Category Archives: Nutrition

Post-Tropical Papaya Smoothie

After spending a month traveling in the Philippines and gorging on delicious tropical holiday fare — then taking another couple of weeks recovering from the exotic-sounding tropical dengue fever I picked up along the way — I’d had a belly full of tropical goodness for a while.

Now it’s March and Ohio’s early-spring promises of sunshine and breezy afternoons (along with three months endured of winter’s bitter winds and endless snow) have me longing for palm trees and beaches again.  A nice-looking papaya has been ripening on the counter next to the bananas since the weekend, and I was ready for another taste of the tropics. I made this smoothie a bit simpler than my usual multi-fruit fare, all the better to bring out the papaya’s flavor…

Papaya-Banana Smoothie

Post-Tropical Papaya (and Banana) Smoothie

1½ cups papaya chunks This was about half of a medium-sized papaya.
1 banana It’s just not a smoothie without a banana, I sometimes say. And it’s a nice tropical complement to the papaya flavor.
1–1½ cups almond milk Use less for a thicker, creamier texture.
½ cup plain, nonfat yogurt More creaminess and a bit more protein.
¼ cup raw walnuts Just a few, to balance the tropical fruit sweetness and add some good-for-you nuttiness.
1 tbsp whole flax seeds Need some of those delicious Omega-3s!
dash chia seeds (optional) Add these if you like a little texture (and chia  nutritiousness) in your smoothie like I do.

Good for about two 8-ounce servings.

Place all of the ingredients except the chia seeds into the Vitamix or other blender. Blend until smooth. Pour into glasses and stir in the chia seeds. Allow to sit for a couple of minutes to give the chia seeds time to settle in, then kick back and imagine the sunrise coming up over an endless blue sea…

Neapolitan Banana Split Smoothie

When I was a kid, my mom was fond of neapolitan ice cream. My memories are colored with recollections of cracking open the freezer after school, digging out the half-gallon box and dishing out scoops of milky-brown chocolate, white vanilla and neon-pink strawberry ice cream into a Corelle bowl lined with sliced bananas.

This Sunday morning, I thought I’d do a grown-up-me version of that old favorite!

Neapolitan Banana Split SmoothieNeapolitan Banana Split Smoothie

1 banana Unlike banana splits, a ripe and mushy one would be great.
½ cup strawberries We had some early-season fresh ones, but frozen would work, too. No neon pinks here, but they add a beautiful strawberry color.
2 tbsp raw cacao nibs Can’t have neapolitan without chocolate!
1–1½ cups vanilla almond milk Use less for a thicker, creamier texture that you can eat with a spoon.
2 tbsp plain, nonfat yogurt More creaminess and a bit more spunky tartness.
¼ cup raw almonds Let’s make that almond milk a bit more almond-y.
¼ cup blueberries The strawberries were a little too early to be sweet, so I added a few of these.
2 dried apricots Just because.
dash whole flax seeds Need some of those delicious Omega-3s!

Place all of the ingredients into the Vitamix or other blender. Be sure to reserve a strawberry or two and a few cacao nibs if you want to use some to garnish your creation. Blend until smooth. This should be good for about two 8-ounce servings.

Neapolitan Banana Split Smoothie

Banana Bread Smoothie: Comfort Food in a Glass

I’m a pastry guy. But when faced with a multitude of choices in the baker’s case, banana bread almost always makes the cut as a finalist. While visiting Press (my favorite coffee shop here in Dayton) a couple of days back, I had to make a choice between banana bread and a homemade, soft-dough chocolate chip cookie… and I chose banana bread. That’s how much I like banana bread.

I decided to try my hand at making a smoothie version. I think this recipe captures some of that comfort-food goodness…

Banana Bread Smooth with WalnutsBanana-walnut bread, in a smoothie!

2 bananas Riper is better, just like with banana bread!
½ small avocado Didn’t expect this in the recipe, did you? Adds a nice creaminess to the naturally smooth banana texture. Try it, you’ll like it.
handful raw walnuts We’ll be adding these and letting them stay a bit chunky in the smoothie, to give it that extra bit of banana bread-ness.
handful dried goji berries Adds a little nutty complexity to the flavor, some nice color and a whole bunch of great nutrients and antioxidants.
big dash flax seeds A little more nutty flavor, along with some Omega-3s.
dash chia seeds (optional) These remind me of tiny boba or berry seeds, and they adds protein and other goodness. If you don’t care for that texture, blend it until smooth or leave out the chia altogether.
dash ground cinnamon The recipe works without it, but I like banana bread with the extra zest added by cinnamon.
1 large ice cube We have a giant, cocktail-sized cube tray, so you might need a couple of regular-sized cubes.
1-2 cups unsweetened almond milk Some nice grass-fed, natural skim milk would work here, too! 1 cup resulted in a fairly thick drink, the way I like it. Use a bit more if you prefer yours thinner.

Place the bananas, avocado, goji berries, flax seeds, ice and milk into the Vitamix and blend until smooth. Reserving one or two for a garnish, add the walnuts to the previously blended ingredients. Blend on low to medium until the nuts are chopped into smallish pieces. Pour into a glass and stir in some chia seeds until evenly mixed. Top with a dash of cinnamon and garnish with walnuts.

Can you almost smell that fresh-baked banana bread? Enjoy!

Meatless Monday Feast

Meatless Monday Feast for Two Hungry Humans

Do you have 40 minutes tonight to prepare your dinner?

Meatless Monday noise is over. It’s not a fad any more. It’s now alive and well to benefit all of us mortals. Eating exclusively plants at least once a week for an awesome return1 is not so bad:

The EPIC study found that vegan and vegetarian groups had a 32 percent lower risk of hospitalization or death from heart disease.1

We try on most “normal” days to go meatless. Not just Mondays. Check out how we made this easy feast. No one will ask you, “Where do you get your protein?” on this one.

Meatless Monday Feast

First, the salad…

Home Pantry Salad, Raw and Fresh

Home Pantry Salad, Raw and Fresh

True to the wild spirit of our kitchen, we went with the flow on what we had when we opened the fridge and the pantry.

1 bunch Romaine lettuce, organic
1 large mango, organic
2 handfuls dried Goji berries, organic
1 handful raw walnuts, organic
2 TBSP Chia seeds, organic

Raw salad ingredients.

Raw salad ingredients.

1. Chop off the bottom that holds lettuce together.
2. Wash lettuce and mango thoroughly.
3. Chop lettuce in whatever way you wish and place in salad bowl.
4. Peel the mango and slice in cubes; place on top of the chopped lettuce.
5. Sprinkle Goji berries, walnuts, and chia seeds.
6. Mix when ready to eat.

Next, the tofu…

Garlic Tofu Pan Steak

Garlic Tofu Pan Steak

So what do we have here?

1 box Nasoya Extra Firm Tofu, non-GMO, organic
1 bulb garlic, organic
Extra virgin coconut oil, organic
Bragg’s Amino (use tamari or soy sauce, if you prefer)
Ground black pepper
Garlic powder
Dried basil leaves
Sesame seeds

Veggie steak ingredients.

Veggie steak ingredients.

1. Chop tofu in blocks as shown above.
2. Mince garlic.
3. Heat 1 TBSP extra virgin coconut oil. Set to low heat.
4. Saute garlic till light brown.
5. Sear tofu.
6. While one side of tofu is being seared, season top of each block with Bragg’s Amino sauce, garlic powder, and basil sprinkles.
7. Flip tofu and repeat #6.
8. Flip tofu each way until both sides are light brown.
9. When ready to serve, top each block with sautéed garlic and sprinkle sesame seeds.

Now, the sides… rice 

Steamed Herbed Quinoa and Lentils

Steamed Herbed Quinoa and Lentils

I love white rice. But at some point, I needed to switch to low glycemic eating. I feel better. I weigh better. So proudly, I have mastered some happy edits to “rice” when I feel like enjoying some.

2 cups quinoa, organic
2 cups yellow/red lentils
Garlic powder
Himalayan pink salt
Bragg 24 herb sprinkle, organic

Electric rice cooker

Steamed herbed quinoa and lentils ingredients

Steamed herbed quinoa and lentils ingredients

1. Measure and pour two cups of quinoa and 2 cups of yellow lentils into the rice cooker.
2. Add a pinch of Himalayan pink salt.
3. Sprinkle some garlic power and Bragg’s 24 herb sprinkle.
4. Mix everything.
5. Add eight cups of water—my soft rule for steaming quinoa and lentils in a standard electric rice cooker is a ratio of 1 grain:2 water versus the usual white rice rule of 1 white rice: 1 water.
6. Turn the electric rice cooker switch to “cook rice” and let it go through its normal cooking cycle.

Last but not the least…

Mmm Green Mush

Mmm Green Mush

Never underestimate the power of dark greens. I just love greens in juices, smoothies, and sides.

1 bunch kale pulp, organic (saved from green juice)
1 bunch spinach pulp, organic (saved from green juice)
1 clove garlic, leftover from the tofu pan
1 lb snow pea pods
Ground black pepper
2 TBSP flax seeds, organic, ground fresh before use
Sesame seeds

Green mush ingredients.

Green mush ingredients.

1. Wash all vegetables thoroughly.
2. Cut hard ends of snow pea pods.
3. Chop snow pea pods.
4. Using the same cast iron skillet where the tofu was seared, reuse (with some of the coconut oil and garlic bits left) for quickly sautéing pea pods and green pulp. Make sure the setting is on low heat.
5. Sprinkle ground black pepper to taste.
6. When ready to serve, sprinkle two tablespoons of ground flax seeds and sesame seeds.

And, after eating all that, we are now pleasantly full.

The tiny oranges below are a good finish. Of course, drink plenty of fresh filtered water.

Clementines

Clementines

I hope you get to make some of these fun stuff for Meatless Mondays.

For now, my new season Walking Dead iTunes download is ready. Our real Monday night dessert. 🙂

Oh and by the way, each dish has all the protein you need. So no worries, just enjoy!

 

  1. Bradbury KE, Crowe FL, Appleby PN, Schmidt JA, Travis RC, Key, TJ. Serum concentrations of cholesterol, apolipoprotein A-I and apolipoprotein B in a total of 1694 meat-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians and vegans. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2014;68:178-183.  [via Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine]

 

 

Smoothie Improvisation: Apples, Cherries, Walnuts, Cranberries and More

The late afternoon sun is pouring through our windows, flooding my work perch and reminding me of how long it’s been since lunch. Now that we’re on the tail-end of our week’s worth of produce, making a smoothie snack calls for a bit of improvisational scrounging (though admittedly, improvisation is always part of my cooking style).

I gathered a few items likely to match with each other, resulting in this:

Apple Cherry  Walnut Smoothie in the VitamixSmoothie ingredients in the Vitamix, ready for blending.

2 medium apples I used organic Fuji apples this time.
1 handful strawberries These were getting a bit overripe in the fridge, but they were great for smoothies.
2 handfuls cranberries Pulled from the stash of fresh cranberries we just froze.
1 handful dried cherries Grabbed a bunch from the muesli reserve — handy to have dried fruits for a low-produce day like today!
1 handful dried goji berries
1 handful raw walnuts
dash whole flax seeds
dash chia seeds This reminds me of tiny boba or berry seeds. If you don’t care for that texture, leave out the chia.
1 tablespoon mango sorbet Scraping the bottom of the barrel of that leftover sorbet I used in my last smoothie recipe!
1–2 cups almond milk 1 cup resulted in a fairly thick drink, the way I like it. Use a bit more if you prefer yours thinner.

I dumped all of the ingredients except the chia seeds into the Vitamix and blended on high until smooth. I added the chia seeds last and blended on low just to stir them in.

Apple Cherry Walnut Smoothie

Apple, cherry, walnut, cranberry smoothie: a quick and tasty pick-me-up.

Link

Point This Magical Scanner At Your Food And It Will Count The Calories

From a mindful eating stand point, I think counting calories is as outdated and boring as BMI. Nonetheless, data is data. And data is king (or queen). Real information in real time at your fingertips would be fantastic.

So will this make you toss away that Moleskin or delete that food logging app that you call your best friend next to DailyMile and Smart Coach?

Would you want one of these? I probably would.

Today there are wearable trackers available for just about every move you make and step you take. Almost. If there’s a missing link, it’s the ability to track all the food that enters a person’s mouth. Dieters are stuck tediously logging their eating habits.

TellSpec, a device that’s quickly raising money on Indiegogo, claims to be that missing link and more. With a wave of the hand, the device can reportedly calculate all the calories, ingredients, chemicals, and allergens in any given piece of food.

Remember Jack Andraka, the then 15 year old who built a very low cost pancreatic cancer sensor and lately (at 16!) a handheld raman spectrometer?

This new food scanner, being built by Isabel Hoffman and Stephen Watson, uses the same technology.

Raman spectrometers, which essentially shoot lasers at objects and evaluate their chemical composition, used to be big, bulky instruments that sat in laboratories. These days, it’s entirely possible to make a handheld version. Hoffman’s question was whether it could do what she was looking for.

Imagine that. The 21st century behavior of compulsively taking food photos will have an actual purpose beyond Facebook feed noise and free advertisements for restaurants.

Autumn Berry Smoothie

A chill was in the air on this November Sunday in Ohio, and I craved a quick boost… something light and easy — both easy to make and easy to eat. Fortunately, our fruit bowls, cupboards and fridge were well stocked after an end-of-week grocery spree. I gathered together a few organic, fresh or dried fruits, nuts and seeds, threw them in the Vitamix, and this was the result:

autumn berry smoothieThe Autumn Berry Smoothie

The ingredient list is simple and the portions are only roughly measured, so if it tastes a little off just keep adding stuff until it tastes right to you. It would also be totally okay to substitute, given that the whole thing was improvisation — I’ll make a few suggestions along the way to give you ideas.

1 banana The riper, the better!
1 apple I used a Winesap heirloom variety because it’s in season locally, but any would do… best to keep it organic, though.
2 handfuls of strawberries These are pretty much end-of-season — hope you froze some berries! We didn’t, so it’ll be a long, cold, berry-less winter for us. But frozen organic blueberries would be a good alternative.
1/2 handful cranberries This puts the “autumn” in an Autumn Berry Smoothie.
dash dried goji berries I thought about using dried cherries instead — I think that will be my next variation.
dash flax seeds I don’t have anything clever to add about flax seeds. Just throw them in, they’re good for you.
dash chia seeds I wanted a bit more protein in there, and I sort of like the texture. It reminds me of tiny bubble tea bobas.
1/2 handful raw walnuts A big tablespoon of peanut butter would work, too, if you don’t have any walnuts.
small scoop mango sherbet We didn’t have any fresh mango, but just a bit of the half-forgotten mango sherbet in the freezer added that needed mango edge.
1 large ice cube We have a giant, cocktail-sized cube tray, so you might need a couple of regular-sized cubes.
~2 cups unsweetened almond milk Some nice grass-fed, natural skim milk would work here, too!

Wash, core, de-stem or peel the fresh fruits, as needed. Put everything except the chia seeds in the Vitamix or blender and blend until smooth. Add more almond milk or another ice cube or two if you want a lighter texture. Add the chia seeds last and blend on low just to mix them thoroughly into the smoothie. Pour into a glass, garnish with something handsome and drink up!

What is Wild Kitchen?

“Let food be thy medicine and let thy medicine be thy food.”
Hippocrates, c. 460 BC – c. 370 BC

My own health took a dramatic turn for the better when I ate more intelligently. My labs are good. I am plenty of pounds lighter. I have much more energy and vitality even as the years press on—I went from a non-runner to slow runner, I improved my swim in terms of endurance, distance, and technique (also helped along by a tri coach), I enjoy biking more and doing more distance than ever before.

So far, I have completed a half marathon (Austin Half), gazillion 5Ks, and two seasons of duathlons and short distance triathlons—I plan to keep going and increase distances at some point. This year, I also completed my first full marathon (Cincinnati Flying Pig), first 50K trail ultra (Another Dam 50K), and first Olympic distance tri (Tri Indy). I still have quite a way to go. And I am enjoying every bit of my journey.

wildkitchen

Kitchen creations are part of this journey. I’d like to share some of them here. I lean towards low glycemic, mostly plant-based, occasional pescatarian, and rarely omni dishes. I like to keep the food I prepare in its most original form as possible. I like knowing where my ingredients come from.

My principle is we should feel free and wild (if I may) in our own kitchens. There are recipes that must be respected like family traditions and there are recipes who’s role is to inspire and get us excited—energized while creating them and made healthier after enjoying them.

When the recipe book says “cashews” with “powdered onions” and when you open the pantry you only see walnuts and garlic powder, be unafraid and be creative with what you have.

This is what Wild Kitchen is about.

In this section of my blog, I’m sharing our young family’s kitchen experiments that will someday, hopefully, become our own traditions. It’s my way of documenting our favorite meals, juices, and smoothies.

Gerry experiments in the kitchen too—his specialties are soups, smoothies, and vegetable sautés. From time to time, he will share his concoctions here.

Enjoy and stay healthy!

p.s. Remember, it’s your kitchen. No worries. Be free.

“I love it so much, I would recommend it to the dead!”

Not, perhaps, the words I would have chosen, but Slate’s Catherine Price was offered that heart-felt endorsement as she carried home her newly purchased Vitamix.

The Incredible, Life-Changing Vitamix!After a few months of owning one, Karina and I have an answer to her title question, “Can a $400 blender change your life?” Without hesitation, our answer is yes!

Yes, $400+ is real money, and being a bit of a cheapskate at times, I felt a little squirmy spending that much on a blender. Yet, I’ve personally burned through several lesser machines (literally, with their productive lives ending with puffs of smoke from charred metal or rubber). And my once-an-engineer-now-a-designer side can appreciate the promise of a carefully crafted, well-built machine.

Its unyielding power and mechanical design can chop or liquefy pretty much anything — I’m sure we could start our own steel recycling plant to produce metal shavings from wrecked cars. Entrepreneurial ideas aside, our daily diet has received a huge infusion of fresh, often raw foods that are light, healthy,  delicious and easy — smoothies, hummus, salsa, soup, cauliflower “rice,” cacao-nib mochas and more. This was an especially good fit for us as we continue our migration to a more plant-based diet, adding welcome variety to our mix of cooked veggies, salads and juicing.

Read Catherine’s full review (which I found via Shawn Blanc), then come back here and get your own Vitamix (as always, buying through our link will help us offset the cost of keeping this site up and running). Then wait for that big box to arrive and start changing lives with your own veggie-fruity goodness.