Warm Farro Salad (With Tomatoes, Spinach, and Shiitake Mushrooms) – An Easy Farro Recipe

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The inspiration struck awhile back…

Hubby and I were with friends checking out a new restaurant and unsure of what to order. We saw a delicious chicken dish pass us by. Then the same dish again…and again. As I looked around the small dining room of the restaurant, The Wine Shop, I realized that at least one of those very chicken dishes was on every single table. It was obviously the regulars’ choice.

So, we chose it, too. And after enjoying a delicious arugula salad with beets starter salad, that very chicken dish finally made its way to our table. After one bite, I realized why the dish was so popular. It was spectacular! That crispy chicken was a real palate pleaser. But a surprise came on the same plate, and it was the side of warm farro salad. Being a fan of unique grains, I figured I’d like it, but I really, really loved this use of farro. The farro was tender and the flavor was rich with what tasted almost like a mushroom broth. I immediately started taking note of the features and flavors of the dish with the idea of recreating the dish (both parts of it – chicken and farro) when I had the chance.

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The chance struck mid-last-week when I decided to see if I could re-create our amazing chicken and farro dinner. Yet, while I wanted to do some take on crispy chicken, the dish I really wanted to recreate as close as possible to the original form was the warm farro salad.

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I started with some farro that I picked up from the bulk bin section of my local health food store. I cooked it in broth, added in shiitake mushrooms, and then at the last minute, I stirred in fresh baby spinach and cherry tomatoes from my garden.

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The result, paired with crispy, oven-fried chicken, was all I wanted and more. I’ll share the chicken recipe in a separate blog post. For now…I give you a super easy way to enjoy farro. That’s right. I’m guessing most of you are unfamiliar with exactly how to prepare farro, but this is a great recipe to introduce you to the ancient grain.

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Warm Farro Salad (With Tomatoes, Spinach, and Shiitake Mushrooms)

Wondering, “What’s the best way to cook farro?” or even “what the heck do I do with farro?”. Here’s an extra-easy recipe that will pair well with almost any protein. I like mine served with Oven-Fried Crispy Almond Chicken, but steak, a vegetarian or vegan protein, or even another chicken recipe should work just fine.

*Vegetarian/Vegan options included*

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 – 2 1/2 cups broth or stock of choice (I used chicken)
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 cup farro, rinsed
  • 3-4 shiitake mushrooms, wiped clean, stems removed, chopped large
  • 2 cups baby spinach, rinsed and dried (I used a salad spinner)
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, rinsed, halved
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Bring 2 cups broth to a boil in a large pan (with tall sides). Add salt, and farro and stir. Partially cover pan, reduce to simmer, and cook farro till almost tender, about 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the mushrooms after the first 15 minutes. Add additional broth, if needed. Note: I added about 1/2 cup of broth after the first 30 minutes.
  2. Add spinach to pan, stir in and cook until wilted, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add cherry tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper, as needed. Stir to combine. Cook until cherry tomatoes are warmed through, about 1-2 minutes.
  4. Serve with something delicious like Oven-Fried Chicken, and enjoy!

You may also like:

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I’ll be posting that Crispy, Oven-Fried Almond Chicken ASAP! :)

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Which recipe should I post next?

  • Cookies 'N Cream Rice Krispies (44%, 21 Votes)
  • Easy Summer Squash Soup (25%, 12 Votes)
  • Crispy Almond Oven-Fried Chicken (25%, 12 Votes)
  • Goji Berry Green Monster Smoothie (6%, 3 Votes)

Total Voters: 48

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Reader Question: Have you ever tried farro before? If not, what’s your favorite grain? If yes, how was it cooked/served and did you like it?

The Great Fundraising Act Goodies

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If you haven’t heard, the blog world has come together again for a remarkable online bake sale, organized by the lovely Janetha of Meals and Moves, to raise money for blog friend Susan of The Great Balancing Act.

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Long time readers of TCL may recognize Susan. I had the pleasure of meeting her and hanging out with her late last year at the Foodbuzz Festival in San Francisco, CA.

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Susan and I successfully navigated our way from SFO to the Foodbuzz hotel.

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And we even got to hang out in Chinatown!

Fast forward to present day, and Susan, who is only 25, was recently diagnosed with lymphoma (cancer). You can read about how Susan found out she had cancer on this post. And this post talks more about Susan’s story. So, the bake sale raised money to help Susan pay for the expensive treatments she currently need.

And would you believe the bake sale raised $26, 432!!!! Just amazing.

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I ended up placing the winning bid for a batch of my choice of cookies or muffins from the wonderful Erica of Itzy’s Kitchen (who is possibly having a baby as I type! Squeeeeeeee!). I had a tough choice choosing between vegan almond butter cookies, chocolate chip pumpkin muffins, or big oatmeal chocolate chunk cookies. I ended up choosing the vegan almond butter cookies. Mmm…

Erica was super on the ball and shipped my goodies right away. I was so happy to see the box with her name on it last week.

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Of course, Bailey had to do his usual inspection.

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Yup, looks ok. Dig in!

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And would you believe Erica even threw in some surprises?! I got a couple Larabars

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AND a batch of Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Muffins. Ooh la yum!

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I had to dig right in! They were both so delish! Thank you Erica! :)

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For those interested in reading more about Susan, you should totally check out her blog. She’s still posting regular updates – click to view more from The Great Balancing Act.

And, if you’re interested in donating, there is a way you can place a donation. Check out the Donate button on the right sidebar of Janetha’s blog (click).

One Pot Turkey Skillet Dinner (With Potatoes and Smoked Mozzarella)

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I have a wonderful new recipe to share with you guys. It’s light, it’s tasty, it uses up leftover cooked veggies, and you can cook it in one pot.

Now hubby and I have what I like to call a happy-cooking-relationship. We came up with it years ago, and it’s worked really well for us. The concept is simple: I cook, he cleans. Yet, although it’s tempting to dirty up as many dishes as possible, since I don’t have to worry about clean-up, in order to maintain the healthy relationship, I like to keep things as clean as possible whenever possible. One of the easiest ways to keep things clean is to use less cookware. And who doesn’t love a one-pot meal, right?

And this one pot will be a cast iron pan!

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This One Pot Turkey Skillet Dinner isn’t the fastest in the world, but it’s easy as pie and tastes like amazing.

I got the inspiration for this recipe whilst flipping through one of my favorite magazines – Clean Eating Magazine. I like turkey, I like potatoes, and I saw both in the picture. But I ended up putting quite the TCL twist on it adding fresh rosemary from my herb garden, broccolini, and subbing smoked mozzarella for the cheese in the original recipe.

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Pretty much you brown ground dark meat turkey in the pan and then set it to the side. Then you add potatoes, onion, fresh herbs, salt, and pepper.

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Stir to combine, put it in the oven and forget about it for a bit.

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Meanwhile, you can gather up some leftover cooked veggies. Chop them into bite-sized pieces and…

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…after de-glazing the pan with some broth, add that veggie to the pot along with your cooked turkey…plus additional salt and pepper, if needed.

Stir and bake for 10 minutes longer.

Psst – Important Tip: You can set the table, get drinks together, etc. while the dinner finishes up.

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Remove the pan from the oven, add small pieces of smoked mozzarella…bake just until…

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…the mozzarella gets niiiiice and ooey-gooey. Yum!

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Garnish with fresh parsley, if you want. I like to rip mine over the meal. The parsley adds fresh little bites as you enjoy the skillet dinner.

Doesn’t this whole thing sound simple?

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One Pot Turkey Skillet Dinner (With Potatoes and Smoked Mozzarella)

This easy one-pot dinner, inspired by a recipe I saw in the latest Clean Eating Magazine, makes for light comfort food with easy clean-up. And you can even use up leftover cooked veggies. This recipe specifies broccolini, but any cooked veggie should work. Just use what you have. One bite of this cozy dish, and you’ll be hooked!

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 pound ground dark meat turkey
  • 4 medium/large red-skinned potatoes, brushed and eyes/bad spots removed, cut into roughly 1 inch pieces
  • 1/2 onion, chopped large
  • 2 sprigs rosemary, stems removed, chopped fine (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • fresh ground black pepper, dash
  • 1 cup broth/stock of choice (I used chicken)
  • 1 cup leftover cooked veggies (I used blanched broccolini, cut into 1 inch pieces)
  • Additional salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 ball of smoked mozzarella, cut into small pieces (about 1/3-1/4 inch pieces)
  • fresh parsley for garnish, optional

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Pre-heat a cast iron skillet (or other oven-proof pan) over medium heat. Add oil and spread. Add turkey and cook until turkey is cooked through (no longer pink). Remove to bowl and set aside for later.
  3. Add potatoes, onion, rosemary, salt, and pepper to skillet. Stir to combine and place in pre-heated oven. Bake for 15 minutes. Turn off burner.
  4. Remove skillet from oven (you can place it back on the burner you used before, but it doesn’t need to be on). De-glaze pan with broth by pouring broth into the skillet and scraping up any brown bits. Add turkey, broccolini (or other vegetable) and if needed, salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Return pan to oven and bake for 10 minutes.
  5. Remove skillet from oven, top with smoked mozzarella pieces, distributing evenly. Return skillet to oven and bake just until cheese melts, about 5 minutes.
  6. Garnish with fresh parsley, if using. Serve and enjoy!

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Nomalicious!

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Have you voted yet?

Which recipe should I post next?

  • Cookies 'N Cream Rice Krispies (44%, 21 Votes)
  • Easy Summer Squash Soup (25%, 12 Votes)
  • Crispy Almond Oven-Fried Chicken (25%, 12 Votes)
  • Goji Berry Green Monster Smoothie (6%, 3 Votes)

Total Voters: 48

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Reader Question: Who usually ends up doing the dishes in your house?

Cocoa Oats + Recipe Votes

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Things have been surprisingly busy even though I’m not currently teach or attending Zumba classes.

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I made oatmeal the other day for the first time in possibly a couple weeks and I think I had forgotten how good it was. Yuuuuuum!

This bowl was cooked stove-top with the following:

  • rolled oats
  • 1/2 water
  • 1/2 vanilla soy milk
  • unsweetened cocoa powder
  • chia seeds

And then these went on top:

  • sliced almonds
  • coconut flakes
  • cacao nibs

Side note – I’m kind of looking forward to fall already – especially pumpkin oatmeal! I know I can eat pumpkin oatmeal any time of year, but I really think it tastes best when the weather is on the chilly side and the trees outside are golden and red.

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Earlier this week, I met up with friends Brittney (and Clyde), Katie, and Jennifer at Yoforia.

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I was sad to see my latest favorite, banana, wasn’t available, but I happily filled my cup up with 2 other faves – tart plain and tart pomegranate. I added lots of fruit on top – kiwi, strawberries, mango, plus coconut flakes and of course mochi.

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It was so fun catching up with everyone. I felt like I hadn’t seen them in forever!

I even got to start chatting with Katie about our epic road trip to HLS. That’s right…we’re driving there! HLS or bust!

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Clyde was totally the center of attention…

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…with us and with lots of strangers. Can you blame everyone for wanting to see him – just look at that adorable face! :)

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And I wanted to share preview photos of the 2 recipes I’ll be posting next, thanks to your Facebook votes.

First up, we have a warm farro salad (with tomatoes, spinach, and shiitake mushrooms)

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And then an easy turkey skillet dinner. Nommmmmm!

I’m hoping to post at least one, but hopefully both of these later today.

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Speaking of voting on recipes. Which recipe would you like to see next? I’ve created a poll so you can vote. All of these recipes have been photographed, tested, and are ready for sharing!

Which recipe should I post next?

  • Cookies 'N Cream Rice Krispies (44%, 21 Votes)
  • Easy Summer Squash Soup (25%, 12 Votes)
  • Crispy Almond Oven-Fried Chicken (25%, 12 Votes)
  • Goji Berry Green Monster Smoothie (6%, 3 Votes)

Total Voters: 48

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Voting ends Tuesday night!

Thanks for voting guys! :)

Figgy Green Monster Smoothie (Tastes Like Cake Batter!)

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With my Green Monster madness going on recently, I’ve been coming up with some pretty interesting concoctions. Seriously, I have about 3 recipes queued up over here. Anywho, none had more interesting, or shall I say a surprising, taste than my latest – Figgy Green Monster Smoothie.

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It’s a fig smoothie that tastes like cake batter.

The smoothie had zero elements that I would normally use to make a cake batter flavor and yet it tasted like cake batter! Ok, maybe it’s just me. You guys know I like to make my cake batters on the healthier side. But I honestly took the first sip after blending this smoothie up and thought…hmm…cake batter?

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I came up with the idea to make a fig smoothie because my friend who has a fig tree brought in a bunch to give me. Score! Unfortunately, even without teaching Zumba, my schedule has been hectic, so I haven’t exactly had a bunch of free time to experiment with a cool recipe.

So…What could I do quickly with figs? Why not put it in a smoothie, right? And as it turns out, figs in a smoothie are a good thing.

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Figgy Green Monster Smoothie (Tastes Like Cake Batter!)
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Have figs and don’t know what to do with them? The easiest thing you can do (besides eating them plain) is blend them into a delicious and healthy smoothie. Since I’m on a Green Monster kick, I decided to add spinach to mine to make it green. This Green Monster smoothie had an unexpected cake-batter-like flavor.
*Vegan if you use vegan milk*
Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 1½ – 2 cups loosely packed spinach (or sub ¼ cup frozen spinach or fresh/frozen kale)
  • sweetener of choice, to taste, optional (you can add with the other ingredients or blend and taste first and add in at the end)
  • 1 banana (a frozen banana will give you a thicker consistency, but non-frozen works, too)
  • 4 figs, stems removed, halved
  • 1 cup milk of choice (dairy, non-dairy, vanilla non-dairy, etc.) – I used vanilla soy
  • 2 cubes ice
Instructions
  1. Place spinach, banana, figs, milk, and ice in the blender.
  2. Cover and blend until banana/figs/ice is processed and smooth, about 1-2 minutes.
  3. Enjoy!
Notes
Easily multiplies for additional servings.

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Here’s a GM smoothie recipe that was actually designed to taste like Cake Batter…Nom!: Cake Batter Green Monster – Peas and Thank You

You may enjoy some of these other Green Monster smoothies:

*Click here to read my Green Monster 101 post* (it explains what a GM is plus some ingredient and blending tips)

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Enjoy! :)

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Reader question: Figs were an ingredient that I never really expected to put into a smoothie. What’s the most unexpected thing you’ve put into a smoothie? Did you like it?

Green Monster Smoothies 101 + Basic Recipe

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It’s sweet, it’s refreshing, and it’s…GREEN? Yup, it’s a Green Monster Smoothie!

If you’re a Green Monster (GM) expert or enthusiast, you may be wondering if you could learn from this post. I don’t think you’ll learn anything you don’t already know. But, I do think you could offer your GM expertise. You can share tips for those less familiar with the wonderfulness that is the GM.

This post is actually written more for my other friends and readers who are new to GMs. Many of my Zumba participants, “real life” friends, and blog/twitter friends aren’t as familiar with Green Monster Smoothies.

So, if you’re wondering what the heck a “Green Monster Smoothie” is, then read on. And if you’re a Green Monster guru, then leave some comment love. Please share some of your tips and favorite GM recipes.

Green Monster Smoothie Recipe

{So beautiful and green}

Green Monster Smoothie Recipe

What is a Green Monster Smoothie?

A Green Monster smoothie is a healthy smoothie. It is bright green in color, thanks to the star ingredient: spinach! Yes…I said “spinach.” Don’t cringe. Honestly, once it’s all blended up with other ingredients, you cannot taste it! Have you ever tried eating just a spinach leaf plain? I have. It didn’t taste like much of anything. So, especially when you blend the spinach up with fruit and milk, you won’t taste it. Mmmkay? ;)

Some people use kale instead, but I prefer spinach.

Green Monster Smoothie Recipe

Green Monster Smoothie Ingredients

There are endless combinations, but the most basic and common ingredients are:

  • Spinach/Kale – This is the KEY ingredient. You can use fresh or frozen (I’ve tested it – check out this post).  And, as I mentioned above, you can substitute the spinach with kale.
  • Bananas – usually 1 to 2 are used per smoothie. I go with 1 per serving, and I prefer frozen bananas because it makes the texture thicker. This is also a good way to save bananas before they spoil. Simply freeze and save for a smoothie later! Brown bananas aren’t just for banana bread!
  • Milk of choice – dairy milk, soy milk, vanilla rice milk. You can use your favorite milk, but  a sweetened milk will yield a sweeter smoothie. I prefer to use unsweetened and add a natural sweetener, like honey.
  • Ice – to help make the smoothie cold and frosty.

Other common GM ingredients:

  • Yogurt – makes the smoothie thicker and provides protein and add probiotics.
  • Honey/Agave – liquid sweeteners if you need more sweetness in the smoothie. I think the bananas are sweet enough. If you use a sweetened non-dairy milk, you probably won’t need either of these.
  • Chia Seeds – a health-food ingredient. If you let it sit in liquid for several minutes, it will plump up and become gelatinous (like a tiny tapioca pearl, for bubble tea fans).
  • Nut Butters – peanut butter, almond butter, etc. Add this for creaminess and healthy nut nutrition.
  • Other fruits – feel free to add your other favorite fruits. See the next section on ingredients to avoid when selecting (mostly for color).

Ingredients to use in small portions when making GMs:

*Edited: After reading some of the comments, I decided to edit this. Instead of avoiding them all together, I’ll warn against using too much of these ingredients. Thanks guys! :) *

  • Berries – blueberries, raspberries, etc. If you use too much, the berries will change the color of the smoothie. It won’t be green or as green. Sometimes berries turn the GM brown!
  • Other – Pretty much anything with a lot of color that will change the color of the smoothie away from green. Trust me, a brown smoothie is not as appealing visually, even if it still tastes amazing. Not to mention, I wouldn’t call a brown smoothie a “Green” Monster Smoothie. I’d call that just a smoothie with spinach in it. :lol: We should come up with a name for these, right?!)

Green Monster Smoothie Recipe

Once you’re ready to blend, there are a couple tips to keep in mind.

Green Monster Smoothie Recipe

Green Monster Smoothie Blending Tips

I like to layer my ingredients in the blender in the following order*:

  • Spinach/Kale – putting this at the bottom helps ensure the leaves are blended instead of flying around the blender and sticking to the sides. If I use frozen spinach/kale, I don’t always add that first since it doesn’t have the same texture as fresh
  • Dry ingredients – like flaxseed meal, matcha, etc. Add first for the same reason as spinach – so it doesn’t get stuck to the sides/lid
  • Nut Butters – so it’s less likely to fly up and stick to the sides
  • Liquid Sweetener – same as nut butters
  • Other small fruits – goji berries, etc.
  • Bananas – to weigh spinach down
  • Other large fruit – cantaloupe, etc.
  • Ice
  • Milk of choice

*All of these ingredients are not always used, but if I were using them, this is the order I’d follow.

And every blender is different, so settings will vary. I usually just blend away until all the fruit/ice is smooth and all the spinach leaves are blended so small. Instead of seeing individual pieces, I look for smooth greenness. This usually only takes 1 or 2 minutes for me.

Green Monster Smoothie Recipe

Why Drink Green Monster Smoothies?

First of all, they’re fun to look at and just plain delicious.

I spent a month with my Project Veg-Up challenge focusing on eating lots of fruits and veggies every day. I know that it can sometimes be a struggle to “eat your greens.” This is especially true on your busiest days. Smoothies are one of the easiest ways to consume fruit. And now thanks to the GM, they can be the easiest way to consume some vegetables, too!

So GM smoothies feature spinach, and here’s why spinach is good for you – a quote I’ve shared before from whfoods.com:

Spinach is an excellent source of bone-healthy vitamin K, magnesium, manganese, and calcium; heart-healthy folate, potassium, and vitamin B6; energy-producing iron and vitamin B2; and free radical-scavenging vitamin A (through its concentration of beta-carotene) and vitamin C.

Side note: This is just general info. I know some people are supposed to avoid spinach (doctor’s orders), so obviously, you may want to avoid the GM if this is true for you, too. And, you should always consult with your doctor before making dietary changes. But, I trust that you know what’s best for you. ;)

Green Monster Smoothie Recipe

Basic Green Monster Recipe
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Green Monster smoothies are beautiful to look at and delicious to drink. And if you’re not sold yet, they’re good for you, too! Drinking GM smoothies is the easiest way I know to get a vegetable serving in for the day. Also, I don’t typically add extra sweeteners to my smoothies, but I’ve included directions below in case you would like to add some to yours. :)
*Vegetarian, Vegan if you use vegan milk* Serves 1
Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 1½ – 2 cups loosely packed spinach (or sub ¼ cup frozen spinach or sub kale)
  • 1 banana (a frozen banana will give you a thicker consistency, but non-frozen works, too)
  • 1 cup milk of choice (dairy, non-dairy, vanilla non-dairy, etc.)
  • 2 cubes ice
  • sweetener of choice, to taste, optional (liquid sweeteners, like honey or agave, will work best)
Instructions
  1. Place spinach, banana, milk, and ice in the blender.
  2. Cover and blend until banana/ice is processed and smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Taste test and if desired, blend in sweetener of choice to taste.
  3. Enjoy!
Notes
This single serving recipe is easily multiplied to serve more!

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Here are more fabulous GM smoothie recipes you may enjoy:

*And be sure to check out this site for hundreds of other tasty Green Monster recipes: http://greenmonstermovement.com/ *

Green Monster Smoothie Recipe

Green Monster Virgins: Are you scared of Green Monsters or do you think you’ll try one soon? Why or why not?

Green Monster Gurus: What are you favorite things to add to your GM smoothies? And if you have any GM smoothies (of your own or of others) that you love, please leave the link in a comment! :)

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