Creamy Banana Smoothie

Creamy Banana Smoothie

This smoothie, invented by my brilliant friend Jake, is so creamy and rich it borders on milkshake. My partner actually said that he prefers it to a DQ cookie dough blizzard (after eating both back to back in the same day). What?! How?! I’ll tell you: frozen bananas and whole milk. Blended together they make an ice-cream-like base to which you can add any number of healthy treats. And Jake, in all of his wisdom, adds peanuts for crunch, kale for kicks, and oatmeal to fill his belly after one of his crazy 100-mile bike rides. The resulting creamy banana smoothie makes the perfect breakfast or post-workout treat. So go ahead, treat yourself to a breakfast milkshake. I mean smoothie.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 banana sliced into chunks and frozen
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • ¼ cup rolled oats
  • 2 tbsp. salted peanuts
  • 1 large kale leaf (stem removed)
  • ½ tsp. of honey (or less if banana is quite ripe)
  • Pinch of salt

INSTRUCTIONS
Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

SERVES
1 person

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Creamy Avocado Dressing

Creamy Avocado Dressing

This dressing is versatile and nutritious. It is velvety smooth and develops a rich nutty umami flavor with the addition of nutritional yeast. It works well in salads with bulky roughage, such as kale or spinach, and pairs nicely with toasted sunflower seeds, garbanzo beans, and cucumbers. You can also serve it as a dip with fresh veggies and crackers or spread it on a sandwich with whole wheat bread. Delish!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 large avocados
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 6 tbsp. nutritional yeast
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 4 tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon or lime juice
  • 6 tbsp. water

INSTRUCTIONS
Scoop the meat of the avocado into a food processor or blender. Peel and add the garlic. Add nutritional yeast, salt, and citrus juice. Slowly stream in the water while processing/blending. Easy breezy.

SERVES
6 to 8 as a salad or dip

Curry Lime Shrimp Tacos

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This dish was a spontaneous dinner experiment that just turned OUT. Tacos are great because you can keep them simple as long as you have the right mix of flavors. In my opinion, the staple ingredients for a good taco include: a protein, some seasoning, corn tortilla, onion, cilantro, and lime. Check out this tasty variation, or make a few substitutions using whatever you have in the pantry!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/3 cups dried coconut flakes
  • 2 large limes
  • 2 tsp. honey
  • ½ cup cilantro, chopped fine
  • ½ large onion
  • About 5 radishes
  • 3 tbsp. coconut oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 lb. uncooked shrimp (fresh or defrosted)
  • 2 tsp. curry powder
  • Salt to taste
  • Corn tortillas

INSTRUCTIONS
Toast the coconut flakes in the oven or on the stovetop until golden brown. While the coconut is toasting, squeeze one of the limes into a medium bowl. Add the honey and chopped cilantro and whisk. Chop the onion and radishes into small pieces and combine with the dressing.

Chop the garlic. Heat the coconut oil on medium-high in a large skillet, being careful not to burn the oil. Add the garlic and the shrimp. The shrimp should cover the bottom of the pan in an even layer, but if it doesn’t you should cook the shrimp in batches. Cook the shrimp until just pink on both sides, about 1-2 minutes per side. Remove the pan from heat/burner. Transfer the shrimp to a cutting board to remove the tails and cut into ½ inch pieces. Put the shrimp pieces back into the pan with oil and garlic and add curry powder, toasted coconut, and salt to taste. Mix, adding more coconut oil if the mixture becomes dry.

Heat the tortillas per package instructions. Stack each tortilla with shrimp and radish salad. Serve with a beer and a couple lime wedges!

SERVES
4 people

Pea Soup with Lemon & Pepper

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This pea soup is simple and scrumptious. It’s best with really fresh and vibrant ingredients, but still quite tasty with good quality frozen peas (preferably organic). I like serving it café-style in a cup with a sandwich or a salad on the side.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 20 ounces fresh or frozen peas
  • ¼ cup fresh mint
  • ¼ cup fresh basil
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley
  • 1 large lemon or 1 ½ small lemons
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt to taste
  • Toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds) for garnish
  • Crumbled feta cheese for garnish
  • More parsley for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS
Set up your workstation in advance because this recipe moves fast. In addition to the above ingredients, you will need a blender, a large saucepan, a cutting board, a lemon zester, and a good sharp knife.

Chop the onion. Add the butter to the saucepan over medium heat. When the butter starts to bubble (but before it browns) add the onion and cook for 5 to 8 minutes until translucent. Add the stock and bring to a boil. While the stock is heating, chop the herbs. Also, zest the lemon into the pot then cut it in half and squeeze in all of its juices.

Once the stock is boiling add the peas. Be careful about timing here – you do not want to overcook the peas. If you’re using fresh peas I recommend cooking for 3 minutes. For frozen peas don’t cook for more than 2 minutes. In the couple minutes while the peas are cooking, add the chopped herbs and pepper to the pot. Pour the soup mixture and the Parmesan cheese into a blender and blend for about a minute. Add salt to taste and blend until smooth.

Top with toasted pepitas, feta, and/or chopped parsley.

SERVES
6 – 8 people

Platanos Maduros

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Fried sweet plantains, made with platanos maduros, are delicious. They are traditional in many Latin cultures, and are so versatile they can be eaten with almost any meal. Do yourself a solid and learn how to make them at home. It’s super easy, cheap, and requires just a few simple ingredients.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 very ripe plantains (platanos maduros)
  • About one cup canola oil or peanut oil (or a blend of the two) for frying
  • 2 tbsp. maple syrup
  • Salt

INSTRUCTIONS
Peel and slice the plantains into ½ inch slices and put them in a large bowl. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large saucepan or medium frying pan. Ideally you will have about a half-inch of oil in the pan. While the oil is heating, drizzle the plantains with your choice of sweetener and sprinkle with salt. Gently roll the plantains around in the bowl to coat with the syrup mixture.

Test the heat of the oil with a small plantain slice. The plantain should sizzle when you add it to the pan. Once you are satisfied with the heat of the oil, add more plantains to the pan until full without crowding. Depending on the size of your pan you may have to cook in two batches. Fry the plantains for six minutes on each side. When you are satisfied with the caramelization on each side, remove from pan and dry on a paper bag (free of dyes) or paper towl.

SERVES
6 people as a side or dessert, 8 people as an appetizer with toothpicks

Pineapple Tofu Skewers

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These pineapple tofu skewers are surprisingly baller. A friend from Thailand brought them to a barbecue and they were a huge hit, so I decided to try them at home. He told me that his family eats tofu (in different forms, consistencies and flavors) for almost every meal, including this recipe. Extra-firm tofu quickly soaks up the flavors of this simple balanced marinade of ginger, garlic, maple and soy. I found it works well to sear the skewers on high heat to get that smokey grilled flavor. Pairs perfectly with the sweet syrupy pineapple!

INGREDIENTS

  • ½ cup gluten free soy sauce or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped or pressed for more flavor
  • 2 tbsp. of ginger, chopped or grated finely for more flavor
  • ½ of a Pineapple, chopped into cubes
  • 8 oz package of extra-firm tofu, chopped into large cubes
  • 2 slices of thick-cut bacon (optional)
  • Oil for the grill
  • A couple teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
  • Chopped chives or scallions for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS
Create the marinade by mixing the first four ingredients in a quart-sized ziplock bag. A bowl will also work but you will have to double the marinade or flip the tofu half way through to ensure full coverage. Add the tofu cubes, which can be on the larger size, to the marinade and “vacuum” the air out of the bag using a straw our your mouth. Marinate for two hours.

Alternate adding pineapple chunks and marinated tofu to the skewers. For me this recipe made four skewers with three chunks of each pineapple and tofu. For a special treat, wrap one piece of tofu on each skewer with a half of a piece of thick-cut bacon before adding the tofu to the skewer. Place the skewers on a hot, well-oiled grill and cook covered for six to eight minutes. Flip the skewers and cook covered on the other side for another six to eight minutes. Remove the skewers from the grill, sprinkle with sesame seeds and garnish, and serve!

SERVES
4 appetizers, 2 entrees

Fresh Hummus

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Fresh hummus is way better than any packaged version. And, all it takes to make really good homemade hummus is a little patience and a food processor. This version is light and creamy and achieves great flavor without the addition of oil. Serve with colorful vegetables or spread on a whole grain bread with onions, feta, and cucumbers for a hearty meal.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1¼ cups dried chickpeas
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ⅓ cup tahini
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • About a half cup of cold water
  • Olive oil, feta, olives, or paprika for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS
Soak the chickpeas in a large bowl of water over night. The volume of water in the bowl should be about twice the volume of the chickpeas.

Drain the chickpeas and pour into a saucepan with the baking soda. Cook over high heat for three minutes, stirring frequently. Add water to the pan bring to a boil. Reduce heat and continue to cook until chickpeas are soft, about 20 to 40 minutes (depending on how long you soaked them). Drain the chickpeas.

Pour the chickpeas into a food processor. If your food processor has less than an eight-cup capacity, you will need to process in batches. Process the chickpeas, stopping occasionally to scrape down the edges and turn the paste with a rubber spatula. With the food processor turned off, add the tahini, garlic, lemon juice, and salt. Turn the food processor back on and slowly pour in most of the cold water. Continue to blend for at least three minutes, adding more water until the hummus reaches your preferred consistency.