Why you should make green smoothies?

IMG_0440Not just for yourself, but also for your loved ones.  Especially your toddlers.  Probably the biggest and best reason for this is because they are delicious.  A close second is they are super healthy.  And coming in right behind that, it’s an easy way to teach kids they like spinach!

My recipe is super easy.  And super duper delicious.  And SweetPea asks for it, on a regular basis.  And if I try to make some just for me, she won’t stand for it.  And who am I to say no when my kid asks for some of my vegetable yumminess?

If you haven’t already jumped on the green smoothie band wagon, now’s the time!

Green Smoothie Recipe

1 cup orange juice
2 bananas
2-3 handfuls of spinach
1 tablespoon chia seeds (optional)

Put the orange juice and spinach in a blender, blend until smooth.  Add bananas.  Blend.  Add chia seeds.  Blend.  Serve and enjoy.

The most important thing when making a green smoothie is blend the liquid (juice, water, milk, whatever you choose) and the greens BEFORE adding anything else.  Or you end up with confetti in your mouth.  Now this may sound like a party, but it’s not.  It’s actually awful.  However if you blend the greens before adding in banana or fruit or ice it will turn out smooth, amazing, and oh-so-good.

The second most important thing is to make enough to share.  Or you won’t get enough.  You will, however, have a kid with a pretty awesome green smoothie mustache.  Which is pretty awesome.

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Getting in the Groove

Call me crazy.  But after having kiddo #2 (how the heck am I old enough for 2 kids…I am certainly not mature enough…ohmy), starting my first job as an RN (and working the nightshift to boot), and purchasing our first home (what!!?!) a few little things have slipped through the cracks.  Like vacuuming.  And working out.  And while the not vacuuming does eventually drive me crazy, this whole being too tired to move makes my whole life body feel like poo.  So call me silly, but I’m doing a DietBet.

A DietBet, what’s that crazy nonsense? (that’s what I imagine you’re saying)

Well I gambled 35 dollars. Online. And made a bet that I would lose 4% of my bodyweight in 4 weeks.  That’s almost 6 pounds for the whole time or about 1.4 pounds a week…which if you know your stuff about losing weight that is on the higher end of healthy weight loss, but still healthy.  It will also get me really close to my best weight.  I say best weight because at that weight  I tend to just feel really good.  To maintain that weight I have to continue eating healthy (most of the time) and I have to move my body (more than just running up and down the halls of the hospital) a couple times a week.  This makes my body happy.  Which makes me happy.

Did I also mention that I’m trying yoga right now?  With a back that has a history of going out every few months I started seeing a physical therapist.  Diagnosis: my hamstrings are so stinkin’ tight they’re pulling my back out.  Shocking, that the person who loudly proclaims how much she hates bending has gone so long without bending that now I can’t bend…without some painful repercussions.

Needless to say, yoga!  Not so fun right now.  But my goal is to do it 3-4 times a week during this DietBet challenge.  Hopefully I’ll get flexible enough that I stop crying during class (yes, that was me with the tears in Thursday’s class, and no, I really didn’t bend that far, and no again, I didn’t injure myself) either that or going will become a habit and I’ll just keep going until it stops hurting.  Cross your fingers for me (I would but that is classified as bending, and I don’t do that).

So 1 week down. How’d I do? I dropped some weight. Whoop, whoop. Went to yoga 2 times (better than 0).  And realized how pathetically unfit I am.  Oops.  But now that I’m moving, it doesn’t feel too bad to be out of shape.  Because I know it’s only temporary and decent shape (and maybe, dare I dream? good shape) will follow!

Spicy Sausage, Potato, and Kale Soup

Spicy sausage, potato, and kale soup

Spicy sausage, potato, and kale soup

Oh man.  Not that this soup is souper spicy (see what I did there?) or anything but it does have a little more heat than my 2-year-old typically eats.  However, I put a small serving (I wasn’t planning on wasting a single drop of this deliciousness) in front of her; she took one bite and started saying how good the soup was and then continued to plow through her bowl like a champ.

Toddler approved spicy sausage, potato, and kale soup

Toddler approved spicy sausage, potato, and kale soup

I need to remember that whenever I give her something that has a little spice in it, as long as I don’t say, “Oh, this might be too spicy for SweetPea,” there’s a good chance she’ll give it a shot and maybe like it.

Unfortunately for me, she liked this soup…which means I had fewer leftovers…which means I got to eat less of the soup…which kind of sucked because this soup is really good.  However, it’s also really easy to make, so I might just have to make it again in the near future.

Ingredients:

1/2 pound spicy chorizo sausage
2 Tbsp butter (or olive oil, but butter is delicious)
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (I used closer to 1/4 tsp to keep the heat down)
1 large bunch of kale, stemmed and chopped (about 2 very large handfuls)
2 large baking potatoes, peeled and chopped into bite size bits
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup milk or cream (I used 2%)

Directions:

Heat large pot over medium high heat.  Add chorizo and brown it.  Once chorizo is browned, remove it from pot and set aside.
Lower heat to medium, add butter and let it melt.  Then add the onions and let them cook 5-10 minutes.  Add garlic and cook for another 2-3 minutes.  Add salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.  Cook another 5-10 minutes.
Add chopped kale in smallish batches (I did mine in 4 batches).  Let each batch wilt before adding the next.  Add the nutmeg and stir.  Cook another 2-3 minutes to allow the kale to fully wilt.
Add potatoes, cooked sausage, and chicken broth.  Bring to boil.
Lower heat and let simmer an hour or more (the longer it simmers the better the flavors).
Stir in the milk (or cream).

Serve and enjoy!

Spicy sausage, potato, and kale soup

Spicy sausage, potato, and kale soup

Freezer Friendly Crock Pot Bean Stew

Freezer Friendly Crock Pot Bean Stew

Freezer Friendly Crock Pot Bean Stew

This being a freezer meal, I couldn’t remember what was actually in it (other than the beans and broth I added when I put everything in the crock pot).

And then, once I got everything in the crock pot I stayed at home…so I never actually smelled it cooking (and any crock pot cook knows how good crock pot meals smell).

So without remembering what the ingredients were and being unable to smell the meal, I was a little unsure about how this soup would taste…I just thought it would be very very bland.

Right up until that first spoonful hit my taste buds.

Let me tell you what, this is a delicious stew.  And I’m not the only one who thought this was a pretty delicious dinner, my husband heartily approved of this meal.

The flavors are rather mild, but because no flavor overtakes the stew, it becomes a delightfully tasty dish.  A dish made even better with a slice of crusty bread to sop up some of the broth.

Ingredients:

2 cans beans, drained and rinsed (I used pinto and red beans)
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
1 small onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, diced
3 Tbsp uncooked rice (I used brown)
2 Tbsp garlic, minced
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground pepper
3-4 cups broth (chicken or vegetable)

Directions:

Combine ingredients (except broth) in gallon zip lock bag.  Freeze.

Thaw.

Put contents of bag in crock pot.  Add enough broth to cover everything.

Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

Serve and enjoy!

Freezer Friendly Crock Pot Bean Stew

Freezer Friendly Crock Pot Bean Stew

For more freezer friendly crock pot meals check out this post.

Avocado, Cream Cheese, and Salsa Hand Pies

Avocado, Cream Cheese, and Salsa Hand Pies

Avocado, Cream Cheese, and Salsa Hand Pies

Some recipes are just too tempting and too easy to pass up!  As soon as I saw this recipe I knew I had to try it.

However, I couldn’t use puff pastry dough.  Why?  Back when I was a baker for a local coffee shop one of my good friends took some day-old food home for her chickens.  One such day-old was a mini quiche baked in a puff pastry crust.  Now chickens eat everything…but they wouldn’t touch the puff pastry dough.  And after that, neither have I.

So I used homemade pie crust…but you can use store bought or puff pastry.  You choose.

Ingredients:

Pie crust (or puff pastry)
Avocado, mashed
Cream cheese
Salsa
1 egg, lightly beaten
Salt and pepper

Directions:

Roll pie crust into a rectangle.  Mine was about 6 inches by 10 inches (and made 3 pies)  Cut dough into rectangles – the width that you want your hand pies and twice the length.  Put a scoop of avocado, some cream cheese, and a spoonful of salsa on one side of your dough rectangles.  Fold the rectangle over to cover the side with all the goodies.  Seal the sides well (I use a fork to get a better seal).

Apply the egg wash to each hand pie. Sprinkle each hand pie with a dash of salt and pepper.

Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until crust is golden.

Serve and enjoy.  Be careful, these babies are delicious and hot…burnt tongues are a possible risk.

Avocado, Cream Cheese, and Salsa Hand Pies

Avocado, Cream Cheese, and Salsa Hand Pies

Quick Update on SweetPea

So…she’s beaten the Ick that we had.  And conquering those germs has left her with quite the appetitie.

It’s about 10:30 am here (and she’s only been up since 9 (!!!!)).  She has already eaten a good sized portion of oatmeal, five blueberries, a small banana, two slices of dried mango, a crepe filled with broccoli/cauliflower/garlic puree, and now she’s eating apple chunks.  Whew!

We’re also starting to plan her 2nd birthday.  Her grandparents are going to be in town (yay!) but her dad is going to be out of town (boo!).  So we’ll probably just have to make sure the whole week is filled with fun activities.  Hopefully the weather cooperates.  And if it doesn’t we’ll just give her lots of baths, because that is the most fun thing to do indoors.