WIAW: Smoothie Edition

If you’ve been following my Twitter feed, or if you read my August Goals, you’ll know that I am participating in Charissa’s “Colourful Smoothie Challenge”.

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Charissa is giving away so many amazing products it’s impossible not to stay motivated to drink a smoothie each day in hope’s of earning points towards that final prize. She’s also been posting some pretty neat recipes so be sure to check them out. This week I’ve decided to dedicate my WIAW to Smoothies because they are so prominent in my diet. They are my go-to snack and have even been replacing ice cream as my dessert! In the morning I blend in my coffee for a caffeine boost! I’ve also been enjoying Green Juice, my favourite recipe being a combination of Spinach, Arugula, Apple, Cucumber, Parsley and Lime Juice. Here are a few of my other creations so far:IMG_6517 IMG_6384 IMG_6387

What I love about Smoothies is that done right, they can pack in a lot of vitamins, and minerals. They make for easy breakfasts as you can take them to go and slurp them through a straw. There’s no excuse for “not having time” since all you have to do is throw ingredients into a blender and pulse on high for less than a minute. Did I mention they make very little mess? I truly believe they are as filling and nutritious as a meal because you can blend in high sources of protein and healthy fats. Smoothies are so adaptable so you can customize them to suit your needs. If you find beverages aren’t for you, try thickening it up and eating it like soup. If you need that crunch to feel satisfied, why not top it with granola, kamut puffs, chia seeds or hemp hearts. Smoothies are a great ways to get in your vegetables if you have trouble getting in all of your servings. They are also an excellent way to use up produce that is almost past it’s prime because the riper the fruit, the better it is suited for a smoothie. If you choose to incorporate milk or yogurt in your smoothie, it will also provide you with some much needed calcium. In the summertime I find smoothies a great way to stay hydrated. While I prefer to drink them as a snack or dessert, I know many choose to have them as a post-workout shake or meal replacement.IMG_6400

It’s unlikely that you’ve never seen a smoothie being made, but in case you are lacking inspiration, here is a go to guide that I created based on tips I’ve gathered from Pinterest.  Just remember, soluble fiber fruits provide a smoother overall finish to your smoothie and vegetables that are poignant make it harder to mask their flavours. Adding in a banana will make your smoothie sweeter and creamier, without overpowering the other flavours. I also don’t think it is necessary to go crazy with “superfoods” like Goji Berries and Bee Pollen since your smoothie should already be dense in flavour and nutrition, plus these “superfoods” can add up in price turning your beverage into an expensive meal. Like Chelsea’s post explained, chia seeds are a nice treat but they aren’t needed to achieve optimal health.

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Molly’s Smoothie Guide (The Asterisks * are my favourite, Measurements are approximate) 

1. Pick a Base: 1 Cup

  • Green Tea *
  • Cow’s Milk *
  • Flax Milk *
  • Coconut Milk
  • Almond Milk
  • Hemp Milk
  • Rice Milk
  • Soy Milk
  • Coconut Water
  • Water

2. Add Your Favourite Fruit: 2 Cups

  • Banana *
  • Strawberries *
  • Raspberries *
  • Blueberries *
  • Mango *
  • Nectarine / Peach *
  • Watermelon *
  • Cantaloupe *
  • Lemon Juice *
  • Lime Juice *
  • Orange Juice
  • Apple
  • Pear
  • Cherries

3. Hide Some Vegetables: 1 Cup

  • Kale *
  • Spinach *
  • Arugula *
  • Beets *
  • Carrots *

4. Thicken It Up

  • Handful of Ice *
  • Frozen Cucumber *
  • Protein Powder *
  • Chickpeas *
  • Oats

5. Add Some Flavour: 1- 2 Tablespoons

  • Fat: Soy Butter *, Peanut Butter, Almond Butter,  ½ Avocado, Coconut Oil, Flax Oil
  • Spice: Cinnamon *, Vanilla Extract *, Maple Extract *, Parsley *, Basil *, Mint *, Cilantro, Lemongrass, Ginger, Nutmeg, Cloves, Spirulina, Chlorella Powder
  • Sweetener: Stevia *, Dates *, Figs, Honey, Agave, Maple Syrup,

6. Blend it together

7. Top and Serve: 1-2 Tablespoons

  • Superfoods: Chia Seeds *, Flax Seeds *, Hemp Seeds, Sesame Seeds, Cacao Beans

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You’ll definitely be seeing a lot more smoothie recipes on my blog since I am trying to switch up my blends so that I don’t get bored with the challenge. Shannon recommended adding in Sweet Potatoes but I am open to other suggestions as well! What do you love about Smoothies? Do you find them thirst quenching and filling? ♥ Molly

Fun Fact: Did you know that smoothie consumption has gone up more than 80% in the last 5 years? It’s the business to be in!

Raspberry Rhubarb Crisp

We’ve never really had a vegetable garden per se. My parents take great care of their floral gardens, and while I do love the tulips, hydrangeas and peonies, it would be sort of neat to pick fresh tomatoes from your backyard. When I was little and still lived in Peterborough, we had great big snowball bushes surrounding our house. Nestled between two big bushes, you also could find a rhubarb perennial. Of course rhubarb is meant for baking, and its flavour was much too tart for my “young” taste buds to eat. Lucky for me, I had a sweet tooth, so I’d dip the end in sugar to counteract the sourness. As I’ve grown older, I’ve learned that dipping rhubarb in sugar isn’t exactly healthy or something that I truly enjoy as a snack. Even though I might not eat it fresh these days, I do like to have it in the form of a sauce, jam or pie. Want to know more about Rhubarb? Continue reading and you’ll be surprised to find some interesting facts, and a yummy dessert. Rhubarb has many nutritional benefits! ♥ Molly

‘Promises and Pie-Crusts are meant to be broken.” – Jonathan Swift

IMG_5885Fun Facts about Rhubarb

  • Rhubarb belongs to the buckwheat family so it is in fact a vegetable, not a fruit. It starts out as green and matures into a deep ruby-red.
  • This perennial plant grows thrives in moist soil.
  • Rhubarb is originally from China and Tibet and has been used in medicine for thousands of years.
  • The stalks of Rhubarb were first grown as edible vegetables in Italy during the seventeenth century.
  • It’s nickname is “pie plant” since it is commonly baked into pies since it’s tart flavour is too strong for most to eat fresh.
  • Wrapped in saran wrap, Rhubarb can keep for a week in the fridge after being cut.
  • When cooked for twenty minutes, the cancer-protecting chemicals that rhubarb contains increase.
  • The leaves of rhubarb are poisonous. Use this to your advantage to ward off flies and insects that attack your gardens. (Try making a spray by soaking the leaves in water for three weeks).

Fun Nutrition Facts about Rhubarb

  • Rhubarb is rich in antioxidant polyphenols, which help prevent the development of cancerous cells.
  • If you have a history of kidney stones or gout, watch out. Rhubarb contains oxalic acid in its stems, which prevents the body from absorbing the calcium and iron rhubarb naturally contains.
  • The leaves of rhubarb are poisonous.
  • Rhubarb is said to alleviate symptoms of acid-reflex.
  • It is an excellent source of Vitamin K, Vitamin C, Manganese, Calcium and Potassium.

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Raspberry Rhubarb Crisp IMG_5926

Filling

  • 2 cups of rhubarb, diced
  • 2 cups raspberries, halved
  • Juice of 1 orange (approximately 3 tbsp)

Topping

  • ½ cup pitted dates (approximately 6 whole)
  • ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup whole oats
  • 2 tbsp. Plain Yogurt
  • 1 tbsp. Maple Syrup (optional)
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. nutmeg
  • ½ tsp. ginger
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a 9inch by 9inch baking dish, layer the rhubarb and raspberries on the bottom of the dish, and drizzle with orange juice . Set aside. (Note: A smaller dish such as the one I used, makes for a deeper crisp which is equally good!)IMG_5902
  3. In a food processor, pulse the dates into small pieces. Add in the remaining “topping” ingredients and process to combine. The mixture should stick together without being too moist or too dry.IMG_5893 IMG_5901
  4. Pour the topping onto the filling and bake in the oven for 40 minutes or until crisp.IMG_5912
  5. Serve warm, alongside a glass of milk or ice cream.

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Whole Foods Trips

To be truthful, as much as I love Whole Foods, I can’t afford to shop there exclusively. If money was unlimited, I would buy only organic and local foods, but let’s get real, I am a student and supporting local farmers isn’t always possible. I wish I had brought my camera on this last trip (All my photos were taken using my iPhone) so that I could have captured the crispness of the fresh fruits, and quality in each of their home products. Typically before heading to grocery stores, I look at flyers to find what is on sale and where it can be found. Some places, for example the Loblaws Superstore, allow me to price match, so I do make the most of deals. As much as I love sales, I don’t limit my shopping to discounts or else I would lack a lot of nutrients in my diet. I am by no means an extreme couponer. One day I hope Trader Joe’s makes its way to Canada, since I have been once before in California, and absolutely fell in love.

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Source: Oakville Whole Foods

photo-77Don’t get me wrong, Whole foods is a great grocery store that offers so many interesting products. It’s excellent for buying supplements or finding “health products” that aren’t accessible at large grocery chains. I love that they place “featured” products at the end of each aisle, usually with a sample accompanying the display. They offer freshly squeezed juices, or “make your own” nut butters, which is pretty cool. The Whole Foods in Oakville also has a large assortment of meats and fish at reasonable prices.

photo-72 photo-75 photo-76 photo-70I could probably spend an entire day looking at their fruit bar, olive selection, hot foods and cold salad bar. I don’t let my nut allergies stop me from my occasional meals there, as their chefs are great at assuring no cross-contamination of ingredients happens in their kitchen. My only concern is individuals mixing up spoons, so I never grab items that are situated directly beside a recipe that contains peanuts, pecans, walnuts or sunflower seeds. While I don’t typically eat almonds, I find I am growing out of this allergy, because when touching them, I don’t react. Their combinations often inspire my own creations, as they list all the ingredients in each blend. Sometimes I wish they used less sauces when cooking certain items, but for the most part their choices suit my taste palette. Artichoke, Tempeh and Falafel are three of my favourites, as I never seem to cook those items on my own. This week, I went to Whole Foods for dinner with Joyce and Chelsea. I had snacked before hand (whoops) so I wasn’t overly hungry, but my meal still managed to add up in price! I got plain endamame, roasted beets, tomato/onion/basil/cucumber salad, tofu, radishes, kale salad in apple cider vinegar, black beans/corn/onion/red pepper salad, steamed broccoli, sliced mushroom, roasted yam, and two sautéed garlic cloves. My selection had enough flavour that I didn’t top it with any dressing or spices.

photo-73 photo-79 photo-71 photo-78 photo-80 photo-82Do you ever feel like grocery stores are great at “grabbing” your money? I always go with a few items on my list, and manage to leave with way more than I intended to. It’s a bit overwhelming to see so many delicious foods. To make the most of my shopping trips, not only do I plan ahead with “Flyer hunting”, I stick to a few rules that I have picked up over the years. Here are my tips for effective shopping!

  • Don’t go to the grocery store hungry! You’ll end up wanting to buy everything, including pre-packaged muffins or cookies that you are better off making from scratch.
  • Shop the perimeter of the grocery store. That is where the freshest foods can typically be found (meat, dairy, fruits, vegetables, breads). The inside aisles are where junk food is often hidden.
  • Try to purchase fruits and vegetables that are in seasons as they’ll be tastier and more affordable! You can always freeze the extras for later.
  • Convenience isn’t everything. Switch to whole oats instead of instant.
  • If you have trouble with serving sizes, buy pre-portioned packages. While it is more expensive, you’ll save money by eating less. Don’t hesitate to buy full-fat products, just make sure you have a smaller quantity.
  • Buy the basics and stick to the four food groups.
  • Don’t purchase foods that have unpronounceable ingredients. The less ingredients, the better. 100% fruit juices, 100% whole grain and foods with less additives tend to be better for you.
  • Choose the least processed foods that are made from whole grain, have less sugar and offer more fiber.
  • “Fat Free” or “Sugar Free” can be deceiving. Food companies know how to fool their customers. Just because it is ____ free does not mean it is healthier. GMO free, additive free, hormone free however, are usually great things to look for.
  • When possible, make your own soups to save yourself the sodium.
  • To save money, try and eat vegetarian protein sources (legumes, beans) several times a week.
  • Pick a rainbow of fruits and vegetables as the colours represent different vitamins and minerals.
  • What you buy is what you’ll have to eat. Choose foods that you genuinely like, not just those that are on sale.
  • Whenever possible, choose foods without added salt. Salt is often added for flavour in packaged items. Get unsalted butter, so that you can control how much you want to add when baking or cooking.
  • Try having tuna or fruit packed in water, instead of oil, broth or juice. Choose frozen vegetables without sauce and frozen fruit without added sugar. This will allow you to have more flexibility when adding dressings, because you can add fresh salt, sauce or sugar without worrying about the pre-existing dressing.
  • Keep staples on hand. Oils, Nut butters, Canned Vegetables, Lentils, Beans, Quinoa, Couscous, Oats, Vinegars can be kept in the pantry for prolonged periods.

photo-74What are your favourite grocery stores and why? Have you developed good shopping techniques? Some grocery stores now offer clothing or and house products. Do you enjoy looking in the home sections or does it distract you from the purpose of your trip? I love grocery shopping with my dad as it’s one of our weekly bonding activities. We bring reusable bags (At some grocery stores you save money, plus it is environmentally friendly) and a cooler bag so that none of our foods get squished or go bad. ♥ Molly

“I can spend hours in a grocery store. I get so excited when I see food, I go crazy. I spend hours arranging my baskets so that everything fits in and nothing gets squashed.” – Cameron Diaz