Fleeing the Dark Side With A Smoothie In Hand

If you’re with me on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, then over the last week or so saw photos of a spattering of our adventure highlights through Montana and Idaho:

  • A drive through Spokane, Washington where spots we frequented in college had me feeling nostalgic;
  • A visit to my brother-in-laws art studio;
  • The Montana Folk Festival (which we didn’t spend nearly enough time at);
  • Gold panning (where we worked really hard for specks of gold in one of the most beautiful, secluded spots I could have imagined);
  • Breakfast at Butte’s Hummingbird Cafe where we took over the outdoor patio; and,
  • Dinner at THE BEST place we ate the entire vacation: Casagranda’s. (I must add: if you are ever in Butte, DO NOT MISS THIS PLACE. They serve happy cows, and even consider kids real people who eat real food, which was evidenced by their kids menu that offered steak and potatoes in a kid-sized portion, and even a chicken breast with vegetables!)

We ended our adventures with two days totally unplugged in a remote river-front cabin in Idaho. It was idyllic – a real throwback to days before television and cell phones. The kids did ‘kid’ things, like poke at the fire, make smores, whittle, throw ninja stars against trees, read magazines, fly along the zip line, and learn to skip rocks. I woke up early each day and, and was rewarded with a glimpse of a moose tromping up the river about twenty yards from me as I sipped my hot, rich coffee.

In spite of the great adventure and the joys of our vacation, unfortunately… there was a dark side.

A dark dark side… a side we’ve since escaped, but we are still recovering from.

You ready?

The dark side of fake food.

Fast food. Gas station snacks. Grocery store packages. Ready-to-eat ‘meals’. Crackers. Chips. Hotel continental breakfasts with muffins, and little boxes of cereal, and bagels, and toast, and flavored-yogurts-so-full-of-sugar-we-might-as-well-had-a-candybar.

UGH.

We tried to keep it together. We made stops at grocery stores for fresh fruits and easy to eat veggies. We ordered eggs off the hotel menu (only to have the kids say the scrambled eggs were hard and didn’t taste like eggs). We tried to stop at the ‘good’ fast food places, and we drank lots and lots and LOTS of water.

None of it mattered, though. The ‘ease’ of the processed food and necessity of eating out and depending on others to ‘nourish’ us took us so far down that a peach or apple here or there couldn’t save us… and, by the end, we were hurting.

Battle worn. Sickly. Bloated and lethargic and flat-out gross.

I longed for my kitchen… longed for quinoa, raw nuts, fragrant herbs, dark leafy local greens, and berries off our Oregon bushes. Even my kids we begging when we were just a few hours out from home: “Mom, when we walk in the door can you cut me up some fruit and make me a smoothie?”

Oh, how I love them… and, you bet I obliged.

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Fresh. Clean. Green. Delicious.

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We fled the dark side with a smoothie in hand… and it was a glorious return to freshness.

If you’re not in the habit of doing smoothies at home, can I just tell you: you are missing out.

And, can I just encourage you: get to making them.

Here’s our favorite basic (that make with our Magic Bullet):

  • ice
  • frozen fruit (you can use fresh fruit, but using frozen fruit adds to the iciness)
  • sliced banana (gives creaminess)
  • raw spinach
  • water
  • ground flax
  • protein powder (the type bodybuilder’s use – we buy ours at Costco)

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That’s it! Throw it all in a blender and blend til smooth.

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Here’s a couple of tips:

1) Don’t overdo the ice when you’re using frozen fruit because it will end up too thick. Start with just a couple cubes of ice – you can always add more if you need to.

2) You don’t need juice for flavor. Juice you’ve juiced yourself is exceptional; juice we buy at the store is not. Don’t bother with it when you’re making smoothies – let the real fruit be your sweetener.

3) Proportions? I’d say about 1/2 cup frozen fruit, a small handful of raw spinach, 2 TSBP flax, 2 TBSP protein powder, 2 ice cubs, 1/2 diced banana and just enough water to allow it to blend.

Let me know if you make it… or, better yet: let me know what your favorite smoothie recipe is!

Cheers!

DSC07513(Now off I go to whip up some quinoa… I have a long way to go to feeling like myself again.)

Last Minute Dinner Idea: Kale, Sweet Potato, Black Bean Quinoa Soup

Contrary to popular belief, I’m often totally unprepared for dinner. Take last night, for example. At about 5:30 I was talking to my man on his drive home when he asked the typical question every man asks after a long day at work, “So, what’s for dinner?”

“Not sure yet,” I responded. “I was just figuring that out.”

He laughed. “It’s crazy, isn’t it? It just keeps happening… every single night. We just don’t stop needing to eat!”

Yep – every night. There is no rest for the weary.

BUT – while I am not always totally sure what I’ll be making, I am always very confident that I have the right things on hand to create something healthy, filling, and satisfying. This is where our ‘staples’ come in.

You can probably see from the recipes I post that much of what I cook is made of pretty simple ingredients: quinoa, leafy greens and other vegetables, beans, eggs, fruit, herbs. Some meats, lots of fish (although I haven’t posted many of these yet). You’ll also see a lot of olive oil, coconut milk, greek yogurt, and spices of various sorts.

We like simple.

We like clean.

I like ingredients that can be mixed and matched and it won’t take me two pages of directions to explain the recipe to my girlfriends.

So, here’s one of those types of recipes for you – one that you can throw together and have served in less than 30 minutes: Kale, Sweet Potato, Black Bean, Quinoa Soup. (You should know: I was a inspired by a recipe I had seen on Oh She Glows.)

Kale, Sweet Potato, Black Bean Quinoa Soup: Instant Dinner!

Kale, Sweet Potato, Black Bean Quinoa Soup: Instant Dinner!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1/4 cup EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced (NOTE: you can also use a small shallot for a lighter flavor)
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed and mashed
  • 1 bunch of kale, washed and cut into bite sized pieces (NOTE: when you use kale, you want to trim off the bottom half of the stems and discard them)
  • 3 palm sized sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite sized chunks (I used WHITE sweet potatoes… but you could also use other varieties, I’m sure)
  • 2 cups of broth
  • 3 cups of water
  • 2 cans of organic black beans, drained and rinsed (NOTE: canned beans are gold to a mama. Be sure when you buy them there are no preservatives; the label should simply say “beans, water” (and maybe “salt”)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 2 1/2 cups pre-cooked quinoa (You know: gotta ALWAYS have the precooked quinoa on hand when you’re cooking with me!)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • To Garnish: fresh avocado, cherry tomatos, cilantro, and jalapeño
  1. Heat a soup pot and add olive oil. When hot, add diced onion and garlic. Stir constantly to prevent burning.
  2. After about a minute or two (when onion is translucent), add in chopped kale. Saute the kale for about two minutes, tossing occassionally so that all leaves have been fully coated in oil.
  3. Add in the diced sweet potato and cumin. Stir entire mixture to coat. Add in the broth and the water; turn heat up to medium high and bring to a rapid boil. Once boiling, turn heat down to medium, cover, and let simmer for about 5 minutes. (This is a great time to prepare your garnishes.)
  4. After 5 minutes, check your potatoes for tenderness with a fork. (If they are still too firm to pierce with a fork, allow to simmer another couple of minutes. NOTE: you want the potatoes soft, but not mushy.) Once tender, add in your black beans, cooked quinoa, a little salt and a little pepper, and stir to mix completely.
  5. DONE!
A Beautifully Simple Soup

A Beautifully Simple Soup

TO SERVE: Ladle out the soup into bowls and then time for the magic to happen: with garnishes. The soup is amazing by itself – but it goes to a whole new level when you top it with fresh chopped cilantro, halved cherry tomatoes, diced fresh avocado, and (if you have it) diced fresh jalapeños.

The Magic is in the Garnishes...

The Magic is in the Garnishes…

Isn’t that easy? The best part is, like I said at the beginning, it’s made with things you can always keep as a ‘staple’ in your home. Because remember: if we can be sure of anything, it is this: we need to eat every night! And, with a recipe like this in hand, there’s never an excuse to ‘not be prepared’ with something that will power up you and your tribe up for greatness.

Let me know if you make it!

I’m thrilled you’re here with me…

Rebel on,
Elisha