Tropical {Vitamin} C Blast Green Monster Smoothie

I realize in this chilly weather that an ice-cold smoothie probably isn’t the first thing to come to mind, but since we’re still in cold & flu season, this one may…

I was feeling a little run down the other day and in need of a big blast of Vitamin C to ward off any approaching sickness. So, I blended up this little concoction to help the cause.

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I call it Tropical {Vitamin} C Blast Green Monster Smoothie.

I picked fruits {and some other goodies} that I had in my freezer and kitchen that I thought were good sources of vitamin C: pineapple, mango, orange juice, bananas, spinach, and…wait for it…parsley.

We’ve talked about the health benefits of spinach before, but did you know parsley is a good source of vitamin C? Yup, it’s not just a pretty face…er…garnish.

Here’s a snippet from whfoods.com:

“In addition to its volatile oils and flavonoids, parsley is an excellent source of two vital nutrients that are also important for the prevention of many diseases: vitamin C and vitamin A (notably through its concentration of the pro-vitamin A carotenoid, beta-carotene).”

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Tropical {Vitamin C} Blast Green Monster Smoothie

This smoothie takes me to the tropics flavor-wise, but it’s good for you, too. The smoothie contains a few ingredients that are good sources of vitamin C to help fight off colds and the flu: pineapple, mango, bananas orange juice, spinach, and parsley. Yes – parsley! Just a wee bit. I will warn you – parsley has a strong flavor. If you don’t really like it, you may be better off leaving it out. If you want to add some, err on the side of less-is-more. And if you’re a regular juicer, then, you’ll probably think lots of parsley is delicious. ;)

Total Time: 10 minutes
Serves: 1

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups loosely packed spinach (or sub 1/4 cup frozen spinach)
  • 1 small sprig parsley (about 3 leaves) – see note above for suggestions, optional
  • 1 banana (a frozen banana will give you a thicker consistency, but non-frozen works, too)
  • 5 small pieces of frozen mango, about 1/4-1/3 cup
  • handful of frozen pineapple pieces, about 1/4-1/3 cup
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • soy milk (or milk of choice, but dairy may curdle with the acidic fruits), as needed to reach desired texture
  • sweetener of choice, to taste, optional (but you probably won’t need it – the pineapple and bananas are very sweet naturally)

Directions:

  1. In order: place spinach, parsley (if using), banana, mango, pineapple, and orange juice in the blender.
  2. Cover and blend until ingredients are processed and smooth, about 1-2 minutes (if you need, stop and add milk and blend again until smoothie starts blending and/or reaches desired texture). Taste test and if desired, blend in sweetener of choice to taste.
  3. Enjoy!

***

Pinspiration:

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A pin with a nice variation by Larisa

***

How’s everyone doing with Eat in Month? Things are going pretty well on my end, especially since hubby is really into the challenge this year. With my work hours being pretty insane right now, he’s really been helping out with cooking and cleaning. Bless him!

I’ve updated the Eat in Month Challenge post (click) with links to blogs for those who left comments on the challenge page saying they were participating. I added names (sans links) for those who are playing but do not have blogs/web sites. I noticed a couple other people playing who left comments on other posts here on TCL, so once I find them, I’ll get you added.

If you haven’t commented yet, but you’re playing and you want to see your name in the EIM Challenge participant list, just leave me a comment, and I’ll add it! :)

Ooh, and fun news on the food front…I saw a neat feature in Real Simple where they did 5 take-out style meals you can easily re-create at home, and I’m working on some of my own so help you EIM-ers curb your take-out cravings.

What are your favorite things to order for take-out?

Figgy Green Monster Smoothie (Tastes Like Cake Batter!)

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.

***
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! :)

***

Click here to get *free* The Chic Life updates!

***

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?

Mind Your Time

I got to enjoy more of that amazing Roasted Honey Cinnamon Wink Almond Butter on Tuesday.

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I drizzled it over a simple bowl of oats with chia seeds, bananas, and almond slices.

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Omg…heaven in a bowl! This combo is so fantastic!

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I also got my hair did.

I’ve been visiting Jason at Salon 42 since before he started Salon 42…maybe for 6 or 7 years now? Jason used to work for a local salon, but ventured off a few years ago to start his very own salon. He is a master of not only color, but the cut, too. I think he can pretty much do anything with hair. I’ve even gotten a lot of the local bloggers to see him now.

When I first saw Jason, I was having some serious layer issues. As in the person before him cut all these crazy layers into my hair, and it was looking really weird. My hair is thick and needs layers, but I was afraid of them after having the bizarre hair-do from before. So, he ended up cutting layers under my top layer of hair so my hair was thinned just right, but it all looked like one length. Fantastic! Now, I let him cut layers into my hair anyways, because I know he won’t do weird things with them. lol

I really should have gotten a hair cut a few months ago, but I’ve been procrastinating. Oops. I knew my hair was getting way too long when my pony tail started hitting me in the face at Zumba because it was so darn long! The ponytail-smack hasn’t really happened to me since I was a figure skater in high school doing mad tricks on the ice.

Jason took off a couple inches, but in the photo it probably looks the same. That’s the crazy thing about long hair. No one really notices when you get your hair cut because it’s so long, it’s hard to tell the difference.

Anywho, if YOU live in the Charlotte area and want a cut/style/color/whatever from THE most amazing and best stylist in Charlotte, then go see Jason. If it’s your first visit, you can tell him I sent you for a special first-visit discount. It’s a good one, too! Just tell them Diana from The Chic Life sent you. Kay? ;) You can call Salon 42 at 704-375-6234.

***

Time Management Talk

Ok, time for some time management talk. :)

Anti-Snooze Tips

I know you guys are probably over the snooze button, but I did want to add one last set of tips.

Here are some tricks to help get over the snooze button:

  • Move the alarm clock to somewhere you’ll have to get up to turn it off. If you’re standing up, it’s easier to stay out of bed.
  • Get one of those crazy-moving alarm clocks. I like this one because it’s TCL blue. ;)
  • Force yourself, no matter how groggy or sleepy you are, to at least sit up in bed when the alarm goes off. If you’re sitting up, you’re one step closer to getting out of the bed. Once you’re sitting, force yourself to stand and start getting ready.
  • Bribe yourself with fresh, hot coffee. Maybe get a special coffee so it’s like a treat when you finally get out of bed?

Ok, ready for more?

Mind Your Time

If you have Time Management issues, then I suggest working on being aware of time. Do you own a watch? If you don’t get one. If you do, make sure you actually use it. I find my time management goes most off course when I’m not paying attention to what time it is or how long I’m spending doing something. Instead of getting ready in the morning at your leisure, try getting ready in an hour (or however long you need). Try to set a deadline and meet it. Same thing for lunch or any other activity where your time seems to slip away from you.

Things to focus on:

  • Pay attention to what time it is. Is it 3pm? 11:30pm?
  • Try to set time limits on activities. Blog until you’re done? Try blogging for 30 minutes…or an hour. Make up your own time limit based on what you’re doing and how long you want to spend on that activity.

Do you mind your time? How? What parts of watching your time do you struggle with, if any?

Eat In Month 2011 Recap

Happy Monday friends!

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend and an even better start to your week!

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I stayed up a bit too late blogging after our super fun Super-Dance-Bowl party, so this morning was rough.

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Nothing a little coffee and some oatmeal can’t fix, though.

And I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one who likes bananas on top of my oats.

Today was a loooong day at work. I got in around 8:45pm but didn’t leave until just before 7pm! Luckily, I at least took a real lunch break today (as in I didn’t eat at my desk…hooray!). I’m going to work on getting away from my desk during the day more. I think it’s healthy to try to balance your work day.

Two fortunate things happened on my way home:

  • I made it through almost every stoplight! That never happens. I feel like I usually catch them. lol
  • Hubby was ready to make dinner at home as soon as I got back.

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Hubby started us with a side salad with organic romaine hearts, cherry tomatoes, celery, bell pepper, and sprouts. I used sundried tomato vinaigrette on top.

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And for the main event – breaded chicken parmesan and tomato basil soup. Plus some buttered whole wheat toast that I was simply too exhausted to photograph. After staring blankly like a zombie for awhile eating a balanced meal, I was feeling much better.

I caught a couple episodes of Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations. Have you seen it? I think it’s my new favorite TV show! If there are any No Reservations marathons coming up, you let me know, kay? ;) I think a day spent eating yummy snacks and watching No Reservations sounds like a pretty awesome day to me.

***

Eat In Month Recap

So, Eat In Month 2011 officially ended a week ago, and I’m feeling pretty relieved. Just like last time, I think it was a great experience, and I learned some lessons, but I prefer to live my life sans rules. I prefer guidelines.

So what did I learn? Well, there were some things I remembered from the 2010 challenge and some new ideas from 2011.

I learned that inside and outside of a challenge month:

  • A well-stocked pantry will encourage eating in, on a regular night or when you’re in need of a quick fix meal.
  • You can get a lot of satisfaction by pushing past your fatigue/laziness/whatever when you feel like taking the easy way out by preparing something tasty at home.
  • Meals IN don’t have to be perfect or gourmet – sometimes the simplest ones are best.
  • Sometimes it’s about making a better choice, not the perfect choice. While I think you should always eat whole foods as much as possible, if your choice is fast food versus some healthi-ER but not from scratch food at home, go with the latter.
  • You shouldn’t “not eat out” for the sake of it, if you’re in a situation where you need food and wouldn’t be able to eat in. For example, say you’re on a road trip. Now, if you can…definitely plan ahead and pack food ahead of time to enjoy later. But if you meant to pack food in the morning but spilled your entire container of oatmeal in the kitchen thereby making you late because you had to use your food-packing time to clean up rolled oats, by all means, eat something out! Don’t starve yourself!
  • Don’t skip social events just because you “can’t eat out.” You can always go after dinner and just have a drink. Or, if you’re not doing the challenge, go out to eat! Live a little.
  • Of course, you can very easily enjoy social events in the comforts of your home. Have a pot luck. Host a game night. Put on a movie marathon. Enjoy the company of your friends and eat in, too.
  • You don’t have to go out to eat to celebrate a birthday or other special event. Try cooking a special meal at home. Hubby and I celebrate in all the time, like how we celebrated his January birthday dinner IN during the month of the challenge.
  • Keep healthy snacks at work so you aren’t tempted to buy snacks out. It’s usually healthier and more cost-effective.

Check out this awesome recap by Brie Fit (click). Did you write a review? Let me know and I’ll link it up. ;)

***

And because I haven’t shared a good quote in awhile, this one seems somewhat fitting at the moment:

Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.
~Helen Keller

***

Did you participate in Eat In Month? What did you learn?

I Can’t Believe I Like Eating This Now!

I LOVED reading everyone’s “I Can’t Believe I Used to Eat That!” foods. I think I was guilty of most of the same. lol

Here are some examples:

  • Diet Sodas
  • Chicken fingers (with a soup terrine of honey mustard!)
  • Fast Food
  • Hot Dogs
  • Ramen
  • Spagettios
  • Livermush
  • Snickers Ice cream
  • Fake parmesan

We’re much better off nowadays, right?! *high five*

I was thinking today, the opposite of “I Can’t Believe I Used to Eat That!” foods would be “I Can’t Believe I LIKE Eating This Now!” foods. Sure you used to love your diet Dr. Pepper, but did you ever think you’d LOVE brussels sprouts?! If you had told me 10 years ago that today I’d really look forward to eating a big plate of brussels sprouts, or kale chips, or tempeh, I probably would have laughed in your face. But here I am, and I’m eating healthy foods and finding them delicious!

I’m surprised I now like:

  • vegetables in general (I really do love them now but could care less for them when I was a kiddo)
  • tofu
  • tempeh (didn’t even know what this was until a couple years ago)
  • kale chips
  • spelt flour
  • quinoa
  • vegan and vegetarian entrees (I used to think I had to have meat in a meal for it to be complete – now I just want a protein)
  • non-dairy milks (almond, soy, hemp)
  • chia seeds
  • goji berries
  • veggie juices

What are your “I Can’t Believe I Like Eating This Now!” foods?

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I started today with a big bowl of banana oats in my gorgey light turquoise handmade bowl.

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The bowl also contained chia seeds, almond milk, coconut flakes, flaxseed meal and White Chocolate Dreams.

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I used my last 2 farm-fresh eggs (from my first carton – I have a new one already!) to make lunch today.

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On the menu: Toasted Wraps with Sloppy Scrambled (aka Hubby Scrambled) Eggs.

Where might the name come from? Well, one of the first things hubby ever cooked for me was scrambled eggs. They were easy and safe. I like scrambled eggs. I have fond memories of making scrambled eggs with my family. My parents would carefully crack eggs into a large bowl, add salt and pepper, and a dab of milk, then whisk everything together till the yolks and whites were well-mixed. Imagine my surprise when I saw hubby cracking the eggs directly into the pan! The horror! How would the yolks and whites incorporate properly? Turns out they wouldn’t…but I kind of liked it that way. There was something to that mix of yellow and white in separate, distinguishable colors and textures. I really enjoyed it.

These days, I switch between scrambling my eggs in a bowl or directly in the pan. I think each style has its own pros and cons, but the Hubby Scramble definitely means easier clean-up with one less dish to wash. (probably why I lean towards his method when I’m feeling lazy…heehee).

Sloppy Scramble How-To:

Step 1. Crack the eggs into a prepped pan (I spray non-stick in the pan) – don’t worry if the yolks break.

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Step 2. Lightly stir the eggs so the whites and yolks are evenly distributed but not well-mixed.

Step 3. Continue cooking as you would regular scrambled eggs, flipping etc to ensure the eggs are cooked through.

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Today I also used the same pan to saute some baby spinach.

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I spread the egg onto two small WW tortillas, then added spinach, feta, and a wee bit of tomato juice. I think sun-dried tomato pesto or tomato paste would have been better, but I had the juice leftover from Sunday’s brisket so it seemed like a good idea. It turned out to be a bit watery…oops!

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I wiped out the saute pan and used it to toast my wraps. I love that lightly crispy outside.

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Beautiful colors inside! Tasty too! I loved the tender/crispy tortilla/wrap outside with the warm eggs and spinach. I think a cheese that melted better may have been more up my alley, but it’s nice to change up my flavors…I almost always do a more cheddar-type cheese with my eggs.

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Nice and crispy and tasty dipped in ketchup.

***
This must have been a longer week than I thought. I ended up falling asleep on the couch for about an hour. I usually don’t nap unless I’m really stressed or sick/getting sick. I hope it’s not the latter!

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My impromptu nap + an impromptu thunderstorm outside got me craving comfort food. I turned to some of mom’s soup stashed away in the freezer – Beef + Bean. I freshened up my bowl with some parsley from my herb garden. The soup was hot and cozy and hit the spot with brothy bites of tender beef and beans. So delish!

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Plus a piece of buttered WW toast on the side. I love great bread with my soup. It’s so superior to crackers!

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I decided dessert would be a good idea, too. Keeping with my comfort food theme, I thought a lovely berry crisp would be perfection.

I chopped up the last of my organic strawberries for tonight’s dessert. They were not as ripe as the others I’ve already eaten and weren’t looking their freshest. I figured baking them would help make them taste their best.

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I busted out some Organic Tapioca starch to try out in place of corn starch.

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Ingredients.

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Fresh out of the oven. Gosh it smelled like heaven!

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I enjoyed a big piece whilst catching the end of Part 1 of the Real Housewives of NY reunion. I can’t believe they have 3 parts! It must be juicy!

Mixed Berry Crisp/Crumble

Note: I like a lot of crumbly topping so I went a little heavy on the toppings. Serves 2. (vegan) (can be gluten free too if you ensure the oats and spelt are GF)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups mixed berries (I used fresh strawberries and frozen blueberries)
  • 1/2 tsp tapioca starch (or cornstarch)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup oats (I used rolled oats)
  • 1/4 cup spelt flour (or use whatever flour you have)
  • heaping 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup EarthBalance (or butter)
  • dash cinnamon (or 1/4 tsp)
  • pinch salt

Directions:

  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F and prep a small baking dish (mine was 4 1/2″ x 7″) with non-stick spray.
  • In a medium bowl, mix berries, tapioca starch, and sugar. Pour into baking dish.
  • In another medium bowl, mix oats, flour, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon. Use fingers to mix EarthBalance into the dry ingredients. Pour the topping over the fruit and use fingers to spread evenly.
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the top is just browning and the sides are starting to bubble.
  • Let cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.
  • Enjoy!

Remember to tell me your “I Can’t Believe I Like Eating This Now!” foods.

Can’t wait to see what you guys have to say about this one! :)

DIY Zumba Top + Goji Berry Banana Smoothie

Nothing like dancing in the morning to put you in a happy mood for the rest of the day, right?

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I have some new songs I’d like to learn how to lead, so I try to practice them every once in awhile when I have a free moment. I thought going over one this morning to wake up and get my blood flowing was a good idea. I think it was! I’m doing Break Your Heart by Taio Cruz. ;)

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We need to do some serious grocery shopping, produce-wise. With a shortage of fruits in the house, I decided to make some energy bite oatmeal using an Energy Bite I had stowed away in the freezer.

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Coffee + oatmeal

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Other ingredients: 1/2 milk, 1/2 water, chia seeds, sliced almonds, flaxseed meal and Galaxy Granola (*).

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So cozy, so perfect in the morning!

I got to WFH today, which means better than normal eats.

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I made me and hubby Goji Berry Banana smoothies (2 frozen bananas, small handful dried goji berries, milk till consistency was to liking).

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His was prettier because I added some green-colored Vega Health Optimizer in vanilla chai to mine.

Mine tasted darn good, though! I thought it tasted like frosting!!!!

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I cooked up some tofu for lunch. Nasoya cubed – so you don’t have to press it.

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I chopped up my marinated kale from yesterday (still too much marinade!) and set it on a paper towel to soak up some of that extra marinade.

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I topped it with some steamed broccoli.

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And I hoped the bland broccoli would help balance the overly flavored kale. It worked out pretty good, but I still prefer my broccoli with just some melted butter.

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Lunch was pretty fab, though it was on the light side.

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I carbed up with a couple handfuls of pretzels…

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…a piece of orange marmalade toast…

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…and a piece of Barney Butter toast with chia seeds. Yea…I like toast. A lot! :) It helps when you’re short on time and need groceries. :lol:

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I also got to finish my Honest Tea today – this stuff is yum-o!

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I got a cool sample in the mail today: Lighter Living Probiotic Bars (*). Neat-o! I like how these seem to be a non-dairy source of probiotics. I mean, Id need to look at the ingredient list again (I think they have a yogurt topping), because they might contain some dairy, but it’s not like you have to eat a cup of yogurt for the beneficial probiotics. The ingredient list is almost (if not) all organic and looks to have some good stuff, including dates as the first ingredient. I love dates!

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I got 3 different flavors: Chocolate, Lemon Poppyseed, Apricot Coconut. They all sound amazing – I can’t wait to dig in!

DIY De-Constructed Zumba Top

I took a cue from my Z Life Magazine and decided to go a la Tanya and cut up a tank top. Since this would be my first cutting experiment, I decided to test out something on the cheaper side. Unfortunately, the cheapest thing I could find was an $8 tank top from Target…too much money to throw away in the event my cutting experiment failed, but it turned out okay. Woohoo!

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I gathered my materials – tank top, scissors, rotary cutter, chalk pencil, mat, guide.

I actually put on my tank top so I could see how far up the side to start making cuts and where in the front to do the diagonal cuts. I eyeballed some marks with my chalk and figured I’d clean them up once I could use a straight line.

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First, I cut some slits down the side. I made 5 cuts, each measured 1 inch apart.

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I decided to convert the tank top to a halter top. You can check out this tutorial (click) to see how I did this. I basically went straight along the top of the back.

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I did the diagonal cuts – drawing the lines, then making the cuts. I spaced these by an inch also. It seemed to be good spacing for the cut lines.

I did 2 rows of the diagonal cuts – a lower section of 3 and an upper section of 3.

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Guess I should have gotten some photos in class, eh? Oh well, these will have to do.

Vega Sport Pre-Workout Drink Mix

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I tested out my other Vega Sport Natural Plant-Based Performance Optimizer today. This one was the same as the other, but a different flavor – Acai Berry.

I actually have a really fun experiment/case study/test planned with this stuff…details soon!

Here are some photos of the packaging for the curious:

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I swear this stuff really works! I think I need to buy a jug! Can’t wait to see how my experiment with this product works out.

Oh and I definitely prefer the Acai Berry flavor to the Lemon Lime. The Acai was less grassy and more berry-licious!

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Hubby and I went out after my workout to see my friend Dana. I wore too-tall heels when I should have worn flip flops or something. I have more fun when I can walk easier. :lol: Though we didn’t stay out long, it was good to get out and see our friends!

Hmm…now…what to eat for tomorrow morning? Is it sad that I’m already thinking about what yummy things I can eat for breakfast? I think not! ;)

Reader Question: Are you more concerned with how you look or how comfortable you are when you go out (with friends, for dinner, etc)? Which is more important – fashion or comfort?

Bonus reader question: Do you have any de-constructed DIY tops like my cut-up zumba top? Send me your photos! thechiclife at gmail dot com. The cutting bug has caught me and I’m itching to snip up another top soon…I need inspiration!

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