build it better: smoothies

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Now that I live in a sunny, warm climate year-round, I’ve found myself turning to smoothies on a more regular basis than I did when we lived in Minneapolis. Smoothies in the winter just never worked for me. But spring is here and summer is around the corner so it is officially smoothie season!

Smoothies are typically a breakfast meal for me, (I’m not so sure they could work as a lunch or dinner) and my current favorite is a combination of frozen pineapple, spinach, almond milk and greek yogurt. To turn a smoothie into a meal, you’ve got to be sure to include protein, some healthy fat and some volume in the form of fruit or vegetables.

Here are some of my favorite fats, proteins and flavors for smoothies! Blend away!

Fats:

  • nut butter or nuts
  • avocado
  • ground flaxseed
  • chia seeds

Proteins:

  • protein powder (there are ENDLESS amounts of protein powder – find one that you like!)
  • greek yogurt
  • milk

Flavor:

  • frozen or fresh fruit
  • splash of juice
  • small amount of honey or agave
  • dates
  • coconut

Extras:

  • vegetables! (spinach or other delicate greens work well)
  • green super food powder

Inspiration:

What always ends up in your smoothies? 

restaurant: greenleaf gourmet chopshop

This past Wednesday, I was invited to try out Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop restaurant and meet with Chef Kristi, the corporate chef for Greenleaf.

The decor is bright, clean and green. In other words, I loved it! We visited the new Century City location.  And while it was a quick drive (by LA standards), the parking situation isn’t exactly easy (the majority of their patrons looked to be walk-ins from office buildings in the area).

Greenleaf is a healthy restaurant concept that uses eco-friendly products and creates gourmet food. They even have green bikes used to deliver the food! They have a number of salads, sandwiches, pizzas (made on tortillas, like me!) and take into consideration food intolerances, which is great.

 

Chef Kristi suggested a few of her favorites, and we stuck to those. I always figure that the people who work with and around the food probably know the best dishes – usually that works out very well for me.

Greenleaf was no exception.

It was tough to make the final decision, but, we went with a salad, sandwich and a side.

 

The Antioxidant Orchard Salad (suggested to add salmon) is one of their most popular salads and for good reason. It is bright, refreshing, flavorful and crunchy. Just what a salad should be. The salmon was perfectly cooked – it almost melted in my mouth and reminded me how much I love salmon. The salad contains scarborough farms baby mixed greens, grapes, celery, apples, walnuts, dried cranberries, apples, blue cheese, mint, red onion, cucumbers, strawberries and blueberries with pomegranate whole grain mustard vinaigrette. Yup. As good as it sounds.

 

Now I’m the one who typically orders salads and just eats a little bit of the sandwich, but I was soooo into this sandwich. The grilled chicken panini with avocado pesto on whole grain bread sounded good and I wanted something a little more substantial than a salad after an intense workout. (Ok, I guess I wanted some carbs?!) Back to the sandwich. It was so very lovely. Most of the time, panini’s are super greasy from lots of butter and cheese but the bread was grilled sans butter and the only cheese used was a small amount in a dressing that goes onto the chicken. (I seriously had to ask because I didn’t think there was cheese but it was so creamy!) Gotta love that avocado! :) The chicken was chopped into little pieces, tossed in a dressing, slathered with avocado pesto and stacked with spinach. A little messy but so worth it.

 

A very impressive aspect of this restaurant is that they do not have a fryer. I’m all for truffle fries, duck-fat fries, tator-tots, etc. but obviously not on a daily basis. I just couldn’t pass up the BAKED sweet potato fries with avocado pesto. Can you blame me? They were….um how should I put it…I could live on them. They were crunchy and sweet (not sure how they do it without oil) and were delicious alongside the pesto guacamole.

Yeah, everything was pretty average. ;)

I can’t wait to go back to Greenleaf – I’ve got a list of things to try!!

 

Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop

1888 Century Park East

Los Angeles, CA 90067

424.239.8700

http://www.greenleafchopshop.com/

mango cucumber wine cooler

I’ve been loving white wine this summer. In the past, I’ve always struggled with drinking red wine in the heat of summer but after learning more about wine this winter and trying different wines, I think I’m definitely a lot more open to varieties other than cabernet.

Finally!

I used a fruity pinot grigio (my favorite white) for this drink. I definitely tasted more of the cucumber than the mango and it gave the wine less of a sweet flavor and more of a mellow cucumber flavor which I LOVED. I had planned on taking it to a girls night, but unfortunately my friends weren’t able to try it because after I poured the wine into a transportable plastic pitcher, it was knocked off the counter, cracked on the floor, and all of the delicious wine leaked out. I stood in the kitchen frozen and screaming. I managed to save a glass and after trying it out? I was a little heartbroken there wasn’t any left and I wouldn’t be able to share it.

Mango Cucumber Wine Cooler
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Recipe type: drink
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 bottle pinot grigio
  • 1 mango
  • 1 cucumber
Instructions
  1. Clean mango and cucumber.
  2. Slice cucumber.
  3. Peel and slice mango.
  4. Pour wine over cucumber and mango and let chill for at least 3 hours.
  5. Serve with a cucumber slice garnish.
Notes
Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit.

So now I owe my friends, and myself, more of this delicious Mango Cucumber Wine Cooler.

mango lassi

I think I’ve shared my slight obsession with Indian food with you all, but instead of chicken curry or dal, today I’ve got a recipe for mango lassi, the popular Indian smoothie.

The typical mango lassi recipes often contain added sugar, along with the store versions I’ve seen, which just doesn’t sit well with me. It’s not that I am anti-sugar, but I’d rather have sugar in the form of cookies, ice cream, etc. – NOT in a smoothie. Fruit is enough sweetness in smoothies for me!

This drink is perfect for breakfast or a snack in the warmer months and very filling due to the protein in the greek yogurt (20 grams!). I used 2% greek yogurt because I think it is so much more creamy than 0% and I love a little fat at all my meals. :)

 

5.0 from 2 reviews
Mango Lassi
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Recipe type: smoothie, breakfast
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 1-7oz container 2% greek yogurt
  • ½ cup frozen mango chunks
  • splash of milk
Instructions
  1. Blend all ingredients until smooth, adding more milk as necessary.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 Calories: 195 Fat: 4 Carbohydrates: 18 Sugar: 15 Protein: 20