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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Chocolate Cherry Superfood Smoothie

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By Nancy Smorch, Foodie Bitch

The girls and I were about to head out for a hike here in Ocala and I needed a snack to boost my energy and get me to dinner.  I had the idea of combining chocolate and cherry together in a smoothie somehow in my head, so I thought I’d play around with it for today’s recipe.

I also wanted something simple.  Too often I come across smoothie recipes that have a lot of ingredients or have ingredients I may not have.  This one is pretty straight forward.  Why mess with the perfection of chocolate and cherry together, right?

The result of my playing around in the kitchen is the Chocolate Cherry Superfood Smoothie.  I think it turned out amazingly tasty!  And knowing that it is packed with super nutrients makes it taste even better for me.

So, I started out with about 1 cup frozen organic cherries.  Cherries are known for their high flavonoid content, which not only gives them their dark color, but also acts as an antioxidant.  Cherries are also high in Vitamin C and potassium.  I haven’t had cherries in a long time and seeing these deep purplish/red cherries brought back visions of summertime in Michigan, and those glorious couple of weeks in July when the farmer’s markets are flowing with fresh-picked local cherries!

Believe it or not, I’ve never gone cherry picking, but it is now officially on my list for this summer!

Next I wanted to add some chocolate, so my choice was organic raw cacao powder (2 Tbsp.).  Just in time for Valentines Day, cacao contains a substance called phenylethylamine or PEA, which is the chemical found in the brains of people in love.  And, raw cacao is rich in antioxidants, Vitamins A & C, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and copper.  It even contains resveratrol which protects your brain and nervous system.  Raw cacao has recently been found to contain anandamide, the “bliss chemical” – it’s what your body produces when you have a workout “high” and has been associated with improving motivation and increasing pleasure!  Who knew?

With so many benefits to raw cacao, I though I would add some raw cacao nibs – to also pack a little bit of crunch to the drink (1 Tbsp.).

I wanted to add a little more superfood power, so I thought maca powder would be a good choice (1 tsp.).  Maca has been known to support the endocrine system and increase stamina and energy, among many other things and is loaded with Vitamin C and iron.

To add a little sweetness and some more potassium, magnesium, and Vitamin B6 to the smoothie, I added half a banana.

Not that this smoothie probably needed this, but I added about 1/2 Tbsp. raw honey.

Then I figured I’d add some ice to give it the right texture (about 3/4 cup) and then enough almond milk to get it to the right consistency (I used about 3/4 cup).

All of these amazing foods combined together provided, not only a delicious late-afternoon snack, but also a nutrient dense, power-packed food.  This is one of those many times that I look at food as medicine and combine something together to help me do what I need to do.

How could anyone go wrong with this combination?  Lindsey even wanted some of it, and Frankie, after asking if it was “real chocolate” or cacao (she’s not a big fan of superfoods), even tried it and said it wasn’t bad – I’ll take it!

Ingredients:

1 cup frozen organic cherries

1/2 banana

2 Tbsp. organic raw cacao powder

1 tsp. maca powder

1/2 Tbsp. raw honey

3/4 cup ice

3/4 cup almond milk

1 Tbsp. cacao nibs

Directions:

Put all the ingredients in a blender, mix, and serve. Delicious!