March 2014

drinking a green smoothie

Eat Like A Rainbow – Green Smoothies

A couple of years ago, a good friend of ours introduced us to “green smoothies”.  She recommended an interesting book on the topic called “Green Smoothie Revolution“.   The health reasons seemed pretty compelling and we love fresh fruits and vegetables so I decided give it a try.  I must admit, my first few batches were not very appealing.  The taste was sort of bitter and you had to chew the drink to get through the greens.  But I kept trying and eventually got it right!  Now anytime that I find myself with kale or spinach or some other green that we don’t have another use for, I throw it in a blender with some fruit and create a delicious green smoothie.  The trick (especially if you expect your kids to drink it) is to keep the greens to fruit ratio around 1:1.  This also makes it look pretty 🙂

 

eating a rainbow

eating a rainbow

If it still tastes too bitter, just add even more fruit.  Or you could use honey to sweeten it up at the end.  Try not to get too hung up on a specific recipe.  The key is going to be making it taste good or you won’t want to drink it.

Kale is definitely our favorite green to use in our smoothies.  It is SO incredibly good for you and I think it actually gives the smoothie great flavor, too!  Below is a basic recipe that I tend to make a lot, mostly because we always have the fruit ingredients on hand.  We pick our own strawberries at a local farm every summer and freeze them.  We buy the nectarines from a local orchard and can them every summer.  And I cheat and buy the frozen mangos at the grocery store because I don’t know of any local farms that grow mangos but we still love to eat them.  You should make sure that some portion of your recipe contains frozen ingredients in order to get more of a smoothie consistency instead of just juice.  If you are using all fresh ingredients (which is great!),  just add some ice cubes to the bottom of the blender in place of the water or juice in the recipe.

I tend to double the recipe and make two blender-fuls at a time and then freeze half of it for later in the week.  (If you actually read the book that I recommended earlier, you’ll see that freezing a green smoothie is generally frowned upon in the raw world but, when you have 3 small kids and a busy life, frozen and thawed green smoothie is WAY better than no smoothie at all!)

OUR GREEN SMOOTHIE RECIPE

  • 1 to 2 cups of fresh, frozen, or canned nectarines or peaches, including any juices
  • 1 to 2 cups of frozen mango chunks (or 1 to 2 fresh mangos)
  •  1 to 2 cups of fresh or frozen strawberries
  • 1 to 2 frozen bananas, sliced (TIP: slice and freeze very ripe bananas ahead of time to use in smoothies)
  • 1 cup water (less if you were able to pour in some juice from canned nectarines or peaches)
  • 1/2 bunch of kale, washed, thick stems removed, and torn into pieces

Place everything in the blender with liquid and frozen ingredients on the bottom and kale at the very top.  (If you can’t fit all of the kale in your blender, start blending and then add the rest after the level goes down a bit.)  Push the ice crusher button a few times to get it started and then blend away.  My blender tends to overheat with too much exertion so I usually blend on high for about a minute at a time and then give it a rest and try again in a few minutes.  It takes me about 3 to 4 minutes of total blending before I get a good smoothie consistency with the kale processed into tiny bits small enough to suck up through a straw.  This is what it looks like when it is finished…

 

mmmm...

mmmm…

Just insert a straw and enjoy 🙂  Oh…and pour some into cups for the kids but make sure that you get your own first because there probably won’t be any left once they get their hands on it!

 

By the way, the title for this post was inspired by a children’s song that we like.  Check it out!

 

Weekly Marriage Therapy; Our experiments with “Game Night”

With three kids and what feels like a busy life (turns out busy is a very relative term!!), one thing that Maria and I have struggled with is how to stay mentally/psychologically close to one another.  We toyed around with “Date Nights”, but we found it difficult to routinely find babysitters that could manage three kids while we went out for a few hours, got a little tired of the routine dinner and a movie, and felt a little guilty spending the money…all to the point where it got stressful (at least for me).  For a long time, we ended up spending our time together just watching TV because it was easy and “mindless”, but ultimately decided that our time could be better spent doing other things.  I can’t remember who had the idea originally, but we decided that as a compromise to “Date Night”, on any Saturday night that we didn’t already have plans, we would do a “Game Night” where we could sit down, chill out, drink some beer/cider/wine/whiskey, play some board games, and talk about whatever felt important at the time.

What started as just a friendly game of chess or backgammon has become a healthy rivalry and a cherished tradition for us.  We have set time that we both reserve to relax with one another, uninterrupted by kids, the phone, the computer, or email.  Under the mild tension of marital competition, we share our thoughts on how we are feeling about our life, what we are excited or nervous about, what things we want to do and what plans we want to put in place.  We have also gotten to learn some really fun games, including some traditions from previous generations.  We have started to let the kids in on it on some Saturdays, and have even invited some neighbors over once in a while to join in with us.  I have even found that it has made me a more graceful loser (on most nights anyway)!!

We have had some of our best discussions over our game table (aka – our dining room table), including the ones that eventually led to Life from Scratch.  It might not be for everyone, but if you are into board games, are looking for a way to get closer as a couple, and can handle a little competition, maybe Game Night is for you!  If you are looking for ideas on how to get started, here are some of our favorite games.