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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Matcha, Strawberry, and Cucumber Smoothie

Matcha strawberry cucumber smoothie

By Nancy Smorch, Foodie Bitch

Mike and I returned from Oregon late last night, and I started the day inspired to try some new recipes, and play with the combinations of ingredients that we experienced while on our trip!  The Allison Hotel in Newberg, which is where we stayed, had an amazing Chef’s Garden, and one night Mike and I had front-row seats at the kitchen.  We got to watch them cut and prepare the evening’s meals (I now would like a new set of pans!).  So that was a great experience.

Then, at Prasad Cafe in Portland, where we ate a couple of times, the presentation of the food was just amazing, and I was reminded how much of a difference a great dressing or sauce can make on a salad.  I’m now researching and experimenting with various combinations to play around with to spice up our salads at home – and maybe even get the girls a little more interested in salads as a result.

Another idea (self-reminder) I’m looking forward to trying is caramelizing more things.  We were watching “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” one night before bed, and the chefs at a couple of the featured restaurants were making sure to caramelize their meats and veggies, and you could tell that made a huge difference in the taste.  I know it does, from experience… I just needed to be reminded.

Watching the food prep at the Allison Hotel’s restaurant (Jory) and seeing the creative displays of salads at Prasad prompted me to see how they cut up some of those veggies.  You may recall the picture of the salad I posted a few days ago – well, I was curious how they got those beets to be cut up like that, all curly and thin.  I asked Shannon, and she said it was a “spiralizer.”  Can you believe I had never heard of such a thing??  She brought her’s over for me to try out – I can’t wait.  After I finish writing this post, I’m on my way to the health food store for some zucchini and carrots and other fun stuff to spiralize.  I’m thinking Mike and the girls will be so impressed with my newfound culinary skills, but actually, I will probably be more excited than them :)!

Finally, I couldn’t wait to try making one of Prasad’s smoothies at home.  I had my first attempt this afternoon.  I printed off their menu to keep on hand for meal ideas, and for lunch today, I thought I would try to make one of their smoothies.  Mine didn’t turn out quite as green as their’s, but it was just as good.  Here’s what I did.

Ingredients:

1 cup strawberries

1 small cucumber (not peeled – so make sure it’s organic)

1 tsp. Matcha tea powder

8 mint leaves (or peppermint leaves)

1/2 cup full fat coconut milk

1/2 Tbsp. honey

Directions:

Put all of the ingredients in a blender and mix.  Pour and enjoy!

You can play around with the ingredients and the adjust them according to your taste.  I happen to like mint, so I like that the 8 leaves of mint gave a stronger mint taste to the drink.  If you don’t like such a strong mint taste, you can always go a little easier on it.  As I mentioned, my smoothie wasn’t nearly as green as Prasad’s, so next if you want a more green smoothie, you can add more Matcha powder – it’s good for you anyway, and will definitely add more color.  My drink at Prasad wasn’t too sweet, so I figured I would add enough honey to make it a little sweeter, but if you are fine without the extra sweetness, you can cut back on the honey – the strawberries might add enough sweetness for you.  I think next time, I may play around and add a little lemon juice.  I think the lemon and strawberry combination would be tasty.

Can’t wait until my mid-afternoon snack to play around with some more ideas!

Inspiration from Prasad Cafe in Portland – Delicious Vegan Meals

photo 10

By Nancy Smorch, Foodie Bitch

Today Mike and I went to an amazing cafe in Portland for the second day in a row.  It’s called Prasad Cafe, and it shares space with Yoga Pearl, a yoga and healing arts studio. Today we went in a little early for lunch and I decided to get acupuncture first.

LOVE this place!  The acupuncture was great – it was combined with some intuitive work and some Oriental medicine.  And, check out this salad that I had for lunch – the “Bliss Salad.”  It was sooo good!

This place really inspired me and gave me some great ideas for healthy and delicious snacks and meals when I get back home.  I was hoping that if I sent over the link to their menu for you all, you might get inspired to try some of the meals, juices, and smoothies as well.

A couple of the smoothies I am definitely going to try are the “Honey Green Smoothie,” which consists of strawberry, matcha, cucumber, mint, honey, and coconut milk.  Super good and super nourishing.  That was yesterday’s smoothie.

Today I had the “Tempest” which is mango, spinach, coconut oil, avocado, date, and cayenne.  Equally as good!  Both of these, as well as many of the other smoothies, are drinks I could easily make at home – although it won’t quite have the same ambiance as the Prasad Cafe. But, given that it’s a pretty long commute from Michigan to Portland, it will have to do.

The Bliss Salad which I had for lunch today was so tasty – it had this amazing lemon ginger dressing, and those curly strips you see on the top are beets – a beautiful presentation.  It also has dried currants & figs, walnuts, quinoa, carrots and mixed greens.  I could try that one at home as well – just have to figure out how they got the beets in strips like that and how to make the lemon ginger dressing… but hey, I’m always down to experiment!

Anyway, if you ever visit Portland, Oregon, check this place out.  And if you are looking for some fresh ideas for juices, smoothies, and vegan snacks and meals, check out their menu, and see if you can’t help but be inspired!

Why All the Fuss About a Healthy Gut?

gut health

By Nancy Smorch, Foodie Bitch

The gut and digestive system seems to be the hot topic lately (at least in my Foodie Bitch world).  This is a good thing, because in the past it was rare for an individual or a health care practitioner to make the connection between poor gut health and illness, or another health challenge.

And (although it is still rare for a majority of the population to grasp this connection) thankfully, more and more people are understanding why it is so important to make sure your gut is healthy.

I’m not going to get into everything about the gut here (that would just take way too long), but let me get the conversation started with you by mentioning a fascinating fact:

Did you know that the intestinal lining is only one cell layer thick?  One cell layer thick!!  Do you realize how thin and delicate that makes the intestinal wall?  Do you also realize how large the intestinal wall would be if it were spread out on a flat surface?  It would take up the area of a tennis court!

Did you also know that a huge part of your immune system is in your gut as well?

Think about this:  your entire internal system is relying on the proper flow of nutrients from your gut to your internal systems, and on the ability of the gut wall to keep out toxins.  You want to make sure that your gut wall is healthy, because the toxins and waste that we excrete are normally excreted for a good reason – they aren’t needed by the body and/or they are toxic to the body.

If your intestinal wall becomes inflamed, or gaps develop between the cells in the wall, you’re going to have issues.

So, what happens when this wall becomes damaged?  Among other things, you can become allergic to foods that you would normally be able to digest and assimilate, and your immune system will become overactive.  Inflammation will occur, not only in the intestinal walls, but all over your body.

Did you also know that many are now referring to the gut as the second brain?  The gut contains more neurotransmitters than your brain and, amazingly, communicates important regulating information to your actual brain.

So how does the intestinal wall become damaged?

I’ll get more into that in a later post.  But, for now, think about all of the toxins in the poor-quality food we are eating, the overuse of antibiotics in humans and animals and how that is destroying the balance of the gut bacterial flora, the use of other medications and their possible effects, stress, and environmental toxins.

It really shouldn’t be this difficult to have and maintain a healthy intestinal lining, but, even though humanity has made huge progress in many areas, this is one area that is experiencing a major regression.  I know I mention it often, but I want to bring this issue to the forefront of your awareness – because without a healthy gut, you won’t be able to experience the energy, focus, health and vitality you need to do the things you want to do in life.

Chew on that for a bit, and we’ll chat more about this later.