Magic Mint Chocolate Smoothie

Magic Mint Green Smoothie

Ok. So I have officially changed my stance on smoothies in the morning. I know I said that I’d rather have a meal with all the smoothie ingredients, but that was until I discovered the magic of chocolate and mint.

The real magic here is that the smoothie is made up of all vegetables, except for one frozen banana. Yep, one banana, and the rest is straight veggie goodness. No more sugar head rush or instant hunger 10 minutes after drinking it. Normally, this would taste like a sweet salad in slime form (yuck!) but add some cocoa powder and peppermint oil and BAM, you have a mint chocolate milkshake.

The natural bitterness of the cocoa powder masks any bitterness from the vegetables (kale, I’m looking at you, here) and the peppermint really brings out the natural sweetness of the banana. You can use almost any vegetable that is mild in flavor and isn’t too stringy. I’ve used:

  • kale
  • spinach
  • beet greens
  • carrot
  • broccoli stalks
  • cauliflower (stalks and head)
  • mild mushrooms (these add a strong flavor, try only a tiny bit at a time)
  • turnip
  • asparagus

Pretty much anything goes except for the obvious like garlic or onions.

And my favorite way to eat them lately? Popsicles!

Magic Mint Fudgesicle

It’s finally been getting warm here in San Francisco, and there’s no better way to celebrate it than a icy cool  mint fudgesicle! My smoothie was about 300 calories, and made 6 popsicles. That means each one was only 50 calories! The molds I just bought are the best popcicle molds that I’ve ever used.

You can experiment as much as you want, to get the perfect combo of veggies.

Magic Mint Chocolate Smoothie

  • 1 cup milk of choice
  • 1 cup mild leaves, such as spinach
  • 1 cup chopped vegetables
  • 1 frozen banana (very ripe)
  • 6-10 drop stevia extract (or sweetener to taste)
  • 10-15 drops peppermint extract (use less if using peppermint oil)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2-3 Tbs cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup ice cubes

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend on high until well blended. If not using a high-speed blender, make sure to chop vegetables finely.

Pirate Mint Chocolate Smoothie

Arrr! Pirate Green Smoothie!

Coco-nutty Kale Chips

Coconut Kale Chips

The best time to go to a farmer’s market is on a rainy day. There are no crowds, and the venders are eager to sell you everything they’ve got for a song. I took my parents to one of my local farmer’s markets during their trip this weekend, and we were lucky enough to have it stop raining right before we headed out, so we got the best of both worlds! We came home with armfuls of goodies, including two large bundles of kale, because one lovely vendor was having a buy one, get one free deal. It usually takes me over a week to finish my kale, so I wasn’t quite sure what I’d do with two.

My mom suggested Kale Chips, so we gave it a go! My ancient oven in my apartment is basically non-functional, so I rely on my incredible counter-top Smart Oven to do my baking. This meant I had to bake my kale chips in two batches, which allowed me to experiment with the flavors. Another challenge I faced due to my tiny apartment kitchen is that I don’t have a salad spinner, since there is no more room to store a large uni-tasking tool. I learned a trick that all you salad-spinnerless folks would enjoy:

  • Place the wet leaves on a thin kitchen towel.
  • Grab the found corners of the towel to create a little basket for the leaves.
  • Now swing your arms around in a circle like a maniac.
  • The water will be drawn out and will spray everything in your kitchen with kale-scented water.

It actually works wonderfully, but make sure to do this outside!

Make sure the leaves are as dry as possible. After I did my crazy swinging rain dance, I removed the stems and let the leaves air dry.

Kale Leaves

My first batch was just olive oil and sea salt, but it fell a little flat for me. I think I needed something to cover the still perceptible bitterness of the kale. Taking inspiration from the crispy kale bowl I made recently, I decided to add coconut and toasted sesame oil. It definitely did the trick for me!

Coco-nutty Kale Chips

  • 1 bunch kale
  • 2 Tbs shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 3 tsp olive oil
  • sea salt to taste

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.

Remove stems, wash and very thoroughly dry the kale leaves. Mix together the sesame and the olive oil. Place half of the oil in your hands, and massage it into the kale, so that each leaf is completely coated. Use more of the oil as needed. Add coconut flakes and stir well.

Spread evenly on a non-stick baking sheet, ideally covered in parchment paper (but not necessary). Bake for 15-20 minutes, stirring at least once. You may need to remove some crispy leaves early to ensure they don’t burn. Sprinkle sea salt to taste.

Coconut Kale Chips

Strawberry Chocolate Chia Pudding

Chocolate Strawberry Chia Pudding

If you asked me, “what is the one food you would bring to a desert island?” I would answer: Strawberries. I love strawberries more than any other nourriture out there. Whenever I go grocery shopping, my fiancé will often lose me for a few minutes, only find me standing in the produce department, holding a container of berries, simply inhaling the glorious smell.

I Heart Strawberries!

I Heart Strawberries!

When the fiancé and I started dating, I would visit his mom’s place and join them for dinner. She is an incredible cook, and always had a feast laid out that would make a king envious. After a few visits, she noticed I wasn’t eating very much. My fiancé finally cracked and told her that I don’t eat cheese, that I detest cheese. Being Italian-American, a good part of her meals were oozing with cheeses of all kinds. She had a whole shelf devoted to cheese alone in her fridge. So she asked him, “what does she like to eat?” He replied simply, “Strawberries.” And so the next time I visited, she handed me a great big, Costco-sized bowl of sliced strawberries, a fork and told me that I wont go hungry that night! She has kept it a tradition that every time I visit, she always makes sure to stock up on the strawberries. I think I won the MIL lottery!

So this brings me to the pudding recipe. I was craving chocolate dipped strawberries, but had just finished off the fresh berries the night before. I have frozen strawberries stocked in the freezer always, but those don’t exactly make the best ‘dipping’ strawberries… I had tried making chia pudding before, with limited success, and thought I would give it another go. Blending the chia seeds sped up the gelling process by over double for me, and it also solved the ‘texture’ issue I had with the whole seeds.

Sparkling Frozen Strawberries

The frost on these made them look like they had been dusted with glitter

This was rich and delicious, and just as satisfying as a chocolate dipped strawberry. I saved the last bit for the morning, and had it over a bowl of oatmeal, for an incredibly decadent breakfast!

Strawberry Chocolate Chia Pudding

Inspired by Chocolate Chia Pudding by Susan Voison

  • 1 cup milk of choice (I used almond milk)
  • 3 Tbs chia seeds
  • 1.5 Tbs cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or paste
  • 2-3 drops liquid stevia OR
    1-2 Tbs sweetener, to taste
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries or other fruit of choice

Place all ingredients except berries into a blender. Blend on high for about 30 seconds. Scrape down sides so that all the chia seeds have a chance to absorb liquid. Let sit for about 30 minutes, pulsing at least once to break up any clumps. After the chia has thickened, add frozen fruit and blend on high until smooth.

Serves 3, 1/2 cup servings.

Smokey Sweet Carrot Hummus

Roasted Carrot Hummus

Hummus is one of my go-to dishes when attending or holding a get-together. It’s incredibly easy, and yet people are endlessly amazed and impressed by it. People seem to think it is difficult to make, and until I tried making it, I did too! Now, I think I make hummus on nearly a weekly basis, using it as a healthy snack, sandwich spread or salad topping. I make it a little different each time, so I never get bored.

Today, I was craving something lighter and sweeter than my usual spicy garlic variety. I remembered this carrot hummus from Fat Free Vegan, and decided to give carrots a try. I love dipping raw carrots in my hummus, so I figured roasted ones would be even better. And it was! The sweetness that the carrots gave just begged for a smokey counterpart, so I added some smoked paprika.

I roasted the carrots along with some other leftover vegetables, and I ate the veggies while I prepared the hummus. After the hummus was finished, I snacked on it with the remaining carrots. Best lunch ever!

Vegetables ready to be roastedRoasted Carrots

Smokey Sweet Carrot Hummus

  • 2 Medium carrots (about 1.5 cups chopped
  • 1 can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 Tbs toasted sesame oil
  • 1 Tbs tahini
  • 1 Tbs lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Water as needed, approx. 6 Tbs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Chop the carrots into 2 inch chunks. Spread evenly in non-stick pan, and lightly coat with oil.  Roast for 50 minutes, or until tender. After 25 minutes, coat peeled garlic cloves in oil, wrap in tinfoil (make a little package) and place with carrots. Optionally, leave raw for a spicier hummus.

Combine garbanzo beans and the rest of the ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth, adding water as needed. After carrots and garlic have finished roasting and cooled slightly, add to hummus and blend well.


Nutritional Info: per 2 Tbs: 40 cals, 1.5g fat

Roasted Carrot Hummus

Apple Pie Peanut Butter

Apple Pie Peanutbutter

Ok. This stuff is delicious. Like eat-it-straight-out-of-the-jar-with-a-spoon delicious. After making the crispy apple chips, I dipped a few in peanut butter and it was gooooood. So I figured, why not mix the the two and make magic! You can make this two ways, crunchy or… chewy (for lack of a better description). The chewy version, using apple rings packs a bit more apple-y punch, but the crunchy is my favorite. I’m a big texture person, and I love the crispy crunch that the apple chips give it.

Apple Pie Peanut Butter (many ways)

  • 16 oz honey roasted peanuts OR
  • 16 oz dry roasted peanuts and 2 Tbs brown sugar OR
  • 16 oz natural peanut butter and 2 Tbs brown sugar
  • 4-5 oz Apple chips (about 2-3 cups crushed chips or 2 bags apple chips)
  • OR 10-15 apple rings, chopped into raisin sized pieces
  • 2 Tbs cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cloves

If using pre-made peanut butter, mix all ingredients together and enjoy!

My favorite things about my Blendtec so far has been that it is SO easy to make nut butters. In about 5 minutes I can turn a pound of peanuts into a pound of gold creamy peanut butter! This can also be accomplished with another high-speed blender such as the Vitamix, or a food processor. I’ve even heard of people using a masticating juicer to make nut butters!

First, pour 16oz of peanuts into your blender:

Peanuts in the Blendtec

Blend on medium-low until the nuts have moved up onto the sides of the container. Stop the blender and pack the chopped nuts down tightly.

Peanuts in the Blendtec

Blend on medium to high, stopping occasionally to scape down the sides. Once the peanut butter begins to warm up, it will be easier to blend, and I usually blend on high to get it creamy. You can stop before this if you want a chunkier texture. When your peanut butter is the texture you want, add crushed apple chips to the butter. Pulse a few times to get it mixed in, but do not over mix or you will lose the crunchy texture.

Apple Pie Peanutbutter

Maybe not the most appetizing photo?

Spread onto warm toast and enjoy!

Apple Pie Peanutbutter

My New Love: Coconut Butter

Ever since getting my beloved Blendtec, I have been making nut butters like crazy. It’s just so gratifying to be able to pour in a pound of peanuts, and five minutes later have rich, creamy peanut butter. I think we’ve been going though about a jar a week, eek!

Then we *gasp* ran out of peanuts. How would I survive without my peanut butter and banana sandwich?!? Luckily I found a bag of unsweetened coconut in the back of my fridge, and a new love was born.

Coconut butter.

Seriously, why did no one tell me it was this good? If I had known you could literally spread coconut onto your food, I would have looked into this sooner! And making it is easy as pie. Actually, much, much easier than pie…

Place about 4 cups of coconut flakes or 3 cups shredded coconut in your blender or food processor.

Coconut Flakes

Begin blending on low speed, scraping the sides as you go. At first, the coconut will start to look more like coconut flour. As you keep blending, the oils will warm and the coconut will start to stick together. If this isn’t happened, you may need to add some coconut oil to facilitate the process.

Continue to scrape the sides, and increase the speed as you go. After about 10-15 minutes of blending, the coconut butter should be extremely runny. Pour into a glass container and store at room temperature.

Coconut Butter

The coconut butter will solidify as it cools down to room temperature. If you keep your place chilly, you may need to warm it up a bit to make it spreadable.

So what do I use coconut butter on? So far I’ve made coconut butter and banana sandwiches, melted or massaged it into kale salads, made a ‘fudge’ and added it to smoothies. Poor Mr. Peanut Butter hasn’t seen any action all week. Ha!

Toasted Flax Seeds

Toasted (or roasted) Flax Seeds

I love flax seeds. Those little itty bitty seeds are so packed with nutrition and flavor. They are rich in B vitamins, magnesium, manganese, and are loaded with fiber. But most of all, they are rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Omega-3 Fatty Acids are anti-inflammatory, and can’t be synthesized in the human body, so it’s important that you consume them as part of your diet.

While the best way to maximize the nutrition of flax seeds is raw and ground, there is more to life than just nutrition, right? Toasted (or roasted) flax seeds are incredibly flavorful, like a cross between sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. It takes just a few minutes to toast the seeds, and you can use these crunchy delights in an infinite amount of ways. Sprinkle them on yogurt, oatmeal, peanut butter toast, ice cream, hummus, the list goes on. I even may have started to eat them by the spoonful… Just maybe.

Toasted Flax Seeds

When toasting, the seeds will begin to crackle and pop, much like popcorn

Toasted (or Roasted) Flax Seeds

  • 1/2 cup flax seeds

Heat up a non-stick pan on medium heat. Once hot, pour flax seeds into dry pan. Stir seeds continuously for 3-5 minutes. Seeds will begin to crackle and pop, much like popcorn. Continue stirring until seeds are fragrant.

Remove from heat and pour into a heat-safe dish. Stir seeds as they cool down. Enjoy!

Toasted Flax Seeds