15 Smoothies in 15 Days, Day 12: Banana Pumpkin Bread Smoothie

As I mentioned, I had a pretty major checkup yesterday. Glucose/iron screening for gestational diabetes and anemia (for which I was supposed to fast for 2 hours, but ended up fasting for closer to 4.5 because apparently I can’t read), TDAP vaccine (so I was pretty much pricked with needles for an hour… and I hate needles), and a kind of intense ultrasound to see if my placenta moved up to where it was supposed to be (it was low; it is no longer low… yay!). Like I told Tim yesterday, it’s not that this stuff made me nervous or anything; it’s just that I had to be emotionally, physically, and mentally present through it all. Plus, I didn’t eat much, which really threw me off.

I’m really hoping everything turns out well with the blood test, and I’m so happy my placenta is behaving the way it should. But, I’m pretty exhausted today. And I’m running out of creativity. And it’s cloudy. And school starts in two days.

Top all that off with the fact that we haven’t been grocery shopping in well over a week. I sent Tim a list this morning of stuff we need, and that list was long. LONG long. This also means we are pretty much out of whatever I need to make cool and creative smoothies.

I really want to try a blueberry cucumber lemon smoothie, but we have no cucumbers. So, that will have to wait until tomorrow, because, hopefully, someone gets to the store today.

So, I woke up and opened the fridge and pantry to see what we had. Leftover pumpkin from my pumpkin peanut butter smoothie (YUM), some bananas, some coconut milk, and spices in the cabinet. Seriously, that’s about it.

Considering my pumpkin smoothie and my banana bread smoothie were so delicious, I figured, why not combine the two and take the sweetness down a notch to make a hybrid, banana pumpkin bread recipe.

I have to say, I was not disappointed. This one pretty much tasted like the banana bread one, but with a hint of pumpkin (and some more nutrients!).

If I were to do this again, I might try adding a green apple, just to get the trifecta of fall flavors and add some brightness to an otherwise thick and creamy smoothie. Maybe I’ll add that to my list of smoothies to try in the next few days as this project comes to a close.

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Banana Pumpkin Bread Smoothie
Makes two 16-oz smoothies

Ingredients:
-2 cups coconut milk
-2 ripe bananas
-1/2-3/4 cup chopped walnuts (however much you want)
-1/2 cup canned pumpkin
-2 tablespoons coconut oil
-1 tablespoon brown sugar
-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
-1/2 teaspoon ginger
-1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
-ice cubes

Directions:
Blend until everything is pureed, including walnuts. Enjoy!

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Bonus Pumpkin Recipe: Paleo Pumpkin Bread

Y’all know by now that I love pumpkin. (Need proof? Here’s some. And another. And another. And one more.)

Here’s the thing about pumpkin, though, especially in smoothies and lattes, which are my favorite places to put it: Usually, those recipes only call for 1/4 of a cup, maybe 1/2 of a cup at most. So, what do you do with the rest of that precious pumpkin? Usually, I put it in a container and stuff it in the fridge, only to forget about it later.

But today, I felt a little adventurous and decided to make some easy Paleo pumpkin bread with the leftover pumpkin from my earlier pumpkin peanut butter smoothie.

This bread is pretty good. And, by “pretty good,” I mean I just ate two slices of it as soon as it had cooled enough out of the oven. It definitely hits the spot if you’re looking for a moist bread for breakfast or a snack. It’s only a little sweet, which I think could be remedied if I used the full 1/2 cup of honey or if I used maple syrup. I only had about 1/3 of a cup of honey left, though, so I went with it.

If I make it again, which I will, I will probably include pecans and dark chocolate chips to make it a little sweeter and more filling and to give it some chunky texture. Plus, the chocolate would add a little bit more sweetness. I’d also definitely double the spices. I always put in heaping amounts of the spices anyway, but I’d be sure to double them next time for a little more flavor. The cool thing about this bread recipe is that you can modify it quite a bit and still retain the integrity of the bread.

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Easy Paleo Pumpkin Bread
Makes 1 loaf or 2 mini loaves
Recipe adapted from Spinach for Breakfast

Ingredients:
-2 cups almond meal
-3/4 teaspoon baking soda
-1 teaspoon cinnamon
-1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
-1/4 teaspoon ginger
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1/2 cup pumpkin puree
-1/3-1/2 cup honey or maple syrup
-2 eggs
-optional: 1 cup dark chocolate chips + 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease your pan with coconut oil.
2. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. This includes almond meal, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt.
3. Combine the wet ingredients in a smaller bowl. This includes pumpkin, honey or maple syrup, and eggs.
4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Mix until combined.
5. If using chocolate chips and pecans, fold those into the batter.
6. Pour batter into the loaf pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

15 Smoothies in 15 Days, Day 8: Pumpkin Peanut Butter Perfection Smoothie

Pumpkin is my favorite thing of all time. All. Time. Pumpkin pie is my absolute favorite food ever. This is probably a huge reason why I love fall, because I know that pumpkins are on their way. It’s also a huge reason why I’m excited for a fall baby, because, hopefully, she will also love fall and we will have many fall birthdays to enjoy pumpkins and changing leaves and cooler temperatures together.

It makes sense, then, that I horde cans of pureed pumpkin. There was one year I remember that there was a shortage of pumpkins in the Midwest and it was almost impossible to get cans of pumpkin for Thanksgiving. I will not let that happen again.

(Incidentally, this year, I am also going to horde pumpkin beer, but that’s because I don’t want to miss the brief pumpkin beer season and won’t be able to drink any until the baby is born.)

So, because of our intense nesting this summer which included cleaning out our pantry, we found four cans of pumpkin plus a jar of pumpkin butter. Hello, early fall!

I got the idea to combine pumpkin and peanut butter from Pinterest (How’s that for some alliteration?), but was wary of it at first. Peanut butter and I have had a love-hate relationship this pregnancy. A smear of peanut butter on toast was one of the only things I could eat in early pregnancy. Now, just the smell of it usually reminds me of how sick I was and I tend to avoid it. Plus, peanut butter isn’t Paleo. But, I use the all-natural kind from Trader Joe’s, so I feel like there are probably worse things I could be eating.

So, despite my reservations about peanut butter, I realized this morning that I needed a smoothie that didn’t involve berries, just for something different. I figured, what do I have to lose? Pumpkin, spices, and coconut milk? Yum.

Holy cow, am I glad I made this smoothie. It is my absolute favorite so far. Its creamy goodness has subtle hints of pumpkin pie and just a touch of peanut butter. It is amazing. Seriously, you won’t regret making this one, even if you are Paleo.

This recipe is a combination of several I read this morning, but the end result is entirely my own.

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Pumpkin Peanut Butter Perfection Smoothie
Makes two 16-oz smoothies

Ingredients:
-2 cups coconut milk
-2 bananas
-1/2 cup pumpkin puree
-4 tablespoons peanut butter
-2 tablespoons coconut oil
-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
-1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
-1/2 teaspoon ginger
-Ice cubes

Directions:
Blend and enjoy!

15 Smoothies in 15 Days, Day 1: Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

It’s been a while since I’ve been on here. Five and a half months, to be exact. And I’ll tell you why… I’m pregnant! This is our first, and it’s a girl and I have about three months left before we get to meet her.

Normally, pregnancy wouldn’t be a reason to stop a food blog, but morning sickness hit me, and hit me hard. After about six months of Paleo and clean eating, all I could stomach were strawberry milkshakes from Steak & Shake (they HAD to be from Steak & Shake – don’t ask me why) and pizza. Sometimes, I could eat fruit, but that was pretty much it. I wouldn’t call these craving so much as these were literally the only foods I could eat. For months. That whole thing about morning sickness stopping after your first trimester? It’s a bag of lies. Mine continued well through my fourth month.

This is all not to mention that, for a truly healthy pregnancy, you really need some bread and cheese if you aren’t intolerant to them. Actually, many pregnant women find themselves more tolerant to these things during their pregnancies than they usually are otherwise because they need the nutrients. If you don’t eat any carbs, your body ends up using all the protein and fat you are intaking for you instead of for your growing fetus, and that’s definitely not good, considering growing fetuses need a lot of protein and fat.

Also, did you know that getting into a cooking routine is kind of like getting into a workout routine? You get used to doing it, so you’re fine, but when you stop for a while, it can be tough to get back on the wagon. Needless to say, since I hadn’t cooked for over four months, I just… didn’t pick it back up.

Now, though, I’m in the home stretch. My third trimester starts on Sunday, and this little baby girl is growing well by all professional accounts. Since I want to try a natural, drug-free childbirth, I want to make sure I am healthy, she is healthy, and there are as few complications as possible. Furthermore, the third trimester, your immune system is pretty much shot, and I have to go back to school (i.e. come in contact with lots of new germs) in a few weeks. In short, I want to get my body in the best shape possible so I can avoid any illness or complications here in the home stretch.

So what am I doing to accomplish that goal? Eating well, of course. Whole foods – especially those that are known to increase immunity and breast milk production, because I plan to breastfeed – are now becoming a staple in my diet. I’m especially focused on herbal pregnancy teas, coconut oil, and apple cider vinegar. (Side note: NEVER take these without consulting your healthcare professional, pregnant or not! I AM NOT A DOCTOR and the internet is full of lies. This is just what I’ve chosen to do based on my research and with the help of my awesome team of doctors.) I don’t make my own pregnancy teas, but coconut oil and ACV are known to give you awesome nutrients, make your digestive system function more regularly (no small feat in the last months of your pregnancy), boost immunity, and – in the case of coconut oil – helps produce breast milk and good fats for your fetus, who is packing on the pounds as we speak.

I cook with these things, but I don’t incorporate enough of them into my diet to make a substantial difference (they say one teaspoon of ACV three times a day and two tablespoons of coconut oil per day – but spread it out!). So how am I to reconcile my desire to increase my intake of these foods with my need for more fruits and vegetables and my cravings for ice cream?

Smoothies, of course!

I love smoothies. I make them all the time, but I often find myself in a smoothie rut, eating the same one day in and day out. When I want to add things, I just add them, and the taste isn’t all that great. So, I’m on a quest for new smoothie recipes. Since I start school in a little less than 15 days, I’m starting a new project: 15 Smoothies in 15 Days! Who’s excited. I know I am!

First up, pumpkin pie. Why doesn’t love pumpkin pie? I absolutely adore pumpkin pie; it’s my favorite food. Ever. And, since we’re totally nesting and cleaning out everything, I found four cans of pumpkin puree in my pantry from last fall. So, here’s a little early taste of fall with all of the great nutrients pumpkin has to offer.

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Pumpkin Pie Smoothie
Makes one smoothie
Adapted from Free Coconut Recipes

Ingredients:
-1 banana
-1/2 cup coconut milk
-1/4 cup pumpkin puree
-1 teaspoon cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice, whatever you have on hand
-1 teaspoon honey
-1 tablespoon coconut oil
-1.5 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. Optional: Garnish with cinnamon.

Paleo Meal: Slow Cooked Lamb Roast with Sweet Potato Pumpkin Puree

Just that title makes you salivate a little bit, doesn’t it? Slow cooked lamb. Sweet potato pumpkin puree. All of the tastes of fall and comfort and happiness – and most of it is ready for you in the slow cooker when you come home from work. Yum, indeed.

Last weekend, Tim and I attended the beautiful wedding of my cousin, Dani, and her new husband, Matt. When we got home late Sunday, we didn’t have the time nor the energy to do any of our normal meal prep or to plan out any meals. We made do with what we had in the kitchen for that night and breakfast and lunch the next day, until Tim could get to the grocery store. When he asked what I wanted, I told him to get a bunch of meat we could easily throw in the slow cooker. He came home with a bunch of stuff, including a 4-pound boneless leg of lamb. It is perfectly slow cooker-sized and looked like I could plop it in the bowl, turn it on low, and be done with it (lamb is really flavorful without anything on it), but we didn’t get around to making it this week. Since Sundays are slow cooker days, and since we were afraid that if we waited any longer it would spoil, we busted out the slow cooker and a new recipe and got to work on this lamb. If only you could smell my kitchen right now. SO. GOOD. This recipe is adapted from Dinner with Julie.

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Slow Cooked Lamb Roast
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:
4-pound boneless lamb leg roast
1 lemon
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 sprig fresh rosemary, roughly chopped
1 Tbsp. olive oil
freshly ground sea salt and black pepper to taste
1/2 cup red wine

Directions:
1. Zest the lemon into a small bowl. Add garlic, rosemary, and olive oil. Mix together.
2. Prepare the lamb on a cutting board or plate. You may need to cut off netting or plastic holding the roast together.
3. Rub garlic mixture into lamb. If desired, let sit in the refrigerator for 30 minutes up until overnight. (I didn’t do this step, and it was still tasty.)
4. Place lamb in slow cooker. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour wine over the lamb.
5. Turn slow cooker on low and cook for 6-8 hours.
6. Serve warm and drizzled with red wine sauce from the slow cooker.

The last time I had lamb, I was out at an Irish pub in the area, and it was the special. Whenever I see lamb on the menu, I almost always order it, because it is delicious, a healthy alternative to beef, and I see it so rarely that I just want to eat it when I do. This Irish pub served their lamb over a sweet potato puree that I’m sure was laden with butter, cream, and other non-Paleo items, but was amazing nonetheless. Since we were making lamb in the slow cooker and had some sweet potatoes and pumpkin left over, I decided to make my own, Paleo-friendly sweet potato pumpkin puree (how’s that for some alliteration?) as a side. This recipe is adapted from Chef Amber Shea

Sweet Potato Pumpkin Puree
Serves 2-3

Ingredients:
2 sweet potatoes
1/2 cup pumpkin puree (just pumpkin, not pumpkin pie mix)
2 tablespoons coconut milk
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 and 1/2 teaspoons Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Butter (or honey or maple syrup)

Directions:
1. Peel and cube sweet potatoes. Put them in a pot and fill with enough water to cover potatoes. Cover and boil. Once the water reaches boiling, boil for 20 minutes or until potatoes are soft when pierced with a fork. Drain and let cool.
2. Meanwhile, add the remaining ingredients to food processor or blender and process.
3. When potatoes are cool enough, add them to food processor or blender. (WARNING: Be sure to put the lid on and hold it tight! You do not want hot sweet potato hitting your face!) Process until pureed.
4. Serve warm, chilled, or room temperature.

Paleo Smoothie: Green Pumpkin Smoothie

‘Tis pumpkin season! I’m so excited about this, because pumpkin is one of my favorite things. I love eating them in pretty much everything from pies to side dishes, drinking them in delightful beverages from pumpkin spiced lattes to pumpkin beer, eating the seeds both raw and roasted, decorating my yard with them… the possibilities are endless! How can you go wrong? Pumpkins take center stage from late September until after Thanksgiving, and rightfully so. They are generally inexpensive and you can get a lot out of them – food, seeds, and decor! Plus, when you flavor it with all the right spices, you have a cinnamon-ey, comforting starch that’s better than potatoes any day (though I do often pair pumpkin with sweet potatoes, as you will see in my next post!) because it’s packed with beta carotene and vitamin A which is great for your overall health.

Pumpkin is so awesome, I’ll actually try to put it in just about anything. Including my green smoothies.

If you are a little confused by this because orange pumpkin is completely opposite of green spinach on the color wheel, you were obviously paying close attention in art class because you are correct. However, just because something isn’t green doesn’t mean you can’t put it in a green smoothie! The awesome thing about coconut milk and spinach is that neither really taste like anything, so you can add whatever flavors you want to get the smoothie you desire and still get a serving of green leafies in your smoothie.

The idea to add pumpkin to my green smoothies came to me as I was prepping this week’s meals. As often happens, I was sipping a beer as I prepped. This week, it happened to be a KBC Pumpkin Ale from Trader Joe’s – my absolute, all-time favorite pumpkin beer (which is why I’m OK with it not being Paleo in the least; it’s worth a cheat!). As I was drinking it, I thought to myself, “Wouldn’t it be great if I could get this flavor in a drink that was actually good for me?” And BAM! It hit me. Pumpkin smoothies.

This recipe is an experiment adapted from Nom Eat Nom, and I think it turned out really great! I drank all the leftovers, and I’m pretty excited to drink the rest of these bad boys this week.

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Green Pumpkin Smoothie
Makes one smoothie

Ingredients

  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix, just the pumpkin)
  • about 3 cups raw spinach
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • scant tablespoon Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Butter (you could substitute maple syrup or honey for this if you don’t have it; I would also recommend not buying it from that link because it’s only $5-ish in the store and $13 is ridiculous to pay for it – I just included the link so you would know what it is)
  • You could also add some nut butter if you wanted to have a little more protein
    If you are drinking this right away and not freezing it as part of your meal prep, add some ice

    Directions

  • Toss everything into a blender and process for about a minute. Pour into a glass, chill, and enjoy!
  • Paleo Pumpkin Spiced Latte

    I think I’ve said it before here, but I love fall. Love it. It is my favorite time of year. This might be because of the crisp, cool weather, or because it’s back-to-school time. It might also be because I love fall colors – all of the browns, reds, and clear blue skies. As an added bonus, I love pumpkin. Pumpkin seeds, pumpkin beer, pumpkin breads and cookies, and, of course, the pumpkin spiced latte.

    The first pumpkin spiced latte of the year is always the best. It’s been so long since you last had one that once that pumpkin pie flavored, sugary, caffeinated goodness hits your lips, it’s like a little slice of fall heaven.

    Mmmmmmm…

    Here’s the problem, though. (As if there’s only one.) PSLs aren’t Paleo. Not in the least. They’re chock full of espresso, dairy, and sugar. I’m almost positive whatever pumpkin is in there isn’t real, either, which completely eliminates any nutrients you might have gotten from the fruit. As with most things that are so good, this one is not that good for you.

    Naturally, then, I set out on a Pinterest quest to find Paleo Pumpkin Spiced Latte recipes. And find them, I did. There are about a million recipes out there – so many that it’s almost overwhelming. Which one to choose? Since yesterday was the first really crisp, fall day and we needed to go grocery shopping, I chose the first recipe I found to which I had all the ingredients lying around in my pantry and made it. I have to say, I was not disappointed! I was even able to enjoy it on my patio in the sun. Did I mention how much I love fall?

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    Paleo Pumpkin Spiced Latte
    Makes 1 Latte
    Adapted from Civilized Caveman Cooking Creations

    Ingredients:

    • 1 cup coconut milk
    • 1 1/2 tbsp canned pureed pumpkin – not pumpkin pie mix, just the pumpkin
    • 1 tbsp organic or imitation vanilla extract
    • scant 2 tbsp raw honey
    • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
    • 1/2 cup strong coffee
    Instructions
    1. Brew your coffee.
    2. In a sauce pan over medium heat, add all the remaining ingredients. Stir frequently, and heat until milk is bubbling.
    3. Pour milk mixture into a mug, then add coffee.
    4. Stir it up and enjoy!

    This was absolutely delicious. I do think I added a bit too much nutmeg and found myself wishing I used allspice or pumpkin pie spice instead. I also enjoyed the addition of the honey because I think it gave it that saccharine quality of Starbucks’ PSLs, but I might take that down to 1 tablespoon next time. Also, if you don’t stir it constantly as you drink it, you sort of end up eating the end of it because a lot of the pumpkin settles to the bottom, but that’s just a sign of a healthy, homemade beverage! Just be sure to serve these with spoons if you are handing them out to company.

    I have a feeling this will quickly become my fall (and winter!) weekend treat. I can’t wait to try out some tweaks to this recipe, including mixing it with chai tea instead of coffee. YUM!