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Cookbook Review: Green Smoothie Magic – 132+ Delicious Green Smoothie Recipes That Trim and Slim by Gabrielle Raiz

Image of a glass filled with green liquid surrounded by brightly colored produce with the book's title underneath.Summary:
Lots of leafy greens are important to incorporate into your diet for health reasons (vitamins! fiber!) but it can be difficult to work them in.  Enter the green smoothie.  Blend up the greens with other ingredients to give yourself a delicious sweet or savory drinkable treat and get 1 to 2 cups of leafy greens into your belly in the time it takes to drink a drink!  Raiz walks you through all the steps to incorporating green smoothies into your life from the basics of what greens to use and how to what makes a good blender to recipes to how to tweak and personalize the recipes.

Review:
I picked up this cookbook when I spotted the kindle version on sale for 99 cents because I wanted exactly what it promised.  A way to work in more leafy greens into my life in a delicious way.

The cookbook is organized into sections entitled: introduction, the magic of the green stuff, not all green smoothies are green, don’t get stuck with the same green, greens, how green should my first smoothies be?, green smoothie magic basics, the pragmatic approach to health nutrition and everything!, freezing fruit, green smoothie rescue — what to do if a recipe doesn’t work out!, about blenders and blending, about drinking and storing your smoothie, green smoothie magic 101: instructions at a glance for blending any smoothie, and green smoothie magic recipes.  If that sounds like a lot of sections, it’s because it is.  Raiz has a lot of information to give the reader.  She clearly knows what she’s talking about, and I found a lot of what she had to say very useful! Particularly how to pick the right blender, the different flavors of greens and how to pick which ones to use, how to store greens, how to save a smoothie that doesn’t taste quite right, and the basic elements of a smoothie.  Also, the recipes of course!  But how this valuable information is organized is a bit haphazard and can sometimes be repetitive.  I’m glad I took the time to read it all and glean out the important bits, but I’m not sure everyone would stick it out through such a disorganized and long introduction.  A more concise introduction to the hows and whys of green smoothies is needed.

The recipes themselves are creative without going too far off the deep-end in exotic ingredients.  For instance, even though Raiz recommends making your own nut milks, she provides substitutions for those of us who would rather not do that.  The recipes are easy to read, fully utilizing bullet-points and simplicity.  I really appreciated that.  There are also full-color illustrations throughout the cookbook , although they are primarily of the ingredients and not the smoothies themselves.  I get it that green smoothies tend to be, well, green colored, but a few more smoothie pictures would be nice.

So I read through the whole book and was ready to try a recipe.  I knew from reading the book that my low-powered food processor wasn’t ideal for blending but would work with a recipe with less tough ingredients (for instance, the beet smoothie might be a bit too much for my food processor).  I also followed Raiz’s newbie caution and went with a recipe with a more traditional smoothie taste to ease myself into it.  Below is the recipe I tried out with a picture of the result.

Image of a wine glass full of green liquid sitting in a sunbeam on a wooden countertop.

My first homemade green smoothie! In a wine glass because everything tastes better in a goblet.

“Cinnamango Smoothie (location  1558)

Blend first:
1 cup water with 1/4 cup almonds (soaked overnight) OR 1 cup nut milk OR 1 cup coconut water

Then add:
1 cup mango (frozen)
cinnamon, salt, and vanilla
2 cups spinach leaves (or any combination of mild greens)
1 T chopped mint leaves

Ice and extra water to get your desired temperature and consistency.”

You can see how simple the instructions are.  It is a smoothie after all.    I left off the introductory paragraph, which is primarily featured in the earlier recipes and talks more about the ingredients, and skipped right to the actual recipe.  The ingredients introduction is nice and makes it more conversational, but it is a smoothie after all.  You just put in the general ingredients to fit your tastes and away you go, and most of the recipes utilize this simpler style I chose here.

I used coconut water for the base of my smoothie, and my mango had kind of defrosted by the time I got home from the grocery store.  I also didn’t have spinach, but I did have swiss chard from my CSA, which was listed as a mild green in the cookbook, so I subbed those in.  When I took the first taste, it felt too strong and not smoothie-like enough to me.  So I read over the section on how to fix your smoothie and noticed that Raiz states that the temperature of the smoothie affects the taste.  Perhaps my mango being defrosted mattered?  So I added in ice, blended again, and voila! An incredibly delicious green smoothie!  It was, admittedly, a bit less well-blended than I would have preferred, but I was well aware that was the fault of my food processor, not the recipe.

So what’s the verdict? Well, I got so excited about green smoothies after this cookbook that my partner got me a blender for my birthday (using the recommendations in Raiz’s book to help him choose which one).  So I’d call it a success!  The recipes are easy, adaptable, and Raiz arms you with troubleshooting techniques to help you learn to get it right.  The beginning of the book needs more focus, organization, and clarity to help Raiz’s true expertise and talent shine through but if you want to start incorporating green smoothies into your life, this book is a great place to start.  It both explains greens and green smoothies and blenders AND gives you a bunch of adaptable, easy recipes to get going.

4 out of 5 stars

Source: Amazon

Buy It

Meatfree Recipe: Sweet Potato Salad with Apple and Avocado

The Result:
A slightly tangy, genuinely refreshing, cold, cooked veg salad that is full of nutrients and very filling!  It tastes better when it’s allowed to sit a while in the fridge.  You do need to cut up the avocado and add it just before serving to prevent the avocado from browning, however.  Perfect food to make ahead of time to eat later.

The Recipe:
Approximately 4 servings

1 ear of corn (approximately 1/4 of a cup)
1lb sweet potatoes peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/4 cup unsalted, hulled pumpkin seeds or pepitas (You can toast them or not, whatever floats your boat) or chopped walnuts
1 medium apple (any variety)
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped cilantro (It’ll be fine without it if you don’t have some handy)
1/4 cup lime juice (approximately 2 limes)
2 Tbs olive oil
avocado, finely diced

Bring a pot of water to boil.  Place the ear of corn in and cook until a fork can easily stick into the kernels, approximately 7 to 10 minutes.  Drain and set aside to cool.

Place sweet potatoes in a sauce pan, cover with water, bring to a boil and boil until tender, about 3 minutes.  Drain in colander and rinse immediately under cold water to cool.  Drain well.

Cut corn kernels from the cob.

Combine apple, onion, cilantro, corn, and lime juice in a large bowl. Stir in sweet potatoes and oil.  Stir in avocado and seeds/nuts just before serving.

4 out of 5 stars

Source: Tweaked recipe from Vegetarian Times

Meatfree Recipe: Whole Wheat Zucchini Muffins

Introduction:
I am very supportive of the Meatless Mondays movement, which is indicative of the movement in general to get Americans to eat less meat.  Although I believe in vegetarianism, I whole-heartedly support any movement in that direction.  Even if a person goes from eating meat at two meals a day to eating meat at one meal a day, that’s fewer animals being killed for food a year.  It’s a step in the right direction.  I’ve been wondering what I can do to support this, so I’ve decided to periodically blog meatfree recipes that I’ve made at least once and have enjoyed.  Although I will offer sources, I generally tweak recipes a wee bit when I make them, so if you would like to see the original recipe, definitely check out the source.  First up, zucchini muffins!

The Result:
This recipe yields 12 regular-sized delicious, low-fat, low-calorie muffins chock full of nutty protein.  They make a great breakfast or snack on the go, and are yummy warm or cold.

The Recipe:
1 egg
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups grated zucchini (squeezed to remove excess liquid then stuffed into measuring cup)
1/3 cup melted butter
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
3/4 cup white flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 cup chopped almonds (you can use walnuts or pecans, pretty much any nut you have on-hand)

Preheat oven to 350F. Grate zucchini by hand or using a food processor, then gently squeeze grated zucchini to remove some of the water. Measure 1 1/2 cups (packed) zucchini for this recipe, and if you have extra, freeze it for another time.

In a medium-sized bowl, beat egg, then add vanilla and sugar and mix to combine. Stir in the grated zucchini, then the butter. Sprinkle baking soda and salt over the top of this and mix in.

In a smaller bowl, combine white whole wheat flour, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir dry ingredients into the zucchini mixture, then fold in chopped almonds .

Spray muffin pan or individual muffin cups with non-stick spray or vegetable oil, then divide batter evenly among cups to make 12 muffins. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

5 out of 5 stars