punch. For a cookie, it’s pretty darn healthy, made with whole-grain oat flour, coconut, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, and tahini. I use tahini so the cookies can be nut-free for school lunches. Most schools are nut-free zones, and that can be tricky planning school snacks. Many commercially-prepared snacks that happen to be nut-free tend to have dairy, eggs, or made with overly processed ingredients. So, it’s always useful to have a few nut-free goodies in your repertoire!

If you don’t have to make them nut-free, you can substitute another nut butter. I don’t always enjoy tahini in plant-based cookies, but here it works! I do prefer a very mellow, good-quality tahini (suggestions in recipe). If you can find a good brand, it’s worth it. But, you will forever be tahini-spoiled! Once you taste the good stuff, you don’t want to go back. (Just a heads up!) 😉

If you follow my Instagram posts, you may have seen this pic of Go Raw watermelon seeds. When I did my final test of these cookies, I was out of sunflower seeds. I thought “why not try the watermelon seeds“? They worked fabulously! They certainly aren’t essential, however. If you don’t have them, sunflower and pumpkin seeds work just fine. (As a side note, the watermelon seeds taste lovely on their own. They have a mellow seeds flavor, somewhat like sunflower but milder-tasting – and the sea salt used is minimal.)

Think you need a cookie close up. Zoom in on the chips!

Power Cookies, by Dreena Burton, plant-powered kitchen #vegan #glutenfree #nutfree #oilfree

Got it?

Nope, that’s a raisin on the left, There… to the right!

Power Cookies, by Dreena Burton, plant-powered kitchen #vegan #glutenfree #nutfree #oilfree

Yeahhhhh, that’s it.

Now bake… :) Enjoy, enjoy my friends!

x

Dreena
Power Cookies, by Dreena Burton, plant-powered kitchen #vegan #glutenfree #nutfree #oilfree

Power Cookies

ReciPage to print/share recipe
My wee girl is a bundle of high energy! I created these vegan cookies to give her bite-sized nutrition to fuel her non-stop pace!

2 cups oat flour (use certified gf for gluten-free; see note)
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/4 – 1/3 cup non-dairy chocolate chips (I like mini-chips; can substitute raisins or currants)
1/4 cup sunflower seeds or sprouted watermelon seeds
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp sea salt (lightly rounded)
2 1/2 tbsp tahini (or raw almond butter if not needing nut-free, see note)
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp pure maple syrup (see note)
2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine flour, coconut, chocolate chips, seeds, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk the tahini (or almond butter) with the maple syrup, and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and stir through until well combined. Place scoops (about 1 – 1 1/2 tbsp in size) on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Bake for 10-11 minutes, until just set to the touch, then remove from oven and let cool for a minute on sheet, and then transfer to a cooling rack. Makes about 15-18 cookies.

Oat Flour note: Don’t substitute an equal amount of another flour (like spelt)_ here – it has a different volume and requires more liquid to come together. If you want to sub another flour, use less to start, about 1 2/3 cups, and add in any extra as needed after bringing together the wet and dry ingredients. If it’s too wet/sticky, add a touch more flour.

Tahini note: Tahini brands vary in taste and textures. If possible, use a mellow-flavored tahini (ex: Baron’s, Achva, Alwadi)

Maple syrup note: The mixture should come together nicely, but if it’s quite thick and not combining, add another 1/2 – 1 tbsp of maple syrup mixed with another 1 tsp of nut butter or tahini.

2-Ingredient Halloween Treats: Chocolate Lollibats!

Chocolate Lollibats - Plant-Powered Kitchen

With three kiddos you probably think I have all kinds of adorable Halloween food treats up my witch’s hat. Years ago, I was ridiculously devoted to Halloween. Before having children, I would take time off work to decorate my house. Yes, I took vacation days to create Halloween characters, decorate my house with lights, set the scene with music and then bring all those creepy/silly characters to life. Here’s the thing: outside of cooking, I’m not much of a crafty person. I don’t have a sewing machine. Using a glue gun stresses me out. But, I managed to pull off this silliness (and more) over the years…

halloweenCollage

I have a soft spot for those three witches, they are my babes. 😉 The witches’ cauldron has blinky lights inside, snakes and spiders on top, and a sign in with “Doubledouble toil and trouble; Fire burn, and caldron bubble“. And those ghosts? I have dozens! they are ghouly on windows, but also so cool inside hanging from doors and lights – and even on hedges outside! So, the girls absolutely love this crazy side of their mother. Yet, I have less and less time to pull it off every year, let alone get crafty in the kitchen with really cute Halloween food. Any other mothers with me?

Yet, I want to make more fun Halloween treats, because the “treats” that are out there? Anything but. Mass-marketed Halloween candy is rife with artificial colors, artificial flavors, preservatives, hydrogenated oils, GMOs – not to mention dairy and gelatin. If you follow my FB page, I posted a couple of images over the weekend about GMOs in Halloween candy and also some alternatives. Link over if you want to have a look.

Every Halloween our girls run through the neighborhood collecting stashes of this junk. We donate it or otherwise give it away. The girls are actually totally cool about it. They don’t want most of those candy. We sort through and find a few acceptable treats. Then, I trade up for the GOOD stuff. Better chocolate treats! And also little bags of organic chips. Or, I treat them with some of my own homemade goodies!

So, this year I was determined to make some sort of playful Halloween treat. It had to meet 2 conditions:

1) Quick and easy to make.

2) Nut-free option so they could share at school.

Behold… Chocolate Lollibats!

Chocolate Lollibats!

As I mentioned, I don’t have a lot of kitchen-crafty things. So, when I had this idea in mind, I needed to get a mold to set some chocolate. I popped into Kitchen Therapy, and lucked into this silicone bat ice-cube mold. I see online they also have pumpkin molds!

Silicone Bat Mold

I had a hard time deciding a name for these little treats. Originally I had a different ingredient combo, and frozen them. So, “Batsicles” came to mind. But, realizing these would not work for school, I reformulated. I was tossing around some name ideas, then polled you all on facebook. “Lollibats” edged out “Bat Bites” and “Batsicles”. I love all the names. You may call me Batwoman. 😉

Holy chocolate treats, vegan Batwoman!

Silicone bat mold

When looking at this recipe, you may wonder why I’ve added nut butter. Why not just melt the chocolate and fill the molds? Well, you could do that. Absolutely. The chocolate will be very hard, however, just as it is in chocolate chip form. By adding a touch of nut butter, it allows the chocolate to be softer to insert a toothpick. I also find this consistency preferable for little kids, easier for them to bite into. Finally, it makes the dark chocolate taste a little more like milk chocolate!

batsiclesholding

Chocolate Lollibats  ReciPage link

1/2 cup non-dairy chocolate chips

1 – 1 1/2 tbsp sunflower seed butter or a good-quality tahini (as in this post) (can also use almond/cashew butter or peanut butter if nut allergies aren’t present); see note

optional: 1/4 – 1/2 tsp vanilla bean powder (I use Organic Traditions, I’m loving this stuff! – use 1/2 tsp for sunflower butter, 1/4 tsp for nut butters)

Set a heat-proof bowl over a small pot with a few inches of water (setting up a double boiler). Turn heat to medium-low. Add chocolate, sunflower seed butter or nut butter, and vanilla powder to the bowl. Stir through until it is fully melted. Remove from heat, and spoon into a chocolate mould (I use a silicon ice cube mould). Once finishing with spooning in the chocolate, transfer the filled pan to the fridge to cool completely. Once firm, invert to remove the chocolate shapes. Serve as is, or insert toothpicks into each to make “lollibats”! (If you don’t have molds, pour the melted chocolate into a very small rimmed pan or dish so that it will be about 3/4″ thick. Once cool, cut into small cubes, and insert toothpicks.)

Nut Butter Note: If using just 1 tbsp of nut butter, the lollipops will be just a touch firmer than using 1 1/2 tbsp. I prefer the consistency with 1 1/2 tbsp, they are much like a milk chocolate. For school parties, it might be best to keep them firmer with 1 tbsp of the nut butter.

Chocolate Lollibats from plant-powered kitchen

“But the bat just flew into my fingers, mom!”

If you want more Halloween inspiration, here are some imaginative ideas (sweet and savory):

Homemade “Rolo” Knock-Offs and 3-layer Almond Coconut Chocolate Bars from from Oh She Glows

Raw Witches’ Fingers from Choosing Raw

Jalapeno Popper Pepper Jacks from Spabettie

Falafel Fingers from Vegan Richa

Wishing you all a Happy Halloween! Have any fun and easy ideas for food or decorating? Please share with us!

Sending plant-powered kitchen love to you all! xx -Dreena 

Momo Granola Bars: Matt Frazier’s No Meat Athlete

Momo Granola Bars from No Meat Athlete

In the last few years, there has been quite a spotlight on plant-based fitness. When I first became vegan, there was little talk of vegan athletes. Now, it’s very different. A plant-based diet is finally getting the recognition it deserves in the arena of fitness and athletic pursuits – as being the optimal diet to achieve optimal performance.

Matt Frazier is one of the people making great strides (literally!) to help educate people about plant-based nutrition as an athlete. I first discovered Matt’s very popular blog, No Meat Athlete, through Gena Hamshaw. Matt brings well-researched and referenced posts to his readers, with a balanced and approachable voice. His posts are educational and inspiring, often dispelling myths about the plant-based diet and also how it relates to athletic performance. Plus, Matt manages to sneak in the occasional entertaining post (that one’s a personal favorite).

No Meat Athlete

Matt has just published his first book, No Meat Athlete. As an ultramarathoner that “runs on plants”, Matt shares tips, recipes, motivational stories, and insights from his years of training and also transitioning to eating plant-based. This perspective will benefit vegetarians and vegans working towards fitness goals, and also athletes looking to clean their diets with a plant-based foundation.

No Meat Athlete is divided into two main sections:

Plant-Based Nutrition For Athletes – this section covers food and nutrition philosophy, how to get started on a plant-based diet, plant-based nutrition for sports, some tips for getting started in the kitchen, and recipes to fuel athletes and their families.

Running On Plants – this section focuses in on the aspect of running and training, how to begin to run, how to make it a habit, then moving into more advanced training tips, and finally Matt’s insights for training for racing.

While I’ve always valued exercising, I’ve never been a runner. You may not be either. But, you can reference this book for more than just how to train for races. If you are at all interested in maintaining a fitness routine on a plant-based diet, then I think you will find Matt’s wisdom and tips helpful – as well as motivational. I’ve always maintained a personal exercise routine and fitness (my fitness post is coming), and we have very active girls. Our two older daughters play rep hockey, so they are on the ice or training or most days of the week. This resource will be helpful for me not just in my own athletic commitments, but also for our girls.

Matt is also a parent, and notes in this book that his recipes are family-friendly and “workable in the real world”. I appreciate this, because most of us are not endurance athletes, and most of us are living busy lives with families and work commitments. Still, we can benefit from some of the knowledge gained by athletes like Matt, to improve our own levels of personal fitness, and to fuel ourselves – and our children. (This topic is particularly important to me, one day I will write about child athletics – how as a society we are merely ‘feeding’ our kids rather than ‘fueling’ them, and yet our nutrient-rich plant diet is often challenged.) Right now, time for a recipe!

When our girls are on those long jaunts for hockey games, I love to pack them a really nutrient-dense snack. When I saw these Momo Granola Bars, I knew I’d be trying them. Matt was kind enough to allow me to reprint this recipe for you to enjoy as well!

Momo Granola Bars from No Meat Athlete

MOMO GRANOLA BARS Link to RECIpage to print/share

This is a DIY energy bar with whole ingredients at its base. It has enough carbs for a pre-workout pick-me-up, enough protein for a post-workout recovery, and enough great flavors for a dessert or snack anytime. —Mo Ferris, Johnson & Wales–trained chef and vegetarian marathoner

2 cups (160 g) rolled oats

*1⁄2 cup (50 g) rough chopped roasted and salted almonds

1⁄4 cup (55 g) rough chopped pecans

*1⁄2 cup (84 g) flaxseed

1⁄4 cup (16 g) raw pumpkin seeds

3 tablespoons (23 g) hemp seeds

*1⁄2 cup (80 g) chopped dried cherries

2 small pinches kosher salt

1⁄3 cup (89 g) peanut butter

1⁄2 cup (172 g) brown rice syrup

Preheat oven to 350 ̊F (180°C, or gas mark 4). Spread oats, almonds, pecans, flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, and hemp seeds onto an ungreased baking sheet and toast in the oven for 10 minutes. Gently shake and stir the oat mixture after 5 minutes to avoid burning the top layer and allowing both sides of the nuts and oats to brown. Remove the mixture from oven and add to a large bowl, along with the cher- ries and salt. decrease oven temperature to 300 ̊F (150°C, or gas mark 2). In a small saucepan, melt the peanut butter over medium-low heat, stirring constantly. once the peanut butter is melted and slightly thinner, remove from heat and pour over oat mixture. mix thoroughly. In a separate small saucepan, add the brown rice syrup. over medium-high heat, bring to a boil. When the bubbles that form get big and meet in the middle, immediately remove from heat, pour over the oat mixture, and thoroughly mix. While still warm, pour the mixture out into the corner of a baking sheet lined with a silpat or parchment paper. using wax paper, firmly press and spread mixture into the shape of a rectangle 1⁄4 inch (6 mm) thick (no gaps!). note: The mixture will most likely not fill the entire sheet. bake for 15 minutes or just until the edges begin to brown. Cool completely. Flip the rectangle out onto a cutting board and cut into 3 x 5 inch (7.5 x 13 cm) bars. Wrap bars individually in plastic wrap and store in a large plastic bag. Yield: About 12 bars.

*My personal notes: I used raw almonds, and as I was out of flax seed, I replaced it with 1/3 cup of flax meal, and substituted a combination of raisins and dried cranberries for the dried cherries (though I think the dried cherries would be amazing)! Also, I cut some of these bars while cool and others after refrigerating. I got a much cleaner cut after refrigerating, just fyi.

These bars are really tasty. Not overly sweet, and very satisfying with a crunchy, chewy texture. Our whole family loved them!

Our eldest helped me with this photo, and while we were taking the pictures, a ladybug stopped by for a visit. We love ladybugs. They know a good thing in these bars. 😉

momogranolabarsladybug

Thanks Matt for sharing this recipe with us, and for writing this book. I wish you much success with it!

Are you a runner or involved in other athletic pursuits? Has a whole-food plant-powered diet helped your athleticism? 

p.s. I’ve just added a new feature to my site. On the sidebar there is a spot for you to sign-up for my (NEW!) newsletter. I will be delivering special promotions and goodies in this newsletter. Go ahead and sign up already! Also be sure to join my plant-powered community on facebook – I share all kinds of wonderful there! 😀

Top 10 Recipes for Back-To-School and Tips for Packing School Lunches

Top 10 recipes for back-to-school and tips for packing healthy lunches!

We are full swing with back-to-school now, and many of us moms and dads are scrambling to get organized with activities, schedules, and – lunches. DUN-DUN-DUUN!

Does the thought of packing lunches again make you cringe? It can be frustrating to plan and pack school lunches, and that can feel even more overwhelming when eating vegan or plant-strong. I’m here to take some of that stress away today. I’ve been packing lunches for our girls (and my hubby) for about ten years now, so I’ve learned some tricks and definitely have a school-year system.

One of my tricks is to rely on some key recipes. Ones that are easy, quick, that my kids love, and that pack well for school lunches. I’m sharing them with you today, along with some other tips for school-lunch success. Ready to take notes? Class begins, now:

1. Tamari Roasted Chickpeas

So, I only make a quadruple batch of these now. Seriously, my kiddos eat one batch in one sitting – easily. So, at least once a week, these get tripled or quadrupled! What to do with them? Add them as a side snack in lunches, or mix into pasta, or rice/quinoa. Mash into a sandwich with your kiddos’ fave condiments. FYI, the school kids may also want them. I’ve had requests.

Tamari Roasted Chickpeas - Plant-Powered Kitchen

photo credit: lilveggiepatch

2. Creamy Hummus

It’s official, #hummusisafoodgroup.

Hummus is a Food Group - with Simple Reminders

Now that the hummus food group movement has officially begun (thank you Simple Reminders), get started with my Creamy Hummus! But don’t stop there. Try these other varieties. And, you know you can FREEZE hummus, right? Yes, double or triple batch, then freeze in about 2-cup portions. It thaws beautifully, take it out the night before and pop in the fridge. How to use? In sandwiches, slathered in wraps, as a dip for veg and rice crackers or pitas, on pizzas, as a spread for bagels or on pizzas, thinned out and mixed into pasta!

3. Easy, nut-free Baked Goods

It’s just impossible for me to narrow this down to one recipe. But, I can narrow it down to 5 or so recipes that I make every week through the school year. These recipes are staples to pack in lunches for recess, and also for hubby’s lunch: (1) Maple Banana Bread, (2) Pumpkin Seed and Chocolate Chip Oat Bars (now 25% off my ebook with code PP15school), (3) Banana Oat Bundles, (4) Snackles (original and pumpkin!), (5) Apple-Hemp Muffins. Put those 5-6 baked goods in rotation, double-batch and freeze some if needed. Your kids will thank you. Then you can thank me. 😉

Pumpkin Seed Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Bars - Plant-Powered Kitchen

4. Lemon-Herb Tofu

Or, Balsamic-Tamari Tofu (read on). This recipe originates from Vive le Vegan, and has been a staple recipe for me – and many of my readers – for years. I used to make it with the herbs all the time, but noticed once we had the girls, they were a little fussy about all that herb-age! So, now, I do a most simplified marinade of tamari and either lemon juice or balsamic (usually balsamic because it is quicker) and a touch of maple syrup. Those modifications are in the recipe, which I’ve just posted. How to use it in lunches? Keep sliced for sandwiches, crumble and use in wraps, cut in squares and mix into quinoa or leftover pasta, add to soup, or let them eat it on the side with a sandwich. Many possibilities with this recipe, and lunch prep will be easy-breezy!

Lemon-Herb Tofu - Plant-Powered Kitchen

Lemon Herb Tofu; photo credit: veganprairiefood.wordpress.com

5. Smoothies

Either before school or after school, they are a brilliant way to nourish and sustain your kiddos in a nutrient-dense drink. Don’t just fill them up with fruit, balance with some greens and veggies if you can, and also add nutrient-rich hemp seeds, chia seeds, goji berries, or nut butters. Our eldest now loves green smoothies, and the trick for me was adding frozen pineapple. I’d used it before in green smoothies, but didn’t always want it myself. Yet, it is one of the best tricks for balancing any ‘green’ flavor tones. You can get the full green smoothie tutorial here. Also try the Acai Antioxidant Smoothie and Strawberry Goji Smoothies (in first smoothie link).

Strawberry-Goji Smoothie - Plant-Powered Kitchen

Strawberry Goji Smoothie Photo credit: tahinitoo.wordpress.com

6. Cocoa Cookie Dough Balls

Make ’em soon, and make ’em often! There is a nut-free option in the recipe, so you can make these for school lunches. If you don’t want to roll into balls, you can also press into a small pan and cut into squares. I often double the batch (you need a larger processor to do so), and freeze half. They pack perfectly for lunches, and school parties (being nut-free, dairy-free, and also gluten-free) and also terrific when running out to activities.

Cocoa Cookie Dough Balls - Plant-Powered Kitchen

7. Mellow Lentil Sniffle Soup

This is one of our girls’ favorite soups. The recipe is in eat, drink & be vegan, but I have just posted it for you. Make it for dinner one evening, and send it to school in a thermos for the kiddos another day. Or, just keep the leftovers for a quick dinner another night. Some other soups my girls love include this White Bean Soup and Sweet Potato Lentil Chili.

Mellow Lentil "Sniffle" Soup - Plant-Powered Kitchen

8. Cheesy Sprinkle

This unassuming little recipe with nutritional yeast transforms many of our school lunches from drab to fab. I add it to pasta, and “ta-dah!”, kiddos love it. Sometimes I’ll use a basic marinara sauce, but more often I’ll do a simple slurry of apple cider vinegar, tamari, and maple syrup (just a touch) – mix it up to taste, toss into pasta, then mix in the cheesy sprinkle. Kids LOVE this for lunch. Add in some veg or beans (there’s those tamari roasted chickpeas again!), cubed tofu or tempeh, and it’s a very satisfying lunch. I also sprinkle it into wraps for the girls, with things like cubed potatoes and hummus, and into quinoa bowls. Many possibilities! Note that the original version is nut-based, but I offer a nut-free alternative in the recipe. This is the one I use for school lunches, and the girls really haven’t noticed the difference.

Cheesy Sprinkle - Plant-Powered Kitchen

9. Chia Puddings

This may not be something you pack into lunches – though you certainly could, they are both nut-free – but your kiddos will love coming home to it! I have Chocolate and Pumpkin Chia Puddings posted, and in my upcoming cookbook (details soon), I have an Apple Pie Chia Pudding (plus a Bananascotch Pudding and  PB Pudding with Fresh Berry Swirl, it’s going to be a fun book)!

Chocolate Chia Pudding - Plant-Powered Kitchen

 

10. Homestyle Chocolate Chip Cookies

With the school year comes school parties. Halloween, Christmas, birthdays… someone lost a tooth, someone has a new baby sister, it’s “party day”! Yeah, I’m exaggerating. But not much, us parents know the school party scene. Always a reason for a party – and junky treats. Most of the treats we see going in and out of schools are pretty crummy. So, get a healthier – but DELICIOUS – dairy-free, egg-free chocolate chip cookie recipe in your arsenal! My Homestyle Chocolate Chip Cookies are a classic, and have almost 250K YouTube views. These are your go-to vegan cookie.

Homestyle Chocolate Chip Cookies - Plant-Powered Kitchen

photo credit: veganeatsandtreats.blogspot.ca

 

Other Tips for Smart and Plant-Powered Lunches

– Pack lunches the day before. There is already enough chaos in the morning, so pack the lunches during lunch the day before, or the evening before.

– Also fill water bottles! Have them ready in the fridge ready to tote.

 Cook things in batches through the week and weekend. Hummus, tamari roasted chickpeas, muffins, as mentioned above. But also batch-cook potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice, quinoa, beans, etc. All those staples can be used in wraps, sandwiches, added to soups, pastas, and more.

– Pack plenty of fresh fruit and make it EASY for them to eat. Yes, it feels a nuisance sometimes to peel those mandarins or cut oranges into bite-size pieces and pop into a container. Why not just pack the whole fruit? Because kids have very little time to eat in school, that’s why. So, make it easy for them to eat that fruit. Peel or slice or cut into small pieces and pack in a container along with a fork. They are far more likely to eat it.

– Pack occasional treats – seaweed snacks, baked chips, cookies, a few vegan gummy worms. They have very healthy lunches, let them find a treat once in a while!

– Have stock of different size containers. I have an entire cupboard with different sizes of containers. Some are ziploc, others are reused containers from nondairy yogurt or store-bought dips, etc. The smaller ones are great for fruit and snacky items, the larger ones for pasta, sandwiches, etc. One day I may reveal my crazy cupboard of containers and lids!

– We all need shortcuts. You may not always get to making marinated tofu, making soup, or baking muffins. Get some Amy’s burgers or other veg burgers that you can easily heat and put in a sandwich, and pick up healthier granola bars or snack cookies. Try Amy’s baked beans in a wrap with rice (I always add about 1 cup or more of black or kidney beans to stretch it out) or Amy’s alphabet soup – amp up the nutritional profile by adding beans, cubed potatoes or sweet potatoes, or cubed tofu. Try a pre-marinated tofu which simply needs to be sliced or lightly heated. Keep some quick fixes on hand to avoid mama (or papa) food-prep burnout!

Next, here are some examples of lunches I’ve packed for our girls (photo quality not stellar, but sure to give you the idea):

packing school lunches - plant-powered kitchen

Hummus sandwiches with carrot sticks, fruit cut in containers, maple banana bread (not yet sliced, pack in a little plastic wrap).

Quinoa mixed with tamari roasted chickpeas, tamari/vinegar slurry and cheesy sprinkle, and peas, pineapple-carrot cake (new recipe, not posted yet, sorry!), and fruit.

Leftover pizza + tamari roasted chickpeas + carrot sticks, oranges and grapes, "Banana Oat Bundles".

Leftover pizza + tamari roasted chickpeas + carrot sticks, oranges and grapes, “Banana Oat Bundles”.

Pasta with cubed tofu, Maple Banana Muffins, fresh fruit

Pasta with cubed tofu, Maple Banana Muffins, fresh fruit

Couple of news-y bits before I sign off:

First, PCRM has launched their September kickstart. I’ve been following PCRM from their early days, and am extremely proud to be partnered with them for this month’s kickstart. Not only are quite a few of my recipes in their 21-day plan, I am their “featured partner” for September. If you sign up and mention my name as the referral, you have the chance to win one of my books at the end of the programplus you will be eligible to purchase the PP15 at a discounted rate. I don’t discount the Plant-Powered 15 ebook anywhere else, this is a special PCRM initiative. If you are new to the kickstart program, it is completely free to register. Every day you receive emails with recipe highlights, tips from celebrities, and more. There is also a community forum. In fact, I have met some very special readers here from the kickstart program! So, it’s a very cool way to network and also, obviously, get immersed in a healthy plant-strong dietary plan.

Second, I have just launched my Plant-Powered 15 on amazon. You can still order through my site, but now you have the option to order via amazon on your kindle. Since many of you already have the PP15, I am asking a wee favor: If you have and love this ebook, can you leave a short review on amazon? Would really help establish its presence. On the topic of reviews, I would also deeply appreciate extra reviews of LTEV. As I work to finish this next cookbook, it is helpful to build the reviews and profile on amazon. I sure appreciate any help. Thank you.

With that, I hope you enjoy these school lunch tips. PLEASE share some of your own! What recipes do you rely on regularly? And, what are your go-to snacks and meals to pack into lunches. Any terrific quick-fixes to share? 

 

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Green Smoothies 101: How To Make a Green Smoothie (and how to make it taste GREAT!)

simplereminders.com-drink-your-greens-burton-withtext-displayres

Are you a green smoothie-er? Have you tried them but didn’t like them? There are some tricks to make green smoothies (a) smooth! (b) taste good (c) extra nutritious, and we are going to cover all those today.

I started making green smoothies about 6 or 7 years ago, as I was writing eat, drink & be vegan. I remember it well. I went to a local raw foods class with my sister, and we sample a green smoothie that night. At first I was hesitant. “Drinking” greens seemed so odd! But, once I tasted it, I realized I could do this! They taste pretty good – and I’ve made them taste even better over the years as I’ve understood how to combine components.

Why bother with green smoothies? Why not just eat salads or saute greens?

1- Convenient. When hustling through the day – maybe commuting, eating lunch out of the house, running with the kids or to meetings – a green smoothie is a guaranteed quick and easy way to get the plant-powered goodness of green leafies in your diet! While I make them in the mornings, they can be made any time of day – for a light lunch, afternoon snack, or evening treat. Yes, they can be a treat. Promise.

2- Nutritious. In short, you can get plenty of fiber, antioxidants, phytonutrients, and abundant minerals and vitamins in a hydrating green smoothie, with ingredients that are also alkalizing for the body. Many of us may not eat a lot of raw kale or collards – or dandelion greens or parsley. Or, maybe not in the amounts that we put in a green smoothie. Before drinking green smoothies, I ate leafy greens, but not much kale or collards. Plus, every day I add a good amount of fresh parsley in my green smoothie. You now know that parsley is an nutrient-packed green, right? Add some to your smoothie, and it’s bright and energizing! Trust me, I add it every day and hubby has no clue he’s drinking parsley. Or dandelion greens. One day I’ll tell him.

3- Kiddos. My girls aren’t green smoothie drinkers, but I think that’s because I make them in the morning, and they have heartier breakfasts before school like oatmeal or waffles with almond butter. Our eldest likes them, and when she is training for hockey, she drinks them knowing they are giving her extra nutritional perks and helping boost her immunity. Our younger girls have a “greens” connection with them, and so while they will eat lettuce and asparagus, and green beans and zukes, they do have that mental block about drinking the greens. But, I hear from parents all the time that make green smoothies for their kiddos. So, give them a try, your wee ones just may become lean-keen-green-drinking-machines!

4- Digestible. For some people, having a liquid meal can be easier on their digestion. Just try not to drink your smoothie too fast. Take sips and allow it to meet the saliva in your mouth and swallow – rather than chug. I don’t think many of us actually chug smoothies, but when they taste very good we can drink them a little quickly!

5 – Allergen and Dietary Specific-Friendly. For those of you that are gluten-free or soy-free, plant-strong, oil-free, or nut-free, green smoothies are a beautiful way to incorporate many healthful ingredients with flexibility to YOUR dietary needs and preferences.

So, let’s get our green on! Here are some tips to get you drinking your greens:

Choose your greens. First, get to know your greens. If you are intimidated by dark leafy greens, that post will help you immensely. My favorite leafies to use are kale and collard greens, with a hit of parsley! They are robust, store well in the fridge for a few days, and are very nutritious with more absorbable calcium and iron than greens such as spinach and Swiss chard. But, spinach and Swiss chard still offer many nutritional benefits, so don’t rule them out. And, if the swiss chard is gloriously fresh from the market at your store and on special, while the collards look homely – the choice is simple. Also, milder tasting greens like spinach and chard – or even romaine – are great “starter” greens for making smoothies. If you are new to the green smoothie business, start with something like spinach or romaine, and work your way into stronger-flavored greens such as kale. Try blending spinach with kale; once you get the knack of fruit-to-greens proportions, this will also help you determine how much sweet fruit (e.g., banana, mango, and pineapple) to combine with the greens for the best flavor. Recently I’ve been using dandelion greens in my smoothies. I never thought I would. I grew up seeing them as weeds that my parents would curse for covering our lawn. So, they didn’t appeal to me. But, I tried them recently in my smoothies and now they are in regular rotation! They don’t store as well as kale/collards, so if you buy them, use them within a day or two. You can also experiment with other greens (ex: beet greens) and lettuces (ex: escarole, red leaf lettuce), though I wouldn’t recommend spicy greens such as arugula or mustard greens in a smoothie— they are just too strong and peppery. Save those for your sautés and salads!

Wash and stem greens. Some greens can hold more grit, so fully submerge the greens in a sinkful of water, then rinse and shake off the excess water. Be sure to dry your extra greens before refrigerating. Use a salad spinner or shake to dry well. Once they are mostly dry, I store in the fridge by loosely wrapping in a dish towel, and placing inside a large resealable plastic bag (leave unzipped). I find the greens keep well for a couple of days, don’t get soggy and rot, and stay nicely crisp. With such greens as collards, chard, and kale, you’ll want to separate the leaves from the thick stems. Holding the leaf in one hand, run your fingers of your other hand down the length of the stalk to strip the stalk (separating the leafy portion from the tough stem). The more tender parts of the stem (at the tops) will usually tear away with the leaves, and this is okay—they are tender enough.

Fruits – Which to Use, Proportions, and Frozen

  • Frozen bananas and mangoes: Adding these sweet fruits will (1) balance the bitterness and grassiness of the greens an (2) create a creamy consistency. Bananas are an obvious choice because most of us have them on hand. Greenish bananas, stay on the counter—you’re not welcome to this smoothie party! Let your bananas overripen, and then peel, slice, and store them (in large resealable bags or in other airtight containers) in your freezer. If you aren’t overly fond of bananas, try frozen mangoes or peaches! My friend Melissa West had to modify her diet and eliminate bananas. We talked about how to make smoothies without them, and frozen mangoes were my first suggestion. Check out Melissa’s video where she talks about bananas and migraines, and also gives great tips for a breakfast protein smoothie. Mangoes are very sweet, and also lend a subtly creamy texture. I keep bananas in my freezer, and regularly buy bags of frozen mangoes. Either or both combine well with other fruits—and those not frozen—for a delicious smoothie. Frozen pineapple also works very well, but it is VERY sweet, so use less, or add in combination with more veggies. If using bananas or mangoes that are fresh and not frozen, you may want to add ice cubes in place of water for your blending, to chill your drink, as using all room-temperature fruits will give you a warmish smoothie (not the greatest).
  • Seasonal Fruits: Also include seasonal fruits for your smoothies. In the winter, along with my frozen bananas/mangoes, I add either apples, oranges, pink grapefruit, or pears. In the spring and summer, you can use melons, peaches and nectarines, grapes and berries (red and purple berries will change the color of your smoothie, more on that soon). All these fruits will help counter any harsher notes in the greens.
  • Lemons/Limes: Citrus are very alkalizing for the body, and lately I’ve enjoyed adding some sourness to my smoothies with the addition of one small lemon. Simply peel and add (including any seeds). You may particularly enjoy lemons/limes if, in general, you don’t like a lot of sweet foods.
  • Berry Interesting: Fresh or frozen strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries are, of course, delicious in a green smoothie—and very nutritious. Even when not in season, most of have a frozen stash. The only thing you need to know about using red or purple berries is that the color of the smoothie changes. No longer will it be a vibrant inviting green color; rather, a more swampy brownish color. But if you can ignore the color aesthetic, by all means, include some berries! On the other hand, if you want to mask the green color (for children OR adults!), then blue or purple berries such as blueberries, blackberries, or açai pulp work magic.
  • Avocado: Green suprise! Technically avocado is a fruit, though not often thought of as a fruit because it isn’t juicy or particularly sweet. While it won’t lend much sweetness to your smoothie, it will add a luscious creaminess to your smoothie (as well as nutritional benefits), so try adding half an avocado to your mixture and see how you like it.

Other Veggies

Even though my focus is on getting the leafy greens into your smoothies, let’s not forget that there are other veggies worthy of joining the smoothie club. And green smoothie veterans might appreciate lessening the fruit proportions to favor more vegetables. I posted this chart on facebook recently, showing how cucumber is in the melon family.

fruitandvegetablefamilies

I often add cucumber to our smoothies, it adds a light melon flavor without added sweetness. Also try adding carrot with mangoes/oranges/peaches! Start with smallish measures (perhaps 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 cup), as some vegetables impart strong and bitter flavor tones. Cucumber is rather mild, with a melonlike flavor, so you might try adding more. I have even added a small amount of beet to a berry-green smoothie. Yes I did.

Add-ins

Smoothies are the perfect place to get in nutritious bits and bobs that you might otherwise find tricky to include in your diet. Try:

  • Hemp, flax, or chia seeds
  • Nuts (or nut butters, such as like almond)
  • Goji berries, cocoa nibs
  • Blackstrap Molasses (will turn your smoothie dark, but good hit of iron, plus calcium)
  • Spirulina (confession: I have a hard time with spirulina, but I know others quite like it (and can eat it off a spoon – really?!). It is an extremely nutritious food source, so go for it if you can!)
  • Ginger – fresh ginger is a great immunity booster!
  • Nutrient-Dense Powders. I hesitate to call them ‘protein powders‘, because it conveys the message that we need to add protein to our smoothies. Still, many of these powders are very nutrient-rich, not just in protein but also fatty acids and vitamins and minerals. My favorite is the Vega Energizing Smoothie powders. vegaNote: I tried the Vega powders years back and the flavors just didn’t work for me. But, these shake ‘n go smoothie infusions taste TERRIFIC! I especially love the Tropical Twist and the Vanilla Almondilla. If you like making creamy smoothies, the chocolate is amazing too. I typically add 1- 1 1/2 scoops to our smoothie batch, which makes 2 smoothies. Melissa also talks about the Sun Warrior protein powders. I haven’t tried those yet (have you?). Side note: Melissa also has some juicing videos if you are keen to learn more about juicing.

Blending

You have all the elements, now you need to make your green drink deliciously smooth. Trust me when I tell you that you need to blend the heck out of your smoothie! A high-powered blender like a Blendtec makes this an easy job. But, before I had my rambo blender, I used a standard blender and also an immersion blender. They just required a little more time – and also the frozen fruit needed to be cut in smaller pieces prior to freezing. With a Blendtec, you can pretty much throw whole frozen bananas and big ol’ chunks of frozen mango in there – in can take it. Point is, you want to make it smooth, not still grainy or chunky or with bits of leaves floating about.

So, you truly need to blend it until beautifully smooth! It can be thick, as you can always thin with water, but definitely smooth. Ergo smooth-ie. Blend until the greens are so pulverized that they are no longer visible, other than infusing your smoothie with a beautiful green color. If using a high-powered blender such as a Blendtec, simply run the whole juice cycle, and if needed, pulse again afterward if any chunks of frozen fruit remain. Kale leaves can take longer to fully blend than spinach or chard (especially depending on your blender). I find that frozen fruits, such as banana and mango, also help the blender cut through the greens. Add 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 cup of water to get everything moving (you can often use less with a high-powered blender). Add more later to thin, if desired; the amount of water needed varies depending on the proportion of thick fruits, such as bananas, and the amount of very juicy fruit, such as melon or orange. Start with less, then add more if you need to. Better to have a thick smoothie that can be thinned rather than a watery smoothie.

Taste Test!

After blending, dip in a spoon to taste before serving up. If you need more fruit to balance the sweetness – or water to thin, add it now. You can also opt for coconut water to replace part or all of the water, or even non-dairy milk (though I don’t care for milk in green smoothies, but it can make them creamier). Once you’ve made a dozen or so green smoothies, you probably won’t need to taste-test, as you’ll have a sense of proportions needed.

I have a couple of greens smoothie recipes in my cookbooks, including this “Apple-A-Day Smoothie” (recipe here).

greensmoothie101

But, once you start making smoothies you’ll realize that you don’t need to measure ingredients. At first it’s helpful to understand proportions, but soon you’ll be a green smoothie pro and blend with creative abandon! Until you’re there, here are a few more examples of smoothie combinations. But, know that this list is by no means exhaustive. There are so many combinations, you just need to experiment to find your favorites. I’m including kale and collards here as the base green, just because they are the ones I use most and they offer the most absorbable calcium and iron. Certainly chard or spinach can be substituted for kale and collards. I’ve also started with 1 to 1 1⁄2 cups of greens, but by all means increase the ratio of greens to 2 cups or more as you become accustomed to the flavor. These suggestions should yield two pretty large smoothies, but measurements are quite approximate, so modify as you need.

Orange Juicius: 1 to 1 1⁄2 cups of collard greens leaves, about 1 1⁄2 cups of frozen banana chunks, one apple (core removed, skins intact), one orange (peeled), 1 to 2 tablespoons of hemp seeds, plus enough water to get it moving and thin out, if you like.

Tropical Twist: 1 to 1 1⁄2 cups of kale leaves, about 1 cup of frozen banana chunks, 1⁄2 to 1 cup of frozen mango chunks, 1⁄2 cup of fresh pineapple (cubed), 1⁄2 cup of cucumber chunks (optional), 1 to 2 tablespoons of Vega Tropical Tango, 1-2 tbsp hemp seeds, plus enough water to get it moving and thin out, if you like.

Immunity Zinger: 1 to 1 1⁄2 cups of kale leaves, 1 to 1 1⁄4 cups of frozen bananas chunks, one large or two small apples (core removed, skins intact), 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 cup of frozen mango chunks, about 1⁄2 tablespoon of peeled ginger, 1⁄2 peeled lemon, plus enough water to get it all moving.

Berry Blaster: 1 to 1 1⁄2 cups collard greens leaves, about 1 1⁄2 cups of frozen banana chunks, about 1 cup of fresh or frozen strawberries, one apple, 1 to 2 tablespoons of Vega Vanilla Almondilla, 2 tablespoons of goji berries, plus enough water to get it moving and thin out, if you like.

Purple People Feeder: 1 to 1 1⁄2 cups of collard greens leaves, about 1 1⁄2 cups of frozen banana chunks, about 1⁄2 cup of fresh or frozen blueberries or blackberries, 1⁄2 cup of purple or red grapes or one red apple or pear, 1 tablespoon of chia seeds, plus enough water to get it moving and thin out, if you like.

Smooth Talker: 1 to 11⁄2 cups of kale leaves, 1 to 1 1⁄2 cups of frozen banana chunks, about 1⁄2 cup of honeydew melon (cubed), 1⁄2 cup of cucumber, one orange or 1⁄2 cup of fresh pineapple (cubed), 1⁄2 avocado, plus enough water to get it moving and thin out, if you like.

Orange Blaster: 1 to 1 1⁄2 cups of kale leaves; 1 cup of peach, nectarine, or mango chunks; two oranges (peeled); 1⁄3 cup of chopped carrot; 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 cup of frozen banana; 1⁄2 cup of vanilla nondairy yogurt (optional); plus enough water to get it moving and thin out, if you like.

If you have Let Them Eat Vegan, you can find some of this smoothie information starting on page 26. I’ve edited/added/updated some things for this post, but if you have LTEV, you can quickly flip to reference when ready to blend!

So, do you green smoothie? What are your favorite combinations? Share some of your own tips and favorite ideas!