Green Smoothie

So I sat down tonight to write a post for the blog, thinking only a few days had passed since the last post. Two weeks have gone by!! How in the world did that happen? Truthfully, I’ve been so darn busy conferencing and tutoring my high school English students before school, during lunch, and after school for the past two weeks that life has zoomed by in a blur and I’ve come home exhausted, collapsing on the couch for the evening with little energy. We are now into semester finals, though, so for the moment the tutoring has halted and I can breathe and think again…but barely ;  )

I got to thinking, then, about the blog and what I should post next. Well, after scarfing tons of unhealthy but oh-so-delicious goodies during the holidays, my body has been crying for a turnaround. Hence, the kale and brussels sprout salad has graced my dining table several times (I’m in love with that salad) along with roasted veggies and green smoothies.

Now, I’ve been hesitant to share that I drink green smoothies for fear you will think I’m a freak. You see, a green smoothie is simply blended up fruit and greens, such as spinach or chard or kale. Yes, it’s odd. I thought so, too, when I first heard of it. But I was also intrigued, for it seemed like an easy way to get more good stuff into my system.

As I said, I was intrigued. I read about it online, found some recipes, watched some youtube videos. Then I tried it.

And I liked it!

Soon enough, my body began to crave the greens. For the first year of my smoothie journey, I drank one almost daily. I’ve slipped a bit the past few months but I still have one a couple times a week. And I still love ‘em.

If you have a blender, give it a whirl and see what you think. My favorite combo is a sweet banana to balance the tartness of an orange, strawberries for tang, and spinach for its mildness. Honestly, with enough fruit, it covers the taste of the greens. Eventually, my body began to crave more greens and a bit less fruit. I also love the earthy taste of kale in these. Be forewarned, though, that kale and chard and even spinach that isn’t a day or two old or using purple berries will make the smoothie a funky dark green color that isn’t all that pleasant to look at. Still tastes good, though!

After two months of actually drinking one each day, I knew I would keep up with the habit and invested in a Blendtec blender. Boy does that make a difference in chopping up all the fruit and greens! Love that kitchen appliance. Pricey but I use it several times a week, so it has been worth it. Anyway, my first green smoothie experience took place about 1 1/2 years ago, and I’m still at it.

Go ahead, be brave and just try it! You might be surprised.

By the way, a couple days ago I found a container in the freezer filled with walnut pillow cookies. Oh no!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I was really doing well with healthier eating, too, I swear!!!!!

Green Smoothie

INGREDIENTS

  • 1-2 cups water
  • 1 banana (frozen or not)
  • 1 orange
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen strawberries
  • 2 cups spinach leaves
  • optional: yogurt, nuts, ice, honey

DIRECTIONS

Place all ingredients in blender and mix until smooth. Drink immediately. You can also store in fridge and drink later.

Check out the following sources for more info and more recipes:

Victoria Boutenko’s website and her book Green Smoothie Revolution and an informative video by her daughter about how to make a creamy green smoothie

A Full Measure of Happiness food blog (she calls them Green Monsters and has several posts of smoothie recipes)

Brown-Eyed Baker

Annie’s Eats

Spinach and Egg Strata

When the alarm screams at 5:00 a.m. each morning to rattle me awake me for a day of teaching, I usually concoct a quick smoothie for breakfast that I slurp on the drive to work, for I need each precious minute to grade assignments and plan lessons rather than take time to make fancy fare.

The weekends are a totally different routine, though. Time is a gift on weekends, and I peruse the array of collected recipes, ready to experiment.

One of my more successful trials was the Spinach and Egg Strata (according to cookthink.com, a strata is a like a bread pudding casserole made with eggs, cheese, and stale cubed bread). For this particular recipe, I had all the ingredients on hand, and it was an easy solution to using up some of the leftover bread that tends to collect in the back of the fridge, like the last unused hamburger bun or the end pieces of sliced bread that neither hubby nor I like. From now on, I think I will freeze all those extra bits of bread and use them for stratas.

I didn’t let the ingredients meld overnight as per recipe; nonetheless, the savory flavors of the herbs and cheeses as well as the fresh taste of spinach and basil shined through. I used individual 6-inch ramekins, which produced a hearty portion. Smaller ramekins would probably create more manageable amounts for one person, though.

Sidenote: The original recipe calls for two 4-inch ramekins and states the recipe makes two. However, I used two 6-inch ramekins and still had leftover bread mixture, which I used to bake one more strata the following day. So I would say this makes three 6-inch ramekins or probably four 4-inch ramekins.

I used multigrain sandwich bread which added a nutty flavor and texture. I also added fresh basil leaves which brightened the overall dish. And I used fresh spinach from our garden.

Overall, this recipe calls for just a handful of ingredients yet it packs a punch in terms of savory herb flavorings and a tangy cheese kick all hidden within the folds of a french-toast like texture from the mix of bread and eggs. “Yum” sums up this Spinach and Egg Strata, and it now ranks tops in my weekend breakfast fare.

Spinach and Egg Strata

Printer-Friendly Recipe

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 pieces of bread
  • 2 handfuls of spinach
  • 4 large leaves of basil (not part of original recipe)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1 /2 cups milk (I used whole milk)
  • 2 tsp. garlic
  • 1 tsp. fresh oregano (I used 1/2 tsp. dried oregano)
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese (I used cheddar cheese)
  • sprinkle of parmesan cheese (not part of original recipe)

DIRECTIONS

  1. The night before, tear up and mix bread, spinach, and basil. Place in two 4-inch ramekins.
  2. Whisk together eggs, milk, garlic, oregano, pepper, and salt. Pour over bread mixture. Top with mozzarella cheese, sprinkle with parmesan, and cover with plastic wrap. Place in refrigerator and let sit overnight.
  3. In the morning, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Remove plastic wrap and cover each ramekin with aluminum foil. Place ramekins on a sheet tray and bake for 20 minutes.
  4. After 20 minutes, remove foil and continue to bake for another 15-20 minutes or until egg mixture has set and casserole has puffed (my puffed casserole caved slightly after a few minutes). Serve warm.

SOURCE: slightly adapted from Naturally Ella