(Green) Smoothies

You may or may not have noticed the distinct lack of vegetables featuring in recipes on this blog.

There's a very good reason for this - I just don't like most of them. I turned vegan in January 2000 (a new millennium's resolution if you like) only for animal rights (not a dietary requirement).

I'd say I know a fair amount about nutrition - I eat a balanced diet, am in good health and have not to my knowledge had any problems as a result of it. I saw a nutritionist at university when experiencing tiredness problems, who said I had the healthiest diet of any student she'd ever encountered. It turned out my tiredness was more related to the hours I kept / all night partying!

I'm not however obsessed with green vegetables, nor do I believe that consuming huge amounts of sprouts is required to be vegan.

My favourite ingredient in the whole world is wheat - it's so versatile (think cake, cookies, noodles, pasta, bread etc). I love bread, have you noticed? I eat a fair amount of tofu and am not completely averse to lentils. I like fruit and salad leaves, if combined into a meal and not just served up whole (I'm not a rabbit). I do like some veg when cooked up with other things; leeks, carrots, onions, artichokes are just a few.

What sets me aside from other fussy eaters is however a strong desire to try and like new vegan food. It's not that I don't try to incorporate more veg into my diet, it's that every time I do it ruins what was otherwise a good meal. I'd genuinely like to derive the same enjoyment others do from eating things like kale, broccoli and cauliflower - without invoking my gag reflex.

I think a large part of the problem is that I don't have the taste buds for bitter food. I don't like tonic (quinine) or ale (hops). I can physically drink them, but I don't get any satisfaction out of a G&T at all - quite the opposite of what some people do.

The downside of loving carbs and spending a disproportionate amount of my life sat in an office is that I often consume more calories than I burn, leading to the addition of slightly more weight than I'd like. I've tried various techniques to remedy this over the years (gym membership, swapping sweet snacks for savoury, cutting out snacks, denying myself dessert etc), but eventually I come back to the same problem - if I consume the amount of food that I want and enjoy doing then my body will naturally find a BMI of ~28 unless I'm doing regular cardio. I find nothing more mind numbing than cardio for the sake of cardio (especially when shite music is being pumped through the speakers).

My latest ploy involves tackling these 2 issues (cutting carbs, eating more fresh fruit & veg) and exploring my vague raw food curiosity. Over the past week I've been consuming 2 portions of fruit/veg before leaving the house, through way of smoothies. I've found that it is possible for green smoothies to taste good.

Do I feel better for it? Don't be daft. I don't go in for the whole psychosomatic hippy bullshit. They are remarkably tasty however and very easy to prepare. It's completely possible to hide a handful of spinach in a drink and not notice its presence (other than the colour, of course).

Green Smoothie

My favourite green smoothie thus far consists of:
  • Apple Juice (glass)
  • Celery (6 inches)
  • Cucumber (2 inches)
  • 1 Banana
  • Baby Spinach (generous handful)
Blend all ingredients together until smooth. Simple?

I've been fiddling with the quantities of each ingredient and found those to be the best. Banana gives it a real sweet lift, but 2 bananas is too much. I've never fully appreciated the strength of celery's flavour until I tried 2 sticks instead of 1 - too much. You can leave out the cucumber without much flavour change.

Morello Cherry & Dark Chocolate Smoothie

I thieved the idea of this drink from Innocent's smoothie book (published/ purchased before they became Coca-Cola and were promptly added to my boycott list).
  • Apple Juice (glass)
  • Frozen Morello/dark cherries (10-15)
  • 1 Banana
  • 25g melted chocolate
Blend the juice, cherries and banana whilst melting the chocolate. Set to a low speed, open the lid and pour in the chocolate. Blend for a further few seconds until totally combined. It should go a beautiful dark red, with specks of chocolate and cherry skin.

Yes - I realise that this isn't green. This was my weekend smoothie. There've been various rumours circulating for years about the benefit of dark chocolate in your diet, which I'll cling to in this instance.

A note about blenders

If you don't own or need a new blender, invest in one with a dishwasherable glass jug, powerful enough to crush ice/frozen fruit and without useless gimicks. My first blender - a Kenwood Smoothie maker was complete junk. It wasn't dishwasher safe (like the shop claimed), was difficult to clean and had a completely useless tap, which got clogged up easily and ensured a lump of unblended silken tofu every time when using it to make desserts.

In most instances you can clean a glass jugged blender with running cold water, if you do it straight after blending. For slightly more stubborn ingredients, running at low speed with a little washing liquid and 1/3 water for 30 seconds will do the trick. Any cleaning that takes more than 1 minute can be done in the dishwasher.

A note about drinking

Slow down! It's possible to drink a smoothie in 5-20 seconds. This isn't good however, when 10 minutes later you're driving to work and come over quite queezy. Sip and enjoy whilst you tweet, facebook or whatever it is you do in the morning.

If you've any tried and tasted (green) smoothie recipes you can share with a green veg hater, please let me know!

Chocolate Egg Eating Festival Greetings

It's been a good year for both vegan chocolate eggs and accidentally vegan hot cross buns.

My excuse for not being a better blogger this week is that we're away on holiday in Dorset at the moment.

We made 2 cakes for the day itself, a standard chocolate buttercream and a made up almond marzipan one. I substituted 100g flour for 100g ground almonds and vanilla essence for almond in my standard sponge. I then added a layer of marzipan to the batter and cooked at a lower temperature for an extended period. The resulting cake got covered with marzipan and lightly grilled.

It tasted pretty damned good, but was quite moist and would be better suited as a bakewell tart sponge rather than a cake in its own right. I'll blog it if I ever get round to it (there is some shortcrust pastry that needs using as it happens.......)