Soup

The other day, when I was trying to grow plants from food (that’s a whole different post), I decided I had a lot of food that needed to be used up. Spinach, cilantro, some shredded chicken, and lots of celery. And since I love just throwing things into my crockpot and seeing what happens, I thought I’d give 10-bean soup a whirl. I was feeling good about it, despite my 30% success rate with making soups. (But those 30% are good, let me tell you. Another 30% is good according to Chris, but not to my picky taste, and the last 40% is just not.)
If I may say so, this one came out in the 30% success pool. And it’s filling and good for you to boot.
1) Assemble the main characters: In this case it was chicken broth and dried 10-bean soup from Sprouts. (Isn’t it pretty in a mason jar? My new dry goods storage system.)
2) Still chicken broth, but I wanted to point out, as this is the first time I’ve used this particular broth, that this brand comes out dark yellow and really smells like delightful chicken broth right out of the carton. Seriously, my soup smelled and looked like soup immediately thanks to this broth. I think it came from Sprouts along with the above Sprouts branded one.
3) All right, lets start chucking things in there. First, some beans. I used about a third of my jar, which I think was way too much in retrospect. I forgot that dried beans soak up liquid, whoops!
4) I had lentils, too, so in they went for extra dose of protein. You know, along with those ten different kinds of beans.
5) Shredded chicken.
6) Chopped carrots. Why are they in a square? I don’t know how it happened. It just did.
7) Lots of chopped celery.
8) I’ve never used dried garbanzo beans until this soup. They’re thick, so I was a little worried that they wouldn’t soften enough during the cooking time without soaking overnight, but they were nice and squishy by the end!
9) I love cilantro in soup.
10) Nosy cat. (Not part of the ingredients.)
11) Spinach goes in everything, by the way.
12) Not the greatest picture at all, but it shows the final mess. Not appealing looking, I know.
13) Forgot, I had to use up this dill, too. In it went!
14) And while my back was turned to the crockpot, this little stinker found his favorite spot, despite the ominous water bottle waiting to squirt his cat butt off the counter. 
The verdict?
My take: After pulling it out of the freezer for a quick and easy meal tonight, it’s still holding strong. I think I’ll add some more spice to it next time, maybe cumin seed or red pepper flakes. I like my soups best when they make me cry, and this one’s about a 2 on the spicy scale. Still delicious, still healthy, still filling. 
Chris says, “Mmmmm…. good,” and then returns to playing his Star Wars computer game. Sigh. I need to feed him when he’s not concentrating so hard on his screen.
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Green Lunch

Here’s a secret: I’m trying to eat healthier, but I fail a lot.
I feel like I eat okay for the most part. I don’t go through the drive-thru everyday for a cheeseburger and fries, but I do go through quite often for that 69 cent coke. I eat lots of different fruits and veggies in my green smoothies, but past that I find it difficult to incorporate them into the rest of my day. I’m an emotional eater, I’ve discovered. I like to snack when I’m working on projects, and my life is one big project right now. My favorite comfort food is canned chili, 600 calories a pop. I could go on, but now I’m getting depressed.
The point is, when I do spend some time making something healthy, I’m pretty proud of it. And I take pictures of it. (Okay, I’ll take pictures of anything, regardless, but I do like to document my good food choices.) 
There’s a sandwich recipe that I pinned a few weeks back that I’ve been eager to try, only four ingredients, but it seems I’m almost one short. Spinach, avocado, pesto, and mozarella. We never have mozarella, and I may be new to cooking, but I know enough now that you can’t just substitute cheeses whenever you feel like it. So I adapted a little: I took the spinach, avocado, and pesto and made a sandwich with some leftover shredded chicken. 
That would have been the end of this little experimental meal, but while the bread was toasting, I was clearing out the fridge of older food and realized my day old mustard greens were already wilting. Day old! Sheesh. So I looked up a quick recipe for cooking those babies up, too.
Now, I’ve never been a big fan of cooked greens (neither has Chris), but I figure I need to learn to like it to continue my healthfulness and get my greens more often in the day than just smoothie time. I was surprised how easy the recipe was, and the greens really weren’t that bad cooked. (We both agreed on this.) However, mustard greens are pretty distinct tasting, so I don’t think I’ll be cooking those ones again. They’re fine in smoothies (as long as you really counteract the bitter taste with a lot of fruit), but it was a little too much as its own side dish. Looks pretty though, doesn’t it? Such a lovely green lunch. 🙂

And of course Jack’s there too, taking advantage of me not watching that side of the kitchen. My focus on the fridge clearing and bread toasting apparently gave him time to sneak up and camp out to watch the countertop happenings from his favorite vantage point. He most definitely got squirted in the face after this picture was snapped.

Evolution of a Green Smoothie

Weekend days are awesome for green smoothies for one important reason: if I mess up the smoothie, I can fix it. On, say, a Friday morning, if I happen to add too much water to my morning smoothie and it ends up a bit soupy, tough for me- I gots to go teach kids some math. But on Sunday morning? Just chop up some more apples, throw in some more baby carrots, and stuff the thing with a couple more handfuls of spinach.

The evolution of a smoothie:

1) It started out with that top left picture. I had acquired a lot of oranges, apples, bananas, and grapes from leftover lunches, so I decided to put them to good use. I don’t usually put oranges in smoothies, since it takes longer to get the skin off, but, as it was Sunday morning, I wanted to add those in. Can’t get too much Vitamin C, right? The rest of our tropical mix frozen fruits from Costco went in as well. I also threw in some carrots, which I’ve never done before because I was too afraid. But yesterday we happened to stop at Jamba Juice and tried their green smoothies with carrots, and it wasn’t bad. So I took a risk.

2) The second picture shows the smoothie with all those orangey and yellowy colors mixed up. I almost wanted to drink it like that, instead of adding the greens which would inevitably turn that beautiful light color, well, green. But I also want Chris and me to get as many greens into us as possible, so in went the spinach and the bok choy on top of the orange.

3) Normally I add water to help the blender break up the frozen fruits, but since there were mostly fresh things in this smoothie so far, I really hadn’t needed to. My smoothie at this point was pretty thick, though, so I knew I needed some kind of liquid to make it more smoothie and less something we needed a spoon to eat. Sometimes I add in almond milk, but ours was expired. (Those things don’t really last forever, apparently.) But we did have a few mouthfuls of V8 Splash left, so I dumped that in there and gave it a whirl.

   Way. Too. Much. Liquid. Dang it.
   
   But lucky for me, it was Sunday, and I still had plenty of room to pack the blender with some more liquid absorbing items. In went another apple, another banana, another handful of spinach, and a whopping amount of carrots, way more than I’d put in originally. (I was throwing caution to the wind at this point. Plus I figured with the V8 Splash, it would probably taste pretty yummy even I threw some cauliflower and green beans in there.)

4) And the last picture shows the final product. It was the perfect texture and absolutely delicious. I didn’t even have to add any Stevia thanks to the V8 Splash, and that thing had quite a bit of veggies in it.

So what did we learn today?

1) Carrots are not to be feared in smoothies.

2) A little V8 Splash really livens up a green smoothie.

3) Use liquids sparingly, unless you want a giant vat of green smoothie. (It was okay today, since Chris and I both wanted one, and I poured the rest in a eco cup to take with us to our newborn shoot today.)

Smoothie Update

I’ve been getting requests for my smoothie recipes on Instagram- definitely motivating me to update the daily green smoothie here on the blog. Seriously, though, I just kind of wing it depending on what’s in our fridge, what may go bad soon, or how much time I have in the morning.
This morning happens to be Saturday, so I had plenty of time to not only sleep in, but make a fully packed smoothie, too. 

Today’s Smoothie:

1.5 cups of the Tropical Frozen fruit mix from Costco (mangos, papayas, and pineapples, I believe)
3 fresh strawberries (from yesterday’s farmer’s market)
1 banana
Handfuls of spinach and kale (sorry, no real measurements today)
Small scoops of flax seed and chia seed
Teensy weeny amount of stevia for some extra sweetness

The tropical mix is all yellows and oranges, so it doesn’t hide the green coloring like the berries do, but the flavors are excellent. We’ve found that our favorite smoothies usually have the tropical fruit mix as a base. Luckily we were able to look past the green coloring early on in our green smoothie explorations. 🙂

And on an unrelated note, we’re trying out a new scratcher for the cat babies. Since we got them, Sawyer refuses to scratch on anything meant for cats. He’ll only scratch on the couch, sigh. Jack, on the other hand, has scratched on every single thing we’ve gotten them, mostly because he’s ridiculously smart and knows that’s what we want him to do, so he’ll do it every time we’re looking to get some praise (and maybe a new hair tie). But he doesn’t really love any of them.

While we were morally and aesthetically opposed to getting one of the carpeted stand-up things, we’ve run out of textures and types to try. And this one was cheap. So far so good- they’ve been lounging around it since it appeared in the living room this morning, though Sawyer still hasn’t scratched on it that we can see. The thing’s filled with catnip, which they love, so we’ve got high hopes he’ll come around. (The catnip’s also why Jack is staring off into space here. He’s been lounging a little too long on the carpet…)