Monday, May 20, 2013

Sunshine Squash

I love leisurely mornings when you have time to contemplate what you really want to eat. Waltzing around the kitchen with a mug of your favorite tea, rummaging through the fridge and cabinets, looking for whatever your heart desires.

Healthy breakfasts are a great opportunity to use up any leftovers you may have, and that is how this gem of a breakfast came about.

I used to make sunshine toast at sleepovers when I was younger, and this recipe follows the same idea. Instead of using toast as a vessel for the egg like I used to, some leftover butternut squash is utilized.
I've always admired those in blog-sphere that share a rustic breakfast of veggies and egg. It always look like such a marvelous way to start your day. How much healthier can you get? Butternut squash is a great source of vitamins A and B, and fiber, while the egg cooked in the middle is an excellent form of lean protein. This breakfast is a great start to the day. Not to mention a single portion is low in calories, and full of flavor!

Sunshine Squash

Steamed butternut squash, cut the raw squash into rounds by slicing the squash to form 'coins', then hollow out the seeded part once you reach it before proceeding to cut the rings. Steam the squash rounds.
1 egg
salt and pepper
Pam spray, oil, or butter to grease the pan

Place a steamed squash ring into a pan that has been lightly greased. Crack one egg into the middle of the ring. Allow the egg to cook until done. You may need to cover the pan so the top of the egg cooks evenly with the bottom.
Serve with some fruit and season with a little salt and pepper.

Instead of bread and squash, I have also seen this being done with pepper rings. That would be delicious!

What breakfasts have you constructed out of dinner leftovers?


Friday, May 17, 2013

Cashew 'Cream Cheese'

I would have never thought of soaking and blending cashews to make a vegan cream cheese, but I'm glad someone did, because it is a satisfying replacement. And it is a very handy recipe to have in your back pocket if you don't have cream cheese, because who doesn't have cashews lying around for emergencies? Okay, so I went to the store and got cashews specifically for this recipe, but who could pass up an occasion to make vegan cream cheese? Not me!
Could I have just as easily bought cream cheese? Yes, but we don't need to make things any easier than they are...this is the 21st century, and we have and app for that.
Homemade things are more fun, and it is nice to be able to appreciate something so simple...slowly. One step at a time.
And appreciate this Cashew Cream Cheese I have, after patiently waiting for the cashews to soak and after thoroughly blending them in a blender until silky smooth, it has been a delightful accompaniment to toast and veggies! Ahh, the simple things.
Not to mention the added health benefits of cashew cream cheese, healthy fats and antioxidants. Makes for happy snacking!

Healthy fats: Cashews, among other nuts are filled with healthy unsaturated fatty acids. These are the fats that actually help your cholesterol levels rather than harm them like the saturated and trans fats. The unsaturated fats are what help your hair shine and your skin glow. We need them like any other macro- and micro-nutrients!
Antioxidants: These little nuts are high in antioxidants  a free-radical fighting molecule that inhibits the oxidation and damage to other cells and molecules.
Copper: Plays an important aspect of enzymes that helps them to carry out the roles they were meant to do.
Magnesium: Cashews are known for containing magnesium. Magnesium helps to keep our bones strong and our muscles and nerves relaxed. Two important, very different functions. A little nutty isn't it?

So, lets get to it!

Adapted from: Oh. Ladycakes's Raw Cashew Cream

Cashew Cream Cheese spread on some simple GF toast

Cashew Cream Cheese

1 1/2 C raw cashews
3 medjool dates, pitted
1/2 C almond milk
1/4 C water
1/2 t lemon juice*
1 T agave*
splash of vanilla extract, depending on desired taste*

Cover raw cashews with water and allow to soak for at least 4 hours, or overnight. I will rinse the water once or twice while they are soaking. Before the cashews are done soaking, allow the dates to soften for at least 30 minutes, adding them to the cashews.
Drain the water the cashews and dates are in, and add them to a powerful blender or food processor. Add the almond milk, water, lemon juice, and vanilla extract.

*All added flavors depend on desired taste, sometimes I would like it more sweet and will add more dates or more agave or even honey.

NOTE: I recently just made this and added a pinch of xanthan gum so that it would keep its form and hold up in a recipe better. It worked very well.


Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Green Smoothie

Everyone has one.
They are stark in color, undoubtedly healthy, and deceptively tasty.
And unlike the green rugs of the 70's this shade will always be in style. Some may consider them the Holy Grail of Health, but many call them breakfast.
And they all have one thing in common, greens!

This is my go-to Green Smoothie.

Green Smoothies have become all the rage, and when you have a good one, you understand why. I like to use spinach in my smoothies, I think it blends up really well and even adds a creaminess. Two other necessary ingredients are green grapes and almond milk. Just add ice, blend, and you have yourself a darn good smoothie! But, I can never leave things well enough alone, and I generally have a grocery list of other add ins. That is the beauty of these dazzling drinks is that you can customize them to what you are in the mood for that day, or what is available.
The almond milk tones down the greens a bit, so it gives you a good excuse to add more spinach! The grapes add a nice touch of sweetness and an added boost of fiber, if you use green grapes it keeps with the green theme. I also REALLY like adding green figs when they are in season, they're just so tasty.

This isn't really a recipe, its more of a guideline that I tend to follow
Yield: 1 smoothie

Handful or two of spinach, or however much you are comfortable using
1 cup vanilla almond milk, sweetened or unsweetened
1 cup green grapes, with skin on
1/2 banana, frozen*
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt (optional)
2-3 green figs (optional)
1 cup of ice cubs

Add all ingredients into a blender and blend on high until smooth.

*It's helpful to peel and cut a few banana's in half before storing them in the freezer for easy smoothie making. If you don't have frozen bananas readily available, just add more ice.

Note: I have yet to do this, but I if you were to freeze the grapes it would help to thicken the smoothie. And if you're like me, I like my smoothies to be the consistency of to the point were I need a spoon to eat it.