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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

Cocoa Banana Chia Smoothie

13 Feb

My work days are loooonggg. I don’t have a lot of time in the morning to get myself together and whip up eggs benedict, drink coffee and read the morning news.  Really wish I could drag myself out of the comfort of my warm bed to manage it, but no.

This smoothie has been my go-to breakfast for a solid month now. As I was in my kitchen just now, in a moment of weakness looking for something sweet to eat with no luck, I realized that this smoothie, if blended with less almond milk would be a lot like ice cream.

So there it is.

I am eating this smoothie with a spoon as I type this post.

I am in love with this one. There are many variations that I go with depending on how I am feeling each day. Somedays, if I workout before smoothie time, I will add a big scoop of Hemp protein. If I am a bit more hungry, I will add a big handful of granola. Don’t fret about this one, when you blend granola, it still tastes like granola! If I am low on Chia, I will add Hemp seeds or ground Flax. If I am out of almond butter, I go with peanut butter.

Any of these additions or substitutions won’t really take away from the taste or richness of this deceptively decadent and healthy treat.

Why you should eat this? 

Chia, yes the stuff we use to farm a green patch of hair on a Homer Simpson head that you can buy at the drugstore? THAT same kind of Chia is very rich in omega-3 fatty acids, even more so than flax seeds. And it has another advantage over flax: chia is so rich in antioxidants that the seeds don’t deteriorate and can be stored for long periods without becoming rancid. And, unlike flax, they do not have to be ground to make their nutrients available to the body. Chia seeds also provide fiber (25 grams give you 6.9 grams of fiber) as well as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, molybdenum, niacin, and zinc.

Another advantage: when added to water and allowed to sit for 30 minutes, chia forms a gel. Researchers suggest that this reaction also takes place in the stomach, slowing the process by which digestive enzymes break down carbohydrates and convert them into sugar. I always feel very satiated from this smoothie, I suspect from the combination of protein from nut butter and the fiber in chia.

I find mine in the bulk section of my local Whole Foods and I store them in a container in the freezer.

I know that they also sell them bagged. You can certainly find a good selection on Amazon.com.

Quick notes

Once a week or so, I buy a lot of bananas. I break them into pieces and put them in gallon sized ziplock bags and freeze.

Someday, I will do a post about making your own almond milk. Because it is easy and it’s one of those really  fulfilling tasks. You can pass this recipe on someday and change the verbiage to “housemade almond milk”.

Until then, I’m not gonna front. I love this unsweetened vanilla version by Pacific Organics. I also love this Unsweetened Cocoa powder by Green and Blacks. And I will not do a post about making cocoa powder.

Cocoa Banana Chia Smoothie (1 servings)

  • 1-2 Frozen Bananas, broken in pieces
  • ½ c. Unsweetened Almond Milk
  • 1 tbsp Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 2 tbsp Almond Butter
  • 2 tbsp Chia Seeds
  • 1 tsp Honey
Add all ingredients to blender and puree.
** I use the Magic Bullet and this makes a smoothie the size of one of their cups, which is about 12 oz.
Enjoy right away, cold and delicious.
Drink up!

My Smoothie Habit

26 Dec
My obsession with my mini smoothie maker (The Magic Bullet is an AWFUL name for a kitchen appliance)  is no secret to those who know me. It is perfect for neat-freaks like myself, who want to make a quick something or other and not have to lug a huge machine around and clean it’s many parts. Super quick, small, easy to clean, and the to-go style cups are great for a girl (or boy) on the run.
Whether it be something fresh from the market or something frozen, I keep a well stocked pantry of smoothie ingredients. I always encourage people to get more fruits, vegetables, and omega 3’s in their daily routine and this little machine makes it easy and delicious to do so. I won’t include a recipe with this, rather a list of common ingredients that you can feel free to experiment with. The only advice that I will give is that you try to get a decent balance of fresh and frozen ingredients, keep in mind the frozen items provide the smoothie texture, otherwise it’s just juice with pulp. The nutrients and enzymes from fresh produce will greatly increase the alkalinity in your body. Alas, if there is not an option for fresh, frozen fruits and vegetables are still a better than not option.

Possible Smoothie Ingredients: Organic Frozen/Fresh FruitOrganic Frozen/Fresh Vegetables (leafy greens seem to work best and impart subtle flavor)  Nut Milks,  Keifer, Coconut milk or water. Hemp protein powder. Sprouts Flax Seeds/Oils. Your favorite  green drink mix. Fruit juices, Etc… Get creative and enjoy!