Sunday, January 18, 2015

Williams-Sonoma's Smoothie Week: Strange Smoothies

Smoothie.  When you first hear the word you probably think of a blended concoction of strawberries and bananas, or at least something along those lines.  Indeed, most smoothies usually involve some type of fruit or combination of fruits and a dairy product (milk for a thinner consistency or yogurt for a thicker drink).  But while smoothies may seem pretty standard, they can actually be pretty cool.  I personally love smoothies because of how customizable they are.  You can experiment with what types of fruit you use, what kind of milk or yogurt you add, adding sweeteners or spices, and even adding things like peanut butter.  There are probably infinite combinations of smoothie ingredients you could come up with, and they’re all probably going to taste delicious.

You can even make some pretty wacky smoothies (keep in mind that when I say wacky, I still mean edible and tasty – yes, adding something like ketchup would make it wacky, but would you really want to drink that?).  In my years of concocting different smoothie recipes, I have, in several occasions, stepped out of my taste comfort zone by adding some ingredients that you wouldn’t normally see in smoothies.  For instance: avocados.  Avocados are one of my favorite foods because they’re so versatile; you could pretty much eat them a different way for every meal.  Guacamole, sliced on a sandwich, or cubed on top of a taco are some of my favorite ways to serve guacamole.  But a smoothie?  Some of you might be thinking that sounds a bit far-fetched but just hear me out. 

Adding avocado to your smoothie will not only make it a beautiful green color, but it also adds a good amount of protein and healthy fats and makes the smoothie nice and creamy.  One of my favorite smoothie recipes is my Banana Bash Smoothie; it’s simple, healthy, and delicious.  And even if you’re not a big fan of avocados, still give it a try!  The other ingredients will add sweetness to the smoothie and you won’t even be able to taste the avocado.

Another uncommon ingredient I sometimes throw into my smoothies is raw oats.  Raw oats will help make the smoothie nice and filling, and they don’t have a huge impact on the taste.  I like to combine raw oats, peanut butter, a banana, and some almond milk (and sometimes if I want a sweet treat, some cocoa powder) to make a delicious and nutritious drink that feels more like a milkshake than a smoothie.

I encourage all of you to step out of your comfort zones and try some new and zany ingredients next time you’re making a smoothie.  Let me know what some of your favorite wacky smoothie recipes are!  Need a great blender to make super smooth smoothies? Check out Williams-Sonoma's blenders along with their Not Your Typical Smoothie album in Pinterest or Facebook.

Thanks for reading,

Lizzie Marie 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Mexican Mix Bowl

Hi everyone!

Today I have for you a super delicious and fun meal that I like to call the Mexican Mix Bowl.  This is an awesome meal that can be enjoyed all year round.  You can customize it however you like, and it’s sure to be delicious every time.  Check out how to make!

1 cup cooked brown rice (cook according to package)
1 cup canned black beans (drain and rinse)
1 medium sweet onion, diced
1 small red or green pepper, diced
6 ounces soy chorizo (Trader Joe's brand has the best flavor)
2 tablespoon coconut oil
1 lime quartered

Add oil to pan and heat on medium heat.
Add veggies and sauté for 10 min, stirring frequently.
Remove veggies from pan and place in a bowl.
Lower heat to medium low and add chorizo and beans to pan and cook for 5 minutes.
Add veggies back to pan and cook 2 more minutes.
Place 1/4 cup rice into four bowls, top with chorizo/bean/veggie mixture.
Squeeze lime juice from one quarter onto bowl.

Optional: top bowls with sliced avocado, dairy free cheese, diced tomatoes, cilantro or jalapenos, etc.

The Mexican Mix Bowl has been one of my favorite recipes these past couple months.  I love how much freedom there is to play around with ingredients and make it your own.  You can use any type of meat, or tofu, and really have fun trying different bean and vegetable combinations.  You can even customize how you serve it: a tortilla or taco for a classic combination, a bowl with a base of rice, or even on top of lettuce, or inside lettuce cups, for a super healthy alternative! 

I hope your whole family has fun making this dish, and remember: don’t be afraid to mix it up!

Lizzie Marie

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The 52 New Foods Challenge: Amazing Avocado Smoothies + Bonus Ingredient

Hey everyone!

I recently received the 52 New Foods Challenge cookbook and was so inspired by all the creative recipes that I decided to share my own recipe with you guys!  This cookbook is all about inspiring families to work together, get healthy together, and try new foods together. 
Reserve your copy! Ships November 4, 2014. 

After looking through some of the recipes, I came up with my own smoothie recipe that I like to call the Banana Bash Smoothie.  It does have one pretty interesting ingredient that you might find surprising…

Banana Bash Smoothies
1 1/2 cups dairy free milk
1 avocado - remove pit
1 banana
2 teaspoons sugar or agave
1/2 cup ice - optional
1/2 tablespoon cocoa powder - optional

Break banana into 3 or 4 chunks, toss into blender.  Scoop avocado into blender, along with milk, sugar and ice if you want a thicker smoothie.  Add cocoa powder to make a chocolate smoothie.
Blend for almost one minute until smooth.  If smoothie is too thick, add about 1/4 cup more milk.

Well, there you have it!  This smoothie is super delicious and nutritious, your whole family will love it!  The best part is, you can have as a breakfast, snack, or even dessert.  Give it a try and let me know what you think! 

See you next time,

Lizzie Marie

Monday, October 20, 2014

Tiny Tidbit: The Art of Slicing and Dicing Avocados

Hey everybody!

Here's a tiny tidbit to show you the best and safest way to cut avocados.

Thanks for watching, see you next time!
Lizzie Marie

Monday, October 6, 2014

The 14 Year Old Vegan

       “That sucks,” one of my friends says.  “Why are your parents making you do that?”  I’m sitting at a table, eating dinner with my friends, and I’ve just told them that I’m vegan.  I start to explain to them how my parents aren’t forcing me to do it, and it was actually my idea to go vegan, but instead I settle on ‘It’s actually not too bad’.  Another friend peels a slice of pepperoni off his pizza and waves it in my face.  They’re only doing it to be funny, and a couple of months ago, I might have reacted similarly if one of my friends suddenly decided to be vegan (let’s face it – it is pretty weird for a teenager to willingly avoid pizza and ice cream).  But despite that, some part of me continues to wonder why veganism is defined by many people, and portrayed in the media, as being a weird diet reserved for hippies and health snobs.

When my family and I first began to tell our friends and family that we were vegan, their reactions ranged from “Wow, that’s interesting; tell me more” to “That sounds awful, you can’t eat anything good.”  Some people even reacted as though I had offended them; as though my vegan lifestyle affected them on a personal level.  A few of my friends would crack jokes where being vegan was the punchline (for example: “How can you find the vegan at a dinner party?  Don’t worry, they’ll tell you”).  While none of their reactions were hostile or outright rude, I will admit to sometimes growing annoyed at their jabs to my personal lifestyle choices.  I don’t judge them for eating meat, why are they judging me? I’d sometimes think. 

The truth is: being vegan is weird because it goes against what is generally considered “normal”.  While everyone has a different definition of what the “normal” American diet is, a lot of times, unfortunately, it consists of mostly unhealthy foods.  When you think of an all-American meal, you probably picture a burger, fries and a milkshake, or something to that effect.  So when a person who was raised in a fast-food-glorifying culture is faced with someone who has chosen a radically different diet from the norm, it isn’t surprising that their first reaction would probably not be immediate acceptance.

Let’s play a game called “Spot the Vegan”.  Picture three people standing side-by-side: one man in a suit, one woman in a nice blouse and jeans, and one college student with dreadlocks, ripped jeans, and droopy eyelids.  Let’s be honest: you’ve probably assumed that the vegan is the ill-dressed college student, right?  But in reality, the vegan could be any of these three people.  Our society has tried to construct one-dimensional boxes that all vegans, regardless of their background or personality, can fit into.  The two most popular stereotypes that I’ve experienced are those of the hippie who preaches world peace and the health snob who treats veganism as a trend that exists in the same vein as the newest, coolest fashion or technology fad. 

There are countless films and TV shows that reinforce these stereotypical vegan characters.  The hippie vegan is usually portrayed as looking as though they haven’t showered in a few weeks, and their contributions to the film or TV show are mostly limited to proclamations of world peace, or in some cases, criticisms against meat-eaters.  On the other end of the spectrum, the health snob vegan is probably young and hip, and sometimes pretentious to the point of thinking they are better than other people because they’re vegan.  While I don’t deny the existence of hippie vegans or vegans with a “mightier than thou” attitude, I do believe that most of the time, you wouldn’t be able to spot the vegan based on their appearance or personality alone.

The purpose of this article is not to criticize or attack people’s reactions to my veganism.  I am completely willing and eager to discuss my veganism with people, regardless of their reaction, and I love when people are genuinely curious to understand what veganism is, and why I’ve chosen to follow it.  The purpose of this article is simply to share with you my journey to understand, and my opinions as to why, people react they do.  The bottom line is that yes, sometimes there’s nothing I want more than a pint of ice cream or a slice of pizza (but I have discovered certain vegan alternatives that pretty dang delicious).  And yes; unfortunately, there are some vegans out there who criticize meat-eaters or think they’re better than others because they refrain from eating animal products.  However, I, personally, am not against people who aren’t vegan, and I believe people should follow the lifestyle that is the best for them.

Veganism is not a set of rules that I force myself to follow, and it is not something that my parents force me to do.  For me and my family, being vegan is a lifestyle; it involves our diets and bodies as much as it involves our attitudes and mindsets.  I am not putting a time limit on how long my veganism will last; for now, I know that being vegan has improved my health and my life, and I will make changes to my diet and lifestyle based on what is best for me and my health.  I celebrate being vegan, and I hope that this article has encouraged you to become aware of, and possible redefine, how you view and treat veganism.  Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions or comments, I can’t wait to continue this journey and see where it leads.  Thank you so much for reading.

Lizzie Marie

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Cooking In Sanity Project: That's A Wrap

Hi everyone!

Well, I have some news.  Some pretty big news, in fact.  You might want to sit down for this.  Watch the video to see what I’m talking about!

Lizzie Marie

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Cooking In Sanity Project: Blanched Spinach-Variation: Spinach Braised in Butter, Epinards Etuves au Beurre

Hi everybody!
Today on the Cooking in Sanity project I made a simple variation on blanched spinach by braising it with butter.  This recipe seemed very simple, and I think adding some butter and spices would give it a bit more flavor than the blanched spinach on its own, so I was excited to give it a try.

I definitely prefer this variation to the blanched spinach on its own.  I think braising the spinach with butter added just a bit of flavor that the spinach really needed.  I am a bit on the fence about seasoning it with nutmeg, however.  The taste wasn’t bad but I think if I were to make this again I would leave the nutmeg out.
Thanks for watching, see you soon!
Lizzie Marie