Sunday, February 28, 2010

Whole wheat banana muffins

Last time I tried to make banana bread it was a major fail. They were super mushy and not very tasty. So this is round two and the turnout was infinitely better than round one:

2 overripe bananas
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tsp each of: vanilla, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup water
1 egg
Throw all ingredients in the Vitamix in the order listed. Work up to Variable 8 and blend for 30 seconds, pushing down with the tamper. Pour into muffin cups and bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees.

Taste score: 8/10
Likes: Success! I was wary of any muffin recipe without oil or butter, but this worked well. The muffins turned out fluffy and golden brown. Perfect for a breakfast to go!

Dislikes: Bananas can be boring. I would add more cinnamon and nutmeg next time.

Nutrition score: 10/10
Bananas  are a great source of potassium, vitamin B6, and fiber for about 100 calories! They also help with "elimination problems" if you get my drift.

Magic Lime-aid

What makes this recipe magical? When I tried to make frozen lemonade, it was a little too tart, a bit watery. Just okay. But this recipe is amazing simply because you can have a glass of frozen sweetness without any added sugar! I was freezing after running around outside and I still made this recipe because it's so good.

1 lime
1 cup green grapes
1 handful ice cubes

Cut the ends off the lime and throw it in the Vitamix along with the grapes. Make sure the ice is on top. Select Variable 5 and let the fruit blend until it turns one color (about 10 seconds). Work up to Variable 10, then set on High, pushing everything down with the tamper. Blend for 30 seconds.
Taste score: 10/10
Likes: Wow. When I was in Colombia, I had the most delicious limeaid. I thought I would never get to taste it again but this recipe proved me wrong. Grapes are not my favorite. I'll eat them but I could never get excited about them. Their high water content blended with the delicious lime make this a real treat.

Dislikes: I would like to try this without so much ice, so it's more like a glass of lemonade than a frozen version.

Nutrition score: 10/10
Grapes have lots of antioxidants, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and manganese. Yes, they have a lot of sugar (which is probably why this recipe tastes so good) but it's all natural and much better for you than the refined version.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Everything but the Kitchen Sink Soup

What do you do when spring break is coming up and you have to get rid of everything in your fridge? Throw it in the Vitamix and have leftover soup! I linked the ingredients in this recipe to other meals I've made in the Vitamix, which explains why I have, for example, only a fourth of a red pepper in my fridge.

8 baby carrots
6 florets of steamed cauliflower 
1/4 red pepper
1 small stalk celery
2 cups chicken broth
1/3 onion
2 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons taco seasoning
1/2 can kidney beans
fiber one crackers (optional)

Dump all ingredients except the beans into the Vitamix. Select Variable 1 and increase speed to 10, then on High. Blend for a few minutes until you see steam coming from the vented lid. Next, select Variable 2 and add the beans. Blend for a few seconds and serve with crackers.

Taste score: 8/10
Likes: I think the secret to this soup's perfectly smooth and slightly creamy texture is the steamed cauliflower. The secret to the flavor is HOT taco seasoning, which kicked up the heat just enough for this otherwise boring soup recipe. I was pleasantly surprised at how full I felt halfway through the meal. Since I couldn't finish it all,  I microwaved some brown rice in the rest of the broth which I will eat tomorrow with a spinach wrap and some cheese. Instant burrito!

Dislikes: I might add corn, steamed carrots, and more beans next time to bulk up the texture. If I had any more vegetables around, I could definitely sneak in some cabbage or more celery.

Nutrition score: 9/10
Is there anything bad for you in this recipe? Well I guess the seasoning and the bouillon have high levels of sodium (we're talking like 20% daily recommended value EACH). So a point off there, only because I don't have much sodium in my diet anyway, and frankly I'll take some salt if it means vegetables taste better!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

My all time favorite ice cream is Peanut Butter Fudge. My favorite candy is Reese's peanut butter cups. Do you see the trend? Needless to say, these are not the most nutritious treats. Here's my alternative using the Vitamix. 

1/2 cup natural peanut butter
2 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup skim milk
2 cups ice cream
chocolate chips (optional)

Dump all ingredients in the Vitamix. Start from Variable 1 to 8, then blend on High for 10 seconds, pushing down with the tamper until ice cubes are fully blended.

Taste score: 10/10
Likes: This is delicious! It's lighter than my favorite creamy version but doesn't skimp out on taste. The Vitamix  blended everything so smoothly, I would gladly trade my saturated fat-laden favorite for this lighter soft serve one!

Dislikes: It comes out a little soupy, so I stuck mine in the freezer for a few minutes while I cleaned up. I'm sure it would taste sweeter with added sugar but who needs that?

Nutrition score: 8/10
Nuts have a lot of fats, but they are rich in non-saturated fats which can help lower bad cholestrol:

Fake Mashed Potatoes and Shepard's Pie

For the cauliflower mashed potatoes:
1 head of cauliflower
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup milk

For the shepard's pie:1 can of corn
1 cup of frozen peas
1/2 cup of chopped carrots
1/2 chopped onion
1/2 lb extra lean ground beef
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tsp nutmeg

For the fake mashed potatoes:
Cut the cauliflower into florets and place in a microwave safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high for a full minute. Dump into the Vitamix with the milk and garlic cloves. Select Variable 1 and increase speed to 8. Blend for about 30 seconds. 

For the shepard's pie:
Cook the meat and onions on the stove with olive oil until browned. Drain of oil and then add spices. Spread peas, corn, and carrots in a shallow baking dish and top with a layer of meat. Next, pour on cauliflower mixture and spread evenly. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, then broil for 3.

Taste score: 7/10
Likes: I only eat peas with mashed potatoes. Why? Because I love garlic mashed potatoes and can hide in the vegetables without hating them...which makes shepard's pie an excellent meal to sneak in some veggies. This recipe is filling but not high in calories. I really liked the texture- just like the "real" thing!

Dislikes: I could definitely taste the difference between cauliflower and real mashed potatoes, but this close enough for the starch trade off. I will take Outback Steakhouse garlic mashed potatoes anyday, but they certainly don't have the same nutritional value!

Nutrition score: 8/10
The key to this recipe is extra lean ground beef. You can add a lot of saturated fat just by buying the lean version. Why switch out potatoes? Potatoes are high on the glycemic index, which affects our blood sugar quickly and then makes us feel hungry sooner:

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Pumpkin Spice Muffins

1 apple
1/2 can of pumpkin
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
chocolate chips (optional)

Core the apple and dump it along with the pumpkin, vanilla, and lemon juice into the Vitamix. Select Variable 1 and increase speed to 8. Blend for 20 seconds, pushing down ingredients with the tamper until the mixture is one color. Next, add the remaining ingredients and select Variable 4. Stir the with the tamper until fully mixed. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

Taste score: 9/10
Likes: Finally a whole wheat, low fat muffin recipe that doesn't taste like baby food! This recipe wasn't just good- these muffins were delicious. My apartment smelled like pumpkin pie all afternoon. I ate one the moment they came out of the oven and a day later warmed up in the microwave and I had to restrain myself from polishing off the whole batch!

Dislikes: I sprinkled the muffins with chocolate chips, which burned in the oven. Next time I'll mix them in the batter.

Nutrition score: 8/10
This recipe gets points off for added sugar. But the applesauce is a great substitute for eggs, and the whole what also adds a few grams of fiber. To compare, check this out:

Monday, February 8, 2010

Strawberry Broccoli Smoothie

I feel like this one should be prefaced with the fact that many health conscious people preach the "good news" about green smoothies. To me, throwing in vegetables ruins a perfectly good smoothie, but I wanted to see for myself. For someone who hates veggies, this is a good way to sneak some in my diet. So when I didn't have time to make lunch one day and needed something quick and filling to hold me over, I gave it a try- my first green smoothie!

1/2 cup frozen broccoli
1/2 cup frozen strawberries

1 cup orange juice
3 ice cubes

Dump the ingredients in the Vitamix. Select Variable 1 and increase speed to 7. Blend for 20 seconds, pushing down ingredients with the tamper. Then blend on High for 10 seconds.

Taste score: 5/10
Likes: I think the 2:1 fruit to broccoli ratio is just right. This tasted like a regular strawberry-orange smoothie, without the pulp or seeds. I will definitely sneak some veggies in my fruit smoothies again, just maybe not this one.

Dislikes: If I said I couldn't taste the broccoli I would be lying. But it's not so bitter when blended with the sweetness of the fruit, and tasted more like a hint of green instead of a mouthful. Next time I'll add different types of fruit so it settles better in my stomach.

Nutrition score: 7/10
I used fresh squeezed orange juice (not from concentrate) but it contains a lot of sugar. Apart from that, I also used frozen broccoli which doesn't have as much nutritional value as fresh veggies. But broccoli is anti-carcinogenic and can prevent all sorts of cancers.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Raspberry Vinaigrette

1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tsp salt

2 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup frozen raspberries
1/4 cup water

Dump ingredients in the Vitamix. Select Variable 1 and increase speed to 7, then blend on High for 10 seconds.

Taste score: 7/10
Likes: I ate this dressing with baby spinach, chopped carrots, and a sprinkle of peanuts. Since I was running low on frozen raspberries, I also threw in a handful of blueberries. Leafy green vegetables are not my favorite, so when I find a fruity salad dressing that takes the edge off, I am perfectly content.

Dislikes: It kind of tasted like I poured a smoothie on my salad. I will definitely make this again, but I'll try 1/3 cup of fruit instead of 1/2.

Nutrition score: 7/10
Pretty good as far as salad dressings go. Since you're adding fruit to amp up the sweetness, only a little honey is needed.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Frozen lemonade

2 lemons
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup ice cubes

Peel the lemons and place ingredients in the Vitamix. Select Variable 1 and increase speed to 7. Blend for 20 seconds, pushing down ingredients with the tamper. Then blend on High for 10 seconds.

Taste score: 6/10

Likes: After a long day of classes, there was nothing I needed more than this sour frozen treat. It tasted just like the frozen lemonade you buy at amusement parks but without all the corn syrup. The Vitamix could handle the seeds just fine, and I liked that I could eat it with a spoon or slurp it with a straw.

Dislikes: It was very tart, which I didn't mind, but since I didn't want to add too much sugar, I  could have diluted it with a little water. Also, the Vitamix strangely couldn't pulverize the pulp as well as the seeds, so I might run it on High for a little longer.

Nutrition score: 7/10
This frozen lemonade Vitamix recipe is pretty simple. Lemons are an excellent source of Vitamin C and they have lots of anticarcinogenic flavonoids.