Sunday, January 31, 2010

Banana Bread

1 apple
2 bananas
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/3 c. water
1 2/3 c. wheat flour
1 egg white
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder

Place fruit in the Vitamix. Select Variable 1 and increase speed to 5. Blend for 20 seconds, pushing down ingredients with the tamper. Then dump the rest of the ingredients in the Vitamix and blend at speed 4 for 30 seconds. Spread mixture in 11x14 pan and bake for 20 minutes at 375 degrees. Top with cinnamon or brown sugar.

Taste score: 4/10

Likes: I like them thin so I can eat them as breakfast bars on the go. I topped them with cinnamon sugar for a little more flavor.

Dislikes: Although they were way better tan those vegan muffins I tried to make, the insides were still mushy. I wouldn't spend time making this recipe again.

Nutrition score: 7/10
This treat would be pretty healthful without the topping. But if you're going to have banana bread, this is a great alternative to anything you'd find at a bakery or coffeeshop.

Faux Fried Chicken Fingers

1/2 cup flake cereal- Special K, Fiber One, or corn flakes
1 piece wheat bread (optional)
1 tsp. each salt and pepper
2 egg whites
One package of boneless, skinless chicken

Add cereal, bread, and spices in the Vitamix. Select Variable 1 and increase speed to 4. Blend for 20 seconds, pushing down ingredients with the tamper (I only added the wheat bread because I had an end piece I wanted to use up but it worked out fine). Dump the breadcrumb mixture from the Vitamix into a small dish. Slice raw chicken into strips. Crack egg whites into another small dish and whip with a fork until you see bubbles. Dip chicken strips into egg whites and then the breadcrumbs. Bake for 10 minutes each side 425 degrees.

Taste score: 10/10

Likes: Two thumbs up! Who doesn't love chicken tenders? Usually they're dripping with oil and most of the calories are found in the breading. But using fiber cereal and wheat bread amps up the fiber content, while still retaining the delicious crunch. I ate these with ketchup but I saved half for chicken parmesean and pasta tomorrow.

Dislikes: This isn't necessarily a dislike, but as lover of all things spicy, I might experiment with taco seasoning or hot sauce next time.

Nutrition score: 8/10
I remember reading in the Hungry girl newsletter that cereal makes a great breading for chicken and she's right! I guess this recipe would be better for you if you just steamed the meat and left out the breading, but that's boring. At least in this recipe the breading is fiber fortified!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Turkey Chili

1 Roma tomato
1 peeled onion
1/3 red pepper
1 packet taco seasoning

1/2 pound lean ground turkey
1 tsp olive oil
1 can black or kidney beans

Cook turkey on the stove with olive oil. Meanwhile, add all salsa ingredients to the Vitamix. Select Variable 1 and increase speed to 4. Blend for 20 seconds, pushing down ingredients with the tamper. Drain meat, then add beans and salsa. I also added an extra dash of cumin and chili pepper.

Taste score: 9/10

Likes: I have to admit this is the first time I've ever had ground turkey. Far from someone with a refined palate, I didn't notice any difference between this chili and any other beef chili I've had. I ate this in a whole wheat spinach wrap with baby spinach and a sprinkle of cheese. Popped it in the microwave and it was way better than Taco Bell!

Dislikes: It has a lot of spices but it isn't necessarily hot and spicy. I should have bought those jalapenos...

Nutrition score: 9/10
Between the meat and the beans, this dish is packed with protein! Lean turkey has less saturated fat than ground beef, so that's a plus. It does have quite a bit of cholesterol, but everything in moderation right?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Raspberry Peach Sorbet

1/4 cup plain yogurt
2 cups any combination of frozen peaches and raspberries
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 tsp vanilla

Add all ingredients to the Vitamix. Select Variable 1 and increase speed to 8. Blend for 10 seconds, pushing down ingredients with the tamper.

Taste score: 10/10

Likes: Whoohoo! This sorbet has a key ingredient: vanilla. The great thing about this sorbet is the texture. It's velvety smooth with no seeds or ice crystals. Peaches and raspberries aren't even my favorite fruits, but this frozen treat was deliciously sweet and my favorite recipe so far. Perfect 10.

Dislikes: It could use more sugar but...I will resist!

Nutritional score: 9/10
This recipe gets a point off because of the added sugar. But peaches are a good source of Vitamin C and raspberries are anticarcinogenic, antimicrobial, and antioxident little gems. Enjoy!

Spinach Garlic Bread

For the bread:
2 cups wheat flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup water

For the filling:
1 drizzle of olive oil
2 handfulls of baby spinach
2 cloves minced garlic
2 tsp garlic powder
1/3 cup shredded cheese

Place all filling ingredients in a pan on medium heat. Leave for 5-10 minutes until leaves look wilty or soggy (I never claimed to be a professional chef!) While it's cooking, add all bread ingredients to the Vitamix. Select Variable 1 and increase speed to 5. Blend for 10 seconds. Roll the dough on a nonstick cookie sheet into a rectangle about 1/4 inch thick. Sprinkle cheese evenly on the dough and then spread the spinach mixture. Roll the dough into a cylinder and  bake for 20 minutes.

Taste score: 6/10

Likes: I am a spinach hater. It is green, bitter, and boring. But when you saute it with garlic to mask the bitterness, you forget it's a leafy green vegetable. I was nervous about this dough because it's yeast-free, but it turned out perfect for this recipe. The outside is golden brown and the inside is fluffy. I love garlic bread, but it's usually made with white bread and slathered in butter. This is a healthy alternative that tastes even better!

Dislikes: It needs to be consumed with a glass of water. And I think I could get away with adding more spinach to take full advantage of the fact that it is going into my mouth without a gag reflex.

Nutritional score: 7/10
Spinach is a magic food that contains folate, Vitamin K, Vitamin C, and beta carotene. It strengthens bones, lowers blood pressure, and even helps to keep your mind sharp. This recipe gets a 7, because the cheese and vegetable oil add a little more fat.

Black Bean Baked Potatoes

2 Russet potatoes

1 onion
2 garlic cloves
1 tomato
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 can black beans
 (an optional sprinkle of cheese for topping)

Scrub the potatoes and cook them in the microwave on high for about 8 minutes (or until you feel them steaming). While they're cooking, place all other ingredients in the Vitamix. Start on Variable 1 and increase speed to 8. Blend for 10 seconds, pushing down the ingredients with the tamper. Cut the potatoes in half and scoop out a golf ball sized portion from the center of each half. Drop in the Vitamix. Drain the can of black beans and rinse well. Drop in the Vitamix. Blend for 10 seconds on Variable 4.

Fill the potato boats with the mixture and top with a sprinkle of cheese. Serve warm.

Taste score: 5/10

Likes:  I love baked potatoes, but usually restaurant quality loaded baked potatoes are made with greasy, fatty fillings. This baby was more flavorful than a plain potato with butter, and the beans added some much needed texture. I was on a baking spree, so I stuck my half in the oven for a few minutes and the skin turned nice and crispy. I'm going to wrap the rest and have them for my brown bagged lunch this week!

Dislikes: The texture really threw me off. Mashed potato with black beans is a combination I wasn't used to "at first bite." I think maybe next time I'll just scoop out the potato and eat it instead of adding it to the mixture!

Nutritional score: 9/10 
There's nothing bad for you in this recipe. The beans and potato are great sources of fiber, and cumin is a good digestive aid. Although potatoes have a bad rep because they are very starchy, they also contain 20% daily value of Vitamin B6, which is responsible for breaking down everything we eat.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Vitamix disasters!

So this week was a whirlwind of Vitamix FAILS. Among the few:

Vegan banana bread- This one wasn't too horrible, because the insides tasted like applesauce. But the consistency was way off and I had to cut it up and broil it to make it edible without a spoon.

Vegan pumpkin muffins- They are made without dairy products so I knew they would turn out a little different from traditional pumpkin muffins. But these babies burnt to a crisp on the outside and had the consistency of pumpkin pie on the insides. This will not be a repeat. I will stick with the milk and eggs!

Grapefruit juice- I love grapefruit juice but this was a mistake. I don't have cheesecloth to drain the grapefruit pulp, so this tasted like bitter grapefruit pulp. Gross.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Strawberry sorbet

2 cups frozen strawberries
1 cup ice
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup apple juice

Add all ingredients to the Vitamix. Select Variable 1 and increase speed to 8. Blend for 10 seconds or until the sound changes. Makes 3 cups.

Taste score: 6/10

Likes: The texture was perfect, and it tasted really fresh. The sorbet was very refreshing, because it didn't taste like that awful artificial sugar-ed up version you can buy in the cartons.

Dislikes: I shouldn't have added so much ice, because it tasted more like strawberry italian ice than strawberry sorbet. Next time I would add some raspberries to make the flavor more interesting.

Nutritional score: 7/10 
Strawberries have a magic chemical called phenol which protects your heart, prevents cancer, and is anti-inflammatory. The only downside to this frozen treat is the added sugar, which you could go without but it would probably taste a little tart.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Pesto Sauce

1/4 cup (120 ml) olive oil
1/4 cup (50 g) shredded mozzarella cheese
3 garlic cloves
1/2 cup basil leaves
3 tablespoons pine nuts

Add all ingredients to the Vitamix. (I like to keep the basil and cheese frozen so they keep longer). Select Variable 1 and increase speed to 8. Blend for 10 seconds. Makes 1 cup.

Taste score: 9/10

Likes: This pesto tasted great on wheat bread with american cheese and grilled chicken. I will try the rest with wheat pasta and a little olive oil.

Dislikes: I wish I added salt, and I think sticking with the traditional parmesan would have turned out better.

Nutritional score: 7/10 

While pesto is a better alternative to butter or mayo, it's still high in fat (but the good fats). Basil leaves have a good source of Vitamin A, and the pine nuts are loaded with antioxidants like Vitamin K and Lutein.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Strawberry Applesauce

1/2 cup strawberries
3 apples
1 tsp lemon juice

Rinse fruit. Slice the stems off the strawberries. Cut the apples into quarters, only popping out the seeds and removing the stems. Add all ingredients to the Vitamix. Select Variable 1 and increase speed to 5. Blend for 10 seconds and push fruit down with the tamper. Serve chilled. Makes 2 cups.

Taste score: 10/10

Likes: I love this raw recipe, because the Vitamix can handle the strawberry seeds and tough apple skin with no problems! This applesauce is refreshing and the strawberries add a fun spin to a traditional dish.

Dislikes: If you let it sit, the applesauce will get watery and separate, but it's nothing a little stirring can't fix.

Nutritional score: 10/10 

Both apples and strawberries have lots of fiber and vitamin C. And the sweetness of this applesauce only comes from natural sugars.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

3 cups water
1 cube chicken bouillon
5 baby tomatoes
1 stalk celery
1/2 onion
2 garlic cloves
1/2 red pepper
2 tsp taco seasoning
1 cup cooked chicken
1 can of corn
1 can of black beans
Optional: cheese and tortilla chips
  • Cook boneless, skinless chicken in a pan on the stove. While it's cooking, prepare the ingredients.
  • Open the cans of corn and beans and drain thoroughly. Peel the garlic cloves and slice the onion, red pepper, and celery in half. Add all ingredients except the chicken, corn, and beans in the Vitamix. Start on Variable 1 and increase speed to High. Blend for about 4 minutes or until steam rises from the vented lid.
  • Set to Variable 2 and drop in cooked chicken, beans, and corn. Sprinkle with cheese or tortilla chips. Makes 6 cups.

Taste score: 10/10

Likes: This is the famous Vitamix recipe, but I altered it because I always found it too watery and not spicy enough. With the addition of black beans and more chicken, corn, and taco seasoning, this soup tastes just like a taco. Even my younger sister, who hates soup and veggies, loved it!

Dislikes: There are a lot more ingredients in this recipe than most Vitamix soups, and preparing the chicken takes a while unless you have cooked chicken on hand.

Nutritional score: 9/10 

How could you go wrong? This soup is incredibly filling, but it's not filled with preservatives and salt like the canned version! You get protein from the beans and chicken, lots of random veggies, and it tastes amazing! Just don't overload on the tortilla chips or cheese topping.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Sweet Potato Soup

1 sweet potato
1 apple
1 cube vegetable bouillon
1/4 cup frozen peas
6 baby carrots
1 1/2 cups water
Optional: brown sugar
  • Scrub the sweet potato and pop it in the microwave for 5 minutes on high. 
  • While it's microwaving, prepare the other ingredients: rinse and cut the apple in half, pop out the seeds, and remove the stems. Cut the sweet potato in cubes, and throw in apple, bouillon, peas, and carrots with the water. 
  • Start on Variable 1 and increase speed up to High. Let the machine run for about 4 minutes or until steam comes out of the vented lid. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Makes 3 cups.

Taste score: 8/10

Likes: With a little brown sugar, this soup tasted like Thanksgiving! The soup definitely tasted like sweet potatoes, and the only other flavor I could identify was the apple. I hate the bitterness of green veggies, but I popped in some frozen peas and couldn't taste them. That's the beauty of vitamix!

Dislikes: The soup was perfectly smooth, but I had to keep reminding myself that I wasn't eating baby food.

Nutritional score: 9/10 

Sweet potatoes are a superfood! They have 4 grams of fiber, lots of Vitamin A and beta carotene. Omitting the brown sugar would have bumped this up to a 10, but the natural sweetness wasn't quite enough for me.