The Nutty Nana Green Smoothie

The Nutty Nana

As I was making my breakfast smoothie this morning, I was craving peanut butter and bananas. I tend to go on a throw-in fest when it comes to my breakfast smoothies, as it seems like such an opportune time to cram some nutrition into my body. But today, I stuck to my inspiration, and The Nutty Nana was born.

The Nutty Nana Green Smoothie

The Nutty Nana Green Smoothie

The Nutty Nana Smoothie

by Shelly

Prep Time: 5 mins

Ingredients (1-2 servings)

  • 1 C non-dairy milk (such as almond milk, hemp milk, coconut milk, or soymilk)
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 5 strawberries, hulled
  • 1/4 C mixed nuts
  • 2 Tbsp peanut butter or powdered peanut butter (such as PB2)
  • 2 Tbsp hemp protein powder or other unflavored protein powder
  • 2 C fresh baby spinach
  • 2 Tsp green powder (such as Veggie Magma), optional
  • 4 ice cubes


Add all ingredients to a high-powered blender (such as the Vitamix) and blend on high for 30 seconds.

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Organic Red Chard

Nuts Over My Chard

Is it weird to drink a new veggie before ever eating it?

I tried out a beautiful leaf of organic red chard today. I’ve never eaten chard before, but at the time of this photo, I was about to drink it!

Organic Red Chard

Organic Red Chard, about to go into the Vitamix

This turned out to be an excellent smoothie! It was light and nutty and didn’t taste green at all. I don’t mind green-tasting smoothies, but I’m also glad to whip up a few concoctions that don’t taste green. It didn’t look green, either.

Nutty Chard Green Smoothie

Nutty Chard Green Smoothie (that doesn’t look green)

The one big leaf equals a little over 1 cup of greens, which is about what I use in my single servings. It worked out well!

This makes about 1 quart total – 432 calories in one large serving, or 216 if you split it with a friend. You can swap the nuts for any variety you like – I’ve used walnuts, cashews, and even 1 scoop of PB2 in place of the nuts. It’s delicious every which way. (Different nuts or PB2 will affect the nutrition content – this info was generated based on walnuts). Full nutrition info follows the recipe.


Nutty Chard Green Smoothie

by Shelly Hokanson

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 0 minutes

Ingredients (1-2 servings)

  • 1 cup vanilla soymilk or other non-dairy milk
  • 1 leaf swiss chard (approximately 1 cup, packed)
  • 3 slices pineapple, round
  • 5 medium strawberries, hulled
  • 1/4 cup walnuts or other nuts
  • 3 inch hunk of cucumber, peeled (about 1/4 of a medium cucumber)
  • 4-5 ice cubes


Blend in a high powered blender or Vitamix until smooth, approximately 45 seconds.

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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!

Green Lemonade Carrot Juice

Green Lemonade

Juice attempt #2! Green lemonade.

Ingredients for Juice #2

Ingredients for Juice #2

Lemon, celery, carrots, kale, cucumber, strawberries, and spinach.

OK, so I modified the original recipe. I added the strawberries and the carrots… I mean, strawberry lemonade sounds awesome, right? And, well, carrots go with everything.

Party Juice

Party Juice

The juice bucket always looks like a party to me!

Green Lemonade Carrot Juice

Green Lemonade Carrot Juice

I probably shouldn’t have added the carrots (it is my instinct to add carrots to just about everything); I suspect it killed the “lemonade” aspect of the recipe (and made the “green” in the name inaccurate).

Still, this juice was pretty good. I haven’t nailed the recipe yet, but I’ll get there! This one was much more immediately palatable than the beet juice. It tastes like a breakfast-y juice.

I’ve been storing my juices in Ball jars in the fridge. I figure, each will be consumed within a day or two, so it’s all good. Shake it up, then drink up!

I’ve got some oranges, plums, fennel, cabbage, and pears to find recipes for. Need to make room!

Raspberry Freezer Jam

First Shot at Freezer Jam

Freezer jam, baby!

I’d never heard of freezer jam before Lifehacker mentioned it last week, but now that I’ve been enlightened, I can’t believe I’ve spent my life in the dark! Here’s the article linked from Lifehacker on How to Make No-Cook Freezer Jam.

Since I started the whole organic/whole-foods thing last year, I’ve tried a lot of new things in the kitchen (like, turning on the oven). I’ve always loved the idea of making cute little jars of stuff to give as gifts – jams, nut butters, etc. I’ve had grand intentions to try making some of these things.

This afternoon, when I realized the farmer’s market would be open for a mere 30 minutes more, I jumped in the Jeep and flew over there hoping to restock my fruit supplies. I made it – and one of my favorite dear farmers had some terribly beat up raspberries. “They were just picked this morning, but they didn’t survive the ride up here very well.” (He comes up from central Illinois). No worries, sir! I’ll take some of those raspberries off your hands.

What’s the time….? It’s jam time!

So what the heck is freezer jam? It’s an easy-to-make, no-cook jam that can be stored in the fridge for 2-4 weeks, or in the freezer up to a year. It’s not shelf-stable, so it has to be kept frozen for long-term storage, but hey. That’s no problem! Just don’t ever leave freezer jam out at room temperature. It will spoil.

The basic instructions: get yourself some Ball canning jars (I went with the small 8 oz. ones). The ones with straight sides are least likely to crack in the freezer, though they do make (ugly) plastic freezer-safe ones. I’ll take my chances! Grab a box of instant pectin (Ball also makes this – and I was able to buy both at Walmart). There are several varieties of pectin, but some require cooking/boiling. The instant kind doesn’t require cooking. Get yourself some fruit and your sweetener of choice, and have at it!

There’s an awesome recipe calculator (they call it a “pectin calculator”) on the web site listed on the Ball package – For most cases, it goes something like this:

  • 1 2/3 cups crushed fruit
  • 2 Tbsp instant pectin
  • 2/3 cup sugar (or equivalent other sweetener by sweetness, not by volume)

Now, I had a heck of a hard time figuring out how much un-crushed fruit equaled 1 2/3 cups crushed fruit. Plus, I was pureeing my fruit, so I’m sure the 1 2/3 recommendation was too much for pureed fruit. I went with 2 cups un-crushed fruit. Some tips I found: A quart of strawberries makes approximately 1 1/2 to 2 cups of crushed strawberries. 1 pound of fruit without pits equals 2 cups crushed fruit, or 1 1/2 pounds of fruit with pits equals 2 cups crushed fruit.

Here’s the recipe I used:

  • 2 cups un-crushed fruit
  • 2 Tbsp instant pectin
  • 1/3 cup agave nectar

It made two 8-oz jars per recipe. (So, I ended up with 2 jars of raspberry jam and 2 jars of strawberry jam).

Ball Instant Pectin & Agave Nectar

Ball Instant Pectin & Agave Nectar

Mix the agave and pectin in a bowl and stir well. Be sure to dissolve any clumps.

Pectin and agave nectar

Pectin and agave nectar

For round 1, I used raspberries.

Raspberries in the food processor

Raspberries in the food processor

For round 2, I used strawberries.

Strawberries in the food processor

Strawberries in the food processor

Pour 2 cups of fruit into the food processor and process until smooth.

Pureed Raspberries

Pureed Raspberries

Add the pectin/agave mixture to the food processor and whir for 30 seconds or so until everything is well combined.

Pour the mixture into Ball jars. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes to firm up.

Raspberry Freezer Jam

Raspberry Freezer Jam

Store in the fridge for 2-4 weeks if you’ll be enjoying your jam immediately, or in the freezer for storage up to a year.

Jar of freezer jam

Jar of freezer jam

I sampled a spoonful of each and I gotta say – it was mighty tasty! Kind of like eating a spoonful of fresh fruit!

Now, I don’t like chunky jams, so that’s why I went the food processor route. You could just as easily crush the fruit with a potato masher and have a more chunky jam. Whatever blows your hair back. I also don’t have much of a sweet tooth, so I cut back the sweetener a little bit. Feel free to use more, to taste. I will report back on how well my fruit and sweetener ratios held up when I eat more of this.

This was so easy and fun to make that I feel like I’ll never go through another long, cold winter without the taste of peak-season ripe fruit! So exciting!

Chelsea Waffle with Cashew Cream from Vegan Brunch

Waffle Maker FTW!

Fat, fluffy, crispy, luscious wafflicious goodness.

Chelsea Waffle with Cashew Cream from Vegan Brunch

Chelsea Waffle with Cashew Cream

I’ve never made a waffle in my life. Breakfast is my favorite meal, and I’ve made pancakes many times (I’m not very good at it), but never waffles. Considering how much I enjoy pancakes, and how rarely I make them due to the hassle and my lackluster flapjack flipping skills, it finally hit me that a waffle maker might just solve this dilemma.

I picked up this Proctor Silex Morning Baker Belgian waffle maker on Amazon. $26. Cheap. Good reviews. Sounds good to me!

LOVE it. Love it love it love it. The thing is foolproof. Perfect waffles on my first try, and virtually no clean-up. Now, THAT’S my kind of appliance!

My inaugural waffle recipe came from – guess who – my favorite vegan chef, Isa Chandra Moskowitz. I used the Old Fashioned Chelsea Waffles recipe from Vegan Brunch, with whole wheat flour and maple syrup instead of barley malt syrup.

Topped with Sweet Cashew Cream (also from Vegan Brunch) – oh, the joy of that sweet scent of vanilla wafting around these waffles….

The recipes were a win. The waffle maker was a win. I’ve got so much winning going on – just call me Charlie Sheen! Or not. That man has a few issues.

4 corners oatmeal

Four Corners Oatmeal

How do you jazz up a gloomy, blustery day – one that comes on the tail of the first 70 degree day of the year?

With a fantastic bowl of oatmeal!

4 corners oatmeal

4 corners oatmeal

Four corners oatmeal, even!

Kiwi, raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries, topped with Justin’s maple almond butter on a bed of whipped banana oatmeal. (I make my oatmeal based on Kath’s oatmeal). I swear there’s actually some oatmeal under there!

It’s supposed to warm back up into the 50’s tomorrow here in Chicago. What’s your go-to breakfast on a cold, blustery day?

Have a great one, everybody!

double decker french toast

Double Decker French Toast

This, my friends, is a vegan recipe that I declare is better than the “original” – and this is no April Fool’s joke!

Double Decker French Toast Plate

Double Decker French Toast Plate

The Magic Brown Truck Fairy stopped by yesterday and dropped off a new cookbook – Vegan Yum Yum. I’m a fan of the blog, and finally decided to break down and get the book. As I poured through it last night before bed, I had visions of wonderful breakfasts dancing in my head.

I had some surprise good news on the scale this morning – I’ve officially lost 100 pounds since December 2009 – so I had even more reason to make a special breakfast today!

It was a bit of an adventure making this French toast; it was my first time cooking with a cast iron skillet. Needless to say, my first few pieces weren’t pretty! (That won’t stop me from eating them!) I got better at the timing and the flipping as I went along, but it’s still probably a good thing that the French toast is mostly hidden by fruit.

My only complaint about Vegan Yum Yum is that some of the recipes have a lot of things that I try to eat only in moderation – margarine (i.e. Earth Balance), all-purpose flour, etc. So I decided to try to health-up the Stuffed Banana Berry French Toast recipe, and dare I say, it turned out wonderfully!

My modifications from the original recipe were to use almond milk instead of soy milk, agave instead of sugar, half whole wheat flour/half all-purpose flour instead of all all-purpose flour, and to add some ground flax seed. I also used nonstick cooking spray instead of margarine to grease the skillet.

It rolls in around 427 calories (you could lay off the fruit some to drop that number, but this is pretty much my standard breakfast, in the 400-600 calorie range).

One last note: if you’re still soaking your pancakes, waffles, and French toast in fake maple syrup (I’m lookin’ at you, Aunt Jemima!), for the love of whatever you love, stop it! Get yourself a bottle of real, 100% pure maple syrup. It tastes ridiculously better, and is – must I say it – real food, instead of a bottle full of chemicals. And you won’t need to drown your poor breakfast to enjoy it. Just a drizzle will do, because it’s so naturally sweet!

Double Decker French Toast Nutrition

[recipe-show recipe=”double-decker-french-toast”]

Purple Smoothie!

This morning’s smoothie concoction was PURPLE thanks to strawberries and blueberries!

purple smoothie

Tip: stick to 1/2 cucumber. I tried a whole cucumber in the smoothie today (along with 2 carrots, 3 strawberries, and a handful of Blender - purple smoothieblueberries, plus vanilla soy milk and vanilla protein powder), and I could taste the cucumber. Good thing I like cucumbers!

Have a great day, everybody!

Cool Pink Smoothie

In my quest to discover, “Will it blend?” I made up a new smoothie concoction tonight. I call it: the Cool Pink Smoothie.

I suppose it could be called a “green” smoothie, if by “green” you mean, it contains vegetables (or, 2 culinary vegetables but 1 botanical vegetable and 1 botanical fruit). That whole fruit-or-vegetable thing will confound me for life. But anyway….

It’s a delicious, cool, crisp drink full of strawberry vanilla goodness!

As I tossed everything (including 2 carrots, half a cucumber, and 5 strawberries) in the blender, I thought to myself, “That looks wonderful!” I should have run to grab my camera but I was too excited to mix it all up.


Carrot Cucumber Smoothie

The verdict: delish! Absolutely wonderful!

[recipe-show recipe=cool-pink-smoothie]