Tag Archives: fruit

Here Be Monsters

24 Jul

I don’t really like vegetables.

I mean, they’re ok, and often quite good prepared certain ways, but I can’t say I get excited about them. I do see the irony in this, yes: a vegetarian blog by someone who doesn’t love vegetables? If I had my druthers, all the vegetable nutrition in the world would be contained in russet potatoes, corn, mushrooms, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and onions. Carrots and celery are acceptable if they have been cooked long enough to take on the flavor of whatever they’re in–soup, pot roast–i.e., they must not taste like carrots or celery. My husband happily munches spinach straight from the bag. I kind of want to punch him.

I want to make it clear that I do not lead a vegetableless existence. I do eat salads, last night’s dinner had eggplant, asparagus is great in frittatas, and so on. But my vegetable consumption, especially greens, is too low for any reasonably health-conscious adult. So how could I get the greens without needing to sit dejectedly in front of a pile of kale?

Smoothie-making, and its cousin, Juicing, are getting a bad rap, and in some ways they deserve it. Sugar is sugar no matter how you slice it, and fruit has a lot of sugar. So, smoothies can be a glycemic disaster, and juicing is even worse, because you’ve lost the regulating benefits of fiber. And the fat content can vary wildly, in either direction: add fruit to frozen yogurt and you might as well have a milkshake; add only fruit to water and you’ll be hungry in an hour.

So how can you avoid a monstrous concoction that will give you nothing but trouble? Keep a few things in mind:

Is there fat or protein?
Fat and protein = full. Most smoothie recipes use banana to make them, well, smooth. But try avocado instead. Yes, it’s high in fat, but not that kind of fat, and it’s lower in sugar, which means you’ll feel satisfied longer. Avocados do require a little planning  to give them time to ripen, and once they’re ripe they need to be used quickly, but it is possible to freeze them for ease of use. Just puree in a blender with 1 teaspoon of lemon juice per avocado, and then use an ice cube tray to freeze individual portions. The cubes should be good for about three months.

Plain greek yogurt or protein powder work well too–you’re unlikely to notice the “grit” that protein drinks made with water have. And for heaven’s sake, none of that Dannon or Yoplait stuff if you go the yogurt route. Avoid added sugar in whatever dairy or protein you decide to incorporate (plain yogurt, unsweetened almond milk, plain nut butters, etc.).

Is there fiber?
Fat and protein and fiber = a smoothie that will keep you going until lunch, or dinner, or whatever. Don’t forget that even a “good” smoothie has as many calories as a meal–they’re not snacks. (Unless you can allot 350 or so calories per snack, in which case you are probably hanging around the Olympic pool this week.)

Is there sugar?
Trick question. Unless you’re doing an all-veg smoothie, your fruit is contributing plenty of sugar. I do find that  some frozen fruit (pineapple, raspberry) is less sweet than fresh, so I sometimes add a little raw honey if I’m using a greens mix that is particularly…assertive. I can’t comment on things like stevia, as I haven’t branched that far into alternative sweeteners.

So, there are about a million green smoothie recipes floating around the internet, some good, some bad, but here’s what I’ve been drinking these days to help myself feel a little more like a responsible adult. Would I be better off with a salad? Sure. But what should happen and what is likely to happen, are, as we all know, two very different things.

color-coordinated green straw poking up Loch Ness style

Green Monster Smoothie

  • 1 granny smith apple, diced
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1/2 cup frozen pineapple bits
  • 2-3 cups greens (Trader Joe’s just came out with a kale, collard, and spinach mix!)
  • 1-2 cups water (start with one and add more if needed)
  • 1 teaspoon raw honey

Roar.

Black & Blue

19 Jul

Ever have one of those days that’s not truly bad, but not quite good either? One of those days when your plea to the universe is less “Why me?” and more “Come on, really”? A day when you realize that your grown-from-seed, vibrant-when-you-left pepper plants did not survive your weekend away? And the train pulls away the second you get to the platform, and you break the impossible-to-replace headphones you’ve used nearly every day for seven years, and your pizza crust fails for the fifteenth time? And the dryer is broken and you’re left with a pile of wet socks and underwear? Just one of those days when you’re feeling a little pushed around, a little bruised and black and blue?

Yeah, me too. Here’s some dessert to make us feel better.

Black & Blueberry Galette

for the filling:

  • 1 pound fresh mixed blueberries and blackberries (I used about 2/3 blueberries and 1/3 blackberries)
  • 1/3 cup sugar (3/4 cup if you prefer or if your berries are really tart)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch

for the crust:

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 tablespoon white or apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup ice water

to assemble:

  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • coarse sugar

To make the crust, combine the first three ingredients in a large bowl. Use a pastry blender to cut in the butter until it’s evenly distributed in pea-sized bits. Add the vinegar to the ice water and slowly pour in, stirring gently. Use just enough water to make the dough come together; it’s ok if it’s a bit crumbly. Divide the dough in two and place each pile on plastic wrap. Use the plastic wrap to shape the dough into discs. Refrigerate the wrapped dough for at least 1 hour. (This will make 2 crusts, so you’ll have one to freeze.)

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Gently stir together the berries, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, cinnamon and cornstarch.

Cut or fold a piece of parchment paper to the size of a rimless baking sheet. Lightly flour the parchment. Roll out the dough in a rough circle to 1/4″ thick.

Pile the fruit mixture into the center of the dough. Spread evenly, leaving a ring about 2″ wide. Working in one direction, gently fold up the sides of the crust over the fruit. Brush the dough with the beaten egg and sprinkle with coarse sugar.

Slide the pastry onto the baking sheet. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbling. Cool on a wire rack.