On the Road Again {Green Smoothie Mason Jars!}

Not on the road this week, but I’ve been on the road a lot this past year. Business building, parents’ hospitalizations, family trips. Traveling is fun (most of the time), but not always the best for healthy eating. In addition, the added stress of traveling (even when it is fun, but especially when it’s for concerns of loved ones,) means we need to be extra vigilant in nourishing our bodies well.

green smoothie to goAs always, Green Smoothies are my go-to! They are a quick, easy, healthy, nutrient packed meal or snack that can be made in a minute when you’re on the go. However, bags of several frozen fruits (that won’t stay frozen) or even many bags of a variety of fresh fruits are difficult on a trip. (I take plenty to snack on, but adding a lot more for daily green smoothies gets to be too much.) I also want to take a little time as possible prepping food while I am traveling. Pre-prepping works out better. Grab and go is the way to roll on the road–OK, maybe at home too!

nutribulletproSo first thing I did was get a good travel-friendly but powerful blender to take on the road. My family doesn’t like being without the BlendTec at home while I’m gone. My research led me to get the NutriBullet Pro 900 for travel. Powerful and large blending jar (yeah I only use the BIG one), but sleek design and size–and its handy travel bag ^^–make it a great travel partner.

Next, on to the smoothies themselves. I’ve been a Mason Jar Junkie since way before it was cool to be one. I love Mason Jars of all shapes, sizes, and even colors! I  that I can use them for my Smoothies–for more than just drinking them. Gather those jars!

freezer smoothie jarHere’s the trick. I freeze my smoothie ingredients in single servingjars. All the ingredients for each smoothie together in a jar. Well mostly. Because even quart size jars are not large enough to hold all the greens I put in, along with the other ingredients, I take my greens separately, not frozen, usually in the large box or bag they come in. Each day’s other ingredients (besides liquid) are put into mason jars, 1 per smoothie, then put in the freezer. I use the 24 oz. (or 16 oz.) wide mouth jars. (I tend to make really large smoothies, so usually the 24 oz.) As long as the fruits start to thaw just a bit, I can drop the ingredients right out of the jar and into my blender with my greens and add water.

Ideally, I have a freezer to transfer the jars to when I arrive at my destination. (At my mom’s or a hotel I usually do.) But I have had times I’ve had to just keep my cooler well iced. It’s OK if they start to thaw, but you don’t want them completely thawed for long. Many times I move one from the freezer to the fridge before bed, so it’ll start thawing a bit by morning.

smoothie bullet
I just add my greens to the blender jar, the contents of one Smoothie Mason Jar, and some bottled purified water. Blend it up and I’m on my way. Easy-Peasy!

green smoothie thickOf course, I don’t drink out of the plastic blender jar. I have to have the really cool mason jar (that 24 oz one would work) or a glass or stainless steel bottle to drink it out of and a glass or silicone smoothie straw. (Those links are a couple faves. I don’t have this bottle –yet! Yeah, I collect water bottles too. And my favorite glass straws are from Strawsome.) ‘Cuz that’s the way I like it, so that’s the way I roll.

Hope you like it too, and this will help you roll more Smooth-lie.

See this post if you are lost about What exactly are Green Smoothies or Why on earth would I want to drink them or How do I make them?

Do you make your daily Green Smoothies when you travel? How’s it work for you? Comment below.

 


 

Green Smoothies

What else for today but Green Smoothies? No Luck o’ the Irish needed, just the proven science of biology. These are good stuff for your body.

green smoothie duo

Green Goodness ~ Freedom & Simplicity™ Guide to Green Smoothies ~ http://gfy.frommeandmyhouse.comIt’s no secret that a primary secret to health is dark green leafy vegetables, the most nutrient dense foods available, and low in calories too. In addition to all the known and explored vitamins and minerals in them, they are also packed with hundreds of phytonutrients and antioxidants that promote healthy bodies and minds.

It’s also no secret that most people don’t get enough of these powerhouse foods. Very few eat these dark leafy greens daily, and many that do eat only small amounts, not big bowls full.

What also is not a secret, but may not be well known is that it is easy to get what you need in a way that won’t have you chewing on them all day long. Green Smoothies!

green smoothie2Green Smoothies are a combination of dark leafy greens and fruits and/or other vegetables, and water, blended into a delicious “shake”. Although you can find plenty of Green Smoothie recipes out there, no recipe is needed. Just use what you have on hand and like.
You want to shoot for at least 60% or more dark leafy greens to 40% or less fresh or frozen fruit (no additives). To start you may need to reverse those percentages and gradually increase your greens and reduce your fruits. This isn’t just a few leaves of spinach and a couple of strawberries. We’re talking 3 cups greens to 2 cups fresh fruit.

Savory Green Smoothies can be made with vegetables. Tomatoes (really a fruit), carrots, peppers, sweet potatoes, avocados (another fruit) are all good to start with. Then branch out to whatever you’d like. Get adventurous and try new veggies.

green smoothie1For fruits, include berries (another health super food). A banana is a great addition especially in the beginning to make it nice and creamy and help cover the “green” taste. Add common apples, oranges, and lemons; tropical pineapple, young coconut, mango, kiwi, and limes; and all the other varieties of fruit available.

Baby spinach is very mild and a great place to start with your greens. Move on to baby kale and chard, then get adventurous with other dark leafy greens. Rotate your greens, using different ones either daily or weekly.

Blend it smooth with purified water, or fresh coconut water, fresh coconut water kefir, or homemade Raw Almond (or other) Milk. Use enough to get it to the consistency you like. You can add a dash of vanilla too, if you’d like.

Other health boosters you can add in are (organic, raw): fresh ground flax seed, hemp seed, chia seed. For an occasional treat, add a bit of raw carob or cacao powder.

Throw this all in your blender. Blend till smooth. And drink up!

BlendTec Total Blender - http://gfy.frommeandmyhouse.comhigh performance blender will do 2 things for your Green Smoothies. 1) blend them smoother. 2) break open the cell structure of your greens to get more of their nutrients available to you. But if you don’t have a high performance blender yet, use the blender you have. (Pick one up at your local thrift store if you don’t have one.) In a less powerful blender, blend your greens and water first, then add your fruit (especially frozen) and blend, then blend again with any softer ingredients and add ins. These little rests for your blender will blend it smoother and keep it from heating up destroying nutrients and burning out your blender.

Green Smoothies are a great way to start every day. They pack a powerful nutrition punch for energy, weight loss, and good overall health. Get more info in Green Goodness, a beginners guide to Green Smoothies.

green smoothie3

One of my favorite combos is a Tropical Green Smoothie with fresh young Coconut Meat and Water, Pineapple, Mango, Pomegranate seeds, and Spinach. Sometimes I add some Banana, and a bit of ground Flax seed to0.

My other go-to is Berry Good; Baby Kale, Raspberries, Blueberries, Strawberries, Banana, Coconut Water Kefir,  and Hemp Seeds.

Do you drink fresh Green Smoothies daily? What is your favorite combo? Comment below!

 


 

 

 

Instant Almond Milk

Homemade Almond Milk has become our usual choice here. It is so easy and quick, and tastes delicious and can be used in all recipes.

However, occasionally someone needs it NOW, and almonds haven’t been soaked and they don’t want to take the minute to strain, yada yada.

Frankly, if you have a BlendTec or Vitamix you can blend unsoaked almonds if needed, AND you can use fresh Almond Milk without straining (or use off the top and strain the rest later). But …

For those that want Instant Almond Milk NOW, here’s your hack.

Almond Butter Milk

  • 1 cup purified water
  • 1 Tbl. (raw, organic) almond butter (should be able to finder cheaper local source)
  • Blend till mixed thoroughly.

That’s it!

Disclaimer: I don’t believe this is as good as fresh almond milk. IMO, it is for quick use, when you need it now. If you don’t use it right away, you will need to shake or stir, as it will separate.

 


 

Raw Coconut Milk Yogurt

If you’ve been a reader of my ‘from me’ blog long-term, you know I have several yogurt making posts there. I’ve also written a Beginner’s Handbook for Yogurt Making. But it’s time to experiment again.

Dairy-free yogurts tend to not set up as well without additives. I don’t really like my yogurt texture to be jello-like. Homemade soy milk yogurt does better and we’ve liked it. I prefer a raw yogurt if possible though. So I began looking again for options.

A “raw milk” I’ve made in the last few years that wasn’t on my radar back when I made my original yogurt posts and book is Coconut Milk. Now, I’ve never bought coconut milk; I don’t like the list of ingredients in it, same with other commercially made “not milks”. But I have made fresh Coconut Milk. Raw Almond Milk, our usual, is made quickly and easily at home, and we love it. But it doesn’t make a great yogurt on its own. A couple ideas got my brain re-thinking on successfully making not milk yogurts, and it’s time to experiment with the first.

Coconut Yogurt 1

I love young Thai coconuts. (Find them locally at a Asian grocer, Whole Foods, HyVee, or order through Azure Standard–all much cheaper than this link.) My favorite thing to do with them is to make fresh Coconut Water Kefir. (I’ll add an updated post on this blog and link it here.) Yummy, probiotic drink, great for the gut. I put it in smoothies a lot, and you can make fizzy fruit “pop” with it.  We also love to just drink the raw coconut water fresh. The younger boys love to drink straight from the coconut itself. Sometimes (not often) make fresh coconut milk.

Generally, I use the meat in green smoothies or recipes. But the daily (or every other) making of coconut kefir water goes through more water than we use of the meat. That, having extra in the freezer, can be great for the occasional recipe that calls for larger amounts of coconut meat. But … What else could I do, on a more regular basis?

What is needed for yogurt, especially thicker yogurt? I knew the natural sweetness and fat content in the coconut would both be helpful. The key would be to make my own coconut milk so I could control the consistency of the yogurt, since I knew it wasn’t going to get much thicker than when I put it in.

Coconut Yogurt 2

3 young coconuts provided 2 cups of coconut meat for me to experiment with, and way more coconut water than I knew I’d use in the yogurt. (Of course, the rest is for Coconut Water Kefir.) I decided to add a bit of my homemade Vanilla. And used probiotic capsules for my culture; as they were all I had on hand at 11 at night.

Coconut Yogurt 5

 I culture yogurt in many ways. My dehydrator is my favorite because it’s the easiest and it’s always on my counter and usually running. But, since I started using an Instant Pot, and it has a Yogurt feature and I hadn’t tried it yet, I decided to go that way this time.

Coconut Yogurt 3

Here’s how I did it–and my notes.

  • 2 cups young coconut meat
  • 1/2-1 cup fresh coconut water
  • 1/2 Tbl. homemade vanilla extract
  • 2 PB8 probiotic capsules — opened and only the powder inside used, not the capsule itself
  • Blend all together till creamy. Start with the smaller amount of coconut water, add as needed until desired consistency. (May take more than 1 cup.) I added the PB after the rest was creamy and just pulsed it in.
  • Pour into serving size jars or these (that have lids) and culture at approx. 105° for 8-10 hours. Do not fill jars completely full, as it will expand as it cultures.
  • Cap and refrigerate.

Coconut Yogurt 7

Notes:

  • My coconut meat was pretty firm in 2 of my coconuts and very soft (and scant) in 1. I used 3/4 cup coconut water and will use more next time. (I was a bit afraid of getting it too runny.)
  • I’m not real happy with the other ingredients in the PB8, and will look for a better option before I do this again. But don’t know if there is a better or not.
  • As noted, the yogurt does expand and get a bit bubbly. (You know the culture is working and creating goodies for your gut.)

Coconut Yogurt 6

  • To culture in the Instant Pot, you really do just set your jars in and hit the Yogurt button, and put the lid on. I did put my jars on a trivet, just in case the bottom of the pan may get a bit too warm. It doesn’t matter if you use the pressure lid, or a glass lid. It doesn’t matter if the vent is open or closed. You don’t have to put water in the bottom. The yogurt function will not get to the high temp to create pressure.
  • You can culture yogurt anywhere that you can maintain a steady temp of approx. 105° for the tire needed to culture. Under 95° and the cultures won’t grow to create yogurt. Over 115° and the cultures will be killed, and not make yogurt. If where you are culturing your yogurt doesn’t have a thermostat, be sure to get a thermometer (that measures the right range–a yogurt or aquarium thermometer) to monitor the temp.

Here are some other ways you can culture yogurt:

  • On a folded towel on top of a heating pad turned onto low and covered with another towel. Or in a covered box on top of the heating pad.
  • In a box (or styrofoam cooler) with a small light bulb in it.
  • In a gas oven with a pilot light (turned off).
  • In a ceramic crock, wrapped in a blanket or placed in an insulated cooler.
  • In a water bath in an electric skillet on low. If you do this be sure to test it out with a thermometer in a jar of water (instead of yogurt) to make sure it holds the correct temperature over that length of time. It used to be recommended to use a slow cooker/crock pot on low. I have not found newer crock pots to hold the proper temp. Perhaps getting it to the right temp, turn off crock pot and wrap in a blanket to hold temp.
  • A yogurt maker. 🙂

 

Do you make non-dairy yogurt? What method do you use? Comment below!

 


 

Almond Milk

On my other blog, over the years, I’ve posted our experiences in making many different milk alternatives. We have been dairy-free for close to 20 years. Over those years we have tried soy milks, rice milks, raw goat’s milk and many others. For the last at least couple of years we have landed at homemade Almond Milk, the easiest and highly healthful alternative milk to make at home. 2 Ingredients and a handful of minutes and you’ve got it.

Homemade Raw & Fresh Almond Milk

Soak Almonds in 2 cups Water several hours (overnight).

Drain and rinse well.

Put soaked Almonds and 4 cups Water in high performance blender, and blend 45-60 seconds.

Pour through a Nut Milk Bag (or Unbleached Cheesecloth) into large bowl (I use an 8 cup Pyrex / Anchor Hocking measuring pitcher). Squeeze all the Milk out and pour into a 1 qt. covered pitcher or jar and Refrigerate.

Almond Pulp (remaining in bag/cloth) can be sealed in a container and refrigerated or frozen to be used in desserts, or dehydrated and ground into Almond Meal/Flour.

Options:

Tip! If you desire a “whiter” milk you can peel the almonds after draining and rinsing. Rub each almond between your fingers to remove the peel.

Tip! You can flavor the milk with Real Vanilla (bean, extract, flavor) if you desire.

You can also sweeten it with Raw Honey, Real Maple Syrup, or Dates. Just stir in the Honey or Maple Syrup after blending–about 2 tsp. – 2 Tbl. depending on how sweet you want it. Some also like to add just a dash of unrefined salt.

To sweeten with Dates, add 3-4 pitted dates, cut up, to the blender and blend with the almonds. If adding the dates, you will get more of a cream color, even if you peel the Almonds.

Do you make Almond Milk? Comment below!

 


 

Lisa’s Black Bean Burgers

Can you believe it? One of the things I’ve never made from scratch is Veggie Burgers. Long, long ago we used to buy a box of dry mix that we added water to. We lost that source, and for a while bought frozen patties, but I wasn’t completely happy with those ingredients, so we didn’t have them often.

Now that I have my Instant Pot and can go from dry beans to ready to use in less than an hour, I decided to give it a try. I researched several recipes, then forged out on my own. What do I like? What has been in restaurant burgers that I’ve liked? What sounds good? Here’s what I came up with last night. They were delicious. But the variety is endless.

 

Lisa’s Good for You-Naturally! Black Bean Burgers

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cooked Black Beans (1 cup Black Beans, 2 1/2+ cups water, Instant Pot high pressure 15-30 minutes. Natural Release.)
  • 2 Tbl. Ground Flax Seed mixed with 3 Tbl. water
  • 1/4 Red Pepper
  • 1/4 medium Onion (I used Red)
  • 1-2 cloves Garlic
  • 1 cup Rolled Oats
  • 1/4+ tsp. Cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. Black Pepper (ground)
  • 1/2 tsp. Real Salt (opt.)
  • 1 Tbl. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
  • 1/4+ cup bean water
  • 1/2 cup Baby Bella Mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup Corn kernels (fresh or frozen)

Directions:

  • Cook Beans.
  • Grind Flax Seeds and soak in water.
  • Process Peppers, Onions, and Garlic until as fine as you’d like. Add Spices, Aminos, Oats and 1 cup of drained Beans (reserve liquid) and process again, pulsing to mix spices in thoroughly, but not turn oats into flour. Add water and Flax, beginning with 1/4 cup water (that’s all I needed) and pulse slightly to mix.
  • Add remaining Beans, Mushrooms, and Corn. Pulse just to mix in (not break down much.)
  • Form into patties onto parchment paper. (I just use a 1/4 cup measuring cup or scoop, and flatten the tops a bit.)
  • Bake at 350° or Grill (I put into freezer for a few minutes to firm up a bit before grilling.) approx. 15 minutes. Flip half way through.

 

  • Makes approx. 10 burgers. Can be frozen with parchment paper between.
  • I served with Avocado Slices
  • Use Organic ingredients and purified water
  • You don’t have to use a Food Processor. You can just chop the veggies, and moosh all together with your hands (or mash the beans a bit and stir with a spoon.)

Unbaked/ungrilled patties. I will update with cooked picture when I make again. Sorry. Forgot.

8411_1012738348800553_5070700641611734267_n

Enjoy! And let me know how you liked them!


 

Peanut Butter Bars

I took these bars to the Community Playhouse a couple times during Mary Poppins. A few asked for the recipe, so here it is.

Peanut Butter Bars

  • ¼ cup applesauce (apples and water only)
  • 1 cup peanut butter, almond butter (nuts only)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • ⅛ teaspoon unrefined salt
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tbsp flour – almond or whole wheat
  • ⅔ cup coconut sap “sugar”
  • ¼ cup carob chips or cacao nibs (can be omitted)
  • up to 2 tbsp almond milk (or other), only if needed

 

  • Mix dry ingredients together. In seapate bowl mix stir nut butter, until it stirs well, add and blend int the wet ingredients (not the milk.) Mix together, and stir, stir, stir till all is smooth. Only add milk if necessary. It will be stiff.
  • Spread into greased 8″ sq. pan. (Coconut oil or real butter or lecithin mix)
  • Bake at 350° for approx. 15 minutes. They will seem not done, but if the top is set, they should be. Just allow them to cool for at least 20 minutes to firm up.

Enjoy! Let me know if you make them and how you liked them.

adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie

Sorry, no picture taken. I will try to remember to take one when we make them again, and add it here.


 

The End of Heart Disease

51xU5c5hXNL._AA160_In honor of the Heart Holiday — Pre-order “The End of Heart Disease” which explains why:

  • Statin drugs are not the best treatment for high cholesterol
  •  “Salt” is a four-letter word
  • Nutritional excellence trumps drugs
  • It’s possible to bypass angioplasty

And evaluates the cardio-protective aspects of popular diets – Paleo, Mediterranean, DASH, and others – and why they don’t offer adequate protection from heart disease.

The End of Heart Disease is the groundbreaking new book by physician, nutritional expert and New York Times best-selling author, Joel Fuhrman, M.D. The book, which hits bookstores on April 5, 2016, offers a detailed plan to prevent and reverse heart disease using the nutrient-dense, plant-rich eating style that Dr. Fuhrman calls the Nutritarian diet.

Modern Maidservant #6 – Steamer

#6 – Steamer

Our top recommendations – Instant Pot or Miracle Stainless Steel Rice Cooker (and vegetable steamer) or VitaClay Smart Organic Multi-Cooker (for stovetop Stainless Steel or Silicone or Bamboo Stovetop steamer)

Instant-Pot-1-300x300So many options. Yes, I’ve given many recommendations above, and below I’ll give you my thoughts, so you can choose the best for you. The Instant Pot is my newest fave, as it’s a very versatile pot that can do just about anything you need, not just steam veggies and cook grains.

Some vegetables as well as grains increase their digestibility when cooked. To lose as few nutrients as possible, steam the grains and vegetables you cook, the vegetables only until tender-crisp. A Stainless Steel electric steamer or multi-cooker is super to have. A Stainless Steel pan insert is good too, though I prefer the timer and preset ease of use on the electric ones.

You can get stovetop steamers of many kinds. Stainless steel steamers come in various sizes to fit the pans you use, (some even come with them. See the Fagor Pressure pans I love. More info on our Cook and Bakeware page,)  or even an inexpensive collapsable model that will fit any pan. (Those aren’t the easiest ones to use, but they are cheap.) Silicone steaming baskets are also available.  Bamboo steamers are also considered a good choice, but I’ve never used them. Be sure to buy the right size of bamboo steamer to fit in your pan. The pan should be about 2″ larger than the steamer.

Steaming your food is usually not a major lifestyle change and you can begin with a stainless steel collapsible insert for vegetables for just a few dollars if you are unable to afford anything else right now. The electric steamers also are great for so much more, including reheating leftovers. See, you really don’t need a microwave! We also like to do grains, as well as soups and casseroles in our Crock Pot.

So … on to the electric steamers.

When we began steaming foods, we used a Black & Decker HS2776 Double-Decker Flavor-Scenter Steamer Deluxe Food Steamer, plastic vegetable steamer/rice cooker, because I won’t use pans with non-stick coatings, and this one was big enough for our family. This inexpensive plastic steamer/rice cooker held up and performed well. We used it every day for years. It works great for steaming vegetables, cooking rice and other grains, and reheating leftovers. But I’d prefer to do without that plastic, so these aren’t really recommendations. [Oster has a newer model that is digital and has more feaures, but a little smaller size, if you’re really wanting to go this route. Oster 5712 Electronic 2-Tier 6.1-Quart Food Steamer.]

Miracle Rice Cooker ME-81So … I was still on the lookout for a stainless steel rice cooker/steamer, and hoping to find one that would also hold a larger quantity. (We got to where we really needed a bigger rice bowl.) We found the Miracle ME-81. Finally, there was an electric rice cooker that has a pure stainless steel rice bowl. The Stainless Steel Rice Cooker Model ME81 is the only electric grain cooker/steamer that we found (at that time) that does not have a non-stick coating on the rice bowl, and we love it for grain cooking. We cook brown rice, quinoa, oats, and steam vegetables but I never realized its complete versatility until I started searching online for recipes. Wow! But it’s steamer insert is not large enough for everything for us, so we still had to use a stainless steel pan insert steamer on the stove or that electric (plastic) steamer for steaming vegetables.

 VitaClay___Smart_50a2bc38baa4f2Next, we found an electronic rice cooker/slow cooker that comes with a unglazed clay bowl, (now called) the VitaClay Smart Organic MultiCooker. Nice! No chemical glaze such as on other slow cookers. It also has many other handy features, such as fully programable and fast pre-heat. This multi-cooker can also steam veggies, (by adding your own steamer basket,) and make yogurt. I’m probably most excited about this because I know and love the features of cooking with clay (as you’ll see in my stoneware notes on the cookware page.) VitaClay cooks up to 8 cups (dry) rice, or can be used as a 4.2 qt. slow cooker. (Smaller size also available.) However, I didn’t buy this cooker, as I hadn’t satisfied my research into its quality of performance over time. It was a bit sketchy and new, and availability over time uncertain, at the time I originally wrote this article. [Update: Time has shown the VitaClay to have favorable reviews with updated models, but …]

 

Instant-Pot-1-300x300[Update:] In the meantime, we have now added another multi-purpose cooker for steaming and grain cooking that I LOVE! It is even more versatile than our Miracle Stainless Steel Rice Cooker, larger than the VitaClay, and has more features than either. It is the Instant Pot DUO60. This 6 qt. 7-in-1 Multi-functional Cooker with stainless steel pan is not only a steamer and rice cooker, but also a slow cooker, pressure cooker, yogurt maker, browner, and warmer. My Miracle Rice Cooker may be about ready for retirement. And (for now anyhow) the larger size and addition of the pressure cooking feature will probably keep me choosing this over the VitaClay.