Well, it's been a solid week and a half since I've been back...and reality is closing in. I miss Florence. I miss being able to step outside into streets once walked by Dante and Pellegrino Artusi. I miss the challenge of speaking another language. I miss the daily trips to the market, and my dried fruit guy.
BUT - I will say, it's good to be able to make these again:
Is that green????
Why yes, green it is. This is a pineapple-banana-blueberry-spinach smoothie made with almond milk.
I got into smoothie-making the summer after my freshman year in college, and never looked back. They're so fun and versatile and tasty! I have a pretty standard basic recipe that I play around with:
>1/2 cup milk - I usually use almond milk, and if I use more fruit, sometimes I'll up it to 6 oz (3/4 cup).
>half a frozen banana - this is pretty important. I've tried banana-less smoothies and they are simply not as good. Smoothies scream for the creamy sweetness bananas provide. Trust me.
>Spinach - usually around a cup. You can't taste it at all. Great way to get in some extra greens! Plus, it makes the smoothie a cool color. You can bet that my kids will love "Green Monsters" (as they have been dubbed by the food blog world).
After that, I play around with the fruit, but I often add at least a couple tablespoons of blueberries. I try to use frozen fruit - I slice bananas and then throw them in the freezer in a Ziploc. Sometimes I throw in some berries too - if you use more frozen fruit, you won't need to add ice cubes to get that thicker smoothie-like consistency (I always feel like ice cubes water down the flavor too much).
I did miss my blender in good ole Italia. I swear by these smoothies - refreshing, fruity, and nutrient-packed. I know the spinach thing sounds weird, but really, you cannot detect any spinachy-hint at all. Just yummy fruit!!
Speaking of tasty beverages - have you tried or heard of the mystical kombucha?
It's a living culture (basically like fermentation) of healthy microorganisms including lots of essential nutrients. Sounds crazy and a little gross, perhaps, but it's taken the healthy-living-blog world by storm so I had to try it. I've tried Synergy's Mystic Mango flavor (of course - mango!!!), and was...perplexed. The flavor is very interesting - acidic, like a weak vinegar almost. It's naturally "effervescent" (fancy schmancy term for slightly carbonated), which I like a lot. I didn't love the mango, but I wanted to try it again and I found this on sale at Whole Foods and thought "if not today, when?!" I really liked this! The apple was a perfect complement to the kombucha, and though I didn't taste much jasmine, I think it made the flavor a little more mellow. It was really good - if you've never tried it before, this would be a good one to start with, I think. Still very tart, but in an enjoyable way. Only 70 calories per bottle. I'm usually not a fan of "drinking my calories," (with the notable exceptions of espresso drinks and smoothies), but this I feel is worth it because it's tasty and so freakin good for you! They do tend to be pricey, but it's a nice once-in-a-while treat.
I know I mentioned a "theme of the week" - but after more brainstorming, I think I am going to do a special themed post. It will be several product reviews, related to each other. I'm totally open to opinions though, so if any one thinks a weekly theme versus one big fat post is better than the other, let me know!!!
Any Costco fans out there? My dad is a total Costco junkie and whenever I come home, I always find a new lifetime supply-sized box of something. This time, it was this:
My mom made a packet (which is huge and definitely holds more than one serving) and mixed it with white onion and canned diced tomatoes - and it rocked! It's not too hot-spicy, but well spiced with cumin, garam masala - the classic Indian flavors. I threw it on a bed of spinach and added a spoonful of cottage cheese and it was de-lish:
Not exactly as appetizing as it looks on the box, but it certainly tastes great! The ingredients are just water, chickpeas, onions, sunflower oil, garlic, ginger, coriander, salt, cumin, spices. I just love short, readable ingredient lists! Half a pack is 210 calories with 7 grams of fat (only 0.5g is saturated!), 10 grams of fiber and 9 grams of protein. Pretty sweet stats! Real food just tastes so much better.
From the new...
to the old! I love these bars. They are a college kid's dream - healthy, tasty, and a good source of quick energy.
I love that you can not only see every ingredient, but taste them too - the almonds, honey, and flax combine beautifully, and the variety of textures from the different grains, whole almonds and flax seeds makes it seriously fun(oxymoron?) to eat. One of my favorite snacks!
Lately, it has occurred to me how much I really love blogging. I know my updates haven't been as constant since I returned - but that will change. I'm slowly settling back home and just need to find my rhythm again. But really, it's become so important to me. I love writing, and especially about food, and it makes me so happy to be able to have a place to share it with others. I literally find myself writing posts in my head - I have post-its everywhere reminding myself of things to mention or discuss. It's been such a great outlet, and even if all I ever have is 5 readers, it's still just as fun. I think a part of it is I spent so many years depriving myself of so much food-wise, now that I'm on the other side, I'm all the more passionate about food, and sharing it with others. It's truly one of those things so deeply set within a culture that the millions of meanings and symbols it has go unnoticed and it really just fascinates me. Talking and writing about it is just plain FUN!
Just my thoughts for the day:)
Lots more pictures and reviews to come!