Smoothie Cups & Smoothie Recipe

I have never been a smoothie fan, mostly because I am lazy. It just seems like so much effort to wake up every morning and WORK to make a breakfast that is supposed to give you energy to work. You know what I mean? I tend to prefer oatmeal (it’s pretty quick) or the classic “no breakfast” routine. Unfortunately, that is not something my body can take anymore and I’m looking for ways to branch out into other meals besides dinner. (It is so unhealthy to just eat that one meal at the end of the day and it’s something I’ve done for years. I am not a huge advocate of 6+ meals or anything, but two is a bare minimum for myself these days.)

I found the pin not long before I had a fainting spell I attribute to low iron intake. A couple of people have recommended that I throw leafy greens into a smoothie and drink it to boost my iron levels, so when I was prepping food for my first week of classes (that’s this week!) I decided I would give these a shot. The recipe is brought to you from the blog Muffin Tin Mania. You should definitely check this one out in your spare time! Tons of great recipes using a muffin pan. Who doesn’t enjoy perfect portions? Anyway, I changed up the fruit in the cups and I mixed up my smoothie a bit differently, but seriously… amazing.

It looks intimidating to me, to be honest.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups coconut water
  • 1/3 cup almonds
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint
  • 1/2 orange
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 2 cups frozen peaches & raspberries

I froze fresh raspberries and a peach for my fruit.

The author of the recipe used 2 cups of frozen mangoes instead of the raspberries and peaches. I am not a huge fan of mangoes so I decided I would try it out with my favorite fruits. I bought some strawberries as well, but the raspberries and peach turned out toΒ  be 2 cups of fruit. I chopped the peach and mixed it with the raspberries to freeze for a while. I probably didn’t have to do it, but I wanted to use the fruit frozen for consistency. πŸ˜›

Coconut water (not milk!), almonds in the mini chopper, and fresh mint.

The recipe says to mix everything in the order listed, and that is exactly what I did. I chopped my almonds a bit to spare my blender some pain, then I poured them into the blender with the coconut water and 2 cups of spinach. I gave this a few pulses to start blending up the nuts.

Baby spinach and celery stalks, pre-chop.

I chopped up 2 stalks of celery and put them in the blender with the fresh mint. I gave that a few more pulses and moved on. It’s pretty green at this point.

Frozen fruit, orange, and honey & ginger powder in the back.

I tossed in half an orange, and I left most of the pith on as well. I added the honey and ginger in with the orange – I recommend buying local honey if possible. I buy different varieties of honey local to Austin, and I LOVE wildflower honeys. I blended this together real quick, then added the frozen raspberries and peach.

This is NOT the smoothie; this is the mixture going into the muffin pan.

I have a 5-cup blender and it was just able to hold all of this green goodness. I will note that my almonds are not extremely fine so they are still visible and have a crunch to them in the finished smoothie. This does not bother me at all, but just a heads up for anyone with picky tastes. This is easy to fix by chopping them in a food processor.

I filled 12 muffin cups and put it in the freezer overnight.

The whole blender filled 12 muffin cups in a pan. It was just a little bit too much but no problem at all. I overfilled some of mine a bit and I’m glad I did. It’s so delicious I don’t want to waste any. I froze mine overnight.

Out of the freezer the next morning, they are slightly red!

Mine did not turn out as green as the author’s, thanks to my raspberries. They have a bright red layer on top that just begs to be licked – they are also sticky from the honey and fruit mixture. At first they were stuck in there, so I just set the bottom of the muffin pan in some warm water and loosened them up a bit. I used a fork to start prying and then they easily popped out.

Finished smoothie cups – I just covered the top of the bowl and stuck it in the freezer.

I have recently switched to a vegetarian diet, and I have cut out most processed foods. Since I am trying to cram a lot of nutrients into my meals, I didn’t want to waste an opportunity to value-add. The author mixed 2 smoothie cups with 1 cup of coconut water, or water. Here’s how I did mine:

The components of a delicious, healthy breakfast!

Ingredients:

  • 2 Smoothie Cups
  • 1 cup Almond Milk
  • 1 whole banana

Smoothie with banana and almond milk.

I chopped the banana up a bit, and just to make my blender’s poor life a little easier, I cut the frozen cups into quarters. You could probably make them in mini muffin pans and save yourself some trouble. I poured in 1 cup of almond milk and blended it up. It was so wonderful! It tastes clean – can food taste clean?! The mint is very refreshing and the sweetness of my favorite fruits combined with the honey mask the taste of any veggies. I am going to keep making these and I have a feeling I am going to be hooked!

Chewy Vanilla Cherry Almond Bars

Don’t you hate when you find something you love on Pinterest, then forget to pin it? Well, I found a recipe for some chewy energy bars a while back that had dried cherries in them and apparently I forgot to pin the recipe. I have looked all over for it, but decided to just search “dried cherries” on Pinterest. I did not find what I was looking for but I found something better – almonds, dried cherries, and dates. I love cherries and dried cherries are no different. I also happen to love dates, but I find they are too sweet to eat by themselves. This is a wonderful way to cut the sweetness and still get some yummy dates in my diet.

The recipe was found at Creative Juices for Decor and she says they are a homemade version of Cherry Pie LaraBars. I’ve personally never eaten a Lara Bar, as I normally don’t buy into diet foods and prepackaged anything. Apparently this is a pretty wholesome brand, but nothing beats homemade and they are cheaper from scratch if you’ve got time to make them. I changed the recipe up by adding one ingredient: vanilla bean paste.

Ingredient List:

  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds
  • 1 cup dried pitted cherries
  • 1 cup dates, pitted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or extract)

Almonds, dried sweet cherries (no sugar added), and Medjool dates.

Dried sweet cherries – found in the bulk section, prepacked so I bought a few.

Medjool dates, found in the bulk section.

The first thing you’ll want to do is chop the almonds if you bought whole ones. The recipe says to chop them in the food processor but that is quite frankly too much noise for me, so I hand chopped them in a mini chopper.

Chopped almonds using my mini food chopper. I love this thing!

You’ll also want to pit the dates. I will admit that I did not even think about pitting mine (I’ve even eaten these things before!) and didn’t realize it until I turned the food processor on with the cherries and dates inside. Turns out that is a very handy way to pit the things, though! With a few good pulses I was able to pick all of the pits out and continue on my way to “energy” bar bliss. πŸ™‚

Cherries and whole dates in the food processor – 1 cup of each.

The cherries and dates will form a ball, more or less.

Once you mix the cherries and dates really well, the recipe says to transfer the fruit mixture into a mixer with the almonds. I do not own a Kitchen Aid mixer and my hand mixer was probably not interested in this project. I put the fruit mixture in a large glass bowl, then I added in the chopped almonds and the vanilla bean paste.

Fruit mixture, chopped almonds, and vanilla bean paste.

Instead of using a mixer, I just started by chopping it all together with a wooden spoon. This was not an exact science and it didn’t need to look pretty. I’m not sharing. πŸ˜›

Fruit mixture combined with nuts and vanilla.

After I got it chopped really well, I used my hands to knead the rest of the almonds in. Then I put the mixture on a piece of wax paper and placed another piece on top so I could spread it out. For some reason I also do not own a rolling pin (ikr?) so I just used my hands to press the mixture out between the wax paper. I used the bottom of one of the mixing cups to flatten it.

Mixture in between two pieces of wax paper to spread it out.

This is the first spread of fruit mixture.

I used a pizza cutter to cut the bars into rectangles. Again, I’ve never eaten a LaraBar so I don’t know the accurate size. Mine were not all uniform and I got 7 bars out of it.

First cut of bars and remaining mixture.

I just cut the rectangles and then re-rolled the mixture to cut it again. It was pretty easy to do and didn’t take long at all.

I stored mine in between wax paper layers in a glass pan with a lid.

Notice my hideous cutting skills!

I was extremely impressed with these bars! I am now interested in trying various flavors because it’s a great snack and they don’t take long. These cost approximately $10 to make, and that is an exaggerated amount because I am too lazy to do the real math on the cost. They taste great and I am glad I added the vanilla in. I am storing them in the refrigerator and I am trying my best not to eat them all tonight. Seriously delicious! πŸ™‚