Monday, June 16, 2014

Fruity Green Smoothie

Your intro to the intriguing and delicious world of green smoothies!

This smoothie is easy to enjoy year round - it tastes sweet and fruity and is packed with nutrition.  It's also a great two-for-one deal:  one batch yields two generous servings.  (The extra keeps nicely in the fridge until the next day.)

The color is olive green if you use spinach; emerald if you use kale.  

A short list of whole food ingredients 

1 small banana
1 small apple or pear
2 cups kale or spinach leaves,
      washed and loosely packed
1 orange
2 teaspoons flax seed
3/4 cup cold water
12 ice cubes (2 cups)

Peel the banana.  Wash and thoroughly chop the apple; drop both fruits in the blender jar.

Use a paring knife to slice both ends off the orange.

Follow the curve of the fruit with the knife to remove outer peel.

White pith contains valuable fiber and flavonoids (vitamin P)

Quarter the orange and roughly chop apple - no need to peel or core it.

Prep the orange:  take a thin slice off the stem and blossom ends of the fruit; remove zest by carving the orange, following the curve of the fruit with a sharp knife in a sawing motion.  Cut in quarters and add orange to blender along with remaining ingredients.  

Whole flax seeds are micro-vaults of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids,
fiber, calcium, protein, and folate; the blender blades unlock them

Secure lid, process at medium speed 30-60 seconds, then increase to high speed to completely liquefy all ingredients.  Let blender run 1 minute or until smooth.

Looks green, doesn't taste green!

Pour two tall glasses of refreshing green smoothie - share one with someone you love.  Or refrigerate leftover smoothie in a covered pint jar and enjoy the next day.

Yield:  2 -16 oz. servings (approx) 

  • Use bananas of the same ripeness you prefer to eat raw, not in banana bread.
  • To make a sweeter smoothie, use riper bananas; add honey to taste, or 1 or 2 pitted dates.
Take it to work, take it anywhere - yum! 

Notes for Cooking Skills Educators:
Sample size:  1/4 cup
Serving ware:  5 oz. Dixie cups
Number of samples:  about 16
Prep time:  5 minutes

Supply List: 
     (in addition to ingredient list and Food Demo Kit)
  • Blender tote w/extension cord
  • Cooler with clean ice 
  • Honey
  • Bowl for washed greens

Message:  Close your eyes and you won't know it's green!

Talking Points:
  • Add yogurt to for rich, creamy flavor and to introduce the benefits of probiotics.
  • Experiment with other combinations of fresh or frozen fruit:  berries, peaches, etc. along with 2 cups of greens.
  • Freeze local fruit in season to use in smoothies through the year.  Arrange pieces of fruit on a cookie sheet and freeze uncovered until solid.  When frozen transfer to a freezer bag.
  • Greens such as spinach and kale can be frozen!
  • Local wild blackberries make an antioxidant-rich smoothie.

Survey Questions:
  1. Did you like the Fruity Green Smoothie?  (icebreaker question)
  2. Have you ever tasted a green smoothie?
  3. How often in the last month have you had a green smoothie?
  4. How likely are you to make a green smoothie in the next 2 weeks?

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Skillet Granola

No oven needed for this simple, tasty granola

A handful of pantry staples yield a tasty, healthful granola.  Perfect for breakfast with a chopped banana, raisins, or fresh berries; also great as a topping for yogurt of fruit cobbler; or use as a "dip" for a banana.

2 Tablespoons butter or vegetable oil
3/4 cup almond butter (or other nut butter)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract, optional
3 cups quick oats

Melt butter in a 12-inch skillet (or larger) over medium heat. Add almond butter, brown sugar, and vanilla and stir until evenly melted.

Add first 4 ingredients to skillet
Heat & stir until melted and smooth

Measure oats into skillet and stir until evenly coated.  Reduce heat to medium low and continue to cook, stirring occasionally for about 15 minutes until oats are toasted and the mixture has dried out.  Take care to avoid scorching.  It should be a mixture of small clumps and loose oats.

Oats begin to smell toasty and form small clumps; don't over-stir!

Transfer Granola to a bowl or cookie sheet to cool.  Granola crisps as it cools.  Allow to cool completely before transferring to an airtight container for storage.  Granola can be stored in the refrigerator up to 3 months or in a cool cupboard for 1 month.

A jar of homemade granola makes a welcome gift.


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Un-Refried Beans

Blender, food processor, potato masher, or fork! 

Start with a batch of Mexican-Style Pinto Beans, and end up with Un-Refried Beans, creamy-smooth beans perfectly suited to burritos or topped with cheese and hot sauce as a snack or side dish.  For more rustic texture, mash the beans by hand with a potato masher or large fork.  
Un-refried beans are popular in our home, so I usually make at least two pounds worth, freezing some in 2 1/2 cup Ziploc freezer cubes and some in 1 cup Ziploc freezer containers for impromptu snacks.  They are easily popped out of their container and heated in a small pan on the stove, or in a bowl in the micro.  
Beans, garlic, chilis are pureed without seeds.

1 batch of Mexican-Style Pinto Beans
     about 6 cups cooked beans made from 1 lb. of dry beans
Salt, to taste
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 - 2 Tbs. olive oil, optional

Allow the Mexican-style Pinto beans to cool 1 hour after they are done cooking.  Drain them into a colander; discard the bay leaf.  Puree in food processor or blender in batches along with the chiles that cooked with them. 

Alternatively, mash beans 1 cup at a time with a potato masher or large fork.  

Season with salt, cumin, and olive oil.  When all the beans are pureed, combine them in a large bowl, stirring well.

Use immediately or package for the freezer.  Spoon into wide-mouth pint jars , freezer containers or freezer bags.   

Thaw frozen Un-refried Beans in one of the following ways:
  • defrost overnight in the refrigerator
  • thaw in the microwave on the defrost setting (not jars)
  • thaw tightly closed container in a large bowl of warm water (not jars)
  • set out at room temperature for an hour, then slide beans from their container into a small pan for heating.

Mexican-Style Pinto Beans

 Well-seasoned pinto beans ~ great side dish

These well-seasoned beans smell sooo good when they are cooking.  They are great as a side dish or incorporated into Mexican recipes.  They are the basis for Un-Refried Beans.  We use them in Taco Chip Ole (our version of taco salad), Taco Soup, in Whole Grain tortillas with cheese and hot sauce.  They are so popular at our house I usually cook 4 pounds of beans at a time in my water bath canner, in which case I use the food processor to chop the onions : )   

The method outlined below utilizes two important principles.  The first is fermentation, which according to Sally Fallon Morell in her book Nourishing Traditions, improves digestibility of the beans, which in turn reduces gastric upset. The second is brining, which according to America's Test Kitchen, tenderizes the seed coat.  Inspiration for seasoning came from Beth Hensperger's 'Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook', a book I highly recommend.

Day 1
1 lb. dried pinto beans (2 cups)
4 quarts room temperature water, 70-75 degrees F
2 Tablespoons vinegar or lemon juice
2 Tbs sea salt

Day 2
8 cups hot water
2 dried New Mexican, California, or ancho chiles
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 small onion, chopped
1 bay leaf

Place beans in a large bowl, pot, or other container.  Add water, vinegar, and salt. Soak at room temperature overnight or up to 24 hours. 

Drain beans into a colander and rinse thoroughly.
Pull stems off of dried chiles and shake the seeds out.

Transfer beans to a large pot; add 8 cups hot water.  Pull stems off of dried chiles and shake the seeds out; discard seeds.  Smash the garlic cloves with the broad side of a chef's knife and add them, the chiles, chopped onion, and bay leaf to the pot.  Bring beans to a boil, uncovered, over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat, tilt the lid on the pot, and simmer until desired tenderness is reached, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.  

OR cook in a slow cooker on HIGH heat for 3 to 4 1/2 hours.

Test several beans to determine doneness.  Older beans will take longer to cook, and really old beans may not soften.

Remove beans from heat and let cool in their liquid for 1 hour.

Use immediately or package for the freezer.  Drain the beans and transfer to wide-mouth pint jars , freezer containers or freezer bags.  A pound of beans yields three 2 cup packages, equivalent to 3 cans of beans.  

Thaw frozen beans in one of the following ways:
  • defrost overnight in the refrigerator
  • thaw in the microwave on the defrost setting (not jars)
  • thaw tightly closed container in a large bowl of warm water (not jars)
  • set out at room temperature for an hour, then slide beans from their container into a small pan for heating.
Delicious dish; enjoy plain, topped with cheese and hot sauce, along-
side your favorite Mexican entree, or pureed to make Un-Refried Beans.