Iced Chai A-Brewin'

This Is How You Do Iced Chai

Why do most sites make it sound like creating a homemade iced chai latte is such a pain in the arse?

It’s not. Typing out these steps is more of a pita than actually making the tea.

Step 1: Grab a quart sized Ball jar (or a pitcher-type vessel of your choice).

Step 2: Boil 4 cups of water. (I use my beloved electric kettle).

Step 3: Add 2 chai tea bags to your jar or container (3 if you like it really strong – but since this will steep for at least a couple hours, 2 bags is really plenty).

Step 4: Pour hot water into container.

Step 5: Cool on the counter for a while, then stick the container in the fridge until it’s cold. (If you’re brave, I suppose you could stick it straight into the fridge. I should probably consult mythbusters, but I have a fear of making everything else in the fridge warm by putting something hot in there…. but I hear that today’s refrigerators are badass and can handle it, so… deviate from the pre-cooling at your own risk, or go ahead and disregard my paranoia. Up to you!).

Step 6: Pour a cold glass of chai! Leave some room for a splash of your favorite milk/cream product, and sweeten as desired. Add ice if you’re feeling frisky. I drink mine too quickly to bother with ice.

I imagine this would work great with any kind of tea you’d like to serve cold. Sure, you have to think ahead in order to cool it, but the joy is that you don’t have to brew it super-strong to account for immediate ice cooling. You’re not using twice as much tea for one drink. I always keep a couple jars in the fridge.

I’ve also used loose leaf teas with my little hanging tea-ball for this.

So good! Cheers!

Iced Chai A-Brewin'

Iced Chai A-Brewin’

Lite Brite

What’s That, Johnny Appleseed?

Today’s lesson includes a trip down Cyanide Lane and concludes with a tasty smoothie concoction!

We’ve all heard that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Turns out, there’s something to that. WebMD lists medical uses of apples that include prevention of cancers (particularly lung cancer), treatment of cancer, diabetes, and heart problems, and more. Say what?!

I’ve tried for years to get myself to eat more apples. I like apples. I’m just not a big fan of eating apples. I’ve wasted countless bags of red delicious, golden delicious, granny smith, gala, and local varieties as they’ve gone bad before I could finish them. I successfully finished my first full bag of apples recently, thanks to my Breville Juice Fountain Plus. With my new toy in town (the Vitamix 5200!), I’m hoping to keep the apple streak alive.

The store demo of the Vitamix used a whole apple, but when it came time to make my own smoothies, I couldn’t help thinking there was something wrong with eating the apple seeds. Of course, initial Google searches would have me believe that I’ll die a slow, painful death if I even think about eating an apple seed. There is, however, some truth to the notion.

Apple seeds contain amygdaline, a cyanide and sugar compound that, when digested, forms hydrogen cyanide [source, source]. Consumed in small quantities, the body can detoxify the cyanide and it poses little to no risk. In larger quantities, though, it is lethal (just like in the old murder mysteries). Stories about tell tales that even a cup of apple seeds can kill a man. (Considering there are 4-6 seeds per apple, it would take a LOT of apples to kill a man!). Still, the risk is even higher if the seeds are chewed orĀ pulverizedĀ (like the Vitamix would do!) rather than swallowed whole, as whole seeds are generally passed without being broken down – and the cyanide compound is inside the seed, beneath its hard shell.

As likely as it is that the seeds from an apple a day would not kill me, I’m not a big fan of the idea of ingesting toxins just because my body can and likely will detoxify them. It’s the same reason I prefer organics over conventional produce. While pesticides on produce won’t likely kill me in small quantities, I don’t see the point of making my body work to detoxify the chemicals in pesticides when I don’t have to. The work the body does to detoxify all of these chemicals in the foods we eat and the air we breathe increases inflammation, and chronic inflammation can aggravate the immune system. Studies are beginning to show that inflammation is one of the biggest contributors to a number of diseases, including cardiovascular disease [source].

So, why eat apple seeds if I don’t have to? I’ll leave the gambling to the poker table and keep it off my kitchen table.

That is why I slice my apples and remove the seeds before throwing them into the Vitamix.

But nevermind the cyanide and killer toxins – we’ve got a smoothie to devour!

I call this one the “Lite Brite PB Smoothie” because it turns out a less-than-scary bright shade of green and tastes sweet and peanut buttery but not heavy. Put light and bright together, and you have the awesome light-coloring toy of my youth:

Lite Brite

Lite Brite – Source

Once upon a time, a band called the Dyslexic Apaches put a Lite Brite on stage at one of their shows to wish me a happy birthday. It’s one of my top 10 memories of all times.

I digress…

This is a delicious smoothie and packs a great nutritional punch for breakfast or a midday snack! The entire recipe clocks in at 462 calories (one large serving), or can be split into two 8-oz servings for 231 calories each. (Full nutrition info follows the recipe). You can substitute peanut butter for the PB2 powdered peanut butter, but that will increase the calories and fat content.

Let’s get to blending!

PB Lite Brite Green Smoothie

by Shelly Hokanson

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 0 minutes

Keywords: blender beverage breakfast vegetarian vegan gluten-free kale pb2 zucchini apple

Ingredients (1-2 servings)

  • 1 small apple, seeded
  • 1 banana, peeled
  • 2 dates, pitted
  • 1 large handful kale leaves
  • 1/4 of one zucchini, ends removed
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy milk (soymilk, almond milk, coconut milk, etc)
  • 2 tbsp PB2 powdered peanut butter
  • 2 tsp spirulina or barley grass juice powder, optional
  • 1 cup ice


Blend in a high powered blender or Vitamix for 45 seconds. Enjoy!

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Lite Brite PB Smoothie Nutrition

Lite Brite PB Smoothie Nutrition

Peanut Butter Green Smoothie

Peanut Butter Cups for Breakfast?!

Peanut butter cups for breakfast?!

Well, not quite – but it sure tastes like it!

I’m having a blast over here with my new Vitamix. It is the most amazing and awesome thing in my kitchen – maybe in my whole house! (It has a little competition from my 64″ Samsung plasma TV, but not much! That’s how awesome it is!)

I really think the best part is how easy clean-up is. It basically cleans itself, so I don’t feel any sort of dread at the thought of using it multiple times per day.

This morning, I concocted a smoothie that tastes like drinking peanut butter cups (and finally found a use for the 4 jars of PB2 I’ve got sitting in the pantry!) PB2 is powdered peanut butter by Bell Plantation. The ingredient list is simple: roasted peanuts, sugar, and salt. (Don’t be fooled, though – there’s very little sugar and salt, and I find I usually need a little bit more to make it taste like traditional peanut butter). It’s preservative free, contains nothing artificial, and has 85% less fat and calories than traditional peanut butter. I knew I’d figure out a way to use this stuff (since I love peanut butter but have a tendency to overdo it, which is not so good for the waistline).

With no added protein powders or anything of the sort, this smoothie packs 22g of protein! Most of the fat comes from the avocado (healthy fats!), and you’re rocking out some vitamins A, C, calcium, and iron. Great start to the day! 511 calories if you drink the whole thing (a large serving), or 255 if you share it with a friend.

Behold, the Peanut Butter Blaster Green Smoothie:

Peanut Butter Blaster Green Smoothie

by Shelly Hokanson

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Keywords: blender beverage smoothie vegetarian vegan pb2 spinach carrot avocado

Ingredients (1-2 servings)

  • 1 1/2 cups vanilla non-dairy milk (soy, almond, rice, hemp, etc)
  • 1 tbsp cocoa
  • 2 tbsp powdered peanut putter (such as PB2 by Bell Plantation)
  • pinch salt
  • 1 tsp spirulina (optional)
  • 1 tbsp agave nectar
  • 1 banana
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 large handful spinach
  • 1/2 avocado (peeled, pit removed)
  • 1 cup ice


Using a high-powered blender, blend on high for approximately 1 minute.

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PB Blaster Green Smoothie Nutrition

PB Blaster Green Smoothie Nutrition

Grilling red peppers and onions

Since last we spoke…

Since last we spoke, I haven’t spent much time in the kitchen (mainly due to traveling). I have some big kitchen news to share! But first, a new cookbook.

I picked up “Chloe’s Kitchen: 125 Easy, Delicious Recipes for Making the Food You Love the Vegan Way” – you know, the cookbook by the vegan baker that won Cupcake Wars a couple years back (beating out those non-vegan cupcakes… take that!). The first recipe I tried was Stuffed Shells with Arrabiata Sauce.

Destroying my kitchen by stuffing shells.

Destroying my kitchen by stuffing shells.

I’ve attempted vegan stuffed shells before, early in my veg days. I had used a recipe from Skinny Bitch and… well… they were less than stellar. Bland, and nothing like the rich flavors I was used to in cheesy versions. Chloe’s recipe looked good, though, so I gave it a day in court.

Vegan Stuffed Shells with Arrabiata Sauce

Vegan Stuffed Shells with Arrabiata Sauce

The result: arguably one of the best stuffed shells I’ve ever had, vegan or not. (That’s Daiya vegan mozz on top). I’m looking forward to trying more of Chloe’s dishes!

Let’s see… what else have I been nom’ing? I made up a little Mexi-melt thing after watching an episode of Rachel Ray. It wasn’t stellar, but I did discover that grilling veggie kabobs on the Griddler is pretty sweet.

Grilling red peppers and onions

Grilling red peppers and onions

I used those red peppers and onions to make the salsa that went inside the tortilla layers (along with some chickpeas and Daiya cheddar).

Layered Salsa Chickpea Thing

Layered Salsa Chickpea Thing

Not a total fail, but… meh. The salsa would’ve been better with chips.

Now, here’s where it starts getting interesting. First of all, welcome the latest addition to my kitchen:

Vitamix 5200

Vitamix 5200

Yes!! At long last, I own a Vitamix! I got the 5200 model plus the dry blade container add-on. If you can find it at your local Costco, they are the cheapest place to get a new Vitamix (according to the rep I talked to). I’m so excited. This thing is amazing!! The Vitamix Road Show was going on at my Costco this week, so I got to see all kinds of demos and try all kinds of recipes. I had seen videos of this beast in action, but never saw it live in person. All I can say is – wow. This machine is amazing. It’s highly likely that my blender, juicer, and food processor will be going the way of the appliance graveyard. The texture of smoothies can’t even compare to a regular blender – and I was convinced my regular blender did just fine! The sorbets this thing makes are so easy and so good! I tried a lemon spinach sorbet yesterday that was amazing – tasted like lemon, but had a ton of whole spinach in it. It can even make soup and knead dough for bread!

The first task I bestowed upon my beloved Vitamix was to create a miso dressing. This past weekend, I ate at this wonderful organic cafe in Salem, MA called Life Alive. I wish one of these would open up in Hburg! I had a great little bowl called The Emperor: “Our velvety Miso Sauce, smothering cheddar cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, dark greens, shredded carrots, sweet corn, & tofu all over brown rice.” I decided to try to recreate it at home.

I came up with a miso sauce that seems pretty spot-on (and might just become my salad-dressing-of-the-week), and whipped it up in the Vitamix:

Miso Sauce/Dressing

by Shelly Hokanson

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Keywords: blender chill salad vegetarian miso

Ingredients (3 cups scant)

  • 1 cup mellow white miso paste
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar


Place all ingredients into a blender. Blend until smooth. Transfer the dressing to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use, up to 2 weeks.

This makes a great sauce over salads, veggies, and rice bowls! Substitute agave for honey if you’d like a vegan version.

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Then, I used the Vitamix to shred some carrots for me. I steamed up a block of tofu and some kale, then dumped in a can of corn and mixed everything together. I served it over a bed of brown rice and quinoa, and…

My Emperor Knock-Off, Inspired by Life Alive!

My Emperor Knock-Off, Inspired by Life Alive!

It was fantastic!

The other bit of joy in using the Vitamix is the ease of clean-up. It really does clean itself! I might have a little more of a challenge when I try making bread dough in it. I’ll be sure to report back.

So far, I’m absolutely thrilled with the Vitamix. It took 3 years of hemming and hawing to finally drop down the (fairly significant) chunk of change to buy one, but I’m pretty sure I will spend years kicking myself for not doing it sooner.

Next stop: the food co-op, to get some wheat berries so I can grind my own flour and make some bread in the Vitamix!

Green Onion Miso Vinaigrette

In my eternal quest for awesome homemade salad dressings, I whipped up a batch of Green Onion Miso Vinaigrette, courtesy of my fave veg chef, Isa Chandra Moskowitz. This one comes from her Appetite for Reduction cookbook.

It’s a tangy, toasty dressing that tastes a bit heavier than a standard vinaigrette, but in a good way. My ranch-obsessed brain thinks it would be even better jazzed into a creamy dressing of some sort. I’ll get to work on that.

Green Onion Miso Vinaigrette

Green Onion Miso Vinaigrette

Lucky for you, the recipe is available via Google’s book preview:

Appetite for Reduction – page 21 – Green Onion Miso Vinaigrette


Breakfast Kickstart Juice

What is sweet and fruity with a boost of super greens? Breakfast kickstart juice!

Morning Kickstart in a Glass

Morning Kickstart in a Glass

This has become my favorite morning juice, sometimes replacing breakfast altogether. Tasty!

Breakfast Kickstart Juice

by Shelly Hokanson

Prep Time: 3 minutes

Cook Time: 2 minutes

Keywords: juice beverage smoothie vegetarian vegan kale carrot cabbage pineapple

Ingredients (1 16oz serving or 2 8oz servin)

  • 1/4 of one pineapple
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 Golden Delicious or Royal Gala apples
  • 1 big handful of kale
  • 1 chunk of cabbage (approx 2″ x 2″)



If your juicer is small, cut all ingredients into pieces that will fit into the chute of your juicer. Most juicers can handle unpeeled pineapple, so there’s no need to peel it first.


Place one apple into the juicer shoot, then the kale, then the second apple. Turn the juicer on and push all food through the shoot.

Then, juice the pineapple, carrots, and cabbage.

Stir and serve over ice.

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Oh, Nuts

Ahh, the aroma of nuts roasting and maple syrup dancing a drizzly dance into every nutty nook and cranny…. that’s how I’ve always imagined making nut butter to be. I love nut butter. Peanut butter? Yum. Almond butter? Oh yeah. Sunflower butter? Sure. (OK, that’s not really a nut butter, but you get the drift). Around this time last year, I was enjoying a new batch of nut butters made by a couple of college kids from Oregon that started their own nut butter business – Wild Squirrel Nut Butter. I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of making my own nut butters.

When posted this Kitchen Sink Nut Butter recipe, I scanned my mental rolodex of pantry shelves and thought, “Hey! I’ve got all this stuff! It’s about time I took a crack at this!” I decided to try my hand at a small batch of homemade nut butter.

Alas, after changing into my cooking pajamas (yes, I have cooking pajamas), I discovered that actually, I did not have almonds on hand. (Blasphemy!) Too lazy to change back into real clothes, I made do with what I had: walnuts, pecans, cashews, and sunflower seeds.

The result:

Kitchen Sink Nut Butter

Kitchen Sink Nut Butter

I must say, considering my fairly horrendous ingredient substitutions, this actually turned out really tasty! I’ve eaten it smeared on apple chunks, and with a banana, and in this smoothie:

Soymilk, banana, and Kitchen Sink nut butter smoothie

Soymilk, banana, and Kitchen Sink nut butter smoothie

My friends: the smoothie was as delicious as it looks. A swirl of chocolate syrup and I might have died and gone to heaven.

I will definitely be making more nut butters at home. I love knowing exactly what’s in it, with no extra chemicals or junk. But now, I must dig out my sleeping pajamas and hit the hay. Finals week starts early tomorrow….

My Fave Soup

Why is it that the best soups always seem to be a pain in the arse to make? Not so in this case, cowboy!

(Cowboy? What?)

This soup has nothing to do with cowboys. It’s hearty enough for a cowboy, though.

Really. I’m not kidding. Yes, it’s a veggie soup. Yes, it’s hearty. Bonus: it’s vegan! And it is incredibly easy to make.

First up: saute some garlic and leeks and/or onions in a little olive oil.

Saute garlic and leeks/onions.

Next, add broccoli, rolled oats (the original kind, not the instant kind), soy milk, and dill. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes.

Broccoli soup in progress

Add salt and pepper to taste, then puree with an immersion blender. Voila!

Creamy Broccoli Soup

So filling. So good.

This recipe works great with asparagus, too. I suspect it would be great with any soup-happy vegetable. If you don’t have an immersion blender, a food processor or blender works too – just let the soup cool a bit before you process it, and make sure to have the steam vent open while blending.

Enjoy a soup-er meal!

Creamy Broccoli Soup (Vegan)

by Shelly

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients (4 servings)

  • 1 leek, chopped and 1 small onion, chopped
  • OR
  • 3 leeks, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 6 cups broccoli (frozen or fresh)
  • 4 cups unsweetened soy milk
  • 1/2 tsp dried dill
  • salt and pepper, to taste


1. Saute garlic and onions and/or leeks over medium heat in olive oil until soft, about 3 minutes.

2. Add broccoli, soy milk, oats, and dill. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until broccoli is soft, about 10 minutes.

3. Puree with an immersion blender.

4. Add salt and pepper, to taste.

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Looks Aren’t Everything

We’ve all heard that research shows when food looks and smells good, it is perceived to taste better. If I were trying to sell the idea of juicing on looks alone, this would not be my frontrunner candidate:

Looks aren't everything.

Looks aren't everything.

3 apples, a carrot, a bunch of kale – juiced – and 6 small frozen strawberries, blended in.

It was pretty tasty, though!

What can I say? I’ve reached the bottom of my produce stash. Gotta get to the store!

Yesterday ended up being only a half-juice day. I had forgotten about a celebratory dinner that followed my last meeting with the Arboretum Collaborative fellowship group. It was a fully vegetarian, all-local spread that was just amazing.

Local spread

Local spread

So, for dinner, I had a giant salad made with local arugula and pickled onions with an amazing local apple cider vinaigrette (which I must figure out how to replicate!), an asparagus and smoked gouda quiche made with local Piney River Farm eggs, local potato salad with roasted garlic mayo, and a vanilla bean creme caramel with local peach cider caramel.

I know, right?!

That surely makes up for the ugly (but tasty!) juice I had this morning.

Off to the market to stock up on produce!

Finals Week

Some people think teachers live the easy life – summers off, long holiday breaks, and endless bonbons. I can’t lie – it’s a pretty good gig – but the one aspect of teaching that I have yet to adapt to is the on-again/off-again pace. We go mach-2 with our hair on fire for months on end, then suddenly – nada. Complete inertia. It’s a rather jarring transition – one which I have yet to experience smoothly.

I’m currently in the tail end of a mach-2 phase. We just finished up regular classes. Next week is Finals Week. Besides the glare of the looming freight train of final grading, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Until I reach the end of said tunnel, though, dinners will be quick and easy and likely very repetitive.

Cue: scrambled eggs with Field Roast Apple Sage veggie sausage and feta, with a side of toast and cherry jam.

Dinner, sans glamour.

Dinner, sans glamour.

Here’s to breakfast for dinner!