Friday, July 29, 2016

Eating to Live: Smoothie Nirvana

Beet smoothie photo initially published on Facebook.

Since eating well is a key to feeling well, smoothies have long been in my morning repertoire. Back in the 1960s I didn’t feel like eating breakfast prior to leaving for elementary school in the morning. And my mom didn't want me to start my day on an empty stomach, so she came up with what she called a protein shake for me in the morning. I’ve been drinking protein shakes, now called smoothies, off and on ever since. I don’t need fancy-dancy juicers to eat whole vegetables and fruit. I’ve been there, tried that, and decided if I ran a blender long enough on the liquefy setting, I could create smooth and delicious blends of goodness without the cleanup of a fancy-dancy juicer.

Here’s my absolutely delicious beet smoothie recipe...
Roast beets: Simply wash and scrub beets (no need to mess with peeling them), remove beet green tops leaving a couple inches of stems, trim root, and rub beets with olive oil. Place beets in foil and seal up. Bake 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow beets to continue to steam in foil. Remove foil, pop off stem tops, cool, and refrigerate until ready to enjoy. Roasting beets in this way allows the natural sugars to release for maximum sweetness. If you're in a hurry, microwave a beet as you would cook a whole potato. 
  1. ½ medium cooked beet
  2. ½-1 banana (I use this as the basis for most smoothies as it acts as a thickener)
  3. 6-8 oz. yogurt (fruit flavored or plain)
  4. 1 c. carrot juice
  5. 1 kale leaf rib removed (these days I always add kale or a handful of spinach in all my smoothies, and no you don’t taste whatever green goodness you tossed in)
  6. 3 strawberries (any berries or no berries necessary in this concoction)
  7. Cinnamon (I use cinnamon whenever I can but you decide how much)
  8. 1 slice orange rind (I freeze orange, lemon, and lime rinds in 1/2 inch slices to use in beverages, and the intense flavors are wonderful in a smoothie)
  9. Mint leaves or basil or both
  10. After blending, stir in ground flax meal if you feel you would like more fiber
  11. Sit down, put your feet up, and enjoy smoothie nirvana!

You can throw almost anything you love to eat into a smoothie. Just toss in whatever you have on hand. You don’t need a recipe. You can concoct your own delicious goodness in a glass like a mad scientist and reap the rewards of good health and nutrition. So, what does this beet smoothie taste like? First of all, it doesn't taste like beets or kale, as a matter of fact it tastes like I had thrown in heaps of raspberries and strawberries. Let's just say I deemed it the best smoothie ever! Yum!


Beet smoothie photo courtesy of damclark's family photos

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Old Swing

My Grandpa Leo hung a rope swing from an old walnut tree in his yard when I was a little tyke. He hand-cut the wooden seat and extended the long ropes high up onto a large branch. Over the years I spent a lot of time swinging in that old tree. I would pump my legs back and forth going higher and higher until I could feel the point where the ropes would slacken slightly. It would scare me momentarily, but I knew I had reached the highest limits. That I had pushed myself and attained my own personal goal.

My home was a three hour drive from my grandparents, so my tree swinging was limited to our visits. My swing hung always ready for me to plop my behind down and start pumping my legs back and forth whenever I was available. I remember running to my swing as soon as my parent’s car stopped in the driveway when we arrived for a visit. And when my parents began packing up to leave, I always tried to get in one last swing, as if saying goodbye to my friends the swing and the walnut tree. My swing was always there for me whether I was happy or sad. When sad, I knew testing the limits of my swinging ability helped me out of my sorrowful, pitiful self. The fact is - it's hard to swing high into the tree limbs without invoking a smile or heartfelt giggle.

Recently, my husband, Dennis, and I were in Yakima, sharing time with my family. While there, we were able to visit my grandparents home where my cousin’s young family now resides. It had been over 25 years since I last walked into the home that holds many of my childhood memories. It was fun to see the renovations recently made to the old homestead. This home is now over 100 years old and has been lovingly updated by my cousin and his wife. If Grandma Mary and Grandpa Leo could see their old place now, they would agree it is well loved and is now preserved for future generations. It was a fun evening of good food, sharing memories, and sitting out under the old walnut tree.

Later, I got to thinking about the old swing in the walnut tree - a swing my sister, brother, and generations of cousins have enjoyed over the years. And now a new swing hangs ready for a new generation to share, to learn how to test their own limits, and help them move from sad to a heartfelt giggle.


Swing photo courtesy of Denis Dervisevic