Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Germexican Beans

There is a precedent for this. According to Wikipedia a bunch of Germans started to immigrate to Mexico in the mid to late 19th century. That's where all of the bad Mexican lager beers come from. Why not, then, boil pinto beans in lager and then serve them with sour kraut atop toasted rye bread thus bringing together the fartiest foods from both cultures?

Germexican Beans on rye toast with sour kraut and rosemary garlic roasted potatoes.
1 lb. pinto beans, sorted, rinsed and soaked for 4-6 hours
1 white onion, roughly chopped
3 bay leaves
6 bottles of a German or Mexican lager, something not very hoppy
1 Tbsp. sea salt

1) After the beans have been soaked, rinse them and place them in a large soup pot or dutch oven along with the onion and bay leaves and cover with about 3 bottles of beer.

2) Bring the beer to a boil and reduce the heat to a low boil (more than a simmer). As the beans cook continue to add more beer as the liquid evaporates to keep the beans submerged in a good amount of liquid. When you run out of beer you can just add water after that.

3) After the beans have cooked for about 2 hours add 1 Tbsp. of sea salt and start testing the beans for softness. When the beans are completely tender let the liquid start to evaporate until they are in a thick rather than watery sauce.
Serve on toasted rye bread spread with whole grain German style mustard and topped with sour kraut. This makes about 5 cups of beans. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Rosemary Garlic Potatoes

This is good for breakfast, brunch lunch and dinner...yes, not "or" dinner but "and" dinner. I could eat these all day. Whenever you are asked to supply a side dish for a get together (because all vegans eat are side dishes, right?) you can bring this and everyone will like it better than the meatloaf.

2-3 lbs. of potatoes (red, Yukon gold, new, fingerling, etc.), scrubbed & cut into 1" chunks
6-8 cloves of garlic, minced
1.5 Tbsp. rosemary, minced (about 3-4 sprigs)
1 medium red onion, sliced however you like it
1 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1) Preheat the oven to 325. Place the chopped potatoes into a large baking dish and add the remaining ingredients and toss to combine well.

2) Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake for 45 minutes.

3) Remove the foil, stir, and bake for an additional 10-20 minutes uncovered until the potatoes are tender.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Fermented Cucumber Pickles (raw)

You know how when you start college or join a team or take a class where they want there to be a lot of discussion they always have everyone go around and, "Say your name and something interesting about yourself"? I hate that. As soon as you say something is interesting it ends up sounding dorky unless the interesting thing about yourself is that you invented post-its. So I always say, "My name is Sarah and I love pickles a lot" because it's already dorky. But I do, I love pickles a lot.

You know those delicious kosher dill pickles that cost $4 per jar? Yeah, these are like those but better, and you can get 5 or more pounds worth in one batch. But you really need to get some good, fresh pickling cucumbers. We got a 5 pound bag at the local farmer's market. So go find some and make these. As I said in my post detailing fermented sour kraut, raw fermented vegetables contain that good bacteria for your intestinal flora that people think you need to eat yoghurt to get.

Fresh pickling cucumbers from the Mankato Farmer's Market

5 lbs. of pickling cucumbers, washed
Filtered water
Sea salt
Any desired flavorings, this time we used:
15 cloves garlic, halved lengthwise
2 tsp. caraway seeds
1 tsp. fennel seeds
1 tsp. allspice berries, lightly crushed
1 Tbsp. peppercorns, lightly crushed
6 stems of fresh dill flowers

1) Wash the cucumbers and place them in a large glass or ceramic jar or crock, making sure there is enough room to cover them with water and for the water to rise a little. We got a glass crock at Target for about $14.00.

2) Add your other spices and flavorings and intermingle them with the cucumbers.

3) Add the water and the salt by mixing them together in a measuring cup and stirring to dissolve the salt.
The amount is going to depend on the amount of cucumbers and the size and shape of your crock. The equation is that you need 3 Tbsp. of salt per 4 cups (32 oz.) of water. We had to mix 2 2/1 batches of water/salt solution and pour them over our cucumbers which turned out to be 10 cups of water and 7 1/2 Tbsp. of salt.

4) Once the cucumbers are submerged in water they must be weighted down to keep them submerged, you don't want floaters. We fill two 1 gallon baggies with water and double bag them and place them on top of the cucumbers.

5) Place the crock in a dry place that is not too hot and not too cold, about 65 degrees F (and it must be dark if you are using a glass crock), we use our hall closet. Let them ferment for about a 5-7 days. To make sure they're fermenting check for bubbles at the end of the first day or second day. When they taste like pickles and are still crisp they are done.

6) Once they are done transfer them to jars and cover them with the pickling liquid and store in the fridge for several months. Note: the liquid will become cloudy as they ferment.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Avocado Salsa

I use this solely as a topping for Black Bean Enchiladas but I'm sure it would also be good with tortilla chips, tacos, or even as a salad.

3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. dijon or whole grain mustard
2 Tbsp. rice or white wine vinegar
Juice of 1 lime (about 2 Tbsp.)
1 scant tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
Dash of hot sauce (optional)

1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 poblano pepper, diced
1-2 jalapenos, diced
1/4 c. fresh cilantro, minced
1/2 a red onion, diced
3-4 avocados, diced
2 tomatoes, seeded and diced

1) In a large bowl whisk together the dressing ingredients.

2) Chop the vegetables and add them to the bowl. If you are making this ahead of time, don't chop up the avocados and tomatoes until you're ready to serve it. Toss and enjoy.

Black Bean Enchiladas

I don't love vegan cheese so when I make these enchiladas I make a fresh Avocado Salsa to spoon over the top of each serving, but top them with whatever you like.

You can make this by using canned black beans, but it is also delicious way to use the black beans from the recipe I posted earlier: A Big Pot of Black Beans. 

1/2 a recipe for  A Big Pot of Black Beans
or 2 15 oz. cans of black beans and 1 large onion, diced
1 recipe for Pico de Gallo (page down)
10 large tortillas, I like whole wheat
1 32 oz can of vegan enchilada sauce (I like Carlito's brand), or home made
1 recipe for Avocado Salsa

1) Preheat the oven to 350. If using canned black beans, heat a little olive oil in a saute pan and saute the diced onion until soft. Add the drained and rinsed beans and heat through. If using my black bean recipe just have the beans ready to use in a bowl.

2) Pour about 1/3 of the enchilada sauce into the bottom of an 8 x 12 or 9 x 13 inch baking dish and spread a layer on the bottom of the dish. create an assembly line with the tortillas, black beans and pico de gallo.

3) Spoon some of the beans and some of the pico de gallo onto a tortilla and roll it up so that it is facing seem side down and transfer into the baking dish.

4) Once you have filled the baking dish spoon the rest of the enchilada sauce over the tortillas to completely cover them, you don't want them to dry out in the oven, and cover with foil.

5) Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees and then remove the foil, add vegan cheese if you are using any, and bake for another 5 or 10 minutes until lightly browned and bubbling. Serve topped with your favorite accompaniment.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Big Pot of Nourishing Black Beans

I often hear people complaining that health food stores are too expensive. I have never found this to be the case and I have a sneaky suspicion that these complainers are purchasing pre-packaged organic ready made specialty products, fancy cheese, and organic grass fed kobe beef when they visit said heath food stores.

I find health food stores to be quite comparable to regular grocery stores, if not a little more affordable, when I stick to the produce and bulk sections. To see if I was correct I did a little research while shopping for this recipe and my findings were quite interesting. A pound of local, organic black beans at the health food co-op costs $1.99. To purchase a pound of organic but not local black beans at the regular grocery store costs....$1.99. They also sell non-organic black beans at the regular grocery store for $1.83. And for those who think vegan food is more expensive than non-vegan food I checked the beef at the regular grocery store - 1 lb. of ground chuck was $3.98, 1 lb. of grass fed beef was $8.49, and 1 lb. organic grass fed beef was $9.49 (plus the beef comes with saturated fat and cholesterol). So I'd say the locally grown organic black beans at the health food store are a pretty good deal. I purchase all of my beans, lentils, whole grains and spices from the bulk section of health food stores and do not find it to be expensive at all.

To make this huge pot of black beans it cost me $2.00 for the beans (I already had the onion, salt, and herbs). We can get at least 30 tacos out of these beans using small corn tortillas or two huge baking dishes full of enchiladas using large flour tortillas (try doing that with a pound of beef!). So I say health food stores are not expensive, but organic junk food might be.

1 lb. dried black beans, sorted, rinsed and soaked for 6-8 hours
Filtered water
2 white onions, roughly chopped
2 bay leaves
1 Tbsp. sea salt
1 Tbsp. dried Mexican oregano or epasote (optional)

1) Measure out 1 lb. of black beans and spread them out on a light colored kitchen towel. Sort through the beans and remove any broken, discolored or malformed beans and foreign matter and discard.

2) Place the beans in a strainer and rinse thoroughly. Then transfer the beans to a glass or ceramic bowl and cover with about 2 inches of water and let them soak for 6-8 hours, adding more water if the beans start to expand above the level of the water.

3) After the beans have soaked, drain them through a strainer and rinse them. Place them in a large pot with the onions and bay leaves and cover with about 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer and keep them uncovered.

4) As the beans cook keep stirring and adding more water as necessary to keep them submerged.  After about 2 hours of mostly inactive cooking time the beans will be almost soft. At this point add the salt and Mexican oregano and start to let the water evaporate and thicken.

5) As the water begins to boil off stir the beans frequently to avoid sticking and burning. Once the beans are completely soft and the sauce is to the thickness you want then they are done.

A few notes on cooking dried beans:
-It seems like it takes a long time, but most of the cooking time is inactive so really it's not a lot of work.
-You must make sure that the beans are completely soft. If you eat beans that are still a little hard they will continue to expand in your stomach and this will be very, very painful.
-Rinsing off the soaking water, using Epazote or Mexican oregano, and boiling with the lid off are all said to reduce the gassy effects of beans. But if you still experience gas maybe you can have a farting contest.

Some things you can do with these beans:
-Use them to make tacos, burritos or enchiladas.
-Make them a little saucier and mix them with cooked brown rice topped with a little salsa and guacamole.
-Use them in any recipe that calls for beans such as black bean burgers or vegan taco salad.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Buffalo Tempeh Taco Salad

If you made the vegan buttermilk ranch dressing earlier this week, here is a delicious salad to use some of it up on.

8 oz. tempeh, sliced crosswise
Extra virgin olive oil
Louisiana hot sauce or tobasco to taste
2 hearts of romaine lettuce, roughly chopped (about 4-5 cups)
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 c. black beans, home made or canned
1/4 c. minced fresh cilantro
Thinly sliced red or green onions
1 avocado diced
Diced tomatoes (optional)
1/2 to 3/4 c. vegan buttermilk ranch dressing
(or your favorite store bought brand)

1) Heat a little olive oil in a saute pan. Thinly slice the tempeh in 1/4 inch strips cross-wise and saute over medium-high heat until lightly browned on each side, about 4-5 minutes per side. Set aside to cool a bit and then drizzle with a little Louisiana hot sauce or Tobasco to coat.

2) In a small bowl whisk together 1/2 -3/4 c. vegan buttermilk ranch dressing with some Louisiana hot sauce or Tobasco to taste.

3) Prepare the remaining salad ingredients and place in a large bowl. Toss the salad with the dressing and divide onto serving dishes. Place the tempeh atop the salads and serve.

This will serve 2 as a main dish and 4 as a side salad.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Fried Green Tomatoes

I grew up in Minnesota and as far as I know fried green tomatoes are not popular here, which is a shame. The first time I tried fried green tomatoes was as an adult at a cafe in San Louis Obispo, CA at the urging of my dear friend Gwen (who happens to be from the south). I could eat paste with Gwen and it would be pleasant, so maybe I made up this recipe to remind me of her since I miss her all the time and it's way better than paste.

Obviously you have to grow (or know someone who grows) tomatoes and pick some that are green since they don't sell them in the supermarket...at least they don't in Minnesota. Maybe they do in the south, in which case, luckies!

4 large green tomatoes, 1/2 inch thick slices
1/2 c. fine corn meal
1 tsp. smoked paprika, or sweet if you don't have smoked
Dash of cayenne
Sea salt and black pepper

1) Slice the tomatoes into 1/2" thick rounds and sprinkle with salt & pepper. Lay them out on some paper towels or a kitchen towel for a few minutes so that they can get juicy from the salt.

2) Mix the cornmeal, paprika and cayenne in a wide bowl or pie pan. After the tomatoes have been salted for a few minutes coat them in the cornmeal and spice mixture.

3) Heat 1/4 c. canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat (more high than medium). Put a layer of coated tomatoes into the pan do not crowd them. Fry the tomatoes until golden brown on each side, about 3-5 minutes per side, making sure to be very careful as you flip the tomatoes.

4) Remove the tomatoes when they are evenly browned on both sides and carefully place on a wire rack or in a colander so that they don't get soggy.

5) Continue to fry the tomatoes in batches, adding more oil as necessary until the tomatoes are done.

To serve, drizzle the tomatoes with homemade vegan buttermilk ranch dressing and Louisiana Hot Sauce.

Vegan Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

This ranch dressing is very herby. I give suggestions for what fresh herbs to use, but the idea is to use a lot of different fresh herbs that you like. The soy milk, lemon juice combo is used to mimic the traditional buttermilk ranch flavor.

2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/3 c. plain soy milk
2 c. vegenaise
1 clove fresh garlic
1/2 head roasted garlic (how to roast garlic)
1/2 a small yellow or white onion, diced
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1 Tbsp. chives, minced
1 Tbsp. Italian parsley, minced
2 tsp. fresh oregano, marjoram or tarragon, minced
2 Tbsp. fresh basil, minced

1) Combine the soy milk and lemon juice in a small bowl and stir to combine (this is your buttermilk), set aside.

 2) Combine vegenaise, roasted garlic, onion, salt and pepper in a food processor or blender and process until pureed. With the food processor still running, slowly pour in the soy milk/lemon mixture and turn off the machine.

Remove the cloves of roasted garlic by sliding them out with a knife.
3) Add the herbs and pulse to combine. Taste for seasoning and add more salt, pepper or lemon if needed. Transfer to a mason jar or air tight container and refrigerate for up to 1 week.

This makes about 2 1/4 c. of dressing and besides salads can be used on fried green tomatoes or other vegetables.

Want your kids to eat more vegetables? Give them some of this vegan ranch dressing, here is 5 year old Simone finishing up her plate of vegetables:

Roasted Garlic

Roasted garlic can be spread on toast, mashed up with potatoes, added to soup or used to make delicious sauces. I use roasted garlic for several recipes including vegan buttermilk ranch dressing, so I thought I should put it on here. It's so easy, but so delicious.

1 head of garlic with it's head chopped off, meaning cut off the top 1/4 to 1/2 inch to expose the cloves
Sea salt
Extra virgin olive oil

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cut off the top of the garlic head to expose each clove.

2) Place the garlic on a sheet of foil and drizzle with a little olive oil & sprinkle with a little sea salt.

3) Fold up the foil and bake the garlic for 40 to 60 minutes until the garlic is fragrant and the cloves are nicely browned and softened.

To use, squeeze out as many cloves as you want to use. Or stab a clove with a knife and slide it out. Store the remainder in the fridge until ready to use for a future recipe.

Photo courtesy of Vera Lehner

Friday, July 20, 2012

Cherry Tomato Salad

I don't know if I would even call this a recipe, it's more of a way to use up cherry tomatoes. I'm the only person in my family who enjoys raw tomatoes and yet every summer I insist on growing copious amounts of cherry tomatoes in our garden. Faced with such bounty I must eat this salad almost every day for lunch or else be buried in a pile of cherry tomatoes and a knowing, "I told you so."

The amounts below would serve about 2 people. It's easy to cut it in half to serve one, but really put in any amount of each vegetable that you want. Incidentally, if you were to use 1/2 c. of each vegetable you will be getting the 5 daily servings of vegetables recommended by the USDA.

About 10-15 cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 a red onion, diced
1 avocado, diced
1/2 a large cucumber, peeled, seeded & diced
2-4 fresh basil leaves, cut into ribbons (optional)
1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar and/or fresh lemon juice
Sea salt and black pepper to taste

1) Chop the vegetables and place them in a large bowl.

2) Drizzle the remaining ingredients over the salad, season with salt and pepper and toss.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Barbecue Tempeh Pizza

This is because I love pizza and I love barbecue sauce. I used to bake potatoes to use solely as a medium to consume barbecue sauce. I like my barbecue sauce to be smoky and a little spicy and my favorite store bought one is "Stubb's Smokey Mesquite."

1 pizza crust, store bought or home made
8 oz. package of tempeh, sliced thinly crosswise
Extra virgin olive oil
About 1/2-3/4 c. barbecue sauce, separated, store bought or home made
Pickled jalapenos, as many as you want
About 3/4 -1 c. grated vegan cheese (I like Daiya brand best)
1/2 a small red onion, thinly sliced

1) Preheat the oven according to the directions for the crust you are using. Spread a thin layer of barbecue sauce on the crust and thinly slice the tempeh.

2) Preheat a little olive oil in a saute pan and brown the tempeh on both sides. This will take about 5 minutes on the first side and 3 minutes on the second side.


3) Once the tempeh is done let it cool for a few minutes and then toss it in a little barbecue sauce to coat.

4) Add the tempeh to the pizza and place it evenly over the crust. Add the jalapenos evenly over the tempeh.

Photo courtesy of Christina Lehner
5) Add the cheese and top with the onions. Bake according the the instructions for the crust you are using and enjoy!

Simple Vinaigrette

Don't buy salad dressing. You don't need to be super exact with this, just eyeball it.

A pinch of sea salt, maybe 1/4 tsp.
A dash of black pepper, maybe 1/8 tsp.
1/2 tsp. Dijon Mustard
3/4 tsp. pure maple syrup
3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 shallot, minced (optional)
1/4 to 1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil

1) In a small bowl add the first 5 ingredients

2) Whisk in the olive oil

3) Taste for balance adding more salt, vinegar, oil or maple syrup in very small amounts, if needed, and drizzle over a large salad or store in the refrigerator for at least a week.

Kalamata Zucchini Hummus

This can be raw if you use raw tahini. But it's still good and lower in calories even if you use roasted tahini because you're using zucchini in the place of chickpeas. Raw tahini is very expensive, which seems kind of silly since roasting is an extra step in processing. Perhaps the price is related to shelf life. In any case, use whatever kind of tahini you want. I hear there is a tahini made out of black sesame seeds, that would be interesting to try. This is the perfect recipe for using up the obscene amount of zucchini that your neighbors pawn off on you from their garden. It's easy to double this recipe if you like it.

Romaine Wraps with raw Kalamata Zucchini Hummus, bell peppers, cucumbers and sprouts:

1 small/medium zucchini, peeled (about 1 c.)
Juice of 1 fresh lemon, 2-3 Tbsp.
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/4 c. pitted kalamata olives, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp. raw or roasted tahini
A dash each of:
-sea salt

1) Place all of the ingredients into a blender or mini-processor and process until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary. Add a little water or more lemon juice to aid in processing as necessary.

2) Use a spatula to scrape the hummus into a storage container and refrigerate. This hummus should keep about 4-5 days.

My sister-in-law, Christina,  made this with fresh mini bell peppers blended in and it tasted excellent.   You could also try adding fresh herbs or sun dried tomatoes.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Pad Kee Mow (Drunken Noodles)

If I could eat the daily diet of any other culture I would choose Thai. We traveled there in 2001 to visit some of our closest friends and I must have gained 10 pounds eating my way through Thailand. My favorite Thai dish is Pad Kee Mow and I judge every Thai restaurant by the quality of this dish. Tragically, there are no Thai Restaurants in Mankato. The closest good Thai restaurant is  Senyai-Senlek  ( http://www.senyai-senlek.com/ ) in Minneapolis, but it takes us 90 minutes to get there and sometimes a girl needs some pad kee mow right now.

I've tried dozens of pad kee mow recipes and finally adapted them all into what I deem an almost perfect dish. I can't claim it measures up perfectly to what you can get in Thailand, but if you aren't going to Bangkok anytime soon you can just make this. I love this dish so much that I grow Thai basil and Thai chiles for it in the summer, but they are now pretty common in most large grocery stores as well.

Things start to go quickly once you begin the stir fry, so it helps to have everything ready and in place before you start.

4 Tbsp. light soy sauce or tamari
4 Tbsp. mushroom flavored soy sauce
1 Tbsp. vegetable boullion base
1 scant Tbsp. sugar

1/4 c. canola oil
1 lb. extra firm tofu, cut into cubes
1 lb. rice stick noodles, the thickest ones you can find
1 shallot, finely minced
6 cloves garlic, finely minced
1-4 Thai red chiles, finely minced (or 1-2 Tbsp. chile garlic paste if you can't find Thai chilis)
1 white onion, halved and sliced thinly lengthwise
1 red bell pepper, roughly chopped
1 green bell pepper, roughly chopped
About 10 crimini or button mushrooms, quartered
1/4 c. Thai basil leaves (or regular basil if you can't find Thai)
10-15 cherry tomatoes, halved

1) Mix together the ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl making sure to dissolve the sugar and set aside.

2) Heat a large pot of water on the stove and prepare the rice stick noodles according to the package directions. Try to time it so that the noodles get done almost just before you're ready to add them to the stir fry or they will stick together as they wait to be added.  One option is to start the stir fry as you bring the water to a boil and then turn it off once everything is ready and turn it back on when the noodles are ready to be added.

3) In a wok heat the oil over high heat and fry the tofu in two batches until lightly browned on two opposing sides, about 5-7 minutes per side. Place the tofu on a plate lined with paper towels to drain the excess oil and set aside. This is something you could do ahead of time and either keep it warm or reheat it when you are ready to use it.

4) In the same oil, over medium-high heat add the shallots, garlic and chiles or chile paste and saute for about 3 minutes. Add the onion and saute for about 3 minutes more. Add the peppers and mushrooms and saute for about 3 minutes more.

5) When the noodles are done drain them and add them to the stir fry along with the fried tofu, the cherry tomatoes and the sauce. Toss to coat and stir fry for another few minutes.

6) Turn off the heat and add the Thai basil leaves and toss once more to distribute the basil.

This serves about 6 unless I'm there, then it only serves 4.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Strawberry Peach Smoothie

If you start making these smoothies you will notice there are several ingredients I use as a base for all of them. I made this one simply because frozen peaches were on sale and it turned out quite nicely. I think it's my second favorite smoothie right now. I don't really follow any of the amounts strictly, so when I say 1 c. of strawberries I mean dump in a bunch of strawberries.

1 c. raw almond milk, or store bought nut or soy milk
1 Tbsp. raw almond butter (Trader Joe's has the best price for this)
1 banana, broken into pieces
2-3 dried dates, minced (Trader Joe's has a good price on these, ethnic grocery stores usually have even better prices)
Small drizzle of vanilla extract (optional)
1 c. frozen strawberries
1 c. frozen peaches

Place it all in the blender and blend until smooth. Keep in mind it will all blend together better if you place the wet ingredients into the blender first.

Cherry Almond Smoothie

This is my personal favorite smoothie in the world. I think it came to me from above because The Almighty knew how much I'd love it. I don't really follow any of the amounts strictly, so when I say 1 Tbsp. of almond butter I mean a big blob of it.

1 c. raw almond milk, or store bought nut or soy milk
1 Tbsp. raw almond butter (Trader Joe's has the best price for this)
1 banana, broken into pieces
2-3 dried dates, minced (Trader Joe's has a good price on these, ethnic grocery stores usually have even better prices)
Small drizzle of vanilla extract
Small drizzle of almond extract
1 c. frozen cherries

Place it all in the blender and blend until smooth. Keep in mind it will all blend together better if you place the wet ingredients into the blender first.

Nate and Mr. Miyagi enjoy a smoothie - Photo courtesy of Christina Lehner

Blueberry Orange Smoothie

I got into smoothies when I tried to eat all raw food one summer. I felt amazing that whole summer but it wasn't something I felt I could keep up 100% of the time. The smoothies stuck with me though so I'm going to post some of my favorites. I don't really follow any of the amounts strictly, so when I say 1 Tbsp. of almond butter I mean a big blob of it, or when I say 1 c. of blueberries I mean dump in a bunch of blueberries. You can also add any supplements that you'd like to this such as nutritional yeast, spirulina, flax oil, greens, etc.

3/4 c. raw almond milk, or store bought nut or soy milk
1 Tbsp. raw almond butter (Trader Joe's has the best price for this)
1 banana, broken into pieces
2-3 dried dates, minced (Trader Joe's has a good price on these, ethnic grocery stores usually have even better prices)
Small drizzle of vanilla extract (optional)
1 whole orange, skin and seeds removed, or 1/2 c. pure orange juice
1 c. frozen blueberries

Place it all in the blender and blend until smooth. Keep in mind it will all blend together better if you place the wet ingredients into the blender first.

Raw Almond Milk

I use this to make smoothies and I think it tastes much fresher than store bought almond milk, however, it only keeps in the fridge for 4-5 days. When raw almonds are soaked the natural enzymes in the nut become nutritionally available, but you can also make this if you forget to soak the almonds.

3/4 c. raw almonds
Purified water
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract (optional)
1/8 tsp. almond extract (optional)

1) Place the raw almonds in a ceramic or glass bowl and cover them with at least an inch of water as they will expand quite a bit. Leave them to soak over night or for 10-12 hours. They will start to look kind of slimy by the end.

2) Drain the almonds in a fine mesh strainer and rinse thoroughly.

3) Transfer the almonds to a blender and add 4 cups of purified water and the vanilla and almond extracts, if using.

4) Blend on high until the nuts are pulverized and you have a white liquid (about 45 seconds):

5) Place the strainer you used to drain the nuts over a large bowl and pour the almond milk through the strainer into the bowl. Then pour the milk into a mason jar or some other container and refrigerate.