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

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!