Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Green Smoothies

At the beginning of the year my roommate saw that Simple Green Smoothies was doing a 30-Day Green Smoothie Challenge so we decided to give it a try.  What we loved about this site was that it not only provided a different set of green smoothie recipes each week, but they also provided a shopping list for each week's smoothies!  We started with week 2 and though it would be fun to do a review of some of the recipes and share our favorites. 
Simple Green Smoothies
Week 2
Day 1. Banana C Monster-
2 cups fresh spinach
1 cup fresh orange juice
1 cup water
2 bananas
1 orange, peeled
1 cup strawberries

Review: 5/5 stars! This smoothie had a great flavor and a great texture. It was creamy, but not too thick. We were off to a good start!

Day 2. Popeye's Fruit Punch-
2 cups fresh spinach
1 cup fresh orange juice
1 cup water
2 cups grapes
1 apple
1 cup strawberries

Review: 3.5/5 stars. It had good flavor with extra sweetness from the grapes, but we felt like it never got mixed enough.  A banana could have helped with the texture.

Day 3. Purple Power-
2 cups fresh kale, stems removed
1 cup apple juice, unsweetened
1 cup water
2 cups blueberries
2 bananas

Review: 3/5 stars. This smoothie was too rich.  I thought the kale and apple juice made it taste like fall, but it had too many flavors going on.  

Day 5. Chunky Monkey-
2 cups fresh spinach
2 cups almond milk, unsweetened
2 bananas
1 pear
2 tablespoons almond butter
2 tablespoons cacao powder

Review: 5/5 stars! This was our favorite smoothie! It has an excellent creamy to thick ratio, so it is filling but still easy to drink.  We were a little worried that the chocolate would be overpowering, but the flavor is perfect! We have made this smoothie many times. (Note: We did not use almond butter in ours)

Photo credit: Gena B.

Week 3
Day 5. Tropical Breeze-
2 cups fresh spinach
2 cups coconut milk, unsweetened
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
2 cups pineapple
1 banana

Review: 4.5/5 stars.  I really like the flavors in this smoothie.  It feels lighter than some of the smoothies and it is definitely not as filling.  However, I still highly recommend it!

All of the recipes make enough for two smoothies, but can easily be halved.  I loved that all of these smoothies are non-dairy and incorporate the flavors of different non-dairy milk options. The grocery lists call for oranges for some smoothies, but we realized that buying orange juice was easier and faster.  A great tip from Simple Green Smoothies is to blend the greens and liquid first, before adding the other ingredients.  This really helps to avoid big chunks of greens in your smoothie!

I hope this inspires you to try some new green smoothie recipes! I would also love to hear about some of your favorite smoothies :)

Thursday, January 2, 2014

New Year, New Blessings

Last December I came across the idea of creating a blessings jar. 
Using a plain jar would work just fine, but I thought that decorating jars would be a good activity for our holiday party.  
December 2012, decorating blessing jars
I have been using my jar throughout the year and I wanted to share some of my favorite blessings to help inspire others to try it out this year:
Ticket stub & coin from Ben Howard Concert
                                                                                                                                                          April 17th, 2013: My friends and I went up to Vancouver, BC to hear Ben Howard perform at the Orpheum Theater.  We unknowingly had front row seats and managed to get free parking! It was incredible & still feels unreal.
Souvenir Penny from Seattle, WA

February 2nd, 2013: My mom and I met up in Seattle for an adventure day.  We explored Pike Place Market, rode the Monorail to the Space Needle, enjoyed the view from the Columbia Center, and-of course- drank coffee.

My poor roommate had a tough time with both mono and strep throat, 
and I felt blessed that my immune system was working well. 

Note from my Mom on the day I flew to STL to see my friend
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       August 2013: I got to spend a perfect week in St. Louis, MO with my best friend.  Lots of walking, napping, eating good food and meeting good friends.  We went to the City Museum, the STL zoo, a rafting trip, and a back to school BBQ

Now I'll empty out my blessing jar, find a place to store my 2013 notes & keepsakes, 
and see what 2014 has in store for me!

Christmas in Bend

Christmas Tree in Drake Park (Bend, OR)
Sorry I haven't posted in awhile. Things have been quite busy.  This Wednesday was New Years, last Wednesday was Christmas, the Wednesday before that I got two of my wisdom teeth pulled out, and the Wednesday before that I was taking a final for my poli-sci class! So all in all, December was a bit crazy. However, I got to spend the week of Christmas in Bend and it was a much needed rest from my crazy schedule. I am adding Bend, OR to my list of potential places to live.  This is the view from a bridge just minutes away from where I was staying:

I made it to Bend in time for solstice and it felt like a miracle to see the sun after ages of fog in the PNW. We hiked Flatiron Trail in the Badlands Wilderness.

At the end of the hike were piles of lava rock that we could climb up for a breathtaking panorama of the Badlands Wilderness and the surrounding mountains.

That evening we watched the sunset behind Mt. Bachelor and the Three Sisters from Crux brewery.  They had an awesome fire pit on the patio.

A few days later we hiked Pilot Butte.  I still can't get over this view.  From the top you can see all of the surrounding mountains and buttes, Jefferson, Hood, Bachelor, Three Finger Jack, Broken Top, and the list goes on... 

We also did the traditional Christmas things-baking cookies & putting up decorations. After a delicious Christmas dinner of seafood pasta, my mom and I walked through Drake Park to see all of the lights.  We had an impromptu dance party when we found a portable radio that someone left on a park bench. 

I got some reading in and I got to snuggle with the cat at the house I where I was staying.

Christmas Tree at the Bend Library

With graduation just around the corner, I'm excited to get back to Bellingham, but I loved the opportunity to spend my Christmas east of the Cascades.  Although there was no snow while I was there, Bend provided me with a much needed break from Washington's grey weather.
My pup and I at the top of Pilot Butte