Cranberry Persimmon Smoothie

Persimmon Cranberry Smoothie 1

Sometimes the most exotic ingredients are best delivered in nondescript packages. At least, that’s the case with this Cranberry Persimmon Smoothie, which conveniently tastes like good old strawberry banana. If you’re new to persimmons, or are uneasy about tofu (yep, I snuck that in), rest assured that even the pickiest of eaters will enjoy the comforting, sweet flavors of this seasonal fruity beverage.

Rather than sticking to tried-and-true favorites, I encourage you to begin 2016 with an open-minded palate. Persimmons (tomato-looking fruits that are in stores this time of year) are a great alternative to winter citrus. Eaten raw, the mildly tropical aromas will transport you to a warmer clime. They also add a delightful twist to baked desserts (like crisps and cobblers). Beginners should note that the oblong, hachiya persimmons must soften before they can be eaten, while the squat looking fuyu persimmons don’t need to ripen as much, and can be eaten firm.

Similarly, while most of us lean towards yogurt as a smoothie thickener, silken tofu is a nutritious (and inconspicuous) plant-based alternative. Although a favorite among the yoga and granola set, this simple soy food also makes for decadently creamy pasta sauces, dips, and salad dressings.

Once you “master” an ingredient, by utilizing it in a crave-worthy recipe, it is much easier to approach menus and cookbooks with an open mind, adding dimension and variety to what can oftentimes become a cycle of repetitive eating.

What new foods will you try this year?

Cranberry Persimmon Smoothie

Serves 1

Ingredients:

  • 1 small banana, frozen in chunks
  • 1 ripe persimmon
  • 1/3 cup frozen cranberries
  • 1/4 cup silken tofu

Method:

  1. Add all ingredients to blender and blend until smooth.

Nutrition per serving: 250 calories, 2g fat (0g saturated fat), 60g carbohydrates (10g fiber, 36g sugar*), 5g protein, 0g cholesterol, 7mg sodium, 56% Vitamin A, 43% Vitamin C, 4% Calcium, 6% Iron

*All sugars are naturally occurring; none are added sugars

– Kelly

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Chocolate Cranberry Milkshake

Chocolate Cranberry Milkshake (No sugar!)

Like any self-respecting locavore, I aim to feature seasonal farmers market produce whenever possible. But alas, my penny-pinching food budget has the final say, which is why I tend to avoid picking up groceries until every scrap of food in the cupboard has been eaten.

That brings me to this chocolate cranberry milkshake. More indulgent than fresh fruit, but more nourishing than a chocolate milkshake, this cocoa-cranberry beverage is the perfect balance of nutritious and delicious. Cranberries may not be popular this time of year, but if they’re in my freezer, they’re fair game. Eating healthy need not be expensive; so if you’re out of fresh fruit, don’t hesitate to use up what you have on hand (frozen fruit, dried fruit, or fruit canned in water or juice). Par for the course with my other milkshake recipes, this one is sweetened with fruit alone, meaning you don’t have to worry about nutrient-empty added sugars.

Chocolate Cranberry Milkshake (Healthy! No sugar!)

Cranberry Chocolate Milkshake

Serves 1

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup frozen cranberries (unsweetened)
  • 1 ripe banana, frozen
  • 1 date, pitted and chopped (or 1 Tbsp date paste)
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup milk (I used organic nonfat milk)

Method: Add all ingredients to blender, and blend to combine.

Chocolate Cranberry Milkshake (Secretly healthy! No added sugar!)

Nutrition: 280 calories, 7g fat (1g saturated fat), 59g carbohydrates (9g fiber, 43g sugar*), 9g protein, 4mg cholesterol, 80mg sodium, 8% Iron, 26% Calcium, 10% Vitamin A, 29% Vitamin C

*none of these sugars are the dangerous added sugars – all are naturally occurring

– Kelly

Smoothies vs Juice

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‘Tis the season for new years resolutions! For many, that means detoxing from a season of indulgence with a juice fast. But is juicing the healthiest way to load up on antioxidants?

When cutting back on soda, some people use juice as a “healthier” way to satisfy their cravings for sweet beverages, as well as a tasty way to sneak in some extra vegetables. While juice is a natural source of many vitamins and minerals, and definitely a step up from soda, it is not a necessary part of a healthy diet, and in fact, is less healthy than eating the fruits and vegetables themselves.

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By discarding the pulp and solids (the difference between juicing and making a smoothie), you are missing out on the fiber and some of the micronutrients. This is one reason that I am not a huge proponent of “juice fasts”. If you are looking to consume a diet high in fiber and antioxidants, don’t just sip nature’s sugar water; eat the whole fruit! Additionally, do not be fooled into thinking that juice is a low calorie or no calorie beverage. Many juices pack just as much sugar and calories per cup as soda.

Smoothies, on the other hand, contain the whole fruit, rather than just the sugary juice. And contrary to popular opinion, blending fruits and greens up in a blender does not make the fiber disappear. The tip to keeping a smoothie healthy is to keep the ingredients healthy: whole fruits (berries, bananas, mango, etc), greens (kale, spinach), and optional healthy extras (organic, plain yogurt, unsweetened almond milk, organic cottage cheese, chia seeds, ground flaxseed). Don’t add juice or sweetened yogurt to your smoothie, as that defeats the purpose. With all of these solid ingredients, a heavy duty blender (such as a Vitamix) works best. However, I make smoothies in my knock-off magic bullet, and it works just fine.

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Looking for healthy smoothie recipes to get you started?

And for those of you that would still like to give juicing a try, these six fruit and veggie combos look delicious!

– Kelly

16 Healthy Halloween Snacks From Around The Web

Happy October, everyone!

Just because Halloween is one of the most diet-busting holidays on the calendar, doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for nutrition. So I scoured the web for the best healthy Halloween snacks, including fruit and veggie platters, as well as heartier fare. The snacks pictured below keep the Halloween spirit alive, without sacrificing nutrition. Enjoy!

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1) Witch brooms made from pretzels & string cheese, Image via Concinada con Catman

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2) Banana ghosts and clementine pumpkins. I love this! Image via Pinterest, original source unknown

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3) Apple teeth with slivered almonds, via Allrecipes.com

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4) Veggie skeleton, image via feeding four little monkeys

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5) Ghost inspired fruit & yogurt, image via Lisa Storms

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6) Jack-O-Lantern Smoothie, image via See Vanessa Craft. Note- for a healthy orange smoothie recipe, I recommend this carrot-apple-banana smoothie or this peach pie oatmeal smoothie.

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7) Hummus with carrot fingers. Image via Pinterest, original source unknown.

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8) Hummus with carrot & parsley pumpkins. Image via Parents.com

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9) Deviled eggs with olive spiders, image via Sunset

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10) Pumpkin deviled eggs, image via Foodista

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11) Mummy dip with green veggies, image via hostess with the mostess

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12) Plum + grape spider, image via Kitchen Fun With My 3 Sons

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13) Adorable veggie platter presentation! Image via Pinterest, original source unknown

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14) Fruity Jack-O-Lanterns, image via Chocolate Covered Katie

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15) Easy Jack-O-Lantern Oranges, image via Under Construction blog

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16) Fruit cup Jack-O-Lanterns, image via Pimp My Dinner

For more Halloween food inspiration (yes- there’s more!), see my Pinterest board. Wondering what dips to serve with fruit and veggie platters? See my picks for healthy dips here.

Happy Halloween!

– Kelly

5 High Calorie, Nutritious Foods for Healthy Weight Gain

While many Americans are struggling with obesity and overeating, there is still a significant portion of the population that is looking to put on weight. Sounds easy, right? Load up on junk food, and you’ll hit your calorie goal in no time. But surely there has to be a healthier way.

Many people were shocked to learn that Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps had to consume roughly 10,000 calories a day in order to keep up with his strenuous training schedule. His meals consist of mostly high fat, energy dense foods. See his breakfast below, on display at the American Museum of Natural History through August.

Michael Phelps's Breakfast

Michael Phelps's Breakfast

While this doesn’t appear to be the healthiest diet, there is no doubt that eating 10,000 calories of fibrous fruits and vegetables would not only require a lot of eating (those are low calorie foods) but also likely cause intestinal turmoil (too much fiber… way too much fiber).

That being said, there has to be some middle ground. Here are some of my top picks for healthy foods that are energy dense AND nutrient dense.

  1. Avocado: healthy fats add calories, and heart healthy nutrients
  2. Quinoa: so much nutrition packed into this power grain
  3. Nuts & Nut Butters: a perfect balance of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats
  4. Dried Fruit: more nutrition concentrated into a smaller package
  5. Smoothies: an easy way load lots of healthy foods into a portable beverage

So what what kind of breakfast would I recommend for someone looking to add more healthy calories?

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Perhaps 2 slices of hearty whole grain toast topped with a generous serving of turkey and avocado, topped with a fried egg. (Image via a splash of vanilla)

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Another filling breakfast would be a big bowl of quinoa cooked in milk, topped with honey, and a large helping of raisins and almonds. (image via Pinterest, original source unknown)

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A hearty smoothie made with fruits, yogurt, and nut butter would also be an energy dense accompaniment to any athletes breakfast. (image via 100 days of real food)

And if you were burning as many calories as Michael Phelps, I might recommend that you eat all of these things together 😉 What foods do you gravitate towards when your body needs energy?

– Kelly