So now that we know the health benefits of green smoothies, how do I make the perfect one…and what should I expect in the perfect one.
The perfect green smoothie is the perfect blended of your favorite fresh fruits and dark leafy greens…blended with the perfect textures and with no bitter flavors….giving you not only great flavor, but also optimal nutrients every time.
And making the perfect green smoothie is more of a method instead of an actual recipe….but let’s first talk about the ingredients….or perhaps a ratio—60% fruits to 40% leafy greens.
There are hundreds of types of greens out there–try any of them and mix things up to find flavor combinations you like. , any kind of green will work…All greens have nutrients and anti-nutrients…rotate your greens regularly….be cognizant of flavor when choosing your greens. Spinach will have a milder flavor, so you can get away with using quite a lot without running into taste issues; arugula, on the other hand, is quite spicy, so you might want to add in some other stronger flavors to balance that out…
- collard greens
- fresh herbs—such as cilantro, basil, parsley and mint
- green cabbage
- pea shoots
- Swiss chard
- mixture of any of the above
Fruit gives your green smoothies extra nutrition, texture and flavor…not to mention the fact that adding fruit keeps your green smoothie from tasting like a smooshed-up blended salad.
Adding fruit to your your smoothie also means that you won’t need to add any artificial sweeteners, honey, agave nectar, or processed sugars…because fruit is naturally sweet.
Bananas or avocados are the secret to making perfectly sweet and creamy weapon smoothies….they also help bind together the rest of the ingredients…bananas are also sweeter than most other fruit. Bananas are especially good if you have peeled and frozen them first.
Ice can be hard on your blender and will dilute your smoothie’s flavor.
You can either chop and freeze your own ripe fruit or berries, or buy the the packaged stuff…and by the way I just discovered that you can freeze your wilting package of greens by simply sticking it in your freezer…learn something new every day, right?
Use about 1C fruit per serving…about twice as much fruit as you have in liquid or greens—preferably frozen fruit because you never want to add ice to your smoothie.
Fruits that you might consider include…
- pitted dates
Obviously if you’re gonna make a green smoothie, or any smoothie, you will need some sort of liquid. You can try whatever liquid you like, but you might want to avoid sweetened liquids because the fruit will add enough sweetness on its own.
Use anywhere from 1/2C to 1C per serving.
A few options include…
buttermilk—not so sure about this, but great for making pancakes or biscuits…might have to try it
- coconut water
- cold brew coffee
- cold brewed tea—especially mint tea or green tea
- nondairy milks—such as unsweetened almond milk or coconut milk
“plain old water”
Now that we’ve talked about the three basic ingredients of a perfect smoothie—the greens, the fruit, and the liquid—let’s explore other optional ingredients and a few recipes for the different health benefits that green smoothies are helpful for.
Many of these ingredients will be for helping the smoothies taste better…others will be for getting additional health benefits…while some will do both.
- Bee pollen
- Coconut oil
- Cucumbers…cucumber have a high nutrition content, as well as a high water content…and the green peel is excellent for you
- Fresh herbs—such as basil, cilantro, and thyme
- Gelatin powder
- Himalayan salt
- Maca powder
- Nuts—such as raw almonds or raw walnuts
- Oats that have been soaked in water overnight, or at least for ten minutes
- Oils—such as flax oil
- Seeds—such as flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds
- Superfood powders—such as cacao, maca, and acai powder
- Spices—such as ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, turmeric, cayenne, chili powder, or some combination of these
- Unsweetened protein powder
- Vitamin C powder
So by now, you have probably realized the countless ways to make green smoothies, not to mention smoothies in general…I sure have, especially after studying probabilities in order to take my GMAT in three weeks…
But don’t worry…in the next post we will be talking about how to make your green smoothie…and then looking at various smoothies that you might want to try, based on the specific health benefit you are considering at the given moment.
Why has it become just another step in my daily routine?
Tools and Techniques
First of all there are different tools and techniques can I use to help me start drinking the suggested amount of water each day?
1. Carry a small refillable water bottle with you everywhere you go.,,,Using a reusable water bottle does not create the litter that typical water bottles do, is environmental-friendly, makes you a smarter consumer, saves water, and saves you money.
What factors should you consider when choosing a water bottle?
The first factor to consider is what material the bottle is made from. Water bottles can be found in many different materials—including aluminum, stainless steel, plastic, polyethylene, and copolyester.
Glass…bottlesUP, Life Factory, Love Bottle, Takeya
- Metal…Earth Lust, Hydro Flask, Klean Kanteen
- Plastic…Fit & Fresh, GOBIEH20, Nalgene
In addition to the material that the bottle is made from, you also need to recognize how easy the bottle will be to both carry and to clean, how easy the bottle will be able to fill with ice cubes and water, what type of drinking valve the bottle has, how big the bottle is, and whether or not the bottle has a filter.
Another option would be a specially designed fruit infused water pitcher with an infusion chamber.
They work great, the large pitchers look fantastic on a dinner table and encourage your family to drink more water, and the travel bottles help keep you hydrated all day long.
You can refill the pitcher or travel bottle several times before it starts to lose flavor.
You can even eat the cucumber slices if you like, but discard your batch after 24 hours.
2. Decide when you want to drink your water. A few suggestions are…
- Before Meals...makes you feel full and helps you eat fewer calories.
- Certain parts of your daily routine—such as when you first get up, just before leaving the house, when you sit down to work, whenever you get up from your desk at work to take a bathroom break, after your brush your teeth in the morning, and right before you eat lunch.
- Hourly...ensures that your water quote is met by the end of the day.
- Morning…gives you more energy to face the day ahead.
3. Enlist other people to help you reach this goal.
4. Fill a larger pitcher or bottle with the amount of water you want to drink each day.
5. Invest in a filter.
6. Make your own carbonated water with the help of a home “seltzer” machine.
7. Use a straw so that you drink faster, and drink more at one time.
Cucumber Water…One way to make water a little less boring is to add fruit and veggies. The first one that we are going to consider is cucumber.
To make the perfect cucumber water, add 1/2″ slices of cucumber to your ice water. Top the cucumbers with more ice so they won’t float up to the top.
In addition to the cucumber, you could also add…
- herbs—such as tosemary or rhyme
Water-rich foods….One sneaky way to increase the amount of water you consume on a daily basis: eat your H2O. Addfruits and vegetables with a high water content to your grocery shopping list. Some top picks include cucumber (96% water), zucchini (95% water), watermelon (92% water), and grapefruit (91% water).
Spicy foods…Garnish your meal with chili flakes or fresh peppers and you’ll be reaching for more water in no time. Another benefit of adding heat? Some studies show that spicy food may help boost your metabolism.
Sparkling Water…Choose sparkllng or mineral water instead of Cokes…( yes, I am from the Deep South, so every single carbonated beverage know to man is referred to as Coke)…Sparkling or mineral water is just as good for your body as regular water…and much more interesting..
Other water-based beverages….Gee, both hot tea or unsweetened iced tea contain water. You could also reach your water goal for the day by drinking juice, lemonade, or iced coffee.
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I feel like I have gone on so many tangents while writing this blog that they couldn’t possibly be counted.
I have gone all the way from learning to live a cruelty-free lifestyle and clean eating…to making scones with lots and lots of sugar and butter.
This latest tangent has been a result of “the resident five year old” going back to school.
Realizing that he never eats his lunch at school, I have learned the importance of making him a good breakfast instead.
So I have wanted to build myself an arsenal of breakfast recipes to keep him well fed…and hopefully well behaved at school.
So before we go on, let’s give our “breakfast cookbook” a Table of Contents…
Table of Contents
In the last post, we talked about how to make the perfect biscuits…
Now let’s learn how to make the biscuit’s closest kid—the scone—anotherf quick bread that is made using very similar ingredients and techniques.
The perect scones are moist, light, tall and fluffy…slightly crispy on the outside…puffy and tender on the inside…with just the right amount of sweetness…served with jam, clotted cream, butter, or simply eaten plain. the perfect treat for breakfast or afternoon tea.
That is, assuming you’re an American.
True British scones are actually drier and more crumbly.
The “original” scones, called “bannocks,” were actually large round breads that were made simply of oat or barley flour and water…and then dry-fried on a griddle before being cut apart into wedge shapes.
When it comes to making the perfect scones, you have to have quality ingredients and know the correct method of making them instead of just slopping all the ingredients together and hoping that they come out fit to eat.
By now, whenever you read a recipe for a bread that uses baking soda or baking powder…instead of yeast…to make the bread rise, you should see a pattern emerge.
This pattern of doing things is called the “quick bread method.”
Once you see just how easy it is to make scones yourself, they will no longer be a rarely eaten treat served only for special-day breakfasts and formal high-tea fare….scones that are just as good, if not better, than the ones that I fork over how much money at Starbucks every time that I splurge and buy myself coffee there.
So let’s get started.
- 1Tbsp baking powder
- 2C flour
- 1/2tsp salt
- 1/2C sugar
- 1/2C butter
- 1 egg
- 1C heavy cream or buttermilk
- 1tsp vanilla
The Baking Powder…If you forget the baking powder, your scones will not rise…go figure…
The Sugar…This may seem like a lot of sugar…feel free to experiment to find out if you still like the taste using less sugar…but remember that changing the amount of sugar that you use will chl
If you are making savory scones, reduce this amount to about 2Tbsp.
Brown sugar often makes certain flavors of scones taste even better, but if you are using brown sugar, you should whisk your wet ingredients until you get out all the lumps of brown sugar…otherwise, guess what your scones will contain…
Lumps of brown sugar…obviously.
The Butter…Butter is responsible for the crisp edges, flakiness, flavor, and rise of your scones.
The Egg…Eggs add flavor, lift, and structure.
The Milk…The thicker this dairy ptoduct is, the more your scones will rise and the better they will taste. If you are looking for a “politically correct” form of milk, choose one from this previous post regarding milk options.
The Vanilla Extract… because all baked goods require vanilla, right?!
Wrong…Don’t use the vanilla if you are making savory scones…as opposed to sweet ones.
Optional Ingredients…The optional ingredients that yuu can incorporate into your batter change the taste of your scones and make them much more fun.
A few options include the following…
Chopped Nuts…Add these after cutting in the butter…but before adding the liquid.
Citrus Zest…Add one of the following into the liquid ingredient
Extracts…Add one of the following into the liquid ingredients
Fruit…Use either fresh or frozen fruit. If using frozen fruit, do not thaw the fruit out first. Peel fruits such as apples, peaches, or pears before chopping.
Glaze or Frosting…Top your cooked, slightly cooled scones with one of the following…
- Brown butter icing
- Cream cheese frosting
- Lemon curd
- Lemon icing
- Maple icing
- Orange icing
- Powdered sugar glaze
- Raspberry icing
- Salted caramel frosting
Herbs…Add one of the following into your dry ingredients…
Spices …Add 1/2 to 1tsp one of the following into your dry ingredients….
- Chocolate chips
- Toasted coconut
The Prep Work
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Adjust oven rack to center position.
Line two rimmed cookie sheets with parchment paper and/or spray with nonstick vegetable oil spray or baking spray.
Stick your butter in the freezer.
The Dry Ingredients
Whisk together your dry ingredients—the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder— in a large bowl.
…or simply pull out your KitchenAid to do this instead.
Actually we moved last month and I’ve had to hide the red KitchenAid that I love so much because there’s not enough space between the lower and upper kitchen cabinets for it to fit.
Regardless which method you are using, be sure to use a big enough bowl that will allow you lots of room to work in when combining your ingredients..
Add any herbs or spices that you have chosen at this point.
Working with the Dough
I am so not a morning person…I do not function well until I have had at least two pots of coffee.
So anything I can do the night before—such as make school lunches, lay out clothes, and so forth—I try to always do this the night before.
Heaven forbid that I stand up for how long making slice after slice of French toast.
Fortunately there is an awesome way to make French toast the night before.
In fact, not only does this make ahead French toast casserole allow you not to stand any more than you have to…to serve everyone at the same time…to make rushing out the door even easier because you already have breakfast made…
Refrigerating this casserole overnight allows the bread to soak up the custard and makes the dish taste even better than it would have otherwise.
The perfect French toast has a sweet custard-like flavor, the texture of ordinary French toast, a crispy layer of streusel topping on top, and just the right amount of cinnamon.
- 1 loaf crusty bread—such as French bread, sourdough, challah, brioche or ciabatta
- 6 eggs
- 1-1/2C milk
- 1-1/4C brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp powdered sugar (don’t leave it out, trust me)
- 1Tbsp vanilla
- 1tsp cinnamon
- 4Tbsp melted butter
- 3Tbsp brown sugar
- 1tsp cinnamon
- 1/2tsp nutmeg
- Dried cranberries
- Maple syrup
- Powdered sugar
- Fruit…such as strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, kiwi, pineapple, or bananas
1. Bread….Pretty much anything other than normal sandwich bread will end up making an even better French toast casserole. Save that for your kid’s lunchbox peanut butter jelly sandwich that you have to make each night instead.
If you do use loaf bread, your casserole will typically end up tasting soggy and lacking texture.
Instead, explore with other options—such as challah or brioche.
Choose breads that are “crusty”…the crust will add texture to your dish.
Your French toast casserole will also taste much better if you use stale bread, instead of freshly baked….(another reason to make this casserole, right…as you clean out your pantry or make out your next grocery list and find that bread that you forgot that you bought sitting there just begging to be eaten)…
Cream Cheese…Cream cheese is optional…(wait, in a Southern girl’s world, c ream cheese is NEVER optional, right, Paula?!)..but if you do choose to use cream cheese, be sure that you use only a high quality full-fat cream cheese, such as Philadelphia brand.
2. Milk...Whole milk will give your casserole the richest taste and texture.
3. Powdered Sugar...Powdered sugar is another optional ingredient…at least for anyone not both in the Deep South.
Tear bread into cubes. Place the bread in a warm oven for minutes to dry slightly.
Spray your 9×13 with cooking spray.
Layer half of the bread into a 9×13.
Combine flour, eggs, milk, half and half, sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon. Pour this on top of the bread.
Top with the remaining bread.
To make the struesel…Combine melted butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon.
Pour the struesel evenly over the top of the casserole.
You can go ahead and bake it at this point…or you can make it ahead of time and refrigerate it.
If you are going to go ahead and bake your dish now, wait about twenty minutes first so that your bread can soak up the cream cheese mixture..
When you are ready to bake the dish…
Preheat oven to 350.
Cover dish with foil.
Bake for 20min.
Bake 20min…until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
Now that we’ve learned how to make the perfect pancakes, let’s move on to making the pancake’s kissing cousin…the waffle…
You might think to yourself, we just learned how to make the perfect pancake batter…can’t I simply use the same recipe to now make waffles…
Waffle batter and pancake batter may seem very similar….you really can’t use your pancake recipe and expect great waffles.
Pancake recipes are created to make flat things without a crispy exterior…
But before we learn HOW to make the perfect waffles, let’s talk about what the perfect waffles would be like.
The perfect waffles are buttery, sweet, and thick…with a perfectly crisp extterior……with a light and fluffy interior…and topped with the perfect amount of butter, syrup, and whatever else you wanna put on them.
- 1Tbsp baking powder
- 1/2gsp salt
- 2 eggs
- 2C buttermilk
- 1/4C butter
- 1tsp vanilla or 1Tbsp amaretto
- 1/3C vegetable oil
- 1/2C cornstarch
- 1-1/2C flour
- 3/4C sugar
The Waffle Iron
So go ahead and buy one that cooks waffles evenly if your waffle iron has become crabby and temperamental.
If you are shopping for a waffle iron, things to consider include…
- cool-touch handles...waffle irons with plastic handle heat up less than models with chrome or stainless-steel handles
- fllip style…using a waffle iton that you can flip pver after pouring in the batter will allow the batter to spread out evenly and also make sure that the waffle cooks evenly on both sides.
- size…think about how much space you have to store the waffle maker when you aren’t using it.
- temperature control...adjustable thermostats allow you to control the cooking temperature so that you can make both soft, light-colored waffles…as well as crispy, dark-colored waffles.
Now that you have bought…or found…your waffle iron it is important to read…or have read…the instruction manual because different waffle makers will cook differently.
Preheat Your Waffle Iron
Preheating your waffle iron before adding any batter to the waffle iron is very important for two reasons….prevents soggy waffles…and makes the batter turn crispy as soon as it hits the surface.
The “Dry” Ingredients
Place flour, sugar, cornstarch, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl, Whisk to combine. Set aside.
(Yes…I do realize that sugar is a dry ingredient, but add it later…you will soon see why.
First separate the egg yolks from the egg whites. This will give them a crispier exterior….as well as make the interior of the waffle more fluffy. and light, instead of heavy and dense.
Now add your sugar,
Whip your egg whites to the soft-peak stage., meaning until stiff peaks form….you should be able to lift the beaters straight out of the egg whites and invert the beaters, and find that the egg white stand up on their own.
The “Wet” Ingredients
Whisk together your egg yolks, milk, melted butter, and vanilla In a medium-sized mixing bowl.
The Buttermilk…If you do not have buttermilk in your fridge…and are too lazy to go to Walmart of somewhere and go get some, combine a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice or vinegar with to a cup of milk.
Some people recommend that you use a combination of buttermilk and regular milk because this makes your batter even thinner…personally I like the extra buttermilk flavor.
At this point, you should have three bowls of “stuff”===your dry ingredients, your wet ingredients, and your beaten egg whites.
So now let’s combine all three of these mixtures so that we can get on with out waffle making.
When stirring together your ingredients, it important that you never overmix your batter.
You want your batter to be smooth enough that it flows freely through the dimples of the waffle plate..yet not over-mixed to the point where the flour turns into gluten… making your pancakes chewier, instead of fluffy.
So at this stage, a gentle hand and patience and very important..
Anyway…how do we do this?
- Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, using a rubber spatula and a gentle motion.
- Mix together until smooth.
- Now scoop the beaten egg whites into the batter, just until combined. It is important that you do this very gently..
- Fold the egg whites gently into the batter….being careful not to deflate them..
Cooking the Pancakes
Scoop 1/2C batter into the center of your waffle iron,
Close the lid.
Let cook until the indicator light or beeping mechanism does its thing. Do not lift the lid too soon. Lifting the lid too soon could mean that half of your waffle ends up on the top of the waffle iron…while the other stays on the bottom..
Remove hot waffles from the waffle iron.
The that waffle that you make is probably not going to turn out perfectly. If so, you may need to adjust the amount of batter or color control settings until you get the results you
Respray the waffle pan after each waffle.
Continue cooking waffles until all batter is used,.
Keeping Your Waffles Warm
Preheat oven to 200°F.
Place the cooked waffles directly on the oven rack while finishing cooking the rest of the waffles.
Not only will this keep the waffles warm as you are cooking, but doing this will also make your waffles crispier by allowing the steam to escape and will allow everyone to eat at the same time instead of staggeredly, as each individual waffle finishes cooking.
Just make sure the waffles do not burn…five minutes is about the maximum amount of time they can sray in your oven without burning.
And do not stack the waffles…otherwise, they will turn moist and limp.
Place any leftover pancakes in a freezer bag once they cool down. Place wax paper between multiple waffles. Squeeze as much air from the bag as possible.
Set out however many waffles you need on the counter for ten minutes…while you preheat the oven to 300 degrees .
Clean your waffle iron shortly after each use. This will make cleaning the waffle iron so much easier than if you wait and clean it much later after
Use a plastic or rubber utensil to remove waffles from the waffle iron. Using a metal fork or knife could eventually damage the sufaces of your waffle iron.