Mango Mash Green Smoothie

Mango Mash Green Smoothie

I am a lover of green smoothies and always looking for ways to use different greens. Cause ya know, we should all be rotating our greens on a weekly basis. So when I had some leftover chard in the house from making mac n cheese, I used the remaining greens for a smoothie the next morning. Quick, easy and ever so yummy!

Chard is a relatively “non-green” tasting green anyways, but paired with the sweetness of mangoes, banana, and a date…the taste disappears. The chia, hemp, and flax seeds add a bit of “power” to the smoothie that can easily classify this as a meal replacement if you choose to keep the whole thing to yourself. Hey, who am I to judge? My son came up with the “mango mash” name and, well, I went with it. Cause that’s what you do when an 8 year old gives you green smoothie name ideas.

Mango Mash Green Smoothie

Mango Mash Green Smoothie
Author: 
Recipe type: Smoothies
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 24 oz
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 T chia seeds
  • 1 T hemp seeds
  • 1 T flax seeds (use whole flax if using a high power blender)
  • 2 leaves of chard, stems removed
  • 1 cup frozen mango chunks
  • ½ cucumber (peeled if not organic)
  • 1 ripe banana
  • ½ chunk of ginger (leave peel on if using a high powered blender
  • 1 round slice of lemon (leave pith on)
  • 1 pitted date
Instructions
  1. Add all the ingredients to the blender in the order they are listed.
  2. Blend for 1 minute
  3. Enjoy!

Until next time, keep it real.

My Top 5 Favorite Kitchen Appliances

my top 5 Favorite kitchen appliances

Today we are going to take a little sneak peak into my kitchen and look at all my recommendations for my favorite kitchen appliances.

I am not one that likes a lot of “gadgets” in my kitchen. I don’t have a lot of space so what I do have is sacred and reserved for only the best and most necessary appliances. And while I’m no expert on what is the “best,” I can at least attest to what works best for me.

Without further ado, let’s get to it!

1. Vitamix 5200

Vitamix

This machine is nothing short of amazing. I can make smoothies, grind coffee beans, chop veggies, shred chicken, make hummus, knead bread (in the dry container), make bread crumbs, grind flours out of corn, oats and wheat berries, and most importantly, make “nice” cream. This machine does it all and it’s been going strong for almost 8 years. I take it on vacations with me and I’ve even thought of giving her a name. How do you like the name, Bessie? Too much?

2. Cuisinart 11-cup Food Processor

cuisinart food processor

I don’t pull out this machine very often as I mostly use my Vitamix for everything, but I am still glad I have it and use it enough to make it worth keeping around. Food processors come in larger and smaller capacities, but for what I use it for, I believe the 11-cup size is perfect. Not too big, not to small. Cuisinarts are built to last, too, as proven by my mother’s model that is probably just as old as me. It can do much of what the Vitamix can, so, if you can’t afford the higher price tag of the Vitamix, then a food processor is a great alternative.

3. Programmable Cook Crock Pot

crockpot

Too busy running around to work, school and extra curricular activities to get a good, wholesome meal on the table for dinner? Then you need a Crock Pot. With a little prep in the morning, you can throw everything into the crockpot, walk away and in 6-8 hours have a hot meal ready to go. It works well on super busy nights when it seems like everyone is running in a different direction. I specifically like this programmable version because after the set cooking time it will turn down to the warm setting until you are ready to eat. The settings are simple enough while not being too “overly techy” for those of us who are technology challenged.

4. Presto Belgian Waffle Maker

waffle iron

There is nothing like fresh waffles on a Sunday morning. Topped with a simple fruit compote and served with some fresh squeezed orange juice … oh yeah. That’s what’s up. I often pull this out during the week as well to make a simple oat waffle before my kids run off to school. So much better than the frozen boxed kind full of sugar.

Admittedly, this is not the waffle maker I currently own. Right now I use a Proctor Silex Belgian Waffle Maker and it does a decent job for the money. But I included the Presto brand one because it’s what I used prior to the Proctor Silex machine. While, both are good machines in their price point, I have to say the Presto has a slight edge for me. I like the fact that you can flip it over and seemed to store slightly better in my cabinets. Either way, if you are looking for a waffle maker that doesn’t take up a ton of space, and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, then this is your machine.

5. Aroma Rice Cooker

rice cooker

Again, I am so not a gadgety person, so I never ever thought I would have owned a rice cooker. But we got one as a free gift when we bought a massage chair. True story.  And while the massage chair is now sitting in storage, the rice cooker sure does get a lot of use.

Cooking rice, especially brown rice, is somewhat harder than expected. Unless you are able to find the “quick cook” variety I would strongly recommend you don’t attempt cooking brown rice on the stovetop. I have never been able to get it to turn out correctly no matter how long I leave it cooking. Spend the $30 and save yourself the frustration. And while I can no longer find the brand I own, this Aroma model gets great reviews and does all that mine can.

What are your favorite kitchen appliances?

Until next time, keep it real.

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Affiliate disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you decide to purchase an item through our link you will not incur any additional costs but we earn a small commission. We only recommend products we have used, would use or trust. Your support is greatly appreciated so we may continue to spread the news about real food.

Garden Fresh Tomato Soup

 

Garden Tomato Soup

This is our first year growing a garden other than previous years where we had a few vegetables planted in pots on our patio. Not really knowing what we were getting into, we have been amazed with our harvest. We’ve enjoyed an abundance of cucumbers, zucchini, yellow squash, herbs, kale, eggplant, peppers, onions, cantaloupe and tomatoes.

Just a few weeks ago the tomatoes started getting ripe. Oh the tomatoes! I didn’t know they could taste so sweet picked right off the vine! Our last trip I picked 13 large tomatoes and a huge bowl full of cherry tomatoes. And that’s on top of the ones I still had left from a week before! After I gave a bunch to family and neighbors, I still had a few large ones and a container of cherry tomatoes left. Not wanting to waste the beautiful produce that we’ve gotten, I decided to whip up a tomato soup.

The weather was rainy here that night and even though it’s still really hot outside, soup just felt right with the rain pouring down. Something about rainy weather makes me want to curl up on the couch with something hot in my belly. This tomato soup was really simple and allowed me to use up all the items that have been growing in the garden that I didn’t know what to do with. I plan to make a few more batches of this on our next harvest and freeze it for the winter and easy lunches once the hectic school year starts.

Garden Fresh Tomato Soup
Author: 
Recipe type: Soup
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Use up your garden tomatoes, veggies and herbs in this easy, delicious recipe!
Ingredients
  • ½ onion, sliced
  • 1 carrot, roughly chopped
  • 1 T olive oil or coconut oil
  • 1 cup zucchini, cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 32 oz vegetable broth
  • 5 tomatoes, seeded, roughly chopped, and liquid removed
  • 2 T lentil flour (process about 1 cup of dry lentils in a food processor or blender to form a flour. Store the rest in your pantry to thicken other recipes)
  • Large handful of basil, roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ½ cup cannellini beans, rinsed
Instructions
  1. Add oil, onion, carrot and zucchini to a soup pot and turn to medium heat.
  2. Saute for about 10 minutes.
  3. Add garlic and saute for one minute more.
  4. Add vegetable broth, tomatoes, lentil flour, basil, parsley, rosemary, salt and pepper.
  5. Let simmer for about 20 minutes.
  6. Add the beans and simmer for about 5 minutes more.
  7. Remove from heat and blend until desired consistency, I like mine somewhat chunky.
  8. Pour back into pot and heat again on low until ready to serve.

What’s your favorite rainy day meal?

If you make this recipe, be sure to snap a photo and tag us @realfood_life or hashtag it #realfoodlife. I’d love to see what you make!

Until next time, keep it real.

10 Reasons to Start Drinking Green Smoothies

10 Reasons to Start Drinking Green SmoothiesCommon sense tells us we should be including more fruits and vegetables into our diet. According to USDA recommendations, depending on your age, getting 5 cups of fruits and veggies PER DAY should be your goal!  However, many people just don’t follow through with those recommendations. And while we do consume some 415 lbs of veggies each year, the most popular choice, corn and potatoes, aren’t exactly nutritional superstars. 

Greens are some of the most nutrient dense foods on earth. According to Dr. Fuhrman’s Aggregate Nutrient Density Index (ANDI), you can see that greens kick ass when it comes to nutrients. Go Greens! So what’s one to do to help increase fruit and veggie consumption?

Enter the green smoothie.

When I started our real food journey back in 2012, the first thing I started adding to our routine was green smoothies. I nicknamed it monster juice just so my kids would drink it, but after realizing it actually tasted good, they have been on board ever since. Bottled juices never make it into my shopping cart these days, instead we start most mornings off with a smoothie. Find out why you should to.

10 Reasons Why You Should Be Drinking Green Smoothies

  1. Green Smoothies offer pure nutrition.
    Greens rank high in vitamins A, C, K, calcium, folate, potassium and protein. Yes, plants have protein. Green smoothies can pack in a whopping 5-6 servings of fruits and veggies in one batch! Now that’s something to get excited about.
  2. Green smoothies help increase fiber intake.
    Unlike bottled juices or smoothies, making fresh green smoothies uses the whole fruit and veggie without pasteurizing which kills essential nutrients. The end result gives you all the fiber and nutrition the produce contains. Fiber is good for colon health and helps to keep things moving.
  3. Smoothies are quick and easy to make.
    All you need is a blender. I love, love, LOVE my Vitamix, but any simple blender will do. Preparing a pitcher of green smoothie will take you about 10 minutes…including cleanup. How’s that for fast food?!
  4. Pack and go.
    Kept cold and sealed (we use these Ball Jars for a tight seal) green smoothies will stay fresh up to 3 days. Although fresh is best, I also freeze mine on occasion. Pull them from the freezer the night before you want to drink them and by morning you are good to go.
  5. Homemade green smoothies are cheap.
    Ever considered buying a green smoothie at a smoothie bar? It might set you back 6-7 bucks. In addition, drinking a daily green smoothie will provide you with many essential vitamins and nutrients you need, a much cheaper and natural option to buying multivitamins.
  6. Green smoothies help you get your sexy back!
    The cleansing properties in green smoothies are naturally beautifying. Results include clearer skin, stronger and shinier hair and nails and you might even shed a few pounds. When our diet is lacking it shows on the outside.
  7. Anyone can drink them.
    From young to old, green smoothies are good nutrition for everyone!
  8. Green smoothies are liquid energy.
    Do you have trouble getting going in the morning without a morning cup of joe? Does the 3 o’clock slump hit you hard? Grab a green smoothie instead. I was able to drop my coffee habit after adopting daily green smoothies. They give a surge of energy lasting well beyond a cup of brew.
  9. Reduce cravings.
    Green smoothies reduce cravings for junk foods, unhealthy sweets, salt and fat. I’ll bet you’ll find after a few weeks you will crave more nutritious foods.
  10. Reduce the risk of serious disease.
    Fueling your body with whole plant foods is necessary to allow your body to work at it’s peak level. Obesity, certain cancers, diabetes and cardiovascular disease are all preventable diseases linked to diet and lifestyle. Adding more fruits, veggies and whole plant foods will significantly decrease your risk of developing chronic disease.

There are so many recipes out there for green smoothies. My favorite, and a good place to start, is here or here. Go green today!

Until next time, keep it real.

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Affiliate disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you decide to purchase an item through our link you will not incur any additional costs but Keepin’ it Real earns a small commission. We only recommend products we have used, would use or trust. Your support is greatly appreciated so we may continue to spread the news about real food.

Sources:
http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/
http://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/downloads/State-Indicator-Report-Fruits-Vegetables-2013.pdf
http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/health/story/2012-07-10/eating-fruits-and-vegetables-healthy/56118742/1
http://www.webmd.com/diet/leafy-greens-rated
http://www.usda.gov/factbook/chapter2.pdf

Mint Chip “Nice” Cream

 

Mint Chip Nice Cream

I scream, you scream, we all scream for “nice” cream!

Oh how I love ice cream. In all of it’s creamy, cool, melt-y (totally a word) glory. It had me at hello. I don’t make ice cream the way most people think ice cream should be made with dairy, fat, sugar and all the other not-so-good-for-you additions. Nope. I have a secret healthy ingredient I use…frozen bananas.

I know…crazy right? I could hardly believe it myself when I first tried it. But it works like magic. And it’s so gooooood. You know what else? You can make this recipe every. single. day if you wanted, because here’s another secret…it’s full of spinach and zucchini (or avocado) and you won’t even taste them. If this nice cream is wrong, I don’t wanna be right.

 

Mint Chip "Nice" Cream
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2-3
 
Ingredients
  • 3 frozen bananas. Peel and freeze when bananas are starting to brown. Freeze at least 6 hours or keep a ziplock bag in your freezer at all times with frozen bananas.
  • ½ cup frozen zucchini or avocado chunks
  • 1 cup fresh spinach (about a handful)
  • 15-20 mint leaves or ⅛ tsp peppermint extract
  • 1 pitted date (optional, but I like the extra sweetness it adds)
  • Dark chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Take your bananas out of the freezer and let them sit for about 10-15 minutes to thaw slightly. Cut into chunks and add bananas to a high powered blender such as a Vitamix.
  2. Add the avocado, spinach, mint leaves and a date (if using).
  3. Blend on HIGH for about one minute until creamy using the tamper to push the ingredients into the blades.
  4. Scoop out into bowls using an ice cream scoop and fold in chocolate chips. Serve immediately. You can freeze the leftovers, but is best eaten right away.
  5. *Note* This can be made in a Cuisinart food processor or regular blender, but you will need to stop and scrape down the sides frequently. Keep running until you get a consistency of soft serve ice cream. It takes a bit longer, but should work - although I can't attest to how well the spinach and mint leaves will be broken down. Let me know if you have tried it.
  6. This serves about 2-3 people depending on how big their appetite is. If you make it when everyone is at school and/or work then it may only serve one. It will be our little secret. K?

 

mint-chip-nice-cream2

Tell me, what’s your most favorite dessert?

If you make this recipe, be sure to snap a photo and tag us @realfood_life or hashtag it #realfoodlife. I’d love to see what you make!

Until next time, keep it real.

Affiliate disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you decide to purchase an item through our link you will not incur any additional costs but Keepin’ it Real earns a small commission. We only recommend products we have used, would use or trust. Your support is greatly appreciated so we may continue to spread the news about real food.

Homemade Almond Milk {Dairy, Soy and Gluten Free}

Almond MilkAs I mentioned before, we don’t drink cow’s milk. So, we use alternative milks which can be just as good and creamy as cow’s milk. There are many substitutes on the market now and any mainstream grocery store will probably carry many choices of these on their shelves.

Almond milk, rice milk, soy milk, hemp milk, coconut milk are some of the most common you will find out there. But you can get really creative and make pistachio nut milk, cashew milk and walnut milk to name a few. The possibilities are endless.

I prefer almond milk as our daily go-to. If I am keepin’ it real, I often buy almond milk instead of making it myself (which isn’t ideal), because can I really make one more thing? When I am out of our store bought or I am hankering for the homemade version I whip some up in no time flat!

Side note: If you do continue to buy your almond milk at the store when you are in a pinch, please choose a brand that does not contain carrageenan. Trader Joe’s, Silk and Whole Foods are all brands that do not contain it but often contain other ingredients that are less than ideal.

Benefits of Almonds

Almonds are rich in vitamin E, calcium, magnesium and potassium. They are a significant source of protein and fiber, while being naturally low in sugar.

Adding raw almonds to your diet will yield many health benefits. Raw almonds are filled with healthy fats. While they do contain a small amount of saturated fat, most of the fat in almonds is monounsaturated fat, which is known for its ability to promote healthy cholesterol levels and cardiovascular health. Nutrients such as calcium, magnesium and phosphorus in almonds are essential for keeping your bones and teeth healthy and strong.

Real Food Recipe: Almond Milk
Author: 
Recipe type: Drink
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1 liter
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup almonds
  • 4 cups filtered water
  • Optional:
  • Dates-(1-3 depending on your preference of sweetness. I use one.)
  • Vanilla extract (a splash)
  • Cinnamon (a dash)
  • Cocoa powder (for chocolate almond milk)
Instructions
  1. In a bowl, soak almonds overnight in filtered water. Drain and rinse the water several times during the soaking process. After the almonds have soaked for at least 8 hours (up to 24 hours) drain and rinse one last time.
  2. Add the nuts to your blender. Pour in 4 cups filtered water. Add optional mixins (except the chocolate if using that).
  3. Blend on HIGH for 1 minute.
  4. Pour the blended almonds through a nut milk bag. While holding it over a large bowl, “milk” the bag and squeeze out all the milk until the pulp is dry and you can’t squeeze anymore. Put the pulp aside.
  5. If you are making chocolate milk, put the milk back into the blender and blend with 1-2 T of cocoa powder.
  6. Place finished milk in a glass container and store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Shake well before using.
Notes
Note: Save your almond pulp and throw it in smoothies. There are many recipes on the internet for almond pulp goodies. My favorite way to use it up is to make almond flour and use it in baking.

Time saver tip: Soak a full bag of almonds. Use what you need for a batch of milk and then lay out the rest of the almonds on a towel to dry. Store the rest of the soaked almonds in the freezer and just pull what you need for later use.

If you make this recipe, be sure to snap a photo and tag us @realfood_life or hashtag it #realfoodlife. I’d love to see what you make!

Until next time, keep it real.

Affiliate disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you decide to purchase an item through that link you will not incur any additional costs but Keepin’ it Real earns a small commission. We only recommend products that we have used, would use or trust. Your support is greatly appreciated so that we may continue to spread the news about real food.

Monster Green Smoothie

Monster Green SmoothieWhen I first started making the switch to a real food/plant-based lifestyle, one of the first things I did was added green smoothies to our daily routine. I originally called them “monster juice” just so my kids would drink them. Now we start off our morning with one of these bad boys at least 3-4 times/week.

After I started drinking green smoothies daily I was able to kick my coffee habit. Go ahead, put down the morning cup of joe, this will have you bouncing off the walls in no time!

You will need a high power blender like a Vitamix to get it silky smooth, but any simple blender will do the job. No real food kitchen should be without a Vitamix. And the money you will save by staying away from Starbucks will allow you to afford one in no time. It’s by far the BEST kitchen machine I have ever bought. I use mine at least 1-3 times per day…and that’s a slow day. If you try this in a regular blender I would play around with the proportions a bit, but you might need to add a tad more water.

Now for that smoothie.

Monster Green Smoothie
Author: 
Recipe type: Smoothie
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 32 oz
 
Feel full of energy with a big dose of nutrient dense greens!
Ingredients
  • ½ cucumber, roughly chopped. (skin removed if not organic)
  • 2-3 stalks of celery, roughly chopped
  • 1 organic apple or pear, cored, seeded and quartered
  • 1 ripe banana
  • Handful of romaine (or whatever greens you have on hand)
  • Handful of spinach (whatever greens you have on hand)
  • ¼ of a lemon
  • ½ inch piece of ginger
  • 1-2 cups water
Instructions
  1. Blend all together on HIGH for about 1 minute.
Notes
Optional ingredients:
Couple of sprigs of cilantro
Sprig or two of parsley
1 T hemp seeds
1 T chia seeds
1 T of whole flax seeds (or ground flax meal if you don't have a high powered blender)
1-2 dates, pitted (for sweeter smoothie)
4 ice cubes (or use a frozen banana instead)

If you are missing any of the above ingredients just improvise! You don’t have to stick to the recipe exactly. The point is to just get greens in your diet, detox your body and start your day with green energy!

If you make this recipe, be sure to snap a photo and tag us @realfood_life or hashtag it #realfoodlife. I’d love to see what you make!

Until next time, keep it real.

Our recommendations:

Affiliate disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you decide to purchase an item through our link you will not incur any additional costs but Keepin’ it Real earns a small commission. We only recommend products we have used, would use or trust. Your support is greatly appreciated so we may continue to spread the news about real food.