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!

***
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! :)

Lentil Kale Bowl (for One)

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Here’s a easy, throw-pantry-stuff-together meal perfect for Meatless Mondays or days when you “have nothing to cook.” I love a meal that makes something out of nearly nothing. We all need a few more of those in our lives, right? Things to make when you stare blankly at your nearly empty refrigerator and think, “Geez, I really, really need to go the grocery store for realz!”

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I present – the uber-simple Lentil Kale Bowl (for now – though you could easily multiply proportions)

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Nearly all you need to do is saute some onion, add lentils and broth, cook…

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…steam / saute fresh kale…

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…serve over your favorite grain – cous cous is the fastest and easiest, though rice in the rice cooker takes the least effort.

Lentil Kale Bowl (for One)

This meatless meal whips up in a jiffy with mostly pantry ingredients. Unlike some vegetarian meals that open large packages of tofu or tempeh, you can easily portion out just enough lentils for you from your pantry. I used red lentils for the fast cooking time, but feel free to sub in whichever type you prefer – just adjust the cooking time, as needed. Serve over your favorite grain (or leftover!), though I suggest couscous or rice.

*Vegetarian and Vegan*

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup red lentils
  • 1 – 2 cups broth of choice
  • dash of tumeric (maybe 1/8 teaspoon or less)
  • dash of coriander (maybe 1/8 teaspoon or less)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  • 2 large or 3 medium (or about 2-3 loose cups) kale, cleaned and torn into small pieces (about 1-2 inches)
  • fresh parsley, optional

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 3-5 minutes.
  2. Add lentils and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook until lentils are tender, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add additional broth over the cooking time, as needed (somewhat similar to cooking risotto).
  3. Ensure the pan isn’t too dry (add extra broth if needed so lentils don’t stick to pan, to just cover) and add kale leaves and cover pan). Steam kale for 2 minutes, then remove lid and stir kale into lentils to continue cooking for 3 minutes. Add broth, if needed. Sauce should not be too liquidy, but lentils shouldn’t be too dry – just adjust to your preference. Add additional salt, pepper to taste.
  4. Serve over couscous or grain of choice and garnish with fresh parsley.
  5. Enjoy!

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Do you participate in Meatless Monday? Why or why not?

Watermelon Mint Cooler

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With the recent heat wave hitting up our area, I thought I’d share the recipe for that refreshing mocktail I made my family on the Fourth of July

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Watermelon Mint Cooler!

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This is by far one of the simplest, yet impressive looking summer drinks you could entertain with.

All you need are two key ingredients:

  • watermelon (seedless)
  • fresh mint

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I only used half a watermelon, since everyone in my family just wanted a small serving, but you could use a whole watermelon. Ours was about medium-sized.

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Just cut out the watermelon, blend (optionally with ice for a cooler effect), and add mint.

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I just put a sprig of mint in the glass for garnish, but when I went to drink this, I actually ripped the leaf up, so I got some in the drink. The combination of watermelon and mint is one not to be missed! ;)

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Watermelon Mint Coolers

Watermelon and mint make for a particularly refreshing flavor combo best enjoyed on a hot summer day. Add some rum for an adult cocktail or serve it straight up as a mocktail for all to enjoy. You can use the mint just for garnish (as pictured in photos) or do like I did and rip (or cut) the leaves into small pieces that are added to the drink.

*Vegan*

Serves 4 (small servings)

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 cups watermelon (seedless, removed from rind, cut into rough pieces, about 1 1/2″ squares), about half a medium watermelon
  • 1 cup ice, optional, but gives a nice coolness, so I do recommend it
  • fresh mint, to taste

Directions:

  1. Place watermelon pieces in a blender and blend until smooth. Turn blender off.
  2. If using, add ice to blender and blend until smooth. Turn off and serve.
  3. Garnish with fresh mint and/or rip/cut small pieces of mint leaves into the drink.
  4. Serve and enjoy!

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What do you think is the most refreshing on a hot summer day?

Arugula, Beet, Feta, Pecan Salad with Quick Balsamic Dressing

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I know, the name of this post (and recipe) isn’t very exciting, but I couldn’t think of anything cool enough for this simple, but deceptively delicious salad. Amazing Arugula Salad? Nah. Mouth-Watering Beet Salad? Too misleading (sounds like a mostly-beet salad). Nope…I decided to keep the name straightforward to match the preparation. Eats this tasty shouldn’t be this easy to put together…

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I put together this salad on Sunday afternoon based completely on what I had in my refrigerator at the time. I lucked out and got to take home a couple leftover ingredients from the farm-to-table dinner on Saturday (suh-weet, right? Thank you Jaime & Courtney!). I was really excited to be given the leftover beets. Beets + Salad = Foodie Heaven. If you don’t agree then you probably just haven’t had them cooked right. They’re so underappreciated, but so good! I knew those beets would be going into a salad soon, but I didn’t know it would be less than 24 hours after the dinner.  :P

Did I need more than beets and arugula to make a delicious salad? Not really (hello, remember this one?!), but feta added some nice creaminess and the pecans added some crunch. And since I’ve recently picked up a particularly taste bottle of balsamic at the farmer’s market, I’ve been putting it on a lot of my eats, salad dressings included. Thusly, the dressing was a no-brainer.

So easy, so right. Nom!

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Arugula, Beet, Feta, Pecan Salad

This salad makes a great use of leftover roasted beets. The key to ease of preparation is having the beets ready already. If you don’t have leftovers, you actually can get ready-t0-eat beets at some grocery stores (I think I’ve seen them at Trader Joe’s). The combination of beets and arugula is particularly tasty, but feel free to switch out the greens for something else (no, I don’t recommend leaving off the beets! hehe). Heck, you could even switch out the cheese and nuts for different types. Tweak the combination of ingredients to your taste.

I prefer this salad as a side or light lunch/snack.

*Vegetarian* *Vegan if you leave the cheese off* *Maybe GF, too? Does anyone know?"*

Serves 1

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 cups arugula (I like to quadruple wash mine and dry it in a salad spinner)
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup roasted beets, cut into small pieces (click here to learn how to roast your own)
  • 1/8 – 1/4 cup crumbled feta
  • 2-3 tablespoons pecans (toast them for an extra flavor boost)
  • Quick Balsamic Dressing, recipe follows

Directions:

  1. You can mix all the ingredients up, but I prefer to layer mine, starting by piling the arugula leaves in a tall pile on a large plate.
  2. Place beets around the arugula leaves.
  3. Sprinkle feta over the salad.
  4. Sprinkle pecans over the salad.
  5. Drizzle salad with Quick Balsamic Dressing and enjoy!

***

Quick Balsamic Dressing

I’ve heard different things about proportions of oil to balsamic. I found one-to-one worked ok for this salad, but maybe that’s because I really, really like balsamic. Use a really good quality balsamic for the best flavor.

*Vegan* *Probably GF, too?*

Serves 1

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • sprinkle salt, about 1/8 teaspoon
  • dash of fresh-cracked pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Combine balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Drizzle in extra virgin olive oil while whisking until mixture is emulsified.
  2. Add additional salt and pepper, if needed.

***

If you like these recipes, you may also enjoy:

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What underappreciated ingredient are you going gaga for right now? Mine is beets!! :)

Peach Blueberry Breakfast Crisp + Reid’s Preview

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I didn’t get a lot of movie suggestions on my previous post (Liv did say: Love and Other Impossible Pursuits), but I keep hearing (via the blog, Facebook, twitter and friends) that the Something Borrowed book series is really good. It must be if everyone keeps saying that! Maybe I need to read them next?!

On to Sunday…

***

I’ve been having fun cooking for my sister since she keeps requesting things she’s seen on the blog. Yay for family reading your blog!

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On Sunday, she requested a breakfast crisp.

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Since I had just picked up some fresh peaches at the farmer’s market, I decided to do one of my fave combos – peach/blueberry!

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Peach Blueberry Individual Breakfast Crisp

Peach Blueberry Crisp taste just like summer! I love using farmer’s market fruits in this simple breakfast dish. Unlike dessert crisps, this one is lighter on sugar and oil/butter. It’s also heavy on the oats so you get a decent grain serving. And did I mention this is an easy way to work fruits into your daily eats? Oh yes. I do this for you, dear reader. ;) Bake this for breakfast tomorrow! The dish mixes together quickly and you can finish getting ready for the day while it bakes away.

*Vegan if you use vegan substitute for the butter*

Serves 1

Ingredients:

  • 1 peach – cleaned, pitted, and chopped (I used fresh, but frozen should work)
  • 1-2 tablespoons blueberries (frozen or fresh)
  • 1/2 tsp sucanat (or brown sugar – optional if you want your fruit mixture sweeter than the natural sweetness of the fruits)
  • 1/4 tsp tapioca starch (or corn starch)
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1 tbsp flour (I used spelt, but any will do)
  • 1 tsp sucanat (or brown sugar)
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • pinch salt
  • dash cinnamon (optional)
  • bit of butter (about 1/4 tsp – optional)
  • sprinkling of chopped pecans (about 1 tbsp)
  • non-stick spray

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prep baking dish with non-stick spray (I used a 4″ round ramekin).
  2. In a medium bowl, mix peaches, blueberries, sucanat (if using) and tapioca starch. Pour into baking dish.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix oats, flour, sucanat, oil, salt, cinnamon (I rinsed out my mixing bowl and reused it for the topping – one less dish = easier clean up!). Pour topping over berries.
  4. If you’re using it, dab small pieces of butter over topping and sprinkle nuts over topping.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until top is lightly browned and peach/berry mixture just bubbles at the sides.
  6. Enjoy!

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Breakfast Crisps are a great and delicious way to get fruit and whole grains in your breakfast.

By the way, here’s a recipe for a mixed berry version!

***

After breakfast, my sister and I headed out to meet some girlfriends at the pool. It was glorious soaking up the sun, enjoying the cool pool water, chatting it up with the girls, and just relaxing. I forgot to take photos, though…doh!

I did manage to take some iPhone photos of our next couple of adventures – lunch at a must-see Charlotte restaurant and a preview of a not-so-new “grocery store.” Read on for dets…

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I took my sister to The Cowfish since it’s awesome and I had a Living Social deal for the place that was about to expire.

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Sis and I both got unsweetened mango teas and they were perfectly refreshing since we were dining al fresco.

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We also tried the chicken satay. The app was great, but if you’re visiting Cowfish, I suggest getting one of their more unique appetizers. You can get chicken satay almost anywhere! But you can’t get ahi tuna tacos or deconstructed crab rangoons as dip.

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I got my usual – the bento box.

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I never thought I’d like sushi and burgers in the same meal so much, but it’s a match made in heaven.

As always, lunch and service were wonderful.

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And for dessert on the hot Sunday, we hit up Yoforia. I got tart and pomegranate with strawberries, kiwi, blueberries, coconut and my now must-have topping – mochi!

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And since we were in the neighborhood, I thought I’d pay a visit to the newly opened Reid’s Fine Foods. Reid’s used to be open uptown, but closed awhile back. Everyone was very sad as the place was a beloved establishment for the locals. But now, it’s back in business!

Inside, they had lots of fresh produce, a small frozen foods section, a small refrigerated foods section, plenty of locally made products and fancy imports.

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They still have their famous butcher shop (I spotted Grateful Growers products in there!).

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Plus, they have a nice selection of prepared foods.

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They also have a large selection of cheeses and wines.

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And they now have a wine bar. You can order wines by the glass here. They have half off glasses on a couple days of the week (I think Monday and Thursday, but don’t quote me!). In addition, they have wine tastings and cooking classes!

I’m so glad to see Reid’s back in busines, and I hope they and other small, local businesses continue to thrive. Go local!

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While we were waiting for our lunch table to be ready, sis and I visited Crate and Barrel. Sis bought me these 2 mini bowls. Aren’t they cute?

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She also got me a fun new food ingredient – Sweet Potato Butter! I’m thinking this is going to get mixed into some oats pretty soon. Yum-ee!!

***

Inspirational quote of the day:

“Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.” ~Oprah Winfrey

***

Next time on The Chic Life – homemade BBQ sauce experimenting, Bailey and the “sprinkler”, and a June Challenge preview!! :)

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Like this post? Please consider clicking the Facebook-Like button to let me know! ;) Thanks doll-face!

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Reader question #1: How do you support local businesses?

Reader question #2: What’s your favorite fruit to eat for breakfast? Do you think it would taste good in a Breakfast Crisp?

Green Tea Soup Non-Recipe

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No, you didn’t read the title wrong. Today I made Green Tea Soup for lunch…and it was wondrous and certain to become a new staple item in rotation (at least at my house).

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I tasted my first tea soup just a couple days ago at a fascinating tea lounge in San Francisco called Samovar. I liked the restaurant as soon as I spotted it, but for the teas and eats, it was love at first taste. I’m hoping to soon try to re-create the delicious little squash dumplings I had at Samovar, but today…today, I went for that curious combination of tea and soup. I love tea. I love soup. It should come as no surprise that I would love tea soup. Really…why hadn’t I thought of it before? But that’s neither here nor there, the fact is, I’ve tasted it and I want more.

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The nice thing about the soup is it’s really more of an idea than an exact recipe. You could probably add anything you wanted to a bowl and pour tea over it and call it tea soup.

But there were a few features of the bowl I tried that I really liked:

  • Lots of crisp-tender cooked veggies
  • Tender tofu
  • Brown rice
  • A sea vegetable
  • Flavorful sauce

The bowl basically had everything I want in a meal (protein, carbs, and vegetables) and then some (bonus points for a sea vegetable). So, when I went to re-create the tea soup chez moi, I tried to hit all those points.

So…how do you create this deliciousness? It’s easy…and you could probably even use leftovers to do it.

And apologies if you’re really particular about recipes, but this soup recipe is really more of a non-recipe. There isn’t really an exact science to this soup. At least, you don’t really need one. Think of this as a way of freeing yourself from quadruple-checking that you’re doing a particular step correctly. This tea soup non-recipe is really more like a set of guidelines, which, in my opinion, are much easier and more stress-free to follow.

NOTE: The following directions are primarily for 1 bowl of soup, so multiply as needed if serving more than one.

Tea Soup Non-Recipe

Inspired by the tea soup at Samovar Tea Lounge

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Step 1: Gather Your Soup Contents

Add the following to a bowl (use portions to your personal preference):

  • Steamed broccoli
  • Steamed baby carrots (quartered lengthwise)
  • Steamed shelled edamame
  • Cooked brown rice
  • Sauteed tofu*
  • Wakame (reconstituted**)
  • Sliced green onion
  • And of course…green tea (the star ingredient!)

Like I said, you could probably pull together leftover cooked veggies, leftover cooked tofu (or chicken, etc. if you want to add meat) and you could easily substitute out some different ingredients.

*I used my tofu press to remove excess liquid, then sliced the tofu into small rectangles about 1/2 inch thick. I skipped the marinating step I typically do, but instead cooked the tofu over medium heat with a little olive oil. I drizzled the top with soy sauce while it cooked. Flipped the tofu once the bottom was brown and drizzled the top with soy sauce again. I cooked the tofu till it was brown on two sides before adding to the bowl

**The wakame I used said to place the dried wakame in water for at least 5 minutes to reconstitute. So, I did that before adding to the bowl. Check your package as your directions may differ.

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Step 2: Brew Some Green Tea

I brewed about 2 cups worth and used about 1 1/2 in my bowl. I just used regular old green tea…nothing fancy.

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Step 3: Make Your Sauce

In a bowl, combine:

  • 1/2 tsp fresh minced ginger
  • 1 tsp tahini
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce

Mix to combine. Taste and adjust as needed.

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Step 4: Assemble Soup

  • Add a little bit of the sauce to the soup (start with a little, add more to taste) by drizzling over the bowl.
  • Pour the brewed green tea in the bowl of veggies (use as much or as little as you like depending on how brothy you want it).
  • Give the soup a bit of a stir to get the sauce to mesh with the tea.

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Step 5: Enjoy!

Adjust the seasoning as needed by adding more sauce for flavor or more soy sauce for a more salty flavor. Look for the little bits of fresh ginger in the bowl for a little kick of heat. ;)

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Refreshing, light, healthful

Oh and do I have any office workers reading now? Remember the water cooler with the hot water option you use to brew tea when you’re on the job? Oh yea…that will make it extra easy to quickly prepare a bowl of tea soup at work. Just bring your veggies, rice, tofu (whatever you want) and sauce, brew tea at the office, combine ingredients and tea in a bowl, and voila…a hot and healthy lunch at the office. And so much better than the fish leftovers that make everyone at work want to kick you out of the office.

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