How to Make a Delicious, Vitamin-Packed Smoothie

Last year I resolved to eat vegetables for two meals a day, in hopes that I would get somewhere close to the recommended 5+ servings of fruit and veggies a day.  As long as I was eating them twice a day, I was.  Before Christmas, I was finishing up my shopping at the mall, and I stopped at my favourite smoothie and wrap place at the mall, and they had a smoothie with kale and spinach in it.  Gross, right?  I decided to try it, because I was feeling a cold coming on, and figured that I needed the vitamins.  And to my surprise, it was tasty!

I couldn’t remember exactly what was in the smoothie, so I couldn’t exactly recreate it at home, but I picked up a bag of baby spinach, and was prepared to experiment at home.  Here’s the first of the experiments:

Smoothie

Hubs saw the remnants of the various types of fruit on the counter and said “You know, you don’t have to put EVERYTHING in.  It doesn’t always taste good.”  But after his first sip, he became a convert.  Here is essentially what I put in the smoothie (I have changed it a few times, and it’s delicious every time!)

Vitamin-Packed Smoothie

  • 1/2 c baby spinach
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 banana
  • 2 clementines (if you do not like pulpy orange juice, don’t add the oranges… the membranes don’t puree up very well, and you will have pulp)
  • 1/2 c blueberries
  • 1/2 Greek yogourt
  • enough juice or milk to give it a smooth consistence…. usually around 1 cup… I think for this one I put in 1/2 c pomegranate, and 1/2 c milk (depending on your fruit and vegetables you may need to add more or less)
  • 2T of flax seed (optional – flax adds good fat to your smoothie, and also gives it a great fibre boost)

Blend it all in a blender, and you’ve got yourself a delicious smoothie.  It has at least 2 servings of fruit and vegetables, and 1 serving of milk (providing you add both the yogourt and milk).  This mixture made two big glasses full, plus some for the little guy.  He loved it, too.

I plan on experimenting more with vegetables in my smoothies.  I’ll let you know how it goes…

Two Pumpkin Pasta Recipes!

“Necessity, who is the mother of invention.”  Plato, The Republic
Inspiration comes in many forms.  Monday night it came in the form of semi-soft oven-ready lasagna noodles.

I had made some pumpkin muffins over the weekend, and as always, there was a little bit of pumpkin puree left over (before you ask, this was the canned pumpkin, the kind that you just need to add an egg to to make pie, there were already spices in it… local pumpkins aren’t quite ready yet).  With my leftover pumpkin, I was ready for my pumpkin rolls.  I had gone to the grocery store and bought the ricotta cheese, and came home from work ready to cook, and all I found was oven-ready lasagna noodles.  I normally use regular noodles, boil them, and then roll.  It wasn’t going to work.  So off to google I went.  “Can I boil oven-ready lasagna noodles?” was my query.  In short, no.  Oven-ready noodles will fall apart if you boil them, but one of the chefs online suggested soaking them in warm water to soften them.  I tried that, and it worked, but I was a little impatient, so most of them broke.  I then conceded that I needed to make a lasagna instead.  And it turned out beautifully!  I would have a picture for you, but we needed to eat in a hurry Monday night, and then the leftovers disappeared surprisingly fast.

Pumpkin Rolls

  • Pumpkin puree
  • Ricotta cheese
  • Cooked lasagna noodles
  • Pumpkin pie spices, if desired
  • Sauce (pesto or Alfredo is nice)
  • Mozzarella cheese, if desired
  1. Pre-heat oven to 375°.
  2. Mix together your puree and the cheese.  You may like more pumpkin and less cheese, or vice versa.  Add spices if your puree isn’t already spiced.
  3. Lay your noodles out flat, and cover with the cheese mixture.  Roll them up and place in a baking pan.
  4. Cover with desired sauce and mozzarella cheese.  Bake until cheese bubbles.

Pumpkin-Spinach Lasagna

  • lasagna noodles
  • Alfredo sauce
  • pumpkin puree
  • spinach
  • ricotta cheese – 1tub
  • cheese for top
  • pumpkin pie spices, if desired
  1. Pre-heat oven to 400°.
  2. Combine ricotta cheese, spinach, and pumpkin in a bowl.  You may need to add some pumpkin pie spices, if desired.
  3. Layer your lasagna in this order: Alfredo, noodles, pumpkin, Alfredo, noodles, pumpkin, noodles, sauce, cheese.
  4. Bake until cheese on the top is melted, and the centre is cooked.

Vegetarian Cannelloni

My hubby recently came home with a package of cannelloni pasta.  They were the express kind, meaning I could put them in the oven without boiling them first.  I was anxious to try them.  In our house this year, we started doing ‘Meatless Mondays’, and I’m always looking for another way to eat my vegetables.  Let me tell you, these were a little finicky to work with, but the end result was pretty darn tasty.

Image

So the first thing I did was start with my spices in a small sauce pan.  I melted a little bit of margarine in the pot, and then I added garlic, fresh basil (we have planters in our kitchen), and some parsley.  I then threw in about half a cup of frozen spinach (I think… I use the Compliments brand, and it was three little balls of spinach).  When that was ready, I put in one tub of cottage cheese, and some Parmesan cheese.  Now for the tricky part: filling them.

If you have a better method of filling them, please leave me a message!  I first laid down a good layer of spaghetti sauce on the bottom of my 9×13 pan to lay the cannelloni on.  I then held the hollow noodle in one hand, using my palm to plug the bottom, while I used a spoon to put the cheese mixture in.  Once it was full, I transferred it quickly to the pan.  It made 18 filled tubes, which pretty much filled the pan, anyway.  I then put a lot of spaghetti sauce over top.  I used a whole bottle of Catelli Garden Selects. Once it was empty, I swirled a little water around in the bottle to get the rest of the sauce, and poured that over the top, too.  That was I was sure to get enough liquid to soften up those noodles.

They got pretty good reviews from the family.  If you are going to make them, they do take at least an hour to get ready.  The prep was about 20 minutes, and then they cooked for at least 40.  They’re a nice change from lasagna, though!