Almond Carrot Smoothie (Inspired by Green Sage Cafe in Asheville, NC)

Almond carrot smoothie

By Nancy Smorch, Foodie Bitch

Mike and I were just in Asheville, North Carolina this past weekend.  We had heard so many good things about this city that we had to go check it out for ourselves.  I had seen pictures of the mountains in Asheville and I didn’t realize it was between the Great Smoky Mountains and the Blue Ridge Mountains.  And, of course, we had to check out the food scene – there were soooo many great restaurant options, coffee shops, and specialty food stores!

Unfortunately the weather wasn’t the greatest while we were there.  I didn’t mind the cooler temperatures, but the fog and the low-lying clouds made the mountain views pretty much impossible to see.  But I knew they were there, so I just used my imagination and as I looked out toward the mountains, I would just bring up images of the pictures I had seen.  Close enough, right?

The food, at least did not disappoint!  When traveling, I like to make sure I know what the healthier restaurant options and food sources are.  It’s really important in staying healthy while I travel.  One of the places I found on line before our trip was The Green Sage Cafe in downtown Asheville.  I just about teared up when I looked over their menu!  They had so many tasty sounding options – like their Pura Vida Bowl for breakfast.  It had black beans, brown rice sunny side eggs, sautéed kale, grilled sweet potatoes, avocado and cilantro salsa.  And, all of the ingredients were organic!  They had gluten-free pancakes, gluten-free biscuit and toast options, along with a ton of other gluten-free and vegan options.

I knew I probably didn’t need to have a smoothie for breakfast along with the Pura Vida Bowl, but I couldn’t pass up tasting the Almond Brothers smoothie.  It sounded like a weird combination, and my curiosity led me to order it.  It had carrots, unsweetened almond milk, bananas, almond butter and spices, according to the menu.  It was amazing!  Mike ended up ordering it again the next morning.

So I thought I would try to duplicate it when we got home.  I had all the ingredients, but then there was the vague “spices” listed in the ingredients list.  I wasn’t quite sure what that was all about, but I tried to figure out what would go good with the carrots, almond butter, and bananas, and I came up with the idea to try cinnamon and nutmeg.

We arrived back home late Saturday night and on Sunday, I decided to try to make it.  My first try was actually pretty good.  It didn’t taste exactly like they made it, but it was still really good in it’s own way.  They didn’t say that they put any kind of sweetener in it, and it would probably be fine without it, especially if you’re used to not having much sugar or sweetener… but I thought I would add a little sweetness with some maple syrup, and that actually worked out really well.

So, anyway, here’s the recipe I ended up with, as I tried to recreate this awesome drink:

1 banana

2 carrots

1 1/2 Tbsp. almond butter

3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk (I use Silk brand because it has no carageenan)

1 Tbsp. grade B maple syrup

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

ice

Put all the ingredients into the blender and mix until smooth.  If you like a thicker smoothie, add more ice.  A thinner one, add less ice and/or more almond milk.

Try it for yourself, and experiment with the spice blend. If you find a different blend that works for you, let me know.  I’d love to give it a try!

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Paleo Chef’s Bangin’ Liver and Me…

Liver recipe

By Shannon Keirnan, Contributing Foodie Bitch

I want to be healthy and on top of the new trends (some of which stick around, some of which are just a fun little experiment), but one of the things I’ve been dragging my feet on is organ meat.

Sure, I’ve started throwing bones, gristle, and just about every other part of the animal into the pot to make bone broth, but the idea of eating organs still makes me go eech. And yes, I know that meat is muscle, but we’ve been conditioned all our lives to eat the drumstick and throw away the gizzard, so changing one’s mindset takes a bit of control and sometimes a strong stomach.

I finally took the plunge, and brought home some grass-fed beef liver. It was so cheap at my butcher’s I almost would have felt bad if I didn’t buy it. I figured hey, if I hate it, the dog will eat it. Win win.

I have never eaten liver before. My dad used to cook it up when we were kids, with a big pan of onions, and holy moly, did that ever stink up our house. Looking back I’m not sure what he was doing to make it smell like old feet, but there was no way a teenage me was going to stick some of that rank amorphous grey stuff into my mouth no matter how much he promised I’d like it.

Ten plus years later, I was ready to give it a go. After all, liver is a superfood, and organ meat in general is nutrient packed. Grass-fed organ meat is a diet powerhouse I had neglected too long.

Enter Paleo Chef’s Bangin’ Liver recipe. I already love her style and her sass, so, finally, I was ready to give liver a try, using her guidance.

I didn’t have the exact ingredients on hand, and I was too lazy to go to the store, so mine turned out to be an adulterated version of her dish, but it was still surprisingly tasty! I added tomatoes, and substituted lime for lemon juice. I used a jalapeño rather than a bell pepper, simply because I had one in the fridge, and I chickened out on using the full amount of the recommended spices, though I wish I had just gone ahead with it.

It turned out really good! It was just lightly sweet and spicy, and frankly, I wouldn’t have known the liver wasn’t a dense cut of steak if I hadn’t been the one cutting it and throwing it in the pan. Mind you I couldn’t look directly at it while eating it, but it tasted darn good, and I was happy to be getting all the nutrition, especially for the approximately three dollars I spent on the whole meal, including leftovers. I had always expected liver to be chewy, but this was perfectly tender and chewable.

Give it a try!

Do you eat organ meat regularly? Leave a comment below!

Nutrient-Packed Late Afternoon Snack Mix

Healthy snack mix

By Nancy Smorch, Foodie Bitch

Do you ever find yourself craving something crunchy?  I know I do – especially in the late afternoon.  Whether it’s merely a habit, something I’m lacking in my diet, or simply the need for something other than fruits and vegetables, occasionally as the late afternoon hours roll around, I find myself looking for something to munch on that gives me a little crunch (and not a carrot!).

Well, today, and the last few days for that matter, I found myself with such cravings.  So rather than reach for the gluten-free crackers with pasture butter, which is what I usually go for, I decided to get a little more creative and put something together that would not only satisfy my craving, but would also provide me with more nutrients.

When I was at the store the other day, I stocked up on a number of different organic nuts and other snacks that would make for a good homemade trail mix.  So I went to the nut and snack drawer and pulled all of them out and put together a quick and fun snack to hold everybody over until dinner.

I had quite a nice mix going: macadamia nuts, pecans, roasted pumpkin seeds, raw cashews, chopped dates, coconut flakes, and banana chips (almost all organic, of course).  But something was missing.  I was remembering my granola based trail mixes I used to make when I was a kid (granola, raisins, marshmallows, coconut and M&Ms), and then it hit me that I should add some chocolate.  Since M&Ms really aren’t in the picture anymore, I thought I would utilize some of the Bulletproof Executive’s new chocolate bars I just ordered.  They are actually quite good – don’t expect them to taste like a Hershey bar or anything (that would be gross), but they are good-quality chocolates.  And, they provided the missing link, for my snack mix.  I just chopped up one of the bars and added it in.

Anyway, here’s what I actually put into my Late Afternoon Nutrient Packed Snack Mix:

1/2 cup raw cashews

1/2 cup hazelnuts

1/2 cup pecans

1/2 cup roasted pumpkin seeds

1/2 cup macadamia nuts

1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

6-8 soft dates, chopped

1 dark chocolate bar (at least 70% cacao)

Mix them all together and enjoy!

Look around in your pantry and refrigerator and see what you have that you could make a snack mix with.  Maybe you have some superfoods you could add in?  Maybe some goji berries?  Some chocolate-covered hemp seeds?  Hmm… I’m going to have to go back and add a few things, now that I’m thinking about it!

The Ultimate Detox Salad

Ultimate detox salad

By Nancy Smorch

Now that we are in Florida, there is a vegetable stand that I love to go to – Fernando’s.  It’s about a 20-25 minute drive (it seems like everything is about a 20-25 minute drive down here in horse country), and I usually end up going there at least once a week.  He has amazing kale, zucchini, eggplant, onions, sprouts, tomatoes, lettuces and a number of other delicious fresh veggies.  I’m never at a loss for ingredients for salads down here, but I wanted to make a salad that was a little more creative and something that had a supercharged health kick to it.  So I went to Eat to Beat, to peruse their recipes.

This is the salad I decided to go with – The Ultimate Detox Salad.  It is so refreshing and has some great greens (kale and broccoli) as well as some nuts (I add hazelnuts and cashews instead of the recommended walnuts) and other veggies (carrots, red pepper, cabbage).  But the kicker is the dressing – lemon juice with olive oil (I use olive oil rather than grape seed oil) and grated fresh ginger are the key ingredients.  The dressing really brings the salad to life.

I made if for the first time when my mother-in-law was visiting and she loved it, and so did I.  The girls were, in all honesty, a little less excited than I was – they’re not really big fans of salads.  But Mike and I felt it left us feeling pretty energized and alive.  I even made it the other day for Mike to take to a friend that was going through some health challenges – food is medicine, right?

If you’re looking for something healthy to bring to the next family gathering or dinner at a friend’s, give this recipe a try – it just may help bring your family and friends over from “the dark side!”