Sunday, March 17, 2013

Drinking 'o the Green

Green smoothies and the #flushot. Any one that follows me on instagram has seen these pics. Whether I post a pic or not, they have become an almost daily ritual for me. So for St. Patrick's Day, I'm going to tell my experience with green smoothies plus show some of the various mixes I have come up with.

I think there are a couple of reasons first of which is my wife bought a VitaMix blender. She had gone to some blending and juicing deal with some friends and they all became quite interested. I had made many fruit smoothies in the past and I figured our old blender was good enough. I even tried to stop her because I knew how much they cost. Well she bought it and with my cooking obsession I have become the one that uses it the most.

Secondly I am not much of a breakfast guy. It's tough when you don't eat eggs. Cereal gets old quick with me and I prefer variety over the same old thing. I had heard of these smoothies with veggies in them and it seemed interesting. The mrs had even bought a certain Green Machine bottled green juice before but that didn't interest me much. My kids even liked it. I guess I wanted to make these by myself with ingredients I can see. Not processed in a big plant.

Well I threw myself at Google and discovered a whole world of green smoothies and their health benefits. I even signed up for a 3 day smoothie challenge deal at that emailed me many facts and recipes for smoothies.

A lot of people shy away from the thought of a green smoothie. Spinach, kale, lettuce etc blended together with fruits. Eww! That's what I thought also until I began making them. They can be very fresh tasting plus you can always experiment with new combinations of ingredients. They don't always turn out great but at least I know what's in there and can adjust for the next one.

Of course the farmers market is a great place to get the freshest, organic ingredients for smoothies. But don't let the supermarket stop you from trying. I just use my best judgement and pick the freshest looking stuff and I have even used prepared kale mix in a bag before in a pinch. If you do green smoothies very often, remember to vary your types of greens.

Could I recite what these health benefits are? No. Can increasing the amounts of fruits and veggies we consume be bad for us? I really doubt it. But as I look back at my first green smoothie pictures that started back in September, there is one fact that is very apparent to me... I have not been sick this winter.

I have watched as everyone around me at work and home has been sick for at least a few days. Some for weeks at a time with a lingering nasty cough. I'm usually good for at least 1 upper respiratory/nasal/sore throat/coughing type illness per year and that hasn't happened. I didn't get a flu shot this year. Even my seasonal allergies were no big deal. I've even heard that my skin and hair appear to be healthier.

         Don't believe that I just eat healthy all the time. I don't take pics of the late night munchies we all have some times. Chips, cookies, candies you name it. I'm normal and I like to eat all sorts of things, healthy or not. These smoothies and recently a foray into juicing and prepared fresh juice have merely increased my veggie intake.

Does increasing veggies and fruits in your diet help us to be healthier? I can't say for sure. But judging by how I have felt though, I know that it is true. So maybe give green smoothies a try. You may find yourself moving on towards a healthier lifestyle...

I might even have to work in some 'sick' days for myself as a reward for trying my best to take care of my health. After all of these natural #flushots, I just might deserve it.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

1st cookbook

I mentioned in my first blog post how I started cooking when I was away at college. I had begun to get tired of eating fast and frozen food way too often. I remember getting a wok as a birthday present and I bought this book to go along with. Well the wok is long gone but the tattered book still remains.

I leafed through it many times thinking of exotic Chinese food and locales. Pickled Szechwan Vegetables started sounding like something I would like to try. Spicy Sprout and Cucumber Salad. Sure. Fifteen Minute Chicken. Yes. I began to go to the grocery store so that I would have the various ingredients on hand. I would look for dried mushrooms, bean pastes and hoisin sauce. I was becoming obsessed. Various Chow Meins, egg rolls, and all sorts of stir fries slowly began to happen.

I even filled in the title for this recipe from the index because it was not printed.

Through the years, this Almond Chicken has become a family favorite.

I think we all can tell I've made this before.

It has become the base for many different stir fry dinners since I learned the basics. Cutting up and marinating the chicken, making the crisp almonds, prepping the veggies and making the sauce. Next I cook the chicken in the wok and remove. Then stir fry the veggies until crisp tender, add in the sauce, then the chicken. Serve with some rice and it's a nice dinner.

I now like to change up the veggies for variety. Carrots, celery and snow peas are natural choices. Broccoli and cauliflower florets can work well. Bean sprouts or Shishito peppers? Why not. I even swapped out the bamboo shoots for these kohlrabi 'bamboo shoots' last year.

The family didn't seem to mind. So feel free to take this recipe and change it up with whatever you have in your fridge. I guess at some point it isn't Almond Chicken anymore, but something slightly different and usually pretty tasty.

I guess I owe Rose Cheng, Michele Morris and Chinese Cookery a big THANK YOU for helping me get started with my hobby of cooking!