Freezer Green Smoothies

I used to make green smoothies for breakfast at least three times a week. Needless to say that when my baby was born (over a year ago now!), this is one of the things that slipped.

Now, that wasn’t such a big deal, as I was still eating (reasonably) well. But come Christmas, we were given so much chocolate. So, for the rest of December (and most of January, too), I’ve been snacking on Chocolate non stop. My sweet tooth has come back with a vengeance! Some mornings, I even grab chocolate from the fridge for breakfast (gasp)!

As I was browsing Pinterest the other day, I came across this blog post from Hello Glow, about making a months worth of green smoothies and storing the ingredients in zip lock bags in the freezer.

So I decided to give it a go. Here’s my spin on it:

Freezer Green Smoothies

Ingredients (per bag)

  • 1-2 cups of spinach or cos lettuce
  • 1/2 a zucchini
  • 1 stalk of celery
  • 1 banana or 1/2 a mango
  • 1/2 cup berries (I used a combination of strawberries, blueberries and frozen boysenberries)
  • 1 cm knob ginger
  • 1 cm knob turmeric

Method

  1. Fill your bags (I used 10) starting with the greens, then the fruit.
  2. Close your bags, squeezing as much air out as possible, and making the bags as flat as possible too.
  3. Stack your bags in the freezer.

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Blending time

  1. Take one zip lock bag out of the freezer, and allow it to thaw for 5-10 minutes on the bench.
  2. Add contents of bag, along with about a cup of liquid to your blender. I added half greek yoghurt and half water.
  3. Add any extras you like. This morning I added 1/2 cup of oats and 2 tablespoons of chia seeds I’d soaked for 10 minutes, as well a teaspoon of cinnamon.
  4. Blend until smooth!

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Here’s what my smoothie looked like this morning. Not green at all! And it made enough for two glasses this size.

Some would prefer their smoothies sweeter, so if this is you, add more fruit. I prefer them not so sweet, as I’m trying hard to break my sugar addiction.

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Chopping fruit and veg in the mornings is what used to put me off making smoothies. But because all the fruit and veg were chopped and ready in the freezer, it really was so quick and easy to make. And it took me maybe one hour yesterday to wash, chop and bag the ingredients.

I’m back on the bandwagon.

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(Those strawberry tops were for my daughter’s breakfast – no chopping fruit this morning for my smoothie!)

I’d love to know, do you drink green smoothies? Do you find them a chore to make? Would you consider this freezer method of making them?

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This morning’s green smoothie.

Recently I’ve been making green smoothies for breakfast. I find it hard to eat lots of greens, so this is a great way for me to get them into my diet. They’re quick and easy (especially if I bag and freeze my fruit and veg in portions for the week ahead).

imageMy recipe is this: 

  1. Just throw everything you’ve got into your blender and mix until smooth.

Today’s smoothie included: 

  • 1 banana
  • 1 avocado
  • 1/4 of a cucumber
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 2 florets of broccoli
  • a cup of natural yoghurt
  • a small knob of ginger
  • a small knob of turmeric
  • a teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • a small handful of walnuts
  • a slice of pineapple
  • a slice of pawpaw
  • 8 leaves of kale

Do you eat green smoothies? What do you include?

Running.

I started running properly (as in doing it 2-3 times a week) last summer to improve my fitness. Over winter it dwindled away because it was just too cold at 7 am. It was also too dark (I gave up after I tripped badly when running on a too-dark morning.

But I’ve started again this spring. I’ve been doing couch to 5K to get me started, which I’ve found so helpful. I’m using a free app on my phone called simple C25K (which is very simple). I’m now up to the last week (week 9) where I warm up walking for 5 minutes, then jog non-stop for 30 (which is supposed to be about 5 km). After I finish this week I’ll move onto using RunKeeper so I can track my speed and distance better.

Apart from an occasionally slightly sore knee, and an achilles that sometimes pulls, I’ve feet great! Running really wakes me up and makes me happy. I’ve lost a little bit of weight and feel more toned overall. There are tons of other benefits of running. My two favourites from this list are the energy boost and the stress relief it brings. Do you run? What do you like about it?

Here’s a great infographic about running:

Get health and fitness tips at Greatist.com

Acupuncture for hayfever?

It’s spring here, and while I love it for the flowers and the (mostly) beautiful weather, it’s a hard time of year for me. I’ve had hayfever all my life. We deliberately avoided having a spring wedding because I didn’t want to be sneezing and feeling awful on my wedding day.

I’ve recently been trying a few alternative treatments to try to improve my symptoms, rather than just taking antihistamines and cortisone nasal sprays.

I’ve tried cutting out gluten, which I’ve done now for about 3 months now. I’ve tried eating a really healthy diet, including lots of extra greens in the form of green smoothies and upping my omega 3 intake. I’ve been taking vitamin d supplements, because I was a bit low and apparently that can impact things.

I’ve been taking these chinese medicine herbal tablets for allergies:

I’ve also been using this homeopathic spray:

The most recent (and most effective so far) thing I’ve tried is acupuncture. My husband heard of someone having it and having no hayfever symptoms for four years! I’d be so happy with that!

I had the acupuncture about two weeks ago. The first week after I had it I felt great! No symptoms whatsoever. I don’t really know how it works, but even if it was a placebo, I don’t care! The next week I’ve had slight sneezing and stuffed nose, but nowhere near what I normally experience. Yesterday was my worst day so far, and I was sneezing a lot and feeling overall yuck. I didn’t have itchy eyes at all though (which I normally do get). Today is a very windy day here, and I’ve been pretty good (fingers crossed).

I’m curious; has anyone else tried acupuncture for hayfever or other allergies? What were your results like? Would you recommend I go back for another session? (The practitioner didn’t say whether I needed to go back or not). I’d love to hear your experiences!

Why you should make your own ginger beer.

I saw on the blog Food Babe the other day a post about why you should make your own ginger ale.

SeagramsThere are just as many nasties in regular ginger ale as there are in coke! And it doesn’t even contain any real ginger.

A step up from her ginger ale is this: make your own ginger beer plant to provide a continuous supply of healthy ginger beer! It’s also fermented, so it contains lots of healthy probiotics. Here’s my recipe for homemade ginger beer with a ginger beer plant.

Do you drink ginger beer? Would you try making your own?

Homemade brown rice sourdough starter.

Sourdough is great! It’s a way of fermenting grains to make them more digestible. It also makes great tasting bread. Read this and this for more info. I’ve made sourdough with wholemeal wheat flour a few years ago, which was great. I had it going for about 6 months before my mum chucked it in the bin when I was away. She thought it stunk a bit.

Lately I’ve been trying to cut down on the amount of gluten I eat, cause it makes me feel a bit gross. Bloated etc etc. So I decided to try making my own brown rice sourdough starter. Here’s where I got the recipe.

My starter after 2 days.

My starter on day 2.

Ingredients: 

  • 1/4 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/4 cup filtered water
  • tablespoon water kefir (optional)

Method: 

  1. Whisk flour and water in small jug until well combined.
  2. Pour into glass jar and cover with hanky and secure with rubber band.
  3. Leave in a warm place and feed again (the same amounts) about 12 hours later.
  4. (I feed my starter morning and night with the same quantities of flour and water.)
  5. If after a few days the starter isn’t bubbling much, add a tablespoon of water kefir and stir in with the flour and water when you feed it.
  6. By 5-7 days it should be ready to make pancakes, bread, cupcakes etc…
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My starter, boosted with water kefir, on day 5.

Stay tuned for some exciting gluten-free sourdough recipes!

Homemade stevia extract.

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Sam’s been growing stevia in the garden. It’s supposed to be a really great sweetener that isn’t sugar and is completely natural. Read more about stevia here. I thought I’d give making stevia extract a go to use in cooking. Here’s what I did:

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  1. Collect lots of stevia leaves. Wash and dry them.
  2. Chop the leaves up and place in a large glass jar.
  3. Cover with enough vodka to cover the leaves.
  4. Put the lid on and place somewhere you’ll see it.
  5. Leave the jar for 36 hours, shaking occasionally.
  6. After 36 hours (don’t leave it too long, or it will become bitter), strain the liquid into a small saucepan.
  7. Heat the liquid on low and bring to a simmer. Make sure you don’t boil it, or it will become bitter.
  8. Simmer for about half an hour, stirring constantly.
  9. Remove from heat and cool before pouring into small glass jars.
  10. Store in fridge for up to 3 months.

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I got the recipe for this here. Use it instead of sugar in recipes like this chocolate avocado mousse, or this dairy-free ice cream, and this lemon tart (you will have to change the recipes a bit – I’ll post some new recipes sweetened with stevia soon).

 

Water Kefir… What’s that?

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Tibicos, also known as tibiwater kefir grainssugar kefir grainsJapanese water crystals and California bees, and in older literature asbébées, African bees, ale nuts, Australian bees, balm of Gilead, beer seeds, beer plant, bees, ginger beer plant, ginger bees, Japanese beer seeds and vinegar bees, are a culture of bacteria and yeasts held in a polysaccharidebiofilm matrix created by the bacteria… The microbes present in tibicos act in symbiosis to maintain a stable culture. Tibicos can do this in many different sugary liquids, feeding off the sugar to produce lactic acid, alcohol, and carbon dioxide gas, which carbonates the drink. (Wikipedia).

I’ve been experimenting making water kefir for the last few months. It’s such an easy way to consume probiotics, and as well as that, I like the taste. It’s a nice refreshing drink that you can flavour anyway you like. Here’s what I do:

In a clean glass jar add:

  • 2 cups filtered water
  • 1/4 teaspoon molasses
  • 1 rounded tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 organic dry fig (or any dried fruit)
  • slice of unwaxed lemon
  • pinch of bicarb soda
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons of water kefir crystals

Next, cover the jar with a clean hanky and rubber band, then cover the whole jar with a tea towel to keep the light out.

Leave it for about 48 hours before straining the crystals out of the liquid.

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I’ll usually add a bit of fruit juice, some chopped ginger and sugar, some vanilla extract or some frozen berries to the liquid before I bottle it. Then leave the bottle out on the bench to ferment a second time before refrigerating before drinking.

I reuse the water kefir crystals again and again, which gives me a never-ending supply of bubbly, tangy, sweet beverages.

Why I cook.

You might have guessed that I love cooking. I find it completely relaxing and yet stimulating at the same time. I enjoy planning what meals I’ll cook each week, and shopping for the right ingredients. I love adding herbs and spices to plain food, and noticing what a difference they make. Spending time eating the food I’ve cooked is also so much more satisfying and enjoyable. Especially when shared with friends and family.

I read an article the other day that talked about Cooking, and the reasons we do it. This was my favourite part:

It stops me from snacking. Studies have shown that cultures that cook don’t have a snacking culture and are in check with their appetite (and are devoid of an obesity issue). Some studies suggest not cooking is the most direct obesity indicator in a society. It’s a perspective I hadn’t considered: when you cook from scratch you have to be hungry enough to be bothered. Plus, the time it takes to prepare things delays the gratification. There are many theories on the benefits of delayed gratification and how it makes us happier. I know when I’m out and hungry, I think first to what I’d like to cook. I’m in the habit of thinking this way and food on the run has become incredibly unappealing. By the time I get home, I’ve either lost my appetite or I’m very much primed to enjoy what I cook that much more.

Read the rest here.

I’ve found that this is so true. I definitely snack a lot less when I’m excited by food and cooking. And I think this is the most important reason I’m still thin. Now I want to read this book! 

cooked-coverWhy do you cook?

 

Homemade fermented hot chili sauce.

As you might have seen in these previous posts, I’ve been experimenting with fermenting foods as a way to preserve them. It’s also a great way to get probiotics.

Sam grew heaps and heaps of chilis over the summer. We couldn’t keep up with eating them (especially as Sam doesn’t really hot food), so I thought I’d give making sauce out of them a go.

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I got the recipe from Nourished Kitchen. It’s one of my favourite sites. Here’s what I did:

Ingredients: 

  • 1.5 kg red chilis (not sure what variety mine were, anything works!) 
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled, squashed and diced
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1/4 cup fresh whey

Method: 

  1. Combine all ingredients in food processor until finely chopped. 
  2. Spoon mixture into glass jar, cover and allow it to ferment for 5-7 days at room temperature.
  3. After it has bubbled for about a week, place in fridge and store for several months.
  4. (The original recipe strained the sauce before refrigerating it, but I like mine chunky so left it.)
  5. Use sparingly, as it’s very, very hot!