Posts in beverages
Juice vs Smoothie... a video comparison!

I was really curious to see what a juice vs a smoothie would look like when using the exact same ingredients.

This simply stemmed from simple curiosity on my part, I'm typically a smoothie girl but I do appreciate that juices have great nutritional benefits as you get a lot of nutrition in very small volume, which can be very beneficial if you're trying to assist your body in getting back on track after an indulgent period such as Christmas!

I have made a little video for you comparing them and giving my thoughts, it also gives some top tips and ideas on how I go about my juice and smoothie prep. I've blogged about my favourite smoothie recipe before I think, but have noted it again below for quick reference. The exact same ingredients are used in the juice.

Recipe: My favourite green smoothie (or juice)

Ingredients:

Makes approx 1 litre

  • 2 cups packed spinach 
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 2 cm fresh ginger
  • 1/2 lemon juiced
  • 1 apple- cored not peeled
  • 1 1/2 - 2 cups water (or more/less to reach desired thickness) 
  • pinch of xanthan gum (optional but makes the consistency beautifully creamy)

Method:

For smoothie: Blend everything together until as smooth as possible. I find it easiest to add half the water first, blend well and then add the remainder and re-blend to get the smoothest consistency.

For Juice: Juice everything and do not add the water or xanthan gum.

this wasn't the photo of the smoothie I made in the video (as I didn't take one!) but it looks the same :-)

this wasn't the photo of the smoothie I made in the video (as I didn't take one!) but it looks the same :-)

Here are  a couple of other juice pulp recipe ideas:

Juice pulp coleslaw

Oaty fruit squares


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Healthy Pimms... with a quirky ingredient!

One of the ladies who joined my 30 Day Summer Drink Up Challenge (we're in the final week now!) suggested this idea to me last week. At the time it had me intrigued and I thought it sounded pretty genius but I wanted to test it out for myself to see what she was raving about!

Testing done and I concur it's pretty awesome for such a simple trick! 

It's the time of year when the weather is hotting up, so keeping hydrated becomes even more important. I's so easy to get sucked into drinking sugary sweet drinks so this is a beautiful twist on a classic and isn't really sweet at all except for a subtle aftertaste from the chopped fruits. Perfect if your taste buds prefer less sweet beverages or you are looking to make a shift. 

Open your mind and embrace its uniqueness. It's so simple, it's worth giving it a go to find out one way or the other... I loved it, but my mum wasn't such a fan.

I can't wait to hear what you think!

What's your favourite classic summer time beverage?

Recipe: Heathy 'Pimms'

Serves 3-4

Ingredients:

  • 1 litre good quality sparkling water 
  • 1-2 tsp good quality balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbs apple, grape or cranberry juice (if desired)
  • large mixed handful of chopped strawberry, cucumber and fresh mint

Method:

Mix the lowed together and add the chopped fruit. Allow to sit for at least minutes for the flavours to infuse before adding ice to serve. Alternatively, prepare a few hours in advance and let sit in the fridge to chill and flavours to muddle a little more.


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Genius Ginger Juicing!

You've probably heard me mention on plenty of occasions before how much of a smoothie girl I am... juices typically don't do it for me in quite the same way! I love my thick green smoothies!

That said, I do totally appreciate that juicing can have some amazing benefits for digestive health and to pack in nutrients is a more condensed fashion than a smoothie would. I'm not against them (green ones that is!) by any means.

A few weeks ago I found a particularly good use for my juicer and have been in love with this little trick ever since!

This reason alone would probably have been enough to convince me to buy a juicer!

As you should also know by now, I love my mugs of warm lemon water in the morning. Previously I'd thinly slice some ginger to add to the mug to add a immunity boosting wake up call! But, I wasn't such a fan of of it bobbing around in the mug hitting my mouth as I was sipping, and also I felt I wasn't maximising its benefits that way...

...Enter the juicer!

I bought a big bag of ginger root and a little turmeric root too (for extra super powers!) and juiced it all to freeze in mini ice cube trays.

You get a surprisingly good ratio of juice to fibre!

You get a surprisingly good ratio of juice to fibre!

I made about 4 trays worth (approx 48 cubes). Now all I need to do is pop a cube out each morning and allow it to dissolve into my hot lemon. Amazing and so easy!

It's a much stronger flavour than before and would make an awesome ginger shot. It is also bright yellow from the turmeric- so will stain if you are not careful- you have been warned!

The other bonus go this is that I only had to clean the juicer once! Yay.... not my favourite job in the world and not something I would want to be doing every day if I'm honest! I do love that juicer for it's quality (twin gear cold pressed) BUT not it's ease for cleaning!

So, for those of you with juicers... please give this a tray and let me know what you think!

I always use a huge mug and hand squeeze my lemons... this glass and slice was just for photo prettiness :-)

I always use a huge mug and hand squeeze my lemons... this glass and slice was just for photo prettiness :-)

Almost dissolved! (it only takes a few seconds)

Almost dissolved! (it only takes a few seconds)

Perfect with a pretty yellow hue!

Perfect with a pretty yellow hue!

Note: The juicer in these photos is the Tribest Green Star Elite juicer, it is one of try best out there but all other juicers would also work.... just think, even with the most basic juicer, you'll still get loads more extracted nutrition compared to simply adding a slice of ginger to your mug!


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Day to day you can always find me hanging out in these places:

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Beginners green smoothie

I love my green smoothies but tend to use much the same recipe over and over just changing the fruit or the leafy greens every so often.

Last weekend I felt a green smoothie craving but didn't have my usual freezer stash of portions pre-blended ready to defrost.  

I used what I had to hand in the fridge, and as it happened it turned out to be a pretty tasty mild and creamy green smoothie, one I would suggest would be perfect for beginners. If you are still feeling a bit hesitant simply change the ratios of fruit to greens a little so it is more heavier on the fruit, then over time you can slowly increase the greens.

Green smoothies are fab for packing in the nutrients in a slower releasing form than a fruit only smoothie that is much higher in fast releasing fruit sugars than can often overload the body with fructose. Here, the addition of nut butter (or avocado if you like) further helps sustain you and spread the sugar load and really gives it the smooth creamy quality. 

If you're a newbie this could be the perfect blend to try. The blend will last for a day in the fridge so you could drink a glass for breakfast and also as a later snack or simply for breakfast for two days running... or in one big glass!

A few extra tips for 'newbies' trying our your own blend- aim to use yellow to green coloured fruits such as orange, banana, mango, apple, kiwi or pear for the best colour. If you use berries along with greens the end result might taste great but you'll end up with a grey sludgy looking smoothie- not so pleasing in the eyes.

Also  it comes to the 'green part'- cucumber, courgette, lettuce, spinach are very mild in taste and are perfect to start with whereas kale, broccoli, rocket etc are stronger tasting or have a coarser texture so may take more blending or be too strong for a beginners palate- just a few thoughts to keep in mind and experiment with!

Also, for those you have already joined my '21 Day Lemon Water Challenge' starting in August 11th this would be a great follow up for breakfast or as a mid afternoon pick me up.

green smoothie1a.jpg

Recipe: Beginner green smoothie

Serves 1-2

 Ingredients

  • 1 cup water (or more to reach desired thickness)

  • 1 cup loosely packed spinach

  • ½ cup cucumber

  • 1 large orange- peeled*

  • 1-2 tbs cashew butter (more for thicker creaminess)*

 Method

Blend everything together until as smooth as possible. I find it easiest to add half the water first, blend well and then add the remainder and re-blend to get the smoothest consistency.

You could swap some of the water for part ice for immediate chill, This will be thicker so a little extra water may be needed. 

Chill  to serve. Will store in the fridge in an airtight container for 24 hours.

*You could substitute the cashew butter for some avocado. You could also try other fruits- banana, apple to mango are typically great options. If you use berries be warned that the red and green colour combo will turn into more of a greyish sludge.

green smoothie1a.jpg

 I'd love you to join me in other places too!  

Why not sign up for my newsletter in my sidebar where I feature roundups and special offers  plus me FREE ebook. If you are new round here check out my 'About' and 'Getting Started' tabs up top. To buy nibbles you can also find me over at Wholeplus.  Day to day you can always find me in these places:

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Green Smoothie Challenge- revealed!

You may recall that last month I took it upon myself to undertake a 30-day Green Smoothie Challenge.

It was inspired by this post which presented the concept of trying something new for 30 days. In the spirit of discovery and self-development I went for it!

So now the 30 days are up…what have I learnt?

Did I come to love the Green Smoothie?

Well I have certainly found my preferences and have also come up with a few ideas in terms of preparation….more investigations yet to come on that.  I didn’t try a new flavour every day since I usuall made up a large pitcher and then froze two portion for following days, so roughly a new flavour combo every three days.

I quickly discover my favourite fruit mixer….mango! The intense sweetness and the high pectin content make for a super smooth smoothie capable of disguising a lot of greens! Also the yellow colour makes for a refreshingly coloured smoothie whereas red berries create more of a green sludge…not so easy on the eyes! I found that with mango I could use lots of different types of leafy greens without really noticing the difference.

This guide is also a really great resource in making your own.

Here are a selection of my smoothie combinations:

  • 2 cup spinach, 1 small banana, 2 cup frozen mango, 1 cup water
  • 2 baby gem lettuce, 1 cup water, 1 medium banana, 1 cup tinned peaches
  • 2 baby gem lettuce, handful spinach, 1 banana, 1 cup frozen raspberries, 1 tbs cacao powder, 1 cup water
  • carrot cake smoothie
  • 2 cups lambs lettuce, ½ cup cucumber, 1 apple, 1 banana, pinch cinnamon, 1tsp maca powder, 1 cup
  • 1 large cup frozen strawberries, 2 cups spinach, ½ tsp fresh ginger, 1 large cup water (tasted odd)
  • 1 cup fresh mango, 1 ½ cup mixed greens, 1 cup water
  • 1 cup mango, 1 cup apple, 1 cup lambs lettuce, 3 romain lettuce leaves, half an avocado, 1tbs maca powder, 2 cup water, ½ cup apple juice
  • 1 cup spinach, 3 leaves romain lettuce, 1 stick celery, 1 apple, 1 banana, ¾ cup water
  • 1 cup spinach, 5 basil leaves, ½ cup blueberries, 1 tbs cashew butter, 1 tsp maca powder, 1 tsp carob powder, 1 cup water, 6 dates (tasted horrible)
  • 1 cup mango, 1 large cup spinach, ¼ cup cucumber, ¼ cup orange juice, 1 cup water, 4 large fresh mint leaves (best flavour)
  • 1.5 cups spinach, 1tsp coconut oil, 1tsp maca powder, 2 tsp cacoa powder, 1 tsp super greens powder, ½ cup blueberries, ¼ cup strawberries (based on this shake)
  • 1 orange peeled, ½ mango, 1 scoop hemp protein powder, 1 tbs ground flax or chia, 2 cups mixed greens, ½-1 cup water (hemp powder was gritty- see note below)

(they all make anywhere between 1 and 3 glasses worth)

    Key things I discovered:

    Using red berries turns the smoothie a sludgey dark colour, using banana/apple/mango keeps it a lighter green  colour. If using berries (Particularly blue berries) add cacao/carob so that it looks chocolatey and not sludgy.

    Celery and cucumber  and mint leaves were refreshing additions.

    Fresh mango is my favourite fruit mixer, fresh is much better than frozen as it has a sweeter stringer taste.

    Apple makes the smoothie a bit frothy, not my preference as it isless smooth than banana/mango on its own.

    Fruits with a high soluble fibre content work best at creating a smooth consistency. Use mango, peach kiwi or banana.

    Really cold smoothies make the taste of the greens much less noticeable

    I had a play with combining proteins, fats and superfood powders in my shakes. The protein just didn’t work for me as I found it gritty. I have since had an idea of a simply recipe that would provide for the fats and proteins separately so the smoothie can be drunk in its pure and simple state. More on that to come!

    So the ‘Citrus Mango Cooler’ has become my ultimate smoothie combination:

    • 1 cup mango
    • 1 large cup spinach
    • ¼ cup cucumber
    • ¼ cup orange juice
    • 1 cup water
    • 4 large fresh mint leaves (mint is optional but extra refreshing)

    This is also great frozen and then served as a granita…more on that to come too!

    So am I going to keep it up? Well I have a few more experiments up my sleeve…. I wouldn’t necessarily continue with a daily smoothie in its current form, partly due to cost since that amount or organic fruits and veg consumed each day soon adds up! I will keep you posted. 

    In the mean time if you are not already a Green Smoothie convert…give it a try and find out you own favourite combinations. What have you got to loose?

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    30 day green smoothie challenge!

    Ok, so here’s the thing. Green Smoothie’s have got me curious…

    I hadn’t really given them much thought in the past although this debate caught my attention a while back, and I guess that is when I first became much more aware of their seemingly huge following.

    Randomly I had bought my dad this book for Christmas last year (although he hasn’t used it!) and the other day whilst at his house, I plucked it from the book shelf, and for the first time read it properly.  It gave some interesting counter arguments to the issues raised in the debate I referred to earlier and the evidence was also persuading.

    In addition to this I had been putting together my thoughts for Mantra for Monday no. 17 and then it occurred to me…..why not take a '30 day Green Smoothie Challenge'! My contribution to trying something new for 30 days.

    I am apprehensive I’ll admit. I’ve only lightly dabbled with any form of green smoothie in the past, and to be honest I haven’t quite got my taste buds around it. But what better chance to experiment than a smoothie for 30 days- I’m hoping by the end of the experiment I will have refined and tweaked my recipes to concocted some delicious new flavours, I’m also curious to see how my taste buds adapt. (Scroll down to gets hints and tips for green smoothie making). I will report back with a update post in 30 days time!

    Who’s with me in this experiment? Always been curious…now is the perfect time to try!

    So, here goes!  

    Today’s green smoothie no. 1 was:

    • 2 cups spinach
    • 1 medium banana
    • ½ cup frozen mango pieces
    • 1/3 cup cucumber
    • 1 cup water

    This made two large servings.

    (I’ll be having the second serving tomorrow to save preparations every day)

    The result? It was palatable but will take a little gettting used to before I come to love it!

    The smoothie looks so much prettier in its constituent parts than when blended together- I might invest in a covered cup/flask so that I’m not distracted by the luminous green colour as a reminder!

    P.S If I’ve bored you already then you don’t need to read on…. However you really should, because I have summarised what I consider to be the most interesting and useful extracts from the book to help you understand and prepare green smoothies.

    The following notes are taken more or less directly word for word (page references given).

    Pg.7 greens contain all the essential minerals, vitamins, and even amino acids that humans need for optimum health. The only nutrient not found in greens is vitamin B12.

    Pg. 19 It’s important to rotate the greens used in your smoothies. Plants carry a trace of alkaloids in their leaves to ensure the animals will move on to eat other green plants and will not exterminate any one species. In small quantities these alkaloids strengthen the immune system, however if you continue to consume one plant type for many weeks without rotation, eventually the alkaloids can accumulate and cause minor symptoms of ‘poisoning’. We do not have to rotate fruits in the same way since they do not (or rarely) contain alkaloids as ripe fruit is intended by nature to be eaten in order to spread the seeds. The author recommends rotating at least 7 varieties of greens.

    Pg. 22-23 List of common edible greens:

    Amaranth, arugula (rocket), beet greens, bok choi (pak choi), celery, chard (all types), collard greens, endive, frisee lettuce, kale (all types), mitsuna, lettuce (all types), radicchio, romain lettuce, spinach, watercress, wheatgrass. Also the leafy tops of vegetable such as pumpkin or squash leaves, carrot tops, cucumber leaves, grape leaves, radish tops.

    Many herbs, wild edibles and weeds can also be used such as clover, dandelion, stinging nettles, sorrel, lovage….etc.  (I have to admit I am a little hesitant when it comes to wild plants so I plan to utilise predominantly cultivated greens).

    Pg. 27 Blending vs juicing. Juiced ingredients oxidize faster than their blended counterparts. The main advantage of juices is that they require little digesting and can be assimilated immediately into the blood stream, allowing the digestive system to rest. However juices are also seen as a ‘fracture food’ missing the essential component of fibre along with its antioxidants. Humans could not live off juices alone whereas smoothies are a complete food.

    Pg. 33 You can use sweet fruit, dates, raisins, figs and prunes to sweeten smoothies for a beginner. You can freeze greens if they cannot be used within a couple of days. Green smoothies can be kept up to three days in the fridge if necessary although best consumed fresh.

    Pg. 45 Green smoothies are not combination of fruit and vegetables since greens are just the leaves and do not contain starch whereas vegetables do. It is also best to use ripe fruits as unripe fruits contain enzyme inhibitors which slow down the action of our digestive enzymes. Unripe fruit also has a higher starch content and less fruit sugar which makes it harder to digest. The author notes that the fibre in the greens slows down the absorption of sugar from fruit, making green smoothies suitable for people with a high sensitivity to sugar.

    Pg. 47 The author does not recommend adding nuts, seeds, oils, supplements or other ingredients to the green smoothie because most the these items slow down the assimilation of smoothies into your digestive tract and may cause irritation and gas.

    Pg.107 ‘Green puddings’ are thicker smoothies that can be eaten with a spoon. Green puddings don’t usually contain any water and are often thickened with chia sees, dates, coconut or fruit high in pectin.

    Guidelines for preparing green smoothies:

    • Prepare first thing in the morning for the amount to be consumed within one day (ideally).
    • Sip slowly
    • Don’t add anything except greens, fruit and water.
    • Drink on its own and not as part of a meal.
    • Do not add starchy vegetables
    • Don’t add too many ingredients to one smoothie. Keep it simple.
    • Rotate greens to maximise nutritional input and rotate fruits to maintain taste variety.
    • Eat organic ingredients and ripe fruits wherever possible.
    • Use a powerful blender for the smoothest result and speediest turnaround.
    • If using a powerful high speed blender it is not necessary to peel organic fruits such as mangoes, apples, kiwis and pears.
    • Fruits rich in soluble fibre and pectin will make the smoothie creamier and prevent any separation- try banana, strawberry, mango.
    • Remove the large stalks from greens such as kale to reduce bitterness.
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    Buffet Bites and the ‘Egg’ nog experiment

    Well, these last couple of weeks have been a bit of a whirl-wind.

    Cake still adorns all surfaces- waiting to be eaten, unwrapped presents lounge in boxes and bags, post-it notes and ‘to do’ lists remain half ticked off….

    …..but this evening I relaxed! Work in the office is over for the rest of the year and now I can look forward to the holiday season with increasing excitement and last minute preparations!

    egg nog smoothie

    Actually I have been getting quite excited this year, since the festive recipes have swung me into the holiday spirit, but some years Christmas is literally knocking at my door before I realise that time has come around.  That’s the problem with being ‘too busy’… if you’re not careful it’s easy to miss all the fun, particularly all the build-up and anticipation which is often just as much fun as the big day itself.

    Sometimes you just need to take a little time out. Take a step back and spend just 5 minutes looking around you. Smile from within. Calm.

    I’m always busy, always rushing and always have another plan up my sleeve. It’s the way I love to be, but I also know I can be my own worst enemy when things don’t go to plan. I am not very good at creating some flexibility and allowance for if things take a ‘slightly different turn’ from how you anticipated. It is very easy to blame others or to blame the situation, which only serves to leave you frustrated when in actual fact you simply need to build in a little contingency plan. That way you can’t lose…and if it does all go to plan- bonus!

    This statement is definitely a case of ‘do what I say and not what I do’. I really need to learn to listen to my own advice. It’s crazy that I can see this so clearly sitting here on the sofa, as I type with a clear and peaceful mind, the house is quiet and it’s almost time for bed. Why is it that in the flow of day to day chaos my mind seems set in a permanent state of ‘fast-forward’. Stop…rewind…so what was it I said?

    Sometimes you just need to take a little time out. Take a step back and spend just 5 minutes looking around you. Smile from within. Calm.

    Ok, ok I’m listening. Practice makes perfect. Hopefully one day I’ll master the balancing act.

    But now for food, since that’s probably what you came here for? Although you may find my questioning mind creeping in a little more! Sometimes simply writing it down helps.

    I’m all caked out. So this is a savoury post…a round up if you like of savoury nibbles or buffet bites (as it sounds cute).

    These healthy nibbles should help see you through the holidays and beyond. I have here a combination of my previous posts, plus the outcome of my ‘egg’ nog investigation and experiments that some of you will be aware of from my facebook page- we simply cannot get soy-nog in the UK!

    Some savoury nibbles to get the party going….

    Speedy seedy crackers - Great for dipping, also great cut into strips as a healthy alternative to cheese straws!

    Coconut cashews - Er, no explanation needed!

    ‘Meat’ balls - Serve these instead of scotch eggs or sausage rolls, satisfying finger food!

    Plus I came across a great idea for using up Christmas Day ‘leftovers’….. Pasties!

    I will try and post this recipe and my results on boxing day as I plan to make the pasties, but in essence the method is simple….

    Use four smallish plate sized rounds of rolled ready-made or homemade shortcrust pastry (it’s usually vegan anyway but check the label). Add a mug of veggies and up to a mug of nut roast/stuffing all crumbled up together. Add a few dollops of sauce (whatever type you had with the meal- cranberry, bread sauce, gravy). Lastly add a few pinches of herbs. Spoon ¼ of the mixture in to the centre of each pastry round leaving 2-3cm of pastry round the edge. Lift up and seal the edges together making a semi-circle with the seam at the top. Place on a baking sheet, brush with soy milk and bake at 180C for approx. 40 mins until golden. Serve warm or cold.

    So simple… I’ll try and post pictures on boxing day.

    Now, for my ‘egg’ nog experiment 

    (Gosh this has ended up being a long post- hope you're still with me!)

    I checked out various recipes and they were all so diverse!! Some used tofu, some used nut butter, and some used banana.  There seemed to be various options to obtain the desired thickness.  I wanted to create a nog not using tofu, no real reason for that other than I fancied the challenge. A banana and nut butter combo inspired me as I didn’t want there to be an over-dominant banana-ry taste. I also used a thickener to ensure light and delicate flavours but it may also work by doubling the amount of banana and nut butter and omitting the thickening stage- note this has not been tested!

    The result….? A  thick milk-shakey frothy drink that is creamy and lightly spiced. It tasted good to me but then I have never had real or soy egg nog before….maybe you can be the judge?

    Recipe: Christmas Nog

    Ingredients:

    • 1/4 cup cashew or almond butter
    • ½ a large banana- chopped (I used a frozen one but fresh should be fine also)
    • 4 dates
    • 2 cups ‘milk’ (I used a combination of 1 1/3 cups rice milk and ½ cup soy milk)
    • 2 tsp thickener (I used cornstarch but arrowroot/tapioca should also work)
    • 1 tbs ground flax
    • 1 tbs maple syrup
    • Spices- 1 tsp vanilla extract, ½ tsp nutmeg, ½ tsp cinnamon

    Makes approx. 2 large glasses

    Method:

    Mix thickener with approx. 2 tbs of water for form a paste. Pour the ‘milk’ with the thickener paste added into a small saucepan and also add the dates. Simmer until it boils and thickens and the dates begin to soften. (note: it should be at least half as thick as the nog will end up). Add the ‘milk’ mixture to a blender along with all the remaining ingredients. Blend until totally smooth and creamy and frothy on top.

    Chill until cold and then pour into glasses to serve. Sprinkle some extra grated nutmeg to the frothy top if desired.

    Cheers!!


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