Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Three Breakfast Smoothies to Slim, Energize, and Nourish

(Original article posted on Illume Magazine)
Breakfast is often said to be the most important meal of the day; unfortunately, it is frequently
skipped or nutritionally sparse for most people. Breakfast smoothies are a great way to incorporate nutrition into your day.  Done right, they're easy to make, breakfast smoothies incredibly nutritious, and can give you the energy you need to start your day right.

Why a breakfast smoothie and not a breakfast juice? Though juicing is all the rage right now, the process removes fiber and most nutrients rendering the end product not so nutritionally sound. In some cases, juiced drinks are not much more than a quick dose of sugar.

Whole blending, which as its name implies blends the edible parts of whole fruits and vegetables, and delivers drinks that are full of fiber, nutrients, and good carbs.  These nutritionally dense drinks can help devotees lose weight, stave off illnesses, and boost energy.  Blending does typically require that one own a good to high-end blender; Vitamix is a brand that most smoothie lovers swear by.

As the infographic implies, there are some ingredients that top the list as "smoothie-worthy" - check out the slideshow from my full article on Illume Magazine for full details on each one of these amazing ingredients.

Power Breakfast Smoothie Recipes

GreenTastic – blend half a cup of kale, half a cup of spinach, one cup of pineapple, one and a half cups of water, and half a lemon for a nutritional blast
AlmondBlast – blend a cup of kefir, half a cup of non-fat milk, a frozen banana, one tbsp. of peanut butter, and some almonds for a fantastic breakfast treat.
BeetAround – blend a quarter of a medium sized raw beet (completely cut off the outside skin), a whole red apple, one cup of almond milk or non-fat milk, and half a cup of kefir for a unique take on beets...feel free to add honey if you like.
BONUS RECIPE: KaleMeetKefir– blend a cup of kefir, a cup of kale, a banana, a quarter cup of pineapple, and at least one cup of almond milk for a smooth green treat.

Enjoy these recipes, create your own favorites, and find new combinations online.  Cheers!

Friday, July 12, 2013

BUILDING BLOCK: Vitamix Bread Crumbs

This is just another reason why the Vitamix (or your favorite blender) is indispensable. I made fresh bread crumbs in less than 3 minutes. Simply toast your favorite bread (I used sprouted wheat), add in your favorite spices (I added oregano and paprika), and blend for less than 30 seconds.  Why would you ever buy bread crumbs again?

PERFECTIONIST ADDITION: Dry out your bread before blending by sticking it in the oven at 200 for at least an hour, or toast your crumbs (blend un-toasted bread in this scenario) after blending by simply putting them in a pan on the stove (be sure to keep moving the crumbs to avoid burning).

Thursday, July 11, 2013

DINNER: Shish Taouk (Mediterranean Chicken Skewers)

Mediterranean food is incredibly healthy and flavorful...the problem is, it didn't seem to be the easiest thing to make at home. Not true! I wanted to try to make my favorite chicken kabobs (Shish Taouk or Shish Tawook), and found more than a few good recipes online**.  I modified the recipes I liked the most to come up with a recipe that is guaranteed to yield "yums".  Serve these tasty skewers with some tabouli, hummus, or just grilled veggies, and you're all set. Here goes:

Servings: 2-3

- 1 lb chicken - cubed or diced into small/medium pieces
- 5-6 cloves garlic
- 1/2-1 tbsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp black pepper
- 1 small lemon, peeled
- 1 small tomato
- 1 cup yogurt
- 2 tbsp sumac
- 2-3 tbsp olive oil
- Handful of cilantro
- Skewers
- Chop small squares of onion or bell pepper (you'll use this on the skewer)

- Soak chicken in a bowl of plain vinegar for at least 5 minutes, drain vinegar
- Blend all ingredients (except chicken and chunks of onion/bell pepper) in a blender until smooth
- Pour blend over chicken in bowl - let marinate for at least 20-30 minutes
- Note: you can use this marinade as a saute for other vegetables you'd like to serve with your chicken
- Use skewer to thread chicken and bell pepper
- Cook the chicken on a cast iron skillet - rotate every 5-7 minutes until the chicken is thoroughly cooked
- Alternative: place chicken on a foil lined pan in the oven at 400 for 45 minutes
- Enjoy!