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My Favorite Season: October

14 Oct

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October in San Francisco is magic. Magic, I tell you. The sun is out and the days are actually warm (OK, its been pretty hot). It was even warm AFTER the sun went down this weekend. Magic. The almost ever present fog that hangs out in the city takes a hiatus in October. The almost ever present buses of tourists slow down in October and of recent super magical note: the San Francisco Giants have been playing baseball well into October.

SO. MUCH. MAGIC.

Ocean Beach, San Francisco

Ocean Beach, San Francisco

 

The thing about living somewhere that is so magical, full of sun with a great baseball team is that I have a job. A job that requires me to be indoors, not frolicking in the warm, less crowded streets (or beaches) of San Francisco. Said job also leaves me with very little time for blogging, running, haircuts, a social life, and cleaning my apartment. It’s a good thing that I happen to love my job.

Go Giants

Go Giants

 

So with keeeping in that recurring theme around here at NOTASC (yeah, I went there and gave myslef an acronym) I have a quick recipe for some of us who would rather be outside enjoying some nice weather. Consider this your to-go salad.

This is my (almost) daily green smoothie. It’s quick and healthy for on-the-go kinda’ folks. I make this in one of those easy  Magic Bullet blenders, I usually take a few minutes on a Sunday and prep out the ingredients for the week. Dice pineapple, wash and bag greens, you get the idea. Then each morning I throw in some kind of variation of this smoothie. I like to keep my ratio of veggies to fruit  pretty high. More veggies than fruit. The only rule.

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Sometimes I use coconut water, sometimes almond milk, other days I might use plain yogurt as the liquid base. Some weeks it’s just banana for the fruit, sometimes its banana AND pineapple. I always have a protein powder or hemp or chia seeds. I like Tera’s Whey protein powder. And usually buy chia or hemp seeds in the bulk section, I store those in the freezer so the volitile oils stay fesh. There are times I throw in a spoon of flax oil or coconut oil. I think you get the idea by now? This smoothie is freestyle; grab a lot of greens, some kind of fat or protein, maybe one sweet thing and voila!

Why you should drink this? 

Kale.

This ought to make some of you hippies happy, kale is a superwondermiracle food. Let me start by saying that by blending raw kale into your smoothie you are maximizing the superpowers of this titan cruciferous vegetable, the available fiber helps maintain proper detoxification. By supporting our cellular detox process, nutrients in kale can give our body an “edge up” in dealing with toxic exposure, whether from our environment or from our food.

The health benefits of kale are pretty typical of leafy greens; full of anit-oxidents, anti-inflamtory and anti-cancer nutrients. In a strange and untypical twist, I think that kale will also be running for President in 2016. Look out Hillary.

October Is The Best Green Smoothie

1 Banana
1/4 cup Pineapple (optional)
1 cup Kale, stems removed and roughly chopped
1/4 cup Frozen Spinach
1/2 Avocado
1/2 cup Coconut Water (or any other liquid you prefer)
1/2 scoop Vanilla Protein Powder
2 teaspoon Chia Seeds

Smoothie goods

Smoothie goods

Throw all of this into a blender and blend until really green and really smooth.

Trust me, so good,

Nichole

Green Smoothie Goodness

23 Jan
No leaks in your smoothie please.

No leaks in your smoothie please.

If you’ve made a New Year’s resolution raise your hand. Notice that mine are firmly planted to the keyboard. Wait a second, you can’t see me. THAT is the beauty of the interwebz. I might have my hands firmly planted to plate of cookies for all you know.

I am not much of a resolutions maker. I’m more of a immediate fix kinda gal. If I am not happy with something I getter’ done real quick. Call it a lack of patience or a pursuit of excellence, I enjoy being thorough. Want to play therapist for a second? I have a standing day on my calendar each month to clean out one drawer in my house. Whether its the sock drawer, top shelf of my pantry, or the cabinet under my bathroom sink: something is getting cleaned out and thrown away (or donated if possible). What is this mental health condition called?

Any how, this year, I have created a New Years Challenge for myself. Because my competitive spirit responds better to challenge then resolution. (send therapist recommendations to ChefNicholeMayer@gmail.com) My new years challenge: try one new thing a month. In my immediate view – new thing is new activity. As the year goes by maybe I will try a new food or try a new cocktail? That hardly seems adventurous enough.

First up: Bikram yoga. Stay tuned for the results, they will not be pretty. I have two classes under my (very sweaty) belt and 18 more to go. The results so far is that I am now combining my morning green juice with my post workout smoothie: green smoothie. Boom.

I have had an on-again-off-again relationship with green smoothies in the past. Lately I have been hard into green juice and as always have loved my post workout smoothie, but the timing of my Bikram class and the importance of pre Bikram hydration (water, lots of water) have forced me to consolidate the two. So far the only good thing to come out of this experience.

Can you tell my review of Bikram will be glowing?

Potential smoothie goods

Potential smoothie goods

Why you should drink this?

Fresh green juice is loaded with enzymes, oxygen, minerals, and vitamins. Because blended fruits and vegetables are fresh, this makes them easier to absorb into the intestinal wall. Blending the fruits and vegetables, as opposed to juicing them also leaves you with all of the beautiful water soluble fiber. Everyone needs fiber. Think blending vegetables is weird? Invest in a really good blender that blends them very well. Also consider that the blender is ‘predigesting’ the vegetables for you – less work! OK, that sounds strange, I know.

This is not an exact kinda recipe. You can use pretty much any greens you would like. Substitute the apple for pears or cucumbers instead of celery. Add seasonal fruits during warmer months etc. Want your smoothie to be a little more rich? Add a few slices of avocado. Like fresh herbs? Add a handful of cilantro or parsley.

I always have frozen bananas ready to go for smoothies, but if you don’t have them frozen, use a few ice cubes. OR a few frozen cubes of coconut water. As with most of my recipes – let your imagination run wild here.

Green Smoothie Goodness (servings 1 -2) 

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 apple, peeled & cut – I like a tart one like Granny Smith or Honey Crisp
  • 1 c. spinach leaves
  • 2 stalks celery
  • ½ head kale or romaine
  • few splashes of coconut water, almond milk, juice, or water.

Blend all ingredients really well and enjoy.

Trust me. So good,

Nichole

p.s. Go 49ers!!

San Francisco City Hall lit up in Red and Gold.

San Francisco City Hall lit up in Red and Gold.

Pumpkin Spice Protein Smoothie

26 Sep

The seasons are changing right?

If I never went outside or didn’t look at a calendar, I would know that it is Fall from the posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram about a certain pumpkin spice flavored latte from that one coffee place. People really love that super sweet, cinnamon-y, slightly pumpkin flavored drink.

I’m no fan. Coffee is coffee. Let it be coffee.

What am I a fan of? Well, Fall. And I LOVE me some pumpkin pie. The rich creamy, spicy flavors of a pumpkin pie = pure love. In fact when I make a pumpkin pie (near future), I will post a picture of it and proclaim my love across all social media outlets. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, all of them. Because that is how you show something you really love it.

** Fall in San Francisco is apparently prime surf season. I literally learn something new about this city every day. These guys look like they can use a smoothie.

Recently I read about a pumpkin spice milkshake (by read, I mean I saw it on the menu at a burger joint) and I immediately thought about this as a smoothie. Frankly, these days, the line is really blurry between milkshake and protein smoothie. I have come to really look forward to my smoothies as a treat. I believe that I actually run at a better (faster) pace because I SO look forward to my reward at the end of the run. It’s this kind of rich and creamy deliciousness that has made me a better runner. Quote me on it.

Oh and in case you guys are keeping track – I did really well at the Giant Race. Now I am training for the Nike Women’s marathon on October 14th.

I know, I can’t believe it either.

Why you should eat this?

It’s better than that latte.

Ok, ok, ok. PUMPKIN!! Get it off your porch and into your smoothie.

Pumpkin is rich in vitamin A, C, and E. Vitamin A is a powerful anti-oxidant and is required by the body for maintaining healthy, glowing skin! So you can go ahead and use the remaining pumpkin puree on your face. This smoothie is so good, you might want to just rub it all over your face too.

No? Just me?

Rich in B-complex vitamins like folates, niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamin and pantothenic acid. This smoothie is great source of B vitamins for those who eat little to no animal proteins.

What are we waiting for?

Pumpkin Spice Protein Smoothie (Servings: 1 pretty big smoothie)

  • ½ cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup almond milk (if using vanilla flavored – skip the vanilla extract)
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 tablespoon honey (can also use agave)
  • 1 scoop of vanilla protein powder (your choice – I like hemp protein)
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger

Blend it all together and enjoy! Add more almond milk if you want to loosen the consistency, more spices if you want an extra kick. Get some adventure in your life.

Trust me, so good.

Nichole

How to use a French Press to make the kind of coffee that can save the world.

12 Apr

Coffee, you are my ultimate frenemie.

I just can’t quit you . No matter how many times I have tried. If your keeping count: MANY.

Mornings are my favorite time of the day and its no coincidence that coffee has been a pivotal part of my mornings for a long time now. My old standby, I often feel like coffee is the key to me finding real happiness in this life.

In a tragic twist of fate, my schedule has me running in the mornings. Long distances. Which, after a cup of coffee, leaves me feeling as if I am going to relive my morning cup in reverse. Not good.

Terrible timing really, since I have found a way to brew the best cup of coffee ever and I’m here to share it with you. (YOU’RE WELCOME)

Here’s what you need to know about brewing the perfect cup of coffee.

Do: buy loose beans in small quantities. Buy from a local roaster or a store that sells a high volume, upping your chances of buying beans from a recently roasted batch.

Do: buy pre bagged beans in a heat sealed, aluminized mylar bag. If you can’t get recently roasted, the mylar bagged coffee is a good option at your local market.

Do: use filtered water. A cup of coffee is 98% water. Use the good tasting stuff or else we are all wasting our time here.

Don’t: rely on expiration dates. If your buying whole beans, rarely will you find an expiration date.

Don’t: store your beans in the fridge or freezer if you are going to get through them in 2 weeks time. You risk them picking up off flavors from other foods and extra moisture they may not need.

Don’t: buy preground coffee. Grinding speeds oxidation and the deterioration of flavor. Get over to Target.com and get yourself  bean grinder for less than $20. These are pretty invaluable in the kitchen, as you can use it to grind fresh spices or flax seeds too.

Why you should drink coffee? 

For the sake of brevity, go here . This Amanda Chan lady knows what she is talking about. I like her style.

My favorite Technique: The French press.

A French Press directly infuses ground coffee in just boiled water. Once properly steeped, the grounds are pressed to the bottom of the carafe. This method is considered one of the best techniques because the coffees oil is not filtered out. It yields coffee nearly as full bodied as espresso. The really dark, GOOD stuff.

What you will need: Something to make hot water (I like a tea kettle), a grinder, and the french press.

Grind beans to  medium-course. You want the grounds to stay under the plunger when you press. I hope that you can guess that these are whole beans, I didn’t get a picture of them ground. I’m not perfect.

Add 2 tablespoons of coffee for every 6 ounces of water.

Add just boiled water steadily, saturating the coffee grounds. Your water should be about 195-205 degrees. Do I think that you will pull out a thermometer and test the temp? No. Pull the water off of the heat right before it gets to a rolling boil. Water boils at 212 degrees – THAT IS TOO HOT.

Give it a big stir with a long spoon or chopstick.

Add the lid and let it steep for 5 minutes. Put on a little mascara, brush your hair….

With even steady pressure, press down the filter.

Pour yourself a big hot cup. As you sip, notice that the world is a much better place.

OK, that’s not guaranteed.

My new favorite mug full of positive affirmations. Cheers!!

Trust me, so good.

Enjoy,

Nichole