Happy New Year! I hope this holiday season has been treating you well. Get anything cool for Christmas? My husband got me a Nutribullet–aka mega blender extraordinaire. My previous blender was, shall we say, lacking in power. By which I mean it was a hunk of garbage that took 15 minutes just to make a smoothie. And since I love smoothies as an easy afternoon snack that packs in nutrients from fruits and veggies, I’ve been wanting a more capable blender for quite some time.
So far, the Nutribullet delivers! (Even though I gave my husband a hard time about buying me something so pricey and nice.)
The blender comes with a smoothie-cup attachment that screws directly onto the base, which of course is super convenient. I decided to try it out with this refreshing peach green smoothie!
I’m not usually one for green smoothies, but with holiday indulgences edging out my veggie consumption the last week or so, something green sounded like it would hit the spot. To get my eight-year-old daughter to try it with me, I told her it contained a secret ingredient that she had to guess. Once she saw the grassy green color of the smoothie, she had some pretty good guesses, like cucumber and mint–but she certainly didn’t taste the true reason for the lovely green: spinach!
Even I couldn’t tell this smooth concoction contained leafy greens.
Instead of tasting bitter or savory, this smoothie was pure refreshment. (My daughter even said she wants me to make it again.) The peach, honey, and banana shone through for an afternoon pick-me-up that made me wonder why I don’t pop spinach into more smoothies. With its fiber, calcium, and vitamins C and K, it’s a great way to get some extra nutrients around the holidays or any time. If you can’t even taste it, might as well toss it in!
And now that I have the Nutribullet, anyone want an old blender?
Green Peach Smoothie
- 1 frozen banana
- 1 1/2 c. frozen sliced peaches
- 2 c. fresh spinach
- 1 Tbsp. honey
- 3/4 c. unsweetened almond milk
- 3/4 c. plain Greek yogurt
- Blend all ingredients until smooth. Serve immediately.
When I think of smoothies, I don’t often consider lemon as a particularly tempting flavor. Lemon in cocktails, muffins, or chicken recipes? Yes, all the way. But lemon in a smoothie? Sounds a little odd. I would think the tangy taste would be a bit too overpowering for a snack as tame as a smoothie–or that putting lemon juice in with dairy would produce something curdled.
Then again, lemon yogurt was always my favorite growing up, and I think we can all agree that lemon sweets are some of the best around. (P.S. I just counted, and just on this blog I have 13 recipes with lemon as their primary flavor.)
So I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that the flavor of lemon–especially when paired with raspberry–in this easy smoothie turned out refreshing and delicious. The sunshiney tartness mixed with that pretty rosy color just stole my heart. And my mouth.
Plus, a lemon raspberry smoothie gave me an excuse to use the candied lemon slices I bought from Trader Joe’s, which I didn’t actually need, but were so cute and appealing I couldn’t resist. (Like so many other things at Trader Joe’s.) Now that the package is open, I guess I’ll have to go and make those other 13 lemon recipes and garnish the heck out of ’em.
Looking for more lemony goodness this winter season? Try some of my other recipes!
Lemon Raspberry Smoothie
- 3/4 c. frozen raspberries
- 1 c. 2% plain Greek yogurt
- 2 Tbsp. honey
- 2 Tbsp. almond milk
- zest of 1 small lemon
- juice of 1/2 a small lemon
- whipped cream, for topping
- Place raspberries, yogurt, honey, and among milk in a blender. Zest lemon directly into the blender, then juice the 1/2 lemon directly in as well, straining for seeds. Blend well and top with whipped cream, if desired.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: when it comes to your diet, there’s no such thing as a “detox.” Your liver and kidneys serve as your body’s built-in detoxification system, and there’s not much you can do to make them function better.
That being said, on this day after Thanksgiving, we could probably all use a “detox” in the sense of something light and healthy to get back on track after the inevitable holiday indulgence. A smoothie is my snack of choice after mashed potatoes, gravy, pumpkin pie…and pizza. (No, my family Thanksgiving tradition doesn’t involve pizza. It’s just that when you eat dinner at 3:00 PM, you get pretty hungry by about 9:00.) Though I thoroughly enjoyed every bite of all those foods, the key to health is balance, so I’m leaning toward the skinny side of the food spectrum today.
This Strawberry Banana Peanut Butter Smoothie is inspired by the Chunky Strawberry Bowl at Jamba Juice. Strawberries, banana, peanut butter, and oats may sound like an odd combination, but from the first time I tried the Jamba Juice version, I was hooked. There’s something almost comfort food-like about the sweetness of the fruit blended with wholesome oats and stick-to-your-ribs peanut butter. I’ve been recreating it at home for awhile now.
When it comes to making your own smoothie instead of going to Jamba Juice, there are a couple of distinct advantages: 1.) you won’t pay a whopping $7.15 for it, and 2.) it doesn’t have to set you back 570 calories when all you want is a snack. Plus, on Black Friday, you don’t have to leave your house. That’s my kind of detox. 🙂
Wishing you a delightful remainder of your Thanksgiving weekend!
Strawberry Banana Peanut Butter Smoothie
- 1 frozen banana
- 1/2 c. frozen strawberries
- 3/4 c. plain Greek yogurt
- 1 Tbsp. honey
- 1/3 c. old-fashioned oats
- 1/4 c. almond milk
- 2 Tbsp. smooth peanut butter
- Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
When it comes to Christmas, I am big on tradition. Really, when it comes to any holiday. There were beloved holiday experiences that repeated themselves every year when I was growing up–like gingerbread house parties, for example–and now, as a parent, I am strongly committed to instituting and observing traditions for my own family. They certainly don’t have to be the same traditions that I grew up with (I mean, dressing up like clowns for Easter is kind of weird, right?) as long as they are wholesome and relatively easily repeatable.
You may think, “Sure, traditions are fun, but they’re not that big a deal.” I believe, though, that they are a big deal because of two things they create: family unity and family identity. As for unity, when we all enjoy the same activities together year after year, it can only bring us closer to each other. As for identity, having a sense of family personality is crucial. In a world where the family gets less and less respect, we have to try that much harder to instill in our children the conviction that family is fun, positive, and–perhaps most relevant to observing traditions–unique. As my kids go out into the world, I want them to know what it means to be a Garone. I hope they come to believe it means being creative, hospitable, and community-oriented (and also appreciating Dr. Doofenschmirtz from Phineas and Ferb as the most underrated cartoon villain of all time). And when my kids grow up, I want them to recall lovingly the great times we had together and ultimately pay that forward to their own families.
This peppermint hot chocolate has become one of our Christmastime traditions, sipped alongside watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Something about these two activities in conjunction has worked its way into the fabric of our family lore. It’s been years since I switched from packaged mix to homemade hot chocolate, and somewhere along the line started adding peppermint extract to it to give it a special holiday flair. My daughter, middle son, and I think it’s spectacular. Creamy, richly chocolatey, and of course, perfectly pepperminty. The other two members of our household prefer the original version. Now we live in a House Divided: the Peppermints and the Originals. (Maybe one Christmas we should get team jackets with our preferences written on them, a la the T-Birds and the Pink Ladies from Grease.)
How’s that for family identity?
So whatever your family traditions at Christmastime, may I suggest making this delightful hot drink one of them? I hope it adds to your family’s sense of unity and identity. Grinch viewing optional.
Peppermint Hot Chocolate
- 1/3 c. cocoa powder
- 3/4 c. white sugar
- pinch salt
- 1/3 c. very hot/boiling water
- 3 1/2 c. 2% milk
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/2-3/4 tsp. peppermint extract (depending on how much you like peppermint flavor)
- 1/4 c. half and half
- whipped cream, for topping
- In a small saucepan, combine the cocoa powder, sugar, and pinch of salt. Stir in hot water.
- Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Simmer and stir for 2 minutes.
- Stir in milk and heat until very hot, but not boiling. Remove from heat and add vanilla and peppermint extract.
- Distribute evenly into 4 mugs and stir 1 Tbsp. half and half into each. Top with whipped cream, if desired.
Last month my husband, my three kids, and I took what I am tempted to call our First-Ever Family Vacation. See, we’ve been on numerous trips all together in the past–Disneyland, Legoland, Catalina Island, Chicago–but they were just that: “family trips.” As a wise friend once told me, “When your kids are young, you don’t go on family vacations. You go on family trips.” “Family trip” meaning “you’ll need a vacation from your vacation.” But, to my delight, my children have now reached an age where we can all go on a trip and come home feeling relaxed and satisfied. This was the case with our wonderful time in Rocky Point, Mexico.
Over the four days we spent south of the border, we enjoyed a gorgeous view from our condo’s terrace,
lounged on Sandy Beach,
and, since we were there over our anniversary, celebrated by drinking copious amounts of Mexican alcohol–my husband I, that is, not the kids.
People had of course told us that food and drinks in Mexico are insanely inexpensive, but I was not prepared for the extreme dirt-cheapness of Mexican alcohol. It was like if Wal-Mart rolled back their prices and just kept on rolling. And that’s how I ended up with a $4 bottle of mezcal. Actually, backstory: I ended up with a $4 bottle of mezcal because it looked fancy and I thought it might be tequila but was afraid to ask. (I can say several things in Spanish, but “what is this liquor and why is it so cheap?” is not one of them.) So I just dropped it in the basket along with my mini flan cups and lime-flavored mayo and headed to the register.
Once a Google search revealed that this mysterious bottle with the agave plant picture on it was actually a variety of mezcal, I was stumped. What’s mezcal, and what do you do with it, especially when you are now the proud owner of a rather large bottle of it? Fortunately, I came across the idea for this cocktail: the refreshing flavor mix of blackberries, lime, and agave mixed with the smoky taste of the mezcal.
If Starbucks ever wants to add alcohol to any of their “refresher” drinks, I’m sending them this recipe. It’s light, sweet, and a little different. For me, it brings up happy memories of a Mexican family vacation…and cheap Mexican liquor. I’d be happy to return to Rocky Point for more of both.
Blackberry Lime Mezcal Refresher
(Inspired by The Drink Blog)
4 blackberries, plus more for garnish, if desired
3/4 oz. lime juice
1/2 oz. honey or agave nectar
2 oz. mezcal
- In the bottom of a 1-cup measuring cup, mash blackberries until no large pieces remain. Add lime juice, honey or agave nectar, and mezcal and stir well.
- Pour mixture over a fine-mesh strainer into an old-fashioned glass filled with ice, pressing down on blackberry pulp to extract as much juice as possible. Discard blackberry pulp. Garnish with additional blackberries, if desired.