• Feeds

  • Advertisements

vita mix ice cream!

During the Vita Mix demonstration at the Big E, we saw them whip up some delicious, quick treats, including Ice Cream!

It is so simple and easy!  And, you can basically mix up whatever ingredients you want.

This week, I was craving something cold and sweet, so for breakfast one morning, I whipped up some ‘ice cream’ using the Vita Mix!

Vita Mix Protein Ice Cream

  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 cup frozen mango chunks
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1 scoop SunWarrior protein powder, vanilla
  • dash vanilla
  • 2 tbsp honey or sugar of choice

I added some protein to the mix because I am definitely trying to get more protein in my diet these days!

Turn the blender on and use the plunger to push down all of the frozen ingredients into the blades.  Trust me, it works!  After about 30 seconds, 4 peaks will form.

And, you will have creamy, cold ice cream.  Ok, maybe it doesn’t taste like ice cream, but more like frozen yogurt.  Either way, it is cold, creamy and sweet!  Just what I wanted.

Made in 1 minute, and all for me!

Check out the texture – it’s so smooth.

Topped with a little granola for crunch…and to make it feel more like breakfast, 🙂

Advertisements

theo chocolate – seattle, wa

Can you guess what my absolute favorite part of Seattle was?!  Ok, well, maybe not my absolute favorite part, but it was a pretty good bonus!  On Friday, we visited and toured Theo Chocolate!

Theo Chocolate is located in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle.  It is a trendy neighborhood with fun restaurants and shops, including my favorite Homegrown.

We entered into their lobby where they have samples of and sell a variety of their chocolates, including chocolate bars, truffles, sipping chocolate, etc.

Lots of samples, but we waited for the tour.

After checking everything out, we headed downstairs to learn about chocolate and tour their facilities.  We were armed with hairnets!

We learned a lot about chocolate growing and making throughout the tour.  I already knew a lot of the information from reading Naked Chocolate by David Wolfe and Shazzie (see post here), but it was interesting to learn about the process that Theo uses.

Theo Chocolate is the only organic, fair trade, bean-to-bar chocolate factory in the United States.  They use only organic and fair trade ingredients, including the extra ingredients that go into some of their chocolates, like hazelnuts and ginger.

They buy from the chocolate growing region, which surrounds the equator.  Many of their chocolate bars only use chocolate from one specific region, while others use a mix.

What does Theo mean?  Theo comes from the Greek name of the Cacao tree – Theobroma Cacao, Food of the Gods.  Theobromine promotes happiness in people!

Their chocolate is delivered to the factory as cacao beans,

and they start the process completely from scratch.

Backing up a bit…cacao pods grow on trees.

When they turn pretty colors, the pods are ready to be picked.  It is imperitive that they are picked right away, otherwise the beans inside start to rot.

(Source)

Once the pods are pried open, they reveal a white gel-like substance surrounding each bean.

(Source)

The covered beans are then thrown into a barrel and left to ‘rot’, or ‘ferment’.  Skipping this step, causes chocolate to be bitter and unedible.  So, fermenting helps the beans (just like wine and beer!). 🙂

Once the beans have fermented, the leftover get is washed away and the beans are shipped to their various chocolate making locations, including to Theo.

They are shipped in bags, but once at the factory, each bag is sorted threw to make sure the beans are good and washed.  Once they pass the test, the process of making chocolate begins!

D.R. = Dominican Republic

They are roasted here.

Then transfered to the Winnower which seperates the husks from the nibs.  The nibs can then be used as chocolate.

Cacao bean husks

And, Cacao Nibs

Next, the nibs head to the stone mill to get crushed into a paste.

All of the ‘bad paste’ gets dumped out before the paste heads to the mixer.

The mixer is where sugar and/or milk powder is added (for milk chocolate).  Then it heads through the refiner and the conche to minimize the sugar and reduce any acidity.

The chocolate stays in the holding tank until it is tranferred to the tempering machine, which is a very important step!  It binds the butter and solids together.  Then, one of two employees adds any additions and pours the chocolate into molds.

Our next stop, the kitchen where we got to sample lots of goodies!

An employee is making their graham cracker here to be included in the Big Daddy bar.

Everything that goes into their bars and confections is made in their own kitchen.  All of the ingredients are organic as well!

This was made from chocolate scraps.

Theo makes all sorts of chocolate from dark chocolate to milk chocolate.  Some favorites are Chai Tea, Chile Dark, Hazelnut Crunch, Cacao Nib Crunch.  They are all delicious!

We had a fantastic time on the tour learning more about chocolate and the chocolate farmers, along with how Theo chocolate is actually made.  It makes me feel good about buying their chocolate!

boston greenfest 2010

On Saturday morning, Brant and I headed downtown to walk around Boston’s GreenFest!

But, before heading out, I whipped up a delicious and summery smoothie!

Summery Smoothie

  • 1.5 cups fresh watermelon
  • 1/2 cup frozen mango
  • 6 frozen strawberries
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 1 tbsp pepitas
  • dash of vanilla
  • 1 cup coconut water

It was delicious!

There were booths and stages set up all over City Hall Plaza.  Green cleaning products, green house products, green food, green music. 🙂

It was a very nice morning, so a lot of people were walking around as we were.

Nantucket Nectars, Zipcar, Stonyfield and JP Licks were a few of the sponsors.  They were all handing out free samples.  We definitely tried some!

Local t-shirt companies

Local coffee companies

And, my favorite – a local cleaning product company!

The products are enzyme based, so they work without a ton of scrubbing.  The enzymes continue to work and break down the dirt for up to 36 hours!

We bought some sample products, so I will be sure to let you all know how they work once we try them out.

meet my vita-mix

That’s right!  Guess who showed up in the mail?!

My Vita-Mix 5200!

And, look at that, she just fits under the counter.  The base is huge, but I guess that is where all of the power comes from.  And, when I say power – the Vita-Mix is powerful!

It has low and high speeds along with variable speeds, which are great.  When making a smoothie, Vita-Mix recommends that you start off on 1 and slowly turn the knob up to 10 before flipping it on high for 30 seconds to completely blend.  This gets rid of a chance for air pockets which will cause the smoothie to stop blending properly.

You can also use the tamper to push down your ingredients to get them to blend properly.  It works like a charm when making ice cream and nut butters.

This morning, I decided to make a smoothie, so I dropped all of my ingredients into the blender.

  • beet greens
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 6 frozen strawberries
  • 1/2 frozen mango
  • 1/2 cup frozen pineapple
  • 1 tsp spirulina
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 2 tbsp hemp seeds

I blended away for no longer than 60 seconds and came out with an extremely smooth smoothie!

The Vita-Mix was quick!  And, completely blended everything.  I didn’t have chunks of greens or hemp seeds throughout like I normally would have with my other blender.  I could not even tell that there were greens or seeds in the smoothie!  It was awesome.

Over the past few days, I have also made ice cream and multiple smoothies in the Vita.  Each time, it comes out perfect.  It pulverizes the frozen fruit, greens and nuts in a matter of seconds.

I am extremely happy about my purchase!

One other great thing, is how you clean it.  Rinse out the pitcher and fill half way with water and a squirt of dish soap.

Use the variable speed to get up to 10.

Then, blend on high for 30-60 seconds.

Viola!  A clean blender!

I’m so excited!!!

I was starving once lunch rolled around, so I pulled out some random veggies, eggs and hummus that I had packed.

A sliced up pickling cucumber and leftover grilled eggplant.

2 hard boiled eggs.

And, lemon hummus.

Some snacks today included yogurt, a nectarine and a S’more Glo Bar.

The Adore Glo Bar was good, but not my favorite.  I much prefer the Chocolate Coffee Bar!  Still, a great texture and flavor, though.

We are off for pizza and a talk on Barefoot Running tonight.

Have a great one.

pantry staples & weekly grocery shop

What is a better way to start of the week than photos of our weekly grocery shopping trip?!

I have received a few requests for photos/descriptions of my weekly grocery shopping trips.  To me, pantry staples are just as important as what you buy each week at the grocery store, so it is only fair that I talk about them together!

(Source)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Pantry Staples

First, let’s talk about what I keep in my pantry at all times.  I like to keep my nuts, dried fruits, flours and other stuff in mason jars.

I have a lot!  But, I only buy them once a month, maybe once every 2 months!  Some items run out more quickly than others, but these are good staples to have on hand, especially if you are going to be making your own breakfast, lunch and dinner every single day (or at least most days!).

By keeping these things around, you can whip up a quick and delicious dinner any day without having to run out to the store mid-way through cooking.

Grains – Quinoa, Brown Rice, Bulgar

These 3 grains are great to keep on hand.  They can be used as the base of any stirfry, in soups, as breakfast cereals, or just eaten plain.

Beans – Chickpeas, Lentils, Black Beans

Sometimes I buy other beans in my normal weekly grocery shopping trips when I am in the mood for a change!  I love beans, but my husband does not, so a little goes a long way with us.  I buy my beans dried and cook them myself in my slow cooker – see recipe here.

Nuts/Seeds – Flaxseeds, Walnuts, Pecans, Chia Seeds, Almonds, Pepitas, Sunflower Seeds, Cashews Hemp Seeds

Nuts and seeds pack a healthy punch, so we keep a lot around.  I only fill the smaller mason jars with nuts, since they can go rancid if kept too long, but mine have never stayed around long enough to go bad. 🙂  I use my nuts to make my own nut butters, use as salad toppers, mix them in my smoothies, grind them into flour for baked goods and veggie burgers, and just to eat as snacks.  You can pick and choose which nuts to keep in your pantry!

Dried Fruit – Apricots, Bananas, Pineapple

Dried fruit can be added to cereal, backed goods, salads and eaten as snacks.  I usually have dried bananas, apricots and mangoes, the others vary depending on what I am feeling.  Trader Joes has great prices on dried fruit – just make sure you get the kind with no added sugar!

Oats – Steel Cut, Rolled, Scottish

Steel cut oats are my favorite for breakfast, while rolled are great in pancakes, cookies, veggie burgers, etc!

Spices – a wide variety


Spices are very important for cooking to give a dish the flavors that you want to satisfy your palate.  Spices can make or break a dish!  We keep a wide variety of spices around so that we can make a variety of different things.  Always make sure you have a good salt!

Oils/Vinegars – Olive Oil, Grapeseed Oil, Coconut Oil, Coconut Aminos, Apple Cider Vinegar, Coconut Vinegar


For everyday cooking and baking, I keep olive oil, grapeseed oil, coconut oil, coconut aminos, apple cider and coconut vinegar on hand.  Most things can be made with these!

Baking Supplies – Flours, Sugars, Oils


You don’t need to keep this many supplies on hand.  A simple whole wheat flour, natural cane sugar and healthy oil would be enough, but I love to bake and I love to try new things, so I keep a variety of flours, sugars and oils on hand.

EXTRAS Nut Butters, Chocolate, Coconut

These are just some things that are good to have on hand– nut butters, unsweetened coconut and cacao powder (I buy the last 2 in bulk!).  I love love love coconut and chocolate, so they are always around.

Other good staples (which I am out of!) include: diced tomatoes, veggie broth, tomato paste, canned soup and pasta.

Supplements – Maca, Spirulina, Hemp Protein Powder

Just some things I love.  I mostly use them in my smoothies.  Maca is a natural energy booster, spirulina is a mix of different greens and protein powder gives you extra protein after a tough workout to restore your muscles.

In the Fridge

 

We keep a variety of staples in our fridge.  Everything from ketchup, mustard and pickles to jams and nut butters, to dairy and protein powders, to fresh produce!

In the Freezer

 

The freezer is mostly made up of frozen fruit (for smoothies), frozen veggies (for in a pinch meals) and other things that I make and freeze – applesauce, pesto, burgers, etc.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Weekly Grocery Shopping Trip

Now, on to my weekly shopping trip…

From June through October, we belong to a CSA where we pick up all of our vegetables for the week.  Therefore, I do not buy any veggies at the grocery store, unless I need something extra for some reason.

Here is a normal CSA box that we would receive.  This is from Week 1 where we mostly received greens, but check out my other posts each week here to see lots of different veggies!

A lof of greens and other veggies to get us through the week!

Do to our box, my grocery trip for those 5 months is much lighter than normal.  Come the late fall and winter, I will be buying my produce at the store too (and it normally is about the same amount as seen above).

In the cart?

  • yogurt
  • frozen fruit
  • bananas
  • apples, berries, or other fruit
  • eggs
  • milk
  • almond milk or hemp milk
  • spinach (I use it in my smoothies!)
  • meat for the husband

That’s it!

The only other thing that I buy once in awhile is cereal, but normally I prefer to make my own granola out of the oats, nuts and dried fruit I have in my pantry.

Between our CSA and our Pantry, we don’t need anything else!  I try not to buy a lot of packaged snacks because I would prefer to eat a homemade trail mix, granola bar or other freshly made snack.

I used to plan all of our meals, then shop.  Now, with my well stocked pantry and my CSA, I can create basically anything I want with what I have on hand, plus the veggies and my small weekly grocery shop!

With a pantry full of grains/beans/nuts/seeds/spices and a fridge full of fruits and veggies, you really can make anything that you want!

Have fun with your food. 🙂

prana & boomi bars

I am headed up to Maine this morning for a fun girls weekend on the lake!  While I am away, I wanted to leave you with a product review.  Enjoy!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I received a very generous sampling from Divine Foods a few months ago and have been working my way through their line of Prana and Boomi bars.

I was sent their line of Prana Bars, Super Charger Prana Bars and Boomi Bars to try out.

[Disclaimer: I did receive these products for free, however, the review is my honest opinion.  If I did not like the products, I would tell you!  I only accept samples of items that I know I will like and that fit into my eating plan.]

All of their bars are made with organic, simple, easy to pronounce ingredients, which excites me right away.  For example, the Pear Ginseng Prana Bar contains the following ingredients: Organic Agave Nectar, Organic Date Paste, Organic Almond Butter, Organic Almonds, Organic Pears, Organic Sesame Seeds, Organic Puffed Amaranth, Organic Ginseng, Sea Salt.

Not too shabby!

Prana Bars have a very smooth texture.  Like Larabars, they are made from a base of dates, but they also contain puffed amaranth, which gives it a different (and great!) texture from a Larabar.

My favorites are below.  I really enjoyed these bars.  The flavors are so interesting and they all really worked together!  I was very impressed.

Super Charger Prana Bars have the same texture as the Prana bars (above), but contain some ‘superfoods’, such as goji berries and maca, which make them super!  I loved all 4 of these flavors and really cannot decide which I liked best, although the Blueberry Coconut was awesome!

Boomi Bars were my favorite of all of the bars due to the texture.  They were chunkier than the Prana bars which I enjoyed.  I like chunks of nuts and fruit throughout, which these definitely had.  In addition to the amaranth, these bars also contain crisp rice which definitely makes the texture.  Normally, I try to stay away from white rice, but in a product like this that I am not going to eat every single day, it is okay with me.  Plus, it makes the bar!

I had a really hard time deciding on favorites because tha majority of flavors were great!

Overall, I really liked all of the Prana and Boomi Bars that I tried.  I would definitely buy these products when I was in need of a snack and would use them as just that – a snack.  Their website says that they can be used as meal replacements, but I don’t agree.  They don’t have nearly enough fat, calories or protein for a meal.

Enjoy!

ch-ch-ch-chia!

I know that I have talked about Chia Seeds in the past, but they came up in a book that I was reading, so I decided that I wanted to mention them again!

I started reading Born To Run by Christopher MacDougall last week and when I hit page 44, I was psyched!  [If you are a runner and haven’t read the book, you should definitely do so.  I haven’t finished yet, but I love it already!]

The author had met up with the Tarahumaras and they had given him something to drink, iskiate.  Check out what he says below:

“Months later, I’d learn that iskiate is otherwise known as chia fresca – “chilly chia.”  It’s brewed up by dissolving chia seeds in water with a little sugar and a squirt of lime.  In terms of nutritional content, a tablespoon of chia is like a smoothie made from salmon, spinach, and human growth hormone.  As tiny as those seeds are, they’re super packed with omega-3s, omega-6s, protein, calcium, iron, zinc, fiber, and antioxidants. If you had to pick just one desert-island food, you couldn’t do much better than chia, at least if you were interested in building muscle, lowering cholesterol, and reducing your risk of heart disease; after a few months on the chia diet, you could probably swim home.  Chia was once so treasured, the Aztecs used to deliver it to their king in homage.  Aztec runners used to chomp chia seeds as they went into battle, and the Hopis fueled themselves on chia during their epic runs from Arizona to the Pacific Ocean.  The Mexican state of Chiapas is actually names after the seed; it used to rank right up there with corn and beans as cash crop.  Despite its liquid-gold status, chia is ridiculously easy to grow; if you own a Chia Pet, in fact, you’re only a few stepped away from your own batch of the devil drink.” From Born To Run by Christopher McDougall.

Now do you believe how great chia seeds are for you?!

Yes, by chia seeds, I mean the same ones that come from our favorite pets…

(Source)

…the chia pet is sprouts grown from the seeds.  Obviously, if kept dry, yours will not sprout.

Initially, some may not like the texture of the seeds, but it does grow on you!  They take in a lot of water and have a sort of slimy texture.  If you mix it them into smoothies or oatmeal, or sprinkle them on your foods, you can barely tell they are there. 🙂

Chia seeds have amazing health benefits:

  • you do not need to grind the seed to make it digestible
  • helps stabilize your blood sugar
  • has nutrients like Omega-3’s, calcium, proteins, antioxidants, fiber and complex carbohydrates
  • maintains hydration
  • help to fill you up – chia seeds expand to more than 30 times their size
  • and much more…

Chia seeds can basically be added to anything.  In the past, I have added them to many things:

Smoothies

Overnight oats – before & after

Granola Bars

They are also great as salad toppers, oatmeal toppers and cereal toppers.  And, I have heard that they can replace flaxseeds in some recipes.  I hope to try that out soon!

Chia seeds have become very widely available over the past few years.  I have always seen them at Whole Foods and my local health food store.  Give them a try!