post-workout green monster smoothie

I’ve been exercising more, and have become addicted to this as a post-workout (healthy!) treat. It’s easy and I always have the ingredients on hand. I saw this first on Pinterest from this site, and modified it a bit for ingredients I had, and to make it less preparation and easier for my 12-year-old-on-its-last-legs blender.

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Spinach in a smoothie, you may ask – as my mother did when I told her about it. I was skeptical too. But the original post said it tasted like a dessert, so I gave it a try, and I was NOT DISAPPOINTED. To me, it tastes like peanut butter and banana. Probably if you used vanilla milk and yogurt, it would be even a bit sweeter or dessert-ier, but I am happy with the flavor my version has.

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  • 1 c. (or a little less) Light Original soy milk
  • 1/2 c. plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 banana (sliced – especially if your blender is really really old, like mine)
  • as much spinach as you can cram in there

Blend! I sometimes have to push the spinach down with a spoon in between blending times, but with all soft or liquid ingredients, this smoothie is one of the few things my blender will actually make well. I added some frozen peaches once, since I was low on spinach, and I enjoyed the flavor, too – though, due to blender issues, they remained in frozen chunks!

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nona’s red lentil (or split pea) soup

Now that it’s finally getting chilly in the evenings, I can start making all my soups! This recipe is one my Sicilian grandmother made, and is not only comforting but also healthy, vegan, simple, and inexpensive. Assuming you have parsley, olive oil, salt, water, and a large pot already on hand, the other three ingredients, altogether, should cost you less than $3, and the recipe makes about 4 – 6 qts.

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Another great thing about this recipe is that you can use different legumes depending on your preference. My mother and sister prefer using brown lentils, and they throw in some spinach while it’s cooking. Personally, green split peas are my favorite, but I’ve used red lentils this time for a couple reasons. Namely: they taste similar to green split peas, in this recipe ; they are smaller than peas and brown lentils, so they cook faster ; they make the soup more orange colored, which I like for autumn.

  • 1 lb red lentils (or split peas, brown lentils, etc.)
  • 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 tsp salt
  • some parsley (dried is fine)
  • small amount olive oil (about 1 – 2 Tbsp)
  • 8 – 10 c. water

Clean lentils and rinse 2 – 3 times (you can use a cheesecloth like you might for quinoa; I just rinse them in a bowl and take my chances at not accidentally pouring them all out with the water). Soak in bowl of water (doesn’t have to be for a long time, especially with red lentils).

Fry onion and parsley in oil in a 6 qt pot, about 10 minutes.  Add tomato sauce to pot and let boil.  Add water and salt. Cover, boil.  Drain lentils and add to pot (I drop them in using a large slotted spoon). Cover, bring to boil.  Lower heat to medium. Uncover and cook on low boil for an hour to an hour and a quarter, stirring occasionally.

 

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My mother likes to put the soup in the blender to make it super smooth before eating, but I prefer it a bit lumpy. I ate mine with a wheat pita, but I think it would be best with a big chunk of the darkest pumpernickel you can find – Hallowe’en colors!

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spaghetti squash with eggplant (cheating)

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I had to title this with “cheating” as I used frozen, breaded eggplant slices. And store bought tomato sauce. But I think that just means it’s a good recipe you can make fairly quickly.

That being said, I decided to boil the spaghetti squash. In the past I’ve microwaved or baked it, but I am uncomfortable cutting big squash in half, so I looked up how to boil it (you can also bake and microwave it whole, and I think next time I’d microwave it). My problem was that, even though I bought the smallest spaghetti squash I could find, it still didn’t fit in my biggest pot with enough room for water to cover it. Google told me that boiling squash should take about 20 – 30 minutes. Mine took about 50 – 60. However, I must say it cooked pretty evenly for the fact that I turned it in the pot at completely random intervals and paid very little attention.

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(In terms of this being a “quick” dish, microwaving the squash whole should take 15 – 20 minutes, plus 5 minutes of the squash setting.)

While the squash is cooking, preheat the oven to 425 to bake the eggplant slices. They take about 12 – 15 minutes.

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I was so excited to find these at my usual (large chain) supermarket. They are great to have on hand.

 

You can tell the squash is done by sticking a fork into the skin. If it goes in and comes out easily, your squash is ready. I dumped mine into a colander in the sink, then picked it up with oven mitts. Slice it across the short dimension and scoop out the pulp and seeds. 

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Pull out the rest with a fork (this makes it spaghetti-y). I added a drizzle of olive oil, some oregano, garlic powder,  black pepper, and shredded cheese I had on hand – though I don’t think the shredded cheese did anything for it, and I would leave it out next time.

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I used about half of the squash with two eggplant slices, and topped that with some tomato sauce and Romano cheese. Voila! The best part? I have more squash and eggplant I can heat up tomorrow!

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  • 1 small spaghetti squash
  • 2 slices frozen breaded eggplant
  • pasta sauce of your choice
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • garlic, oregano, black pepper, grated Romano cheese; other Italian spices to taste

 

Preheat the oven to bake the eggplant slices. Boil water in a large pot for the squash. Stab the squash all over with a large knife or large fork to release pressure while it cooks. – this is especially important if you are microwaving! Boil for 20 – 30 minutes or until a fork can be easily inserted and removed.

Remove squash from pot, cut across the diameter, scoop out seeds and pulp, then shred flesh with fork. Season to taste with olive oil, garlic, pepper, oregano, Italian spices. Arrange in a bowl with eggplant and top with sauce and Romano cheese.

Serves 1, with leftovers.

sweet potato black bean quinoa chili

I am always looking for more vegetarian recipes for quinoa and sweet potatoes, and I had pinned this last week and then found I had all the ingredients already in the house (this never happens to me). It is a great, hearty fall recipe from HERE. Posting here with my own notes. I’m not much of a cook, but once I got everything out and chopped and ready to go, it was easy and went fairly fast.

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  • one 29 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained  – I had two 15.5 oz cans
  • one 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 32 oz vegetable stock – I have some vegetable bouillon cubes, so I just added 3 in with 32oz water when the recipe called for stock (they’re too salty for me to have one cube for one cup water)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into bite sized chunks
  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • plain nonfat Greek yogurt (optional)

Heat the oil in a large heavy soup pot over medium low heat. Add onions, and cook until soft and they start to turn brown (about 10 minutes). Add the garlic, and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, and oregano and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the beans, stock, and potatoes, and season with salt and pepper . Cook for about 5 minutes, then add the quinoa. Continue cooking for about 15 – 30 minutes, stirring frequently, until quinoa and potatoes are cooked and the chili has thickened. I increased the temperature slightly right when I added the quinoa, then lowered it again, and it probably cooked for about 20 minutes before it was done.

I like my chili thick – so thick you can stand a spoon in it, eat it with a fork or as a sandwich – so I was actually considering using less water next time, although it wasn’t by any means ‘thin’. Also, since there is so much left over (original site says it makes about 6 bowls), I know it will continue to thicken over the next few days.

I think it could be spiced up with some tabasco or diced jalapenos, if you like it hot. It was just right for me.

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This recipe is vegan, but I ate it with plain Greek yogurt, thus ruining that aspect.

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