The Best Morning Smoothie

Back in the day when I was only moderately nuts, I used to eat oatmeal at work every morning for breakfast. Immediately after eating it I just felt like I wanted to crawl back in bed. But as I embraced my inner hippy (the kind of hippy who has a designer blender) I started swapping oatmeal for a green smoothie or juice. For the past few months Dan and I have been making green smoothies at home every day. I love drinking a smoothie for breakfast – and unlike the oatmeal, I feel energized and stay full four hours. I’m so addicted that I have been lugging ‘Vity’ with us on weekend trips.

I made a lot of terrible smoothies before I figured out the right combination. So here’s the recipe for my go-to smoothie with more commentary than you’d ever want.

But first, a few important notes that I wish someone had told me! ->

Frozen: I prefer frozen banana and blueberries/strawberries. I break the bananas in half and freeze them at the beginning of the week. We buy bluebs and strawbs in bulk at the farmers market when in season and freeze. Keeping some fruit at room temp is totally fine, but I think it’s better for consistency if at least one fruit is frozen.

Almond Milk Elitist: the key to a great smoothie for me is that I do not use store-bought almond milk. I think it makes the smoothie taste terrible, and it took me awhile to realize that. If I’m feeling ambitious I make homemade almond milk, but more often than not I just use water which to me tastes a million times better than using low-quality almond milk. I think the good quality (aka $10) almond milk at the store is just as good as homemade, but I’ve only tried it once since it’s so expensive and water is a good alternative.

Kale Elitist: We buy 2-3 bunches of kale at the farmers market and wash/de-stem/rip into small piece/put it in a bag for easy use all week. It’s such a pain for me to have to deal with this every morning, but if it’s packed and ready to go I’m happy. Also I think it’s better  than using the pre-cut/washed Trader Joe’s bag since that stuff still has the stem on it and isn’t as fresh.

The Perfect Morning Smoothie Recipe (adapted from this one – when in doubt, check Deliciously Ella – she knows her smoothies!):

– Big handful of kale/spinach (as much you can take – the kale is a little more bitter so spinach is good to combine)

– 1 frozen banana

– 1/2 cup frozen blueberries

– 2 strawberries (optional – only when in season)

– 2 ice cubes

– 1 tablespoon of good almond butter (optional)

– 1/2 – 1 cup of almond milk or water (I start with less and add more if needed)

– 1 tablespoon of chia seeds

– 1 teaspoon spoonful of spirulina

And voila – it is the best. healthy. smoothie. ever. My stomach is grumbling and all I want to do is go home and make one now. Try this and let me know if you have any additions/suggestions. With as many health food blogs as I read, you would think I would have found another great morning smoothie alternative, but I have never made a smoothie I like as much as this one. I’m eager to try – so send me ideas if you have any!

7 month blog hiatus, and goodbye turkey meatballs

I am the worst blogger, and the only reason jdadventure.com stayed afloat is because Dan was so diligent about updating it. I’m going to try to be better, but it’s unlikely that will make a difference without Dan behind the keyboard =) Oh well!

Either way, here I am now with some blog motivation. In non-exciting food news, I’ve full on embraced the San Francisco hippy lifestyle/lost my marbles. First, I became vegetarian (with a little fish). Then I became vegan (with a little eggs, and honey, obviously). And now I’m trying not to eat gluten (because gluten free is the new Soul Cycle). And I cut out refined sugar. Put it all together and in a perfect world I’m vegan, gluten free, with no sugar or coffee. As my mom likes to point out, I’ve become VERY boring. But…I feel great! I’m hoping that if I write this down I’ll remember it in case my lifestyle ever becomes a little more exciting/normal =)

Since it’s not realistic or sustainable for me to be totally 100% all of the above, I’m going with a ‘mostly plants’ lifestyle, eating mostly fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains; plus a small amount of fish and eggs (fish when we go out to eat/go to friends’ houses, and eggs because Dan makes the best eggs ever and I would be lost without them =) ) I have so much more energy and am generally feeling awesome.

The two blogs that have helped me the most on this hippy kool-aid journey are Deliciously Ella and Oh She Glows. They have been amazing resources, with great recipes and ideas – so great that I’ve actually been able to keep this up for almost two months. That is a BIG deal for me. At first I just started thinking I would do this for 30 days, and had a countdown each day until June 14 when I would reach the finish line. But after 30 days there was no turning back – I felt too good.

When I tell people about all this, the main question is, ‘what do you eat??’ So here’s what ‘mostly plants’ look like:

Zoodles with homemade cashew pesto, avocado, and sweet potatoes.

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Yummy salad with roasted radishes, quinoa, and more sweet potatoes.

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The life-changing, energizing mango/cashew smoothie (I make a half recipe, with not too many cashews, and I add spirulina – to this and every smoothie).

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I have a smoothie or juice for breakfast every day, except one day I made quinoa ‘oatmeal’ with peaches and toasted almonds. When it’s foggy and 55 degrees, sometimes a frozen smoothie doesn’t cut it.

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We’ve also discovered some great (and not so great) vegetarian and vegan restaurants. Here I am enjoying some crazy vegan burrito at my new favorite SF restaurant, Judahlicious. Even Dan agreed it was crazy delicious vegan food!

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p.s. that’s not a beer, it’s green tea served in a beer mug. Could I be more lame?

More salad, this time with avocado and balsamic onions and squash.

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And last night’s concoction – roasted tomato soup. I slow roasted the tomatoes for a few hours at 150 degrees, then put them in the Vitamix with some sauteed onions, Rancho Gordo beans + bean broth, a tiny bit of apple cider vinegar, and YUM. Topped with sunflower sprouts and avocado. I was mildly disturbed that this instagram photo received more ‘likes’ within minutes than the photo I had posted earlier that day of my adorable nephew, but what can you do – people love their instafood!

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So…after two months of living on the edge (of insanity) from the comfort of my home, I’m moving on to the next challenge – and taking my insanity on the road. Dan and I are about to travel for over four weeks. I’m not sure how much of this I can keep up four four weeks let alone the first 5-hour flight, but I’m going to try…wish me luck! And lots of kale.

What’s new with you since November?

The Book Report – Chapter 1

If I’m reading a good book, something is right in the world. The first time I traveled abroad by myself I was a junior in college and anxious to be on my own in a country associated with kidnappings and economic crisis. I brought along three memorable books, gifted to me by my 6th grade teacher –  Comfort me with Apples, The Poisonwood Bible, and Life of Pi. This was ten years ago, but I still remember the sense of peace those books gave me as I traveled – and I highly recommend all three.

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Me and kindy, taking a nap after finishing a 5-day trek + ‘Wild.’ These comfy bean bags feel just like the rocks on the Pacific Coast Trail, right Cheryl?

Now I know that good books are the answer to my pre-travel nerves. So when Dan and I left for our three month adventure I obsessed for weeks curating the perfect kindle playlist.

Then…combine days without internet and electricity, long bus rides, layovers, plane rides, and a husband who insists on getting to the airport three hours early….and what do you get??? A LOT of time to read. I read eleven books, and put down quite a few, but here are my favorites from the trip:

1. Wild by Cheryl Strayed. I especially loved this since I read it while (modified) backpacking through Torres del Paine. It brought back so many Camp Thunderbird memories, and how better to entertain Dan on a long hike than with endless girls camp stories? I finished it just as we completed our five day Chilean trek and was so sad that both journeys were over.

2. Under the Shadow of the Banyon Tree – beautiful but heartbreaking story. I was completely engrossed and transported to 1970s Camodia. I had to warn Dan not to interrupt me each time I picked up this book. Also, I cried ~10 times.(Dan also read and loved it!)

3. The Innocents. Wowza. Really intense quick read, and a modern take on ‘The Age of Innocence’ (which I’ve never read). I’m going to try to make my book club read this because it’s the kind of book you immediately want to discuss. I made Dan read this but he didn’t love it as much as I did. Oh well…

4. Cutting for Stone – No words. Except – gorgeous. All-time favorite. Read now.

5. Beautiful Ruins – holy moly, this book got me through seven days on Kilimanjaro with no modern day distractions. Since our Kili group was just me + Dan + our two guides (and ~18 porters…) and we hiked for approx. ten hours per day, AND Dan and I had already had 6 weeks of uninterrupted silence to talk to each other 24/7, we ran out of conversation topics about two minutes into the intense trek. Thank goodness for Beautiful Ruins!! Every night I would read as much as I could, and then on the hike the next day I would relay the entire story to Dan. We were both totally invested in the characters and story. Side note, our guides, who spoke good but limited English, were like, ‘WTF are you guys talking about all day???!!!’ They were so confused. All that to say, this book will always have a special place in my heart. I think I might read it again. It is so, so wonderful, and I like to think it’s a big part of the reason we made it to the summit.

Beyond my beloved trip books, here are the others I have loved recently:

  • Where’d you go Bernadette (obsessed)
  • 11/22/63 by Stephen King (JFK assassination premise – fascinating)
  • Round House (also read this on the trip – different and engrossing)
  • Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (many tears for this beautiful story)
  • The Lost Wife (WWII fiction is hard to read, and sometimes I wonder why I’m doing this to myself, but the stories tug at my heart and I keep coming back to them. This was another good one)

What book recommendations do you have for me? Please – send them along!

Favorite Granola Recipe – Olive Oil Granola

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This is awesome granola. I cannot keep it in the house because it’s too yummy, but it is the  perfect host/hostess/new home/new baby/etc,etc,etc gift.  I dropped off a jar at my parents house and it was gone in one day. My mom emailed me:

OMG- the granola! Where is the recipe from?  

This marked the first time my mom has EVER asked me for a recipe. She usually – and rightfully – thinks my recipes are too healthy/weird/new agey/etc. Until the granola…

The recipe was originally posted here. I’ve pasted it below with just a few notes.

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Olive Oil Granola with Cherries and Pecans

Ingredients:
3 cups rolled old-fashioned oats
1 cup raw pecan halves
3/4 cup sliced, raw almonds
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup sweetened coconut
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup dried cherries (NOT dried cranberries. Most of the time I just leave out the dried fruit to simplify, but tart dried cherries are a great add if you can find.)
3/4 cup maple syrup (I use a little less to make it less sweet, about 1/2 a cup)
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup olive oil (good olive oil, not too sharp)
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cardamom (this is the secret ingredient that leaves everyone asking for the recipe, so don’t skip!)

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 300 F.
2. With the exception of the cherries, mix all the ingredients together in a big bowl and spoon out onto a large, rimmed baking sheet.
3. Bake:
Bake Times:
–Convection Oven: 35-40 minutes, stir every fifteen minutes.
–Standard Oven: 45 minutes, stir every ten minutes so granola doesn’t stick to the sides of the pan and burn.
4. Granola will be done when it’s golden brown and well toasted. Remove from the oven and stir in the dried cherries. Let cool completely.

Makes: 8-9 cups

Who can say where the road goes

Working at YouTube, I watch a lot of YouTube videos. And there are always a few each week that make me think…MUST.SHARE.NOW. I’m usually (err, always) about a month/year late, but today I’m only a few days late, so I’m jumping on the Volvo bandwagon and telling you – for the love of Enya, please watch this video NOW (preferably in a quiet place, with good sound/headphones):

Sing it with me….

This guy DEF knows where the road goes.

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I’ll be singing this alone at my desk all day long.

Best Anniversary Ever @ State Bird Provisions

Dan and I agreed we had the best anniversary celebration ever, and Dan is already nervous that we won’t be able to top it. We’ve learned from our past mistakes to a) avoid restaurants that are too fancy and that b) although everyone else in the world seems to love Circue de Soleil, I do not get it and therefore it’s NOT a good idea to get front row seats as an anniversary surprise.

So for our one-year wedding anniversary we decided to do a not-too-fancy fun dinner, and got a reservation at the hardest restaurant in SF to get reservations to AKA State Bird Provisions. Thank you to my amazing coworker who surprised us with the rez. Of course, this meant eating at 5:30pm – perfection. We were set up for success.20131028_173321

I was worried that the restaurant would be totally over-hyped, so we went in preparing to feel underwhelmed – but were not at all. It’s hard to describe, but the dinner was a really fun experience. We had a blast. When we arrived at the restaurant a little before 5:30pm, there were over 30 people waiting in line for walk-ins. On a Monday night! At 5:30pm on the dot, the doors were open, and Dan and I were the first ones in. There was music playing and all of the waiters were smiley, there was great energy, and as we walked in with all of the excited waiters looking at us it totally felt 1% reminiscent of walking into our wedding reception.

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In addition to a standard menu, the restaurant is known for its ‘untraditional’ dim sum carts pushed or carried by wait staff from table to table.

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Our favorite dim sum picks were lobster salad, hamachi on a seaweed cracker, and a roasted cauliflower dish; menu favorites were the famous state bird and the amazing ‘everything’ pancake (described by our waitress as kind of like an ‘everything’ bagel) with horse radish, beets, and smoked sturgeon. We also had some delicious ‘chocolate birdseed’ that was sweetly presented with a candle to celebrate.

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Everything was so YUM. I cannot wait to go back…if we can ever get a reservation again. Thank you, State Bird Provisions!!!! (or Saper Provisions, as Dan now likes to call it).

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On our walk back to the car after dinner we passed Kabuki theater where the 7:15pm Gravity in 3D showing had just started (perks of an early dinner) and bought some last minute tickets. We haven’t been to a movie in ages so this was super fun and I was so inspired by Sandra Bullock’s performance that I put on my own performance when we got home.

You had to be there, but I will tell you we have never laughed so hard. Happy best anniversary ever to my hubs.

Gwenyth’s Turkey Meatballs

These meatballs were half the reason I purchased Gwenyth’s cookbook (other half = her smoothie recipes; bonus half = maybe if I cook like her, I will turn into her….)  Dan loves meatballs and would probably eat them every night of the week. When I lived around the corner from BiRite grocery he became obsessed with their turkey meatballs from the deli counter. About one hundred $8 meatballs later, I figured it was time to try making these at home.

I blended all of the herbs in my fancy new cuisinart. Wedding gift in action.

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After pan-frying the meatballs, I cooked half the batch in a homemade tomato sauce and the other half in the oven – the tomato sauce meatballs were much better, but the oven ones were delicious later in the week/perfect for Dan’s lunch; though a little dry right out of the oven.

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I did not make Gwenyth’s tomato sauce, so can’t vouch for that. My new go-to tomato sauce recipe is this olive oil version of Marcela Hazan’s recipe. I made it with fresh tomatoes, blanched, skin removed, and pureed in Vitamix. Try it. Sooo good and sooo easy. I’m sure original recipe is great too, but wanted to try without the crazy amount of butter.

Served with arugula salad and brown rice (Gwenyth totally would have skipped the rice, don’t tell her). Such a good Sunday night dinner.

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Go make these now!! I don’t know what the deal is with directly posting recipes, and would hate to infringe on GP’s copyright protection – but someone else posted it here.