Saturday, November 5, 2011

No-Bake Energy Bites

Lately I have been finding a lot of AMAZING stuff on Pinterest. Being as poor as we have been, it's great to find ideas to make wonderful gifts. I used to love this season, because I loved shopping and finding unique, perfect gifts for everyone. Well, last year I wasn't able to participate in Christmas gift giving, which greatly saddened me. This year funds are even lower. However, while I was creating so many things for my wedding this summer I realized how much I enjoyed crafting. It makes sense, really...I've always enjoyed art, was in the gifted and talented art classes during elementary school, and ended up a graphic and web designer for over 11 years.

Anyway, I digress! Pinterest has not only given me amazing gift ideas, but also great recipes. This latest one is a healthy, delicious no-bake one that I put together in about 5 minutes. I found this one on the blog Smashed Peas and Carrots, so proper credit should be given there. However, I knew I had to share this one as well (albeit slightly modified), because it is a healthy alternative to high-fat, low-protein snacks such as candy bars or even sugary mass-produced granola bars.

One of the best things about this snack is the integration of flaxseed meal. Flaxseed is definitely a superfood, and most notably for three main ingredients:
  • Omega-3 essential fatty acids, "good" fats that have been shown to have heart-healthy effects. Each tablespoon of ground flaxseed contains about 1.8 grams of plant omega-3s.
  • Lignans, which have both plant estrogen and antioxidant qualities. Flaxseed contains 75-800 times more lignans than other plant foods.
  • Fiber. Flaxseed contains both the soluble and insoluble types. (source: WebMD)
For more information on the health benefits of flaxseed, please visit this link.

No-Bake Energy Bites
Yield: 24 balls
1 c. oatmeal
1/2 c. peanut butter or other nut butter (I combined 1/4 c. natural peanut butter and 1/4 c. unsweetened natural cashew butter)*
1/3 c. honey
1 c. coconut flakes (sweetened or unsweetened)
1/2 c. flaxseed meal or ground flaxseed
1/2 tbsp. cocoa powder, unsweetened
1/2 c. mini chocolate chips
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix everything together in medium bowl until thoroughly mixed. Chill in refrigerator for at least 1/2 hour. Form into balls and enjoy!

*I combined peanut butter and cashew butter because I have had mild reactions to peanuts and peanut butter in the past, and didn't want to push the envelope. I prefer its taste to cashew butter, though, but found the mix was still delicious.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Strawberry-Spinach Smoothie

I tried to imitate the smoothie my husband made for me, but found we were out of the mixed berries. This was my alternative, and we both love it just as much! It is one of my new favorite smoothies. I sometimes vary the juice and add some orange juice for an extra kick of flavor.

As always, I certainly invite you to try this recipe in your own blenders or other machines -- just follow the directions as your instructional manual suggests.

Strawberry-Spinach Smoothie
(Vita-Mix Recipe)
1 1/2 - 2 cups of 100% apple juice
1/2 c of 100% orange juice (optional)
1 cup fresh spinach, washed
1/2 medium apple, halved (seeds optional)
3-4 baby carrots
10 medium-large strawberries, frozen, unsweetened
1 scoop protein powder (of your choice; we use Whole Nectar soy smoothie powder)
Miel de agave (Agave nectar), to taste
Ice to chill

1.     Place all ingredients into Vita-Mix in the order listed and secure lid.
2.    Select Variable 1.
3.    Turn machine on and quickly increase speed to Variable 10, then to High.
4.    Blend for 30 seconds or until desired consistency is reached.

Delicious and refreshing!!

Very Berry Smoothie

The other night I was feeling poorly and asked my husband to make me a smoothie. He came back with one that was, basically, the same as our wedding color - a gorgeous, vibrant dark purple. I wish I had a picture of it, but this one I found on the web looks very similar. Anyway, it was delicious.
As always, I certainly invite you to try this recipe in your own blenders or other machines -- just follow the directions as your instructional manual suggests.

Photo from Smoothie Web
Very Berry Smoothie
(Vita-Mix Recipe)
2 cups of 100% apple juice
1 cup fresh spinach, washed
1/2 medium apple, halved (seeds optional)
1 cup frozen mixed berries, unsweetened (blackberries, raspberries, blueberries)
10 medium-large strawberries, frozen, unsweetened
1 scoop protein powder (of your choice; we use Whole Nectar soy smoothie powder)
Miel de agave (Agave nectar), to taste
Ice to chill
  1. Place all ingredients into Vita-Mix in the order listed and secure lid.
  2. Select Variable 1.
  3. Turn machine on and quickly increase speed to Variable 10, then to High.
  4. Blend for 30 seconds or until desired consistency is reached.
So yummy and healthy!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Ultimate Chocolate Fudge Pie

So I found another amazing recipe while browsing Pinterest. Actually, I found an amazing blog called Chocolate Covered Katie. Katie is a vegan who absolutely adores chocolate. She has so many vegan recipes on her site. At first I was skeptical, because I tend to not like healthy foods (read our story for more information as to why) but the pictures looked phenomenal. Plus, Katie swears that all of her healthy-food hating friends love many of her recipes.

Photo by Chocolate Covered Katie
I saw this one for Chocolate Fudge Pie and drooled at the picture. I love chocolate pie; I really do. But I know that the grams of fat (due to the heavy cream) and the amount of sugar are astronomical. So, when I saw that this recipe used tofu as the filler, I was surprised. I mean, I'm no tofu expert; I've maybe used it once before. But tofu is known for its ability to take on the flavors it is cooked with. Little did I know that it could produce a consistency very similar to that of heavy cream.

Anyway, here's a link to the recipe. Please read it first, and refer back to that if you are going to share this recipe with others. Below I will describe how I slightly adapted it. And, in case you were wondering, yes, I did use the Vitamix! :)
As always, I certainly suggest you to try this recipe in your own blenders or other machines -- just follow the directions as your instructional manual suggests.

(Vita-Mix Recipe) 
1 package silken or firm tofu
1 tsp cocoa powder
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tbsp. vanilla almond milk
1/8 tsp. salt
10 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 tbsp. agave nectar
1 tbsp. sugar (to add additional sweetness)
Pie crust 

Ok. Now for my changes. I followed Katie's directions by melting the chocolate on the stove (I try to avoid using the microwave at all costs, due to the loss of nutrition it creates). If you melt it on medium and keep stirring it shouldn't burn.  I put all the ingredients into the Vitamix in the order that Katie has them listed on her recipe, and started on Variable 1 and quickly moved up to 10 and then high. I blended it until it was smooth, and then poured it into a store-bought low-fat graham cracker crust. I then chilled it in the refrigerator for several hours.

So, some notes. for the filling, I found that even 2-3 tbsp. of agave nectar (as Katie recommended) left it still not sweet enough for my tastes (because of the semi-sweet chocolate chips, it was very rich) so I added 1 tbsp. of sugar as well.  As for the tofu, I used the Mori-Nu firm silken (found it in the refrigerated section of the natural foods aisle at Smith's). I would think that using a softer set would lead to a more mousse-like texture, if you prefer that.

Honestly, once I tried the pie, I was blown away by how non-healthy it tasted. The tofu is the perfect substitute for heavy cream. However, the next time I may try a few things. I was trying to avoid making this dairy so 1) I didn't use milk chocolate chips, and 2) I did not use whipped cream on top. I did buy some light Cool Whip, because it is non-dairy, but considering how it's just made of hydrogenated oils, I know it is not a healthy alternative. The truth is, though, because of the richness of this pie, it definitely needs something on top to help balance it out. I will probably consider trying Katie's recipe for vegan cool whip to see how that works!

By the way, I am not anti-dairy. I am trying to just keep in line with the vegan base of this recipe. For myself, I try to limit dairy intake, that's all.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Pumpkin chocolate-chip cake

So while browsing Pinterest I came across a pin that linked to this fabulous recipe: Two Ingredients Pumpkin Cake with Apple Cider Glaze from Big Red Kitchen. I have had a Betty Crocker yellow cake mix in my cupboard for quite some time (I love yellow cake w/chocolate frosting!) However, I have been avoiding making it because cake is so fattening and full of sugar. Anyway, I decided to give this a try: after all, it looked interesting, it was a good recipe for this time of year, and I tend to love pumpkin breads, muffins, etc.

This recipe would be good for those who have allergies or are avoiding eggs and fattening butters/oils. Try making it with a gluten-free cake mix to make it even healthier. Apparently you can use any cake mix you want (chocolate, spice, etc.) and some have even used a brownie mix and substituted the pumpkin pureé for the wet ingredients there. My suggestion? Try different combinations out to your liking. Below is my variation of the recipe.

I found that this cake was absolutely delicious; moist, with a wonderful texture, and only a slight hint of a pumpkin flavor. One could spice it up with pumpkin pie spice, if they preferred. I added a cream cheese glaze to the top of mine, but realized that it really did not need it at all. I will include the recipe for my glaze, but I think it would be better plain, or with perhaps just a slight sprinkling of powdered sugar, or a cinnamon-chocolate glaze.

Easy Pumpkin Chocolate-Chip Cake
Yield: 12 Servings
1 pkg. yellow cake mix
1 15 oz. can 100% pumpkin pureé (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 c. (4 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°. In your stand mixer or in a large bowl mix cake mix with pumpkin pureé. Beat on medium for 2 minutes or until well blended. Batter will be thick. Carefully fold in chocolate chips. Spread batter into a greased 7x11 inch baking dish (please note that this isn't your usual 13x9 - with this substitution the cake WILL be smaller). Bake for 28 minutes or until tooth pick comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting (unless glazing; then glaze when cake is still warm, but not hot).

Cream Cheese Glaze
(I like to go easy on the glaze; you may double this if desired)
1/4 c. powdered sugar
1/4 c. (2 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tbsp. fresh orange juice
1/2 tbsp. low-fat milk 

Place powdered sugar and cream cheese in a bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Beat in vanilla. Add orange juice and milk 1/2 tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition. Drizzle on warm cake. Note: If desired, you can omit orange juice and increase milk to 1 1/2 tablespoons, or use water instead of both.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Homemade Horchata

Horchata de chufa (authentic Spanish horchata,
made with tigernuts), served with fartones
My husband absolutely LOVES horchata. For some odd reason, though, he prefers the Kern's Horchata that you can buy in some supermarkets (which includes cow milk), which is a far cry from the original, authentic horchata that originated in Spain. Horchata de chufa is a regional beverage that can be found in Spain, most prevalently in Valencia. It is made of tigernuts (found only in Valencia), water, and sugar.

Originally from Valencia (a city where I lived for a brief time), the idea of making horchata from tigernuts comes from the period of Muslim presence in Valencia (from the 8th to 13th century). It has a regulating council to ensure the quality of the product and the villages where it can come from, with the Denomination of Origin (Wikipedia, 2011). The village of Alboraia, a little north of the city of Valencia, is well known for the quality of its horchata. When I lived in Spain from 96-98, I remember my friends and I visiting the Horchaterías in Alboraia to enjoy an ice cold, refreshing summer drink, accompanied by fartones (a slightly sweet bread sprinkled with powdered sugar) for dipping.

Horchata in Latin America is different, and a lot less regulated. It is made from rice, and then the flavor varies from country to country. Since tigernuts are pretty scarce around the United States, making homemade Latin American horchata, most usually Mexican horchata, is easier.

This recipe uses only approximations. My husband liked a sweeter drink, so we added considerably more agave nectar than recommended below. You can also use any other kind of sweetener that you desire, even sugar. The important thing is to blend it well and then taste it, and then add vanilla, cinnamon and sweetener to taste. I suggest starting low and building up; after all, you can't change it if you've already added too much of something.

Many horchata recipes that I have found on the net suggest using uncooked rice, blending it, and then filtering it through a nut milk bag. However, I found that because of the power of the Vitamix, I had no need to go through that process. I cooked the brown rice (I did not even bother soaking it) in a pressure cooker, following the cooker's instructions, and it was ready in about 20 minutes. A pressure cooker is great because it doesn't boil food (which greatly reduces nutrients in food).

Because my rice was still hot when I was done with it, the horchata was warm, too. It was surprisingly good (I, myself, found that I preferred it warm) and it would make a delicious, healthy, holiday drink. Usually horchata is served ice cold, though. After mixing, simply put it in the refrigerator until it is cold and then enjoy!
As always, I certainly invite you to try this recipe in your own blenders or other machines -- just follow the directions as your instructional manual suggests.

Homemade Horchata
(Vita-Mix Recipe) 
3 c. water
3/4 c. sweet brown rice, cooked
1/2 -1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract (or to taste)
2-3 tbsp. cinnamon (or to taste)
2-3 tbsp. agave nectar (or to taste)
  1. Place all ingredients into Vita-Mix in the order listed and secure lid.
  2. Select Variable 1.
  3. Turn machine on and quickly increase speed to Variable 10, then to High.
  4. Blend for 2-3 minutes or until desired consistency is reached. 
  5. Store in refrigerator, and shake well before using.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Stuffed Bell Peppers

I found this recipe on  quite a few years ago. It is good the way it is written, but I have changed some of it to reflect my personal taste. I never liked bell peppers before, and remember the first time I ever had a stuffed bell pepper - I hated it. But after trying this recipe with red peppers (sweeter than their green siblings) I found that they could be quite delicious. I even made these for my husband when we were dating. He hates peppers, too, but gobbled his portion up and went back for seconds!

Even though lean ground sirloin can be low in fat, you may want to substitute it for ground turkey or ground chicken, and use chicken bouillon instead. I have done this and had equally delicious results.

Stuffed Bell Peppers
(Adapted from recipe)
Photo from
2 large green, red or yellow bell peppers
3/4 pound lean ground sirloin
1/4 c. yellow onion, finely chopped
1 (8 oz.) can of Hunts® fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1/2 c. sliced mushrooms (optional)
1/2 c. water
1/3 c. brown rice
3 tsp. beef-flavored bouillon granules
1 tbsp. worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. RealSalt®  salt
1/3 tsp. pepper
1/4 c. low fat cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 c. low fat pepper-jack cheese, shredded
Sliced almonds to garnish
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. 
  2. Halve peppers lengthwise, removing seeds and membranes. Immerse peppers into boiling water (seasoned with 1 tsp. bouillon) for 3-5minutes. Remove peppers from water and sprinkle insides with additional bouillon. Invert on paper towels to drain.
  3. Meanwhile, in large skillet, cook beef and onion until meat is golden brown and onion is tender. Drain off fat. Stir in undrained tomatoes, water, uncooked rice, beef bouillon, worcestershire sauce, basil, salt & pepper. Bring mixture to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer, covered for 18-20 minutes or until rice is tender.
  4. Stir in half of the cheese. Fill pepper halves with meat mixture. Place peppers in 2-quart baking dish along with any extra filling. Sprinkle with remaining cheese, mushrooms and almonds. Bake at 375 degrees F for 12-15 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted.

Monday, October 10, 2011


So it's 3:12 in the morning, and I can't sleep. Which means, of course, that I will sleep until well past noon tomorrow, which has become a horrid habit. My health is so screwed up right now and the thing is, I know the answers. I know how I should eat. I am seriously trying. I have been doing much better but my health is still out of whack, and it is frustrating. Without health insurance or money to even go to an endocrinologist to get my T4 levels checked (I have Hashimoto's thyroiditis), and being on my last refill of levothyroxine, I know what kind of bind I am in. This is one reason, despite not having any money, Dustin and I invested in the Vita-mix. I believe the things Dr. Robert Young explained in The pH Miracle - I know that the food we eat is toxic to our bodies and creates all disease. I know that negative thinking contributes to such as well; even more so (read Dr. Young's take on Acidic Emotions). I'm a psychotherapist (though one who only has 1-3 billable hours a week so far) and understand the importance of a healthy mental state. I am always talking about holistic health and how important it is to take care of our whole bodies, not just parts of it. This is one reason I'm not very fond of western medicine in general. It has failed me so many times, failed to diagnose problems I have suffered with for over 16 years; and even the levothyroxine has done nothing to eliminate my symptoms. All it has done is decreased my T4 levels. Whoopee.

I'm honestly trying to not feel sorry for myself. I am all about taking responsibility. I know my family and I were oblivious to the dangers of the typical American diet, even 20+ years ago when it was slightly better, but having to turn everything around and try to start a new lifestyle change (not just a diet) is HARD WORK. I certainly do not plan on giving up, but I have been at this off and on for the past 7 years and have seen only moderate changes. The little change isn't because what I have been doing doesn't work, but because it becomes so difficult for me to concentrate on everything (get exercise in, eat the right foods, deal with school/work/personal life stress, work on emotional stability, spirituality, etc.) that there have been too many times when I have had to slow down.

I am proud to say I have never completely given up hope. Even when I do not eat that well, I still am aware of what I eat and watch what I eat. The thing is, I'm not an overeater by any means. Both my husband and I have to be reminded to eat. And yes, yes I know that this can cause weight gain itself because the body may think it's in starvation mode. The thing is, with my body, even when I do eat more I still gain weight -- it doesn't seem to care how much or how little I am eating. So that leads me to WHAT I eat.

I still do better on that, even during my off times, than I used to. Having once been hypnotized to like vegetables I found some success in that. It came mostly with salads and little else, but hey -- I used to never touch a salad, period. That's progress, if even a little, right?

But anyway, back to the Wah Fest. Please excuse me if I am coming across as a whiner, but sometimes everything just gets so overwhelming that I need to let it out in some form or another. I definitely talk to my husband, and he is very much empathetic as he has suffered with his own severe health issues in the past, but he will never know the pain that comes from looking in the mirror and seeing all your hard work not pay off.  I wish I could say that it has paid off on the inside, but that would be a lie, too - because suddenly I am worse than I have ever been. I have a lot of symptoms, but if I could only lose the chronic fatigue I feel I could at least do something more about the rest.

Yeah, I know. Energy begets energy. I'm trying. I want to see a colon hydrotherapist again, as that has helped in the past, but guess what? No money. I would love to regularly use a Far-Infrared spa for sweat therapy, but again, no money. Heck, even buying all the vegetables and fruits that we have been buying lately costs so much more than the processed junk food that lines the aisles at the grocery store. Popping in a nutrition-less frozen meal is so much easier and cheaper than finding recipes that are palatable, delicious, and only incorporate whole foods, preferably green, leafy, alkaline vegetables.

So, here I am, telling myself over and over again to not feel sorry for myself. Yeah, things are tough, but I know I am still blessed beyond measure. The Lord has made sure of that. He has helped Dustin and I to find one another, and to have that love and support is something I yearned for and begged Him for for years. I have that. I have a roof over my head. I have a new career that will eventually take off. I have two legs and two arms and even if I'm not losing weight or gaining energy like I want, I have the ability to move and to keep trying. Most of all, I have agency to make the choices that I need to make in order to continue reaching for my goals, including my health goals. It doesn't matter how long it takes as long as I keep trying and do not give up.

Maybe I don't have the salary I used to make in my previous career. Maybe I don't have health insurance or good health, for that matter. Maybe I wish I had a full-time job doing what I love -- helping others help themselves. But I do have the opportunity to push myself to attain those goals, and that is definitely the best gift I could ever have.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Recipe: Bacon Cheddar Potato Soup

So, this one isn't necessarily a super healthy soup, but it is a whole food recipe - much better than the sodium-laden processed soups you get at the grocery store or at restaurants. This recipe sure is heart-warming and absolutely delicious - great for a crisp fall day! In trying to make it healthier, this recipe does take a traditionally heavy soup by substituting regular bacon with turkey bacon, only using 1/3 cup of low fat cheddar cheese, and using skim milk (instead of whole milk or cream), Despite these changes, it still yields a thick, wonderfully creamy soup. I have found that potato soups are hit or miss with me, but I LOVE potatoes (definitely one of my downfalls) and this one is an absolute hit!
As always, I certainly invite you to try this recipe in your own blenders or other machines -- just follow the directions as your instructional manual suggests.

Bacon Cheddar Potato Soup
(Official Vita-Mix Recipe - revised)
2 cups skim milk
3 medium Yukon gold potatoes, baked
1/3 cup shredded, low-fat cheddar cheese
1/4 small onion, sliced, sautéed, or 1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
1/2 tsp. salt
3 ounces turkey bacon, cooked, crumbled (about 3 strips)
Chives for garnish
  1. Place milk, two potatoes, cheese, onion, rosemary and salt into the Vita-mix container in the order listed and secure lid.
  2. Select Variable 1.
  3. Turn machine on and quickly increase speed to Variable 10, then to High.
  4. Blend for 4 minutes or until heavy steam escapes from the vented lid.
  5. Reduce speed to Variable 3.
  6. Remove the lid plug. Drop in remaining potato and 2 strips of bacon. Blend for an additional 10 seconds, until chopped.
  7. Serve soup alone or in a bread bowl. Garnish with chives and remaining bacon.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Recipe: Carrot-Strawberry Sorbet

Yay! I'm posting a dessert! This is a delicious one, but please try to make as much as you plan to consume immediately. It doesn't maintain its consistency once in the freezer, and becomes as hard as a rock.
As always, I certainly invite you to try this recipe in your own blenders or other machines -- just follow the directions as your instructional manual suggests.

Carrot-Strawberry Sorbet
(Vita-Mix Recipe) 
1 cup concentrated fruit juice, thawed (I use 100% juice versions only)
1/2 cup strawberries, frozen
3-4 baby carrots
1 tbsp of honey or agave nectar
3 tbsp. of protein powder (of your choice; we use Whole Nectar soy smoothie powder)
Ice to freeze
  1. Place all ingredients into Vita-Mix in the order listed and secure lid.
  2. Select Variable 1.
  3. Turn machine on and quickly increase speed to Variable 10, then to High.
  4. Blend until smooth.

Recipe: Chicken Rissoles

This recipe is one I haven't made in awhile, but came across when browsing my recipe list. I really loved this easy and very healthy version of chicken rissoles, and am thinking I need to make them again soon!

Chicken Rissoles
Yield: 4 Rissoles
10 oz. ground chicken
1 egg white
1/4 cup of finely chopped onion
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 c of oat flour (can be made by grinding oatmeal in blender, food processor or coffee grinder)
Olive oil

Mix the ground chicken, egg, onion and herbs well with a spoon or your hands. Divide the mixture into 4 equal portions. Roll into shape for a rissole (I usually just make patties). Lightly coat each rissole in the oat flour. Cook in a pre-heated non-stick skillet, sprayed or coated lightly with olive oil, for 10-15 minutes on each side.

Tonight's dinner

I'm not going to lie and say that I always eat healthy. Even some of the recipes I might post on this blog will be less healthy than others. But I am always looking for ways of modifying high-fat, high-sugar recipes to make them healthier, in addition to finding other healthier recipes.

So, while I could have had Teriyaki chicken for dinner, I decided I had snacked enough today and opted for an alternative version of the The Original Green Smoothie recipe that I posted earlier. I was out of carrots, but I did opt to up the spinach content and added half a bartlett pear to the mix. It was pretty good!

Contributing Recipe: Lisa's Green Smoothie

Here's another recipe for a delicious green smoothie! My friend Lisa told me that her kids absolutely LOVE this smoothie. They go through it so fast that there is rarely any left for her to enjoy!
As always, I certainly invite you to try this recipe in your own blenders or other machines -- just follow the directions as your instructional manual suggests.

Lisa's Green Smoothie
(Vita-Mix Recipe) 
1 cup water
1 inch slice European cucumber
1 scoop protein powder
Two handfuls of spinach
1 cup of frozen strawberries or blueberries
Stevia, to taste
Ice to chill
  1. Place all ingredients into Vita-Mix in the order listed and secure lid.
  2. Select Variable 1.
  3. Turn machine on and quickly increase speed to Variable 10, then to High.
  4. Blend for 30 seconds or until desired consistency is reached.
Thanks, Lisa, for the recipe!

Recipe: Easy Tortilla Soup

In my first blog post, I mentioned the tortilla soup that we tasted during the Vita-Mix presentation. Well, I never got the exact recipe from the presenter, so I decided to create my own. Please note that there is some cheese in this recipe; you may omit if necessary, as I have made it both ways and it is delicious either way.
As always, I certainly invite you to try this recipe in your own blenders or other machines -- just follow the directions as your instructional manual suggests.

Easy Tortilla Soup
(Vita-Mix Recipe)
2 cups of hot water
1 tomato
1 slender carrot
1/2 stalk celery
1 thick slice yellow onion
1/4 medium red bell pepper
1/4 - 1/2 Anaheim chili pepper, to taste
1/2 small potato, baked (optional; makes for a creamier soup)
1 clove garlic
1/3 c. shredded Cheddar-Jack cheese (or your favorite)
1 tablespoon Knorr's® tomato/chicken bouillon (or use vegetarian boullion, if desired)
5 shakes of Spike® seasoning
6 shakes of Mexican seasoning
Few sprigs of cilantro (to taste)
6 oz. black beans, drained
Handful of Mission® Tortilla strips
  1. Place all ingredients except tortilla strips and black beans on High speed until steaming hot. 
  2. Switch to Variable 2 and add black beans and tortilla strips. Blend until chopped.
Dustin and I love this, and it's a quick and healthy soup that we enjoy frequently! We sometimes make it healthier by omitting the cheese and the potato, and we go easy on the tortilla chips. Trust me, a little can go a long way with this recipe. 

Recipe: The Original Green Smoothie

I will probably be posting a variety of different green smoothie recipes, but I thought I would post the one that got me initially hooked on the Vita-Mix 5200. Note that you can try this recipe in any blender that you have, but for an ultra smooth consistency, I would recommend using one of Vita-Mix's personal or commercial blenders for best results.

When I post a Vita-Mix recipe, you should put ingredients into the Vita-Mix in the order it is written for best results. When in doubt, read the instructions that came with your blender carefully to determine the best order. Generally speaking, though, liquid/soft foods will go in first, with dry ingredients and/or ice last. Following this will ensure best machine performance, best texture, and best taste.

The Original Green Smoothie
(Vita-Mix Recipe)
2 cups of 100% white grape juice
1.5 cups of fresh pineapple (rind removed)
1 cup fresh spinach, washed
1 leaf of fresh kale, washed
1/2 medium apple, halved (seeds optional)
1 slender carrot, broken into 2-3 pieces
1 scoop protein powder (of your choice; we use Whole Nectar soy smoothie powder)
Miel de agave (Agave nectar), to taste
Ice to chill

  1. Place all ingredients into Vita-Mix in the order listed and secure lid.
  2. Select Variable 1.
  3. Turn machine on and quickly increase speed to Variable 10, then to High.
  4. Blend for 30 seconds or until desired consistency is reached.
This is a delicious first smoothie to try; and it's a great meal replacement when you use a high quality protein powder! Enjoy!

Goin' green

I'm going green, and no, I'm not talking about the environment -- I'm talking about the IN-vironment. Let me explain. For the past 6 years it has been a goal of mine to eat more greens, and eventually go to a 80% raw, vegan diet, but I have never much succeeded at this goal. Why? Because I have always hated vegetables. From as young as I can remember, the bitter taste of vegetables, especially green vegetables, would make me gag. I remember how I preferred sitting at the dinner table for hours, refusing to eat my vegetables, than to just eat them up and go on and play. I really could not tolerate vegetables.

I've come a little way since I read "The pH Miracle" by Dr. Robert Young. Instead of drinking green drink, I found empty vegan capsules at Whole Foods and would put the disgusting-tasting green powder in those and ingest it this way. I could tell by the reaction from my body that it did not work as well as drinking the greens, but it was my way of trying. I started incorporating more salads into my diet (though honestly, it was only when I went out to eat - I rarely made a salad at home). I started even once in awhile craving salads.

Then there's broccoli. Man, I always hated broccoli. However, I was invited to a co-worker's house for dinner, and they had gently steamed some broccoli. I was willing to tolerate it, and work hard not to let it induce my infamous "broccoli face", but then my co-worker's wife invited me to use some of their Spike seasoning on the vegetable. "We use this instead of salt," she informed me. I had no problem with salt, but I decided to try it anyway. Wow, I totally gobbled all that broccoli up in no time flat!

So yeah, I've made some progress. But I definitely still have a notorious "bread" tooth, as I like to call it. Not exactly sweet, but it's still the sugar (carbs) that I crave. So when my husband and I were shopping at the local Costco, and saw a demonstration of the Vita-Mix 5200, we decided to stick around and learn more, despite the hefty price-tag. I told my husband that I had heard about the Vita-Mix blenders during all my studying when reading up about living an alkaline lifestyle. "They're good", I whispered. "...Hence the price tag."

We listened and watched as the lady did her speel about how wonderful the mixer was. Speels rarely draw me in; so I only listened half-heartedly. She had just poured some sorbet into small cups for those watching to try. We were informed that there were carrots in the sorbet. We tasted it -- it was delicious. Intrigued, we continued watching.

Next she made some nasty looking green smoothie like concoction. We watched as she put whole fruits and vegetables, seeds, skins and all, into the mixer. I inwardly snorted -- there was no way that the texture of THAT concoction was going to be tolerable. While it was true that my husband and I were considering a juicer, because we wanted to live healthier and introduce more vegetables and fruits into our diet, this was just a blender -- NOT a juicer. Besides, all the texture left over from those leafy greens, the peel on the apple (not to mention its core), litte bits of carrot...ew -- just EW. But I watched regardless.

I listened, nodding my head impatiently as she told the crowd how most of the nutrients were in the parts that a normal juicer would just not be able to handle -- i.e. the skin, core, seeds, and pulp of a vegetable or fruit. "Yeah, yeah, yeah" -- this I knew. But no juicer...not even the most expensive kind...could truly make a whole food juice, anyway. And besides, I had a $60 beehive Osterizer blender at home..the thing barely chopped up ice, much less fruits and vegetables. It certainly wouldn't produce the smooth consistency that I absolutely REQUIRED of any drink or smoothie.

Well, color me surprised when I saw the mixture after 10 seconds of mixing it on high speed. It certainly LOOKED smooth. "Hmm," I thought. The presenter then started pouring it into cups for us to taste. I was immediately surprised when my husband, who also hated most vegetables, reached for one. "Well," I thought, "I might as well try it. It will probably taste horribly, but it will be good for me, nonetheless." I prepared myself for the inevitable gag reflex that would surely follow.

What followed was something surprisingly delicious...absolutely smooth, with a touch of sweetness (thanks to the Apple and a little touch fo Agave nectar). I could taste the greens, but they were surprisingly good. It was such a refreshing little drink, and I literally felt my body craving it. It seemed to open up with energy just after drinking that small dixie cup of green smoothie. I hadn't felt like that in a LONG time. Getting excited, I looked at my husband, wanting to see his reaction.

"That is really good!" He exclaimed. I must admit I was surprised. We then turned back to the presenter, who was now talking about soup. She was making a tortilla soup. "Ewww," I thought again, thinking back to several different tortilla soups that I have tried in the past. "I hate tortilla soup," I whispered to him.

"I don't," he said, turning eagerly to watch. I watched as the presenter put all sorts of fresh, whole vegetables, most of which I did not like, into the blender. I winced at the thought of how they would taste blended together. When she was done, Dustin (my husband) eagerly grabbed a cup and took a sip. "Delicious!" He announced.

"Let me try that," I said, reaching for his cup. I took a little sip, and then another. Wow. The freshness of the vegetables was evident both in the taste and smell of the soup. It. Was. Delicious. And how easy...I could make such a wonderful soup in under a minute? Seriously?

Dustin must have saw the look on my face. He turned to me and said, "This is an answer to our prayers about eating healthier. Forget the juicer...this does it better. Let's buy it!"

Still eying the price tag, I suggested we go home and think on it. However, it became obvious to us that this would be an investment; not only because of the 7 year warranty but also because it was one way we both would enjoy getting more healthy, raw, vegetables and fruits into our diets. We knew we had to buy it.

So this is how this blog begins. I have owned the Vita-Mix 5200 for 3 weeks now, and have honestly used it almost every day, if not more. Complicated, overcooked recipes of the past are now simple and easy to make, and can be done without boiling the heck out of the ingredients (which simply reduces the nutritional value of our food). I can easily incorporate all the suggested servings of fruits and vegetables into a day. I can enjoy a filling green smoothie for breakfast and/or lunch, and eat a delicious, filling soup or something similar for dinner. I can easily make healthy sorbets in a few minutes for dessert. I can eat WHOLE foods and drastically reduce our intake of processed or frozen foods.

This blog is about just that - our family's journey to eating healthier. I will share recipes that I find that can be made in the Vita-Mix 5200 and recipes that don't use it at all, and I will share our progress as we move forward.

If you are interested in purchasing your own Vita-Mix blender (the 5200 or any other blender) and/or accessories, please click here! Yes, I'm an affiliate, and I decided to become one because I really love this machine and how it is helping me with my health. I will encourage you, though, to not just take my word for it. Do as I did -- before purchasing, do research to make sure this is the investment that is best for you and your family. I can promise you that you won't be disappointed, but I'm not a salesperson. I'm just someone who wants to share a wonderful product that is helping me to better meet my own goals in ways I never knew possible. Go figure...a blender can make that much a difference -- yeah, I didn't expect it, either ;)

I hope you will consider taking this journey with us, and sharing your own recipes, experiences, hints and tips.

So why don't we get to it? Being green has never been so easy!