My Favorite Green Smoothie Recipe

In the summer months I especially love to start my day off with a cold green smoothie for breakfast. I like to pack it full of good protein, fiber, and healthy fats to give me lots of energy in the morning and some frozen fruits to make it thick and delicious. This smoothie recipe is the same one that I have been making for almost seven years because I just love it that much. I thought that it was high time that I share the recipe here. My version is free of gluten and dairy, but you can make substitutions that are appropriate for your needs and preferences. Rumor has it that children will even drink it sometimes too.

Okay, you are going to need some ingredients. Before I tell you what to do with them I am going to tell you long stories about the ingredients because I find food really interesting:

Green smoothie ingredients

Coconut Oil: I love coconut oil. I have been using it for a long, long time. When we initially changed our diet over to being free of dairy eight or nine years ago, coconut oil was the primary fat that I used as a substitute for butter in baking. I find that I use organic, sustainably harvested palm shortening more for baking now but we still use loads of coconut oil for anything from smoothies to popcorn and a host of non-food applications as well. I also like repurposing the big, clear containers for storing dry goods or craft supplies after I finish the oil. In addition to being delicious and coming in useful containers, coconut oil has tremendous health benefits. You can Google your day away reading all about it. To get you started, here’s a helpful article exploring its greatness. I always make sure to buy raw, or cold-pressed, organic, coconut oil to get the maximum health benefits.

Hemp Seeds: Another super healthy and delicious ingredient. Of the brands I have tried, my personal favorite is Nutiva (they also make excellent coconut oil). I remember meeting who I think was the owner of the company at the Chicago Green Festival Expo seven or eight years ago (if he wasn’t the owner he was a representative with an intense passion for hemp seeds and coconut oil). We had already been using the products for a while at that time and came home from the festival with a stroller loaded with oil and hemp seeds that we purchased at the event. Hemp seeds are delicious, having a nutty flavor that reminds me of pine nuts. They are a great source of protein and fiber as well as omega-3s. I toss them into quick breads, yeast breads, smoothies, and on salads.

Bananas: Frozen bananas give a very creamy texture and mouth feel to the smoothie. Since I make this smoothie often and go through a lot of bananas doing it, I keep a never-ending bag of bananas in the freezer. Whenever we have bananas that are getting too ripe for anyone to eat happily, I just peel them, break them in half, and toss them in the bag. Many of the stores around me will also reduce overripe produce for quick sale and bananas are frequent flyers in this area. I tend to stock up on these spotted or bruised bananas at 5-8 cents each and use them to keep the “frozen banana bag” stocked.

Strawberries: I keep big bags of frozen strawberries on-hand for my smoothie needs. I like the zing that they give to the smoothie. The iron present in the greens will also be more readily absorbed when paired with the vitamin C in the berries. I have found the best value pound-for-pound at Costco in their 4 lb. bags. Since I know that I will use this quantity, I have no problem buying in bulk. l don’t always buy all of my produce organic, but I strongly prefer to eat organic strawberries because the Environmental Working Group tells me that it’s an important one.

Milk Substitute: We use rice milk as our primary milk substitute. We have used hemp milk in the past as well when protein content was of a higher priority in a milk substitute (when it was Asher’s primary fluid source as a toddler because Mommy had cancer and had to wean him far earlier than expected). You can use other preferred milk substitutes too as well as cow’s milk if dairy is agreeable to you and to your constitution. You can even use water, but I don’t think that tastes as delicious.

Green Powder: There are eleventy jillion green juices, shakes, and powders on the market these days. I have always made this smoothie with Pure Synergy Superfood powder. When I was first looking for a green powder to use in my smoothies, one of the moms from the kids’ Waldorf school sang the praises of this one. In my experience the moms at the school were some pretty nutritionally-savvy ladies so I took the recommendation to heart. I like Pure Synergy because it is packed with organic, raw, sprouted, awesomeness with everything from mushrooms and sea vegetables, to herbs and grasses. I am not affiliated with this company, I just think that they make a great product. If you have another green powder that you prefer, just substitute that in, adjusting the quantity to be equal to one serving of whatever green powder that you use.

Alright, now to make your smoothie you need:

1 c. rice milk or other milk substitute
2 bananas, frozen
3/4 c. strawberries, frozen
2 T. hemp seeds
1 T. coconut oil
1 T. Pure Synergy powder (they recommend that you work up to this amount over time so that you’re body doesn’t explode from too much healthy right away).

Now, it is important to follow the manufacturer guidelines for your blender if you make this frozen delight. In my experience, if you have a high-powered blender like a Vitamix, you can just toss everything in and blend away, using the tamper thing to get it all well blended. If you have a less powerful blender, you will likely have to thaw the fruit a bit or it will be too hard and dense and you will risk breaking your blades or overheating your motor. You also may need to start the blender without the fruit and slowly add the fruit a bit at a time with the blender running to avoid problems (I once spent a good thirty minutes on the phone with a blender customer service representative discussing the importance of a “vortex” in proper blender usage).

Sunshine making smoothie look black in picture.  Sad for picture but happy sunshine.

Sunshine making smoothie look black in picture. Sad for picture but happy sunshine.

It should be noted that this is not a low-calorie drink. It is about 24 oz. of nutrient-packed goodness. I use this as my breakfast and to fuel me all morning. You can of course modify the quantities of hemp seeds and coconut oil or the type of liquid used to alter the protein, fiber, fat, and calorie contents to suit your personal health needs. I like it just like this.

IMG_9910

See? Yum!

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Crunchy Father’s Day Gift Ideas

Father’s Day is coming up fast. I wanted to highlight a few gift options that have caught my eye that might appeal to the crunchy dad in your life:

Vegan Cuts Men's Grooming Box

1. Vegan Cuts Men’s Grooming Box
Remember when I posted about the Vegan Cuts Men’s Grooming Box back in March and said something about tucking it away until Father’s Day? Just in case you forgot, you can still order the box for the vegan crunchy dad. VC says that orders placed through today should arrive in time for Father’s Day. As a reminder, the Grooming Box features 12 vegan products and is valued at $108. Box cost is $39.95 with free shipping in the United States.

Farm to People Billy Corrigan box

2. Farm to People Tasting Box curated by Billy Corgan Many people do not know that Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins has a passion for local artisanal foods. As the owner of a tea house in the Chicagoland area, he sources beautiful and exotic teas, serves gluten free, vegan, and Paleo fare and decorates the place with an eclectic mix of antiques and art. If you are lucky enough to be in the area (as I am) you may even get to sip some delicious tea as you listen to Billy (as his alter ego DJ Ivory Tower) spin some classic Smashing Pumpkin tunes. If you cannot make it out to his Madame Zuzu’s tea house to enjoy a cup of gourmet tea, this Farm to People box features some delicious herbal teas from Madame Zuzu’s (two of my favorites in fact) as well as some of Billy’s favorite small batch foods. Three boxes, at random, will also include a handwritten note from Billy himself. The boxes cost $129, which includes free ground shipping. Due to perishable items, some areas will require an additional charge for overnight shipping. Farm to People offers other other Father’s Day gift packages at various price points and to cater to different dietary needs such as vegan, paleo, gluten free, and organic.

organic beer brewing kit

3. Seven Bridges Cooperative Organic Beer Brewing Kits Available in both regular and gluten-free varieties, these kits contain the certified ingredients needed for dad to brew up a batch of his own ale, lager, stout, etc. in a couple hours. Some basic equipment is required. Pricing starts at $36.00.

Alchemy Goods upcycled toiletries bag

4. Alchemy Goods upcycled toiletries bag These water-resistant bags are crafted in the USA from reclaimed truck inner tube and and feature a zipper pull made from a tube valve. In total they are made from 92% upcycled materials. Eco-friendly and practical sounds good to me. These bags are currently on sale for $30 plus shipping.


5. Eco-friendly watches:

Sprout Watches

Sprout Eco-Friendly watches Made from eco-friendly materials such as corn resin, organic cotton, bamboo, cork, and Tyvek and using only mercury-free batteries. These watches come in a style sure to suit any crunchy dad who wants to be eco-conscious and on time. I saw prices for the watches starting around $22 on Amazon.

We Wood watch

We Wood offers another non-traditional watch option, using mostly scrap wood to craft their watches. In addition, for every watch purchased, We Wood plants a tree somewhere in the world, with over 300,000 trees planted to date.

Upcycled vintage leather wallet

6. Eco Friendly Wallet: There are a whole array of wallets in every shape, configuration, and price point featuring upcycled and Earth-friendly materials. I loved this cork wallet featured on Etsy.com. and the gorgeous vintage leather wallets pictured above made from upcycled baseball mitts by Fielders Choice Goods.

Klean Kanteen growler

7. Eco-friendly water bottle: There are so many great eco-friendly water bottles available on the market now. I personally am partial to glass or stainless steel options. We have been using Klean Kanteen bottles for many years in our family, and I have given them as gifts to family members in the past. Hydration is so important to good health and these bottles make it easy. Klean Kanteen has even recently introduced growlers to their line (pictured above) in the event that you want to pair a reusable bottle with that organic brewing kit above.

I hope that you find the perfect something or a great inspiration in the list above. What are you getting the crunchy dad in your life for Father’s Day this year?

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Barganic Alert-Vegan Cuts Men’s Grooming Box

Have you had a chance to check out the Crunchy Parent list of crunchy-friendly subscription boxes? If you have, you may be familiar with Vegan Cuts, a monthly subscription service specializing in cruelty-free beauty and skincare products. They tend to feature a lot of natural and organic products as well. In addition to their monthly boxes, Vegan Cuts will occasionally offer special themed boxes for individual purchase.

Vegan Cuts Men's Grooming Box

Right now, Vegan Cuts is offering a special Men’s Grooming box, perfect to delight the animal-loving, crunchy guy in your life. If you can stand to keep it a secret, this would make a great gift to tuck away for Father’s Day too.

The Grooming Box features 12 vegan products including:

Thrive – Face Wash 3.38 oz
Ursa Major – Stellar Shaving Cream 2 oz
Bare Bones Body Care – Deodorant 2 oz
Brickell Men’s Products – Face Moisturizer 1 oz
nyl – Foaming Castile Hand Soap 1.5 oz
Preserve – Triple Razor System Handle & 2 Blades
Aubrey Organics – Men’s Stock After Shave Balm 4 oz
Fanciful Fox – Beard Oil 4.25 oz
Sage & Arrow – Coffee Scrub 2 oz
Jonathan Product – Green Rootine Pure Paste 1.7 oz
Verb – Shampoo .65 oz
Verb – Conditioner .65 oz

The box is valued at $108 and costs $39.95 with free shipping in the United States. Boxes will start shipping the week of March 30th. Are you in for one?

Make sure that you don’t miss out on any Barganic Alerts, these babies tend to be time-limited. Subscribe to Crunchyparent.com to always be the first to know!

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3…2…1…Gluten Free Flour Mix Recipe

flour

I tend to cook and bake a lot. They are among my favorite creative outlets, I think perhaps because the gratification of the end result is relatively quick, and because I like to eat. Once we became aware of Eva’s (and subsequently our other children’s and our own) food allergies and sensitivities it was all the more helpful to know how to make food that we could all enjoy and that tastes delish so that we didn’t feel like we were missing out.

One of the first things that I looked for was a good, solid, reliable flour substitute because it’s a complete staple in gluten free baking. There weren’t as many commercially-produced, gluten free, flour mixes available at that time, eight or so years ago, and prepared mixes tend to be costly. Store-bought GF mixes are great in a pinch or for those who don’t do much gluten free baking, but for our everyday baking needs I wanted something that I could whip up myself to have on hand, and I didn’t want too many hard-to-find ingredients. I trialed a lot of different flour combinations and settled on one based on rice flours and basic starches. I personally did not care for blends that used bean flours, as I didn’t like the flavor that they lent to my baked goods. I initially found this recipe on Food.com and have made some minor changes and notes to save cost and yield the best end result for your needs.

The proportions in this have always reminded me of a recipe shared by Dolly Parton’s character, Truvy, in Steel Magnolias, which is one of those movies that I can sit down and watch any and every time that it is on. At one point in the film Truvy is sharing her simple recipe for a dessert she calls, Cuppa Cuppa Cuppa (“It’s just a cup of flour, a cup of sugar and a cup of fruit cocktail with the syrup, stir and bake in a hot oven ‘til golden brown and bubbly.  I serve it with ice cream to cut the sweetness.”).

We use this flour mix absolutely all of the time and I’ll reference it a lot in my recipes, so it seemed important to share. Drumroll please……….

3…2…1…Flour Mix

3 Cups brown rice flour
3 Cups white rice flour
2 Cups potato starch
1 Cup tapioca starch
3 Tablespoons guar gum or xanthan gum

Stir it all together and store in an airtight container. Use in equal amounts as a substitute for all-purpose flour in any recipe.

And now for the important notes and tips and such….sometimes brown rice flour can be gritty and this will not yield the best results. Look for a brand whose flour you can see before buying to ensure that it is ground into a fine, uniform powder. I have had good luck with both Arrowhead Mills and Bob’s Red Mill, but I am sure that there are other good brands.

As for the white rice flour, potato starch, and tapioca starch, I have found that these can be purchased relatively inexpensively at most Asian markets or grocery stores with good-sized international foods sections. These same products can be found at the health food grocery or specialty store catering to individuals with food allergies, but they will be far more expensive if you go this way. Of course, you are unlikely to find organic versions when going the international route, so it is up to you to determine what is the best choice for you.

For the thickening agent, I use either xanthan gum or guar gum interchangeably depending on what I have around. If you are baking for someone who is especially sensitive to corn, soy, or wheat, you may wish to avoid xanthan gum because it is grown on a host substance that is usually either corn, soy, or wheat. Sometimes the package will specify on what it was grown, but often it will not. Guar gum is derived from the guar bean and may be tolerated more easily by those who find that they are sensitive to xanthan gum. As with the flour and starches, it will be more expensive to source these through brands targeting food allergy markets. You can generally find xanthan gum and guar gum more affordably if you purchase them as supplements from brands such as NOW.

Enjoy, and if you have a flour mix (store bought or homemade) that you swear by, please share in the comments.

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