DIY Fruit and Veggie Wash

DSC_4699I am a full blown germaphobe.  I don’t mind dirt at all, but the idea of germs and things that can make me sick makes me bug out (get it, “bug” out).

I wasn’t always this way.  It was probably becoming a mother in the height of the swine flu epidemic (I don’t know if it was an official epidemic, but it sure felt that way).  This unleashed the crazy in me.  Like, double wash, triple hand sanitizer then anti-germ hand lotion crazy.  Before that I would grab an apple right out of the pile in the grocery store and take a bite.  The idea of that now makes my stomach turn.

It’s really important to clean your fruits and vegetables before you eat them.  Even the organic ones.  Unless you grow it yourself, your food is exposed to all kinds of things along the way before it gets to the grocery store.  And truth be told, the thing that creeps me out the most is produce in stores that other people had their grubby little hands on.  I’ve seen way too many people not wash their hands after using the public bathroom to just nosh on an apple right from the shelf anymore.  Ugh, I can’t even think about it.

So, now you want to wash your produce since I just reminded you that people are gross and don’t wash their hands.  They sell bottles of fruit and veggie wash in most stores.  I dig that.  It’s easy to just grab a bottle of it.  The problem is I go through a 22oz bottle in a little over a week and the stuff costs anywhere from $3 to $6 dollars in the store.  That adds up when you’re a greensypants!

The other problem…the ingredients.  The list of ingredients on most said bottles have some things I don’t recognize.  I don’t enjoy that.  So, to get to the point here…make your own!  It takes a minute or two and costs close to nothing.  Here is what you need:

1 cup white vinegar

1 cup water

1 tablespoon baking soda

1-2 tablespoons lemon juice (optional)

empty spray bottle

That’s it.  An ingredient list like that is what I dream about.  Here is how you make it:

Pour vinegar into a large mixing bowl then add the baking soda.  Remember that volcano you made in 5th grade?  Fizzy, fizzy.  (Kids love this part so get them involved and excited to wash some veggies.  YEAH!)  Make sure you have enough room in the bowl for the reaction.  Stir mixture until all the fizzing stops, add water then stir.  I like to put the juice of a whole lemon into it for fragrance.  You can also use store bought lemon juice.  This step isn’t necessary but the vinegar has a pretty dominating smell.  The lemon is much more pleasant.  Pour the mixture into your empty spray bottle, (a funnel is useful here), and there you go.  The bottle pictured here had some sort of cleaner in it that I dumped out.  It came in a gift basket someone gave to me (sorry to whoever that was).  It’s fine to use a bottle that has had a cleaning product in it if you thoroughly clean it.  You will have to fill it with mild soap and water and just keep pulling the spray trigger to get all the yuckies out of there.  It takes some time but just chill and watch a show or something (kids come in handy here, too).  You just saved like five bucks, people!

You want to spray all of your non peeling produce with this and let it sit for a few minutes before washing off.  With berries and grape tomatoes and such, just put them in a bowl and spray as you move the fruit around making sure you cover all surfaces.  Fill the bowl with water then toss in a strainer.  Avoid using on cut fruits and vegetables like squash or zucchini since it will absorb the mixture.  It’s not harmful in the least but it will alter the flavor.  Wash before you cut!

Now go wash some whole, real food and get chomping!

Be sure to like greensypants on facebook and follow on twitter so you know when there is more greensypants info to soak in!  Share with your friends and the green will keep coming your way!

Smooches,

Nikki

 

 

Categories: Green Love, Recipes, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Guac-A-Mazing.

DSC_4680I used to hate avocado.  “Hate” is a word I rarely use because it’s so ugly.  But for reals, I hated it.  I don’t know if it was the color, texture or taste, but I wanted no part of it.  If I ordered a veggie burrito somewhere and avocado was in there it ruined my day.  Serious crankypants mode.

I was in the produce section at the grocery store and passed by the avocados.  Suddenly something weird happened.  I thought…”Hmm, I wonder if I should try to make guacamole’?”  What?  No.  That can’t be right.  But, it feels right.  Let’s do this.

I’ve said it at least three times here that your taste buds will change once you start getting rid of some crap in your diet and replacing it with real food.  Avocado was the first experience I had with this phenomenon.  I think my body was craving fat.  When you get to the point where you are nourishing your body with REAL food, (vegetables and fruits in their whole form), your body will start telling you what it needs.  It’s a really neat little gadget, that body of yours!

I looked up a recipe on my phone right there in the store.  Avocados, onion, tomatoes, cilantro…Wait cilantro?   Bleck.  I always thought cilantro tasted like soap.  Well, let’s just try it.  I can always leave it out of the recipe.  Lime, garlic,  and salt.  Ok, got it all. So I went home and followed the recipe.  It was pretty good.  I decided to make a few changes the next time I made it.  AMAZING!  I eat guacamole almost every day now.  I even toss a whole handful of cilantro in there.  I know, I can’t believe it either.  When I have that healthy fat I have more energy and I feel full after meals.  What’s better than that?!

Here is a recipe for two servings. Unless you are me and you devour all of it…

Ingredients:

2 AvocadosDSC_4668

1/3 cup onion, chopped

1/3 cup tomato, chopped

1/3 cup cilantro (or more!)

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 teaspoon salt (more to taste)

Dash or two of  ground cayenne pepper

Half a lime, squeezed

Peel and pit avocados.  Use a mixing bowl to mash coarsely.  I like to use my handheld potato masher.  Add in onion, tomatoes, cilantro and give a stir.  Add garlic, salt, cayenne and lime.  Stir until desired consistency.

Enjoy!  You want to serve this right away!

Looking for a filling meal??  Check out the Veggie Chili post!

Coming soon…DIY fruit and veggie wash!

Be sure to like greensypants on facebook and follow on twitter so you know when there is more greensypants info to soak in!  Share with your friends and the green will keep coming your way!

Smooches,

Nikki

 

 

Categories: Recipes, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

How to Choose a Juicer

DSC_4672After making the decision that I needed some juice in my life it was time to pick a juicer.  Like any good greensypants would, I took to the net and spent days and days researching juicing, juicers, what to juice, how to juice, juice recipes, etc.  Oh yes, this is going to be amazing.

Buying a juicer seems like a simple task.  It’s not.  Turns out there are several different kinds of juicers.  Like most other things, there are some good ones, and some bad.  As I did with “How To Choose a Blender”, I will give you the skinny…(juicing will help give you the skinny too, FYI)

There are three basic types of juicers.  Centrifugal, Masticating, and Twin Gear.  Twin gear or “titrating” juicers are super expensive (they start at $600) and they are a bitch to clean. They are used in juice bars or more industrial settings and aren’t really practical for the majority of households.  For that purpose I am going to stick to the centrifugal and masticating juicers.  So, here we go…

Centrifugal: Uses a grater (think cheese grater) that rapidly spins and shreds the fruits and vegetables.  Then, the shredded ingredients fall into a fast spinning basket that tosses the juice out the sides through a strainer and then drains down and out the front spout. The pulp remains in a removable basket in the machine.

Masticating:  Also known as a “slow” juicer, squeezes fruit and vegetables down an auger like a corkscrew. It squeezes more and more as the contents constrict. The juice flows out the bottom into a container and the pulp gets pushed out an opening at the end of the auger into a small bucket.

How do you know which is right for you?

Let’s talk about pros and cons.

While a centrifugal juicer is generally the least expensive, you are sacrificing a few things.  First, the friction caused by the rapid movement of the grating screen generates heat and also exposes the plant cells to oxygen.  The heat and oxygen exposure will destroy some of the enzymes and nutrients in the juice.  This isn’t ideal, but if you drink your juice right then and there after juicing you are still getting amazing benefits.  Second, the pulp, which is the fiber left over after juice is extracted, will still have a fair amount of moisture in it.  You can always do a second pass with the pulp to see if you can get any more.  Users also report that they aren’t as good at juicing leafy greens, which are the bomb diggity and essential to “green” juice.

Breville Fountain Elite

Breville Juice Fountain Elite

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Breville Juice Fountain Compact

Some advantages to a centrifugal juicer are that it takes up slightly less space than some masticating juicers.  Many also have a nice, large chute which avoids having to chop anything first.  Some can even fit a whole apple.  It also juices pretty quickly and is relatively easy to clean.  The centrifugal juicers that are most popular and have the best reviews are the Breville Juice Fountain Elite (for large volume juicing) and the Breville Fountain Compact (only small amounts of juice at a time).  They cost $299 and $99 respectively.  I really love the idea of the compact at $99.  This is a great option for the average person who wants to get the benefits of juicing on a small scale and not spend a ton.  There are plenty of other centrifugal juicers out there that are less expensive.  I can’t in good conscience recommend them since reviews for them aren’t glowing.

With the masticating juicer, the pulp will be more dry than with the centrifugal juicer.  It’s like it put on spanx for a night out.  It reeeaaaaaalllllly squeezes.  It’s also really good at juicing those magnificent leafies and wheat grass.  The juice will maintain nutrition longer than juice from a centrifugal juicer.  This is because the action of the slow squeezing gently tears open the cells and lets the juice flow out without much oxidation and doesn’t generate any heat.  Also, the masticating juicer does more than just juice.  Some of them can extrude pasta, make nut butter and nut milk. Nifty.

Omega J8006

Omega J8006

I chose the masticating juicer.  I knew that in addition to my daily juicing, I planned to do occasional juice fasts and wanted the most nutrition I could get.  I also like that I can make my afternoon juice and then have the leftover in the morning knowing it still has all the benefits it did the night before.  I have the Omega J8006.  You can look here for the least expensive price I could find at $279.  Be sure to check out other places since prices seem to change daily.  You’ll notice the price is actually better than the large capacity Breville.  There are now newer models (the 8007,8008) that cost a bit more but the 8006 works great and you can get it for less.  Getting the older model is a great way to get a masticating juicer but pay the same as you would for a high quality centrifugal.  Omega made a big change to the J8006 and improved the auger so I wouldn’t buy a model that came before that.  This juicer is available in a vertical design as well as standard design.  The vertical is a bit more expensive but will take up less counter space.

The bottom line…If you think you will be a casual juice drinker and you will drink your juice immediately after extracting, a centrifugal juicer is a good choice. If you are a little more committed and plan to juice more often and want it to last up to a day for drinking later, a masticating juicer is the best choice.  Also, masticating is a must if you want to make nut butters or nut milks or use your juicer for pasta extruding.  Make sure you check model capability for those extras.

If you missed the post “Getting’ Juicy With It” make sure you give that a peek for some juicy inspiration!

Happy juicing!

Are you enjoying greensypants??  Be sure to like greensypants on Facebook and follow on twitter!  Share with your friends and tell me what we should talk about next!

Smooches,

Nikki

 

 

 

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Gettin’ Juicy With It

DSC_4666We all knew this was coming. I hope you’re all as excited as I am.  We are talking JUICING!!! I really didn’t start juicing until recently.  Shocking, right?  I wanted to start sooner but I was so in love with blending I kind of felt like my Vitamix might get jealous if I start bringing a juicer around.  I was feeling like I wanted to try a juice fast, so I had a talk with my Vitamix and explained that there was going to be a juicer arriving soon and I will love them both the same amount, just in different ways.  Now I know how it must feel when you are having child number two.

Juicing is a pretty big deal right now.  I think that’s swell.  Anything that gets people interested in being healthier is fine by me.

Many people claim juicing has cured all kinds of ailments, from acne and other skin conditions to neutralizing ulcerative colitis.  That’s pretty powerful.  I don’t know about all that jazz, although after watching the documentary SuperJuiceMe!, and seeing what it has done for myself personally, I’m pretty much convinced.  There are plenty of other benefits that are obvious soon after you start to get your juice on.  It’s been known to slow the aging process, regulate the bowels (ahem), and of course, help with weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight.

I’m not talking about juice you buy at the store.  Even those really convincing ones that are all grainy and veggie looking.  No, no my dear.  Those have added sugar and have been pasteurized.  In other words, on top of being full of sugar they are also nutritionally void.  Those marketing people sure are clever though.  Let’s just say for arguments sake you could buy a real extracted juice in the store that has absolutely nothing added to it.  By the time it leaves wherever it was squeezed, makes a long journey on a truck and sits on the shelf in the store until you buy it, it’s lost all its’s benefits.  All of the minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, and enzymes have been oxidized (damaged by oxygen).  When we see the words “minerals”, “vitamins”, “antioxidants”, and “enzymes”, we know those are all good things but we don’t always know exactly what they are…

Vitamins: Organic compounds that can only come from food and the sun.  There are 13 essential vitamins.  Vitamin A, eight vitamin B’s, and vitamins C, D, E and K.

Minerals:  Plants take minerals from the soil and turn them into compounds that our bodies can absorb.  Isn’t that nice of them?  Always wanting to help us, those plants.  Macro minerals like calcium and potassium are the biggies and then there are trace minerals like copper, iron and zinc.

Antioxidants:  These guys fight off free radicals.  Free radicals float around and damage cells and accelerate aging.  Antioxidants show those little a$$holes who’s boss.  You’re the boss.  Antioxidants work for free so hire as many as you can.  Drink your juice, people.

Enzymes:  These little powerhouses are the catalyst for every reaction in the body.  Sounds pretty important right?  Enzymes are plentiful in raw foods and cooking food changes the structure of them making them less effective.

Drinking green juice will give you an instant shot of  vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and enzymes right to the cells.  Zing!  Wow that’s good!  Much like blending, the flavor can be a little strange at first.  Starting with milder vegetables and using some fruit will make it easy to fall in love with juicing.  Notice I put the word “green” in bold.  Juicing mostly fruit or vegetables with a high sugar content isn’t doing a whole lot for you.  Sugar is still sugar.  When consuming fruit or sweet vegetables in their whole form it’s no big deal.  Concentrating it into juice is a little intense for the system so use them sparingly.  The green portion of the juice is where the magic happens.  The fruit and sweet veggies like carrots and beets can come along for the ride but they have to squeeze in the middle of the back seat between the cucumber and kale.  A good rule of thumb is at least three green vegetables to one fruit, then some citrus to cut the bitterness of the greens.  For example:

1 Cucumber (peeled if not organic)

2 Large Kale Leaves or 2 Cups Spinach

3 Stalks Celery

1/2 a lemon, peeled

1 Small Green Apple

This is a great starting point.  It won’t yield too much juice and allow you to get a taste of what we are working with.  If you are scared $h!tless this will help you ease in.  There’s lots of time to add all kinds of super amazing items in the future.  You will end up wanting more and more.

To give you an idea of what a full size juice looks like, here is an example of what I had this morning…DSC_4652

Just look at the picture above and imagine eating all that at once with no dressing or anything to dip it in.  Yeesh, that’s a lot.  It would probably take me a while and I love raw vegetables.  Now look at a glass of all this goodness juiced…  DSC_4669That’s 12 ounces (1.5 cups).  I can take that down in a few minutes and the energy and nutrients are being absorbed almost instantly.  From the moment I started washing the ingredients until I was done cleaning the juicer it took me twelve minutes.  That’s less time than it takes to go through all five lives in Candy Crush.  You got this.

I used to drink energy drinks (hangs head in shame).  I loved that boost but my heart rate would accelerate and there were times I thought I might just have a heart attack. No more of that!  Green juice to the rescue.  Squeeze me out some liquid green and I’m ready to tackle my day.  The best part is no inevitable crash after.  Bonus!

What about the pulp?  After juicing you are left with a bucket of fiber.  But, isn’t fiber good for me?  Of course it is!  Fiber itself doesn’t have nutritional value.  It’s just meant to help “move things along” if you know what I mean.  It’s a bulking and binding agent that makes it easier to get biz done on the throne.  You want to drink your juice on an empty stomach.  Drinking juice with an empty belly means you don’t need to worry about helping anything along.  The juice will get absorbed.  You need fiber for sure and you’ll get it because you’re tons of other healthy stuff like beans and whole fruits and vegetables, right?  You may even be blending.  Wink, wink.

Here’s some juicy tips:

  • Run the pulp through your juicer for a second pass.  Get every last, delicious drop.
  • You are left with this pile of fiber pulp.  No need to be a wasteypants and throw it away.  You can add it to baking recipes, leave it outside for the birdies, or even better, compost it!  Will I be posting something on composting? Does a bear $h!t in the woods?
  • Drink your juice in the morning on an empty stomach or in the afternoon a few hours after lunch.  Give it a nice open highway to get to it’s final destination…your cells.
  • Store your juice in mason jars (as full as possible) in order to minimize exposure to air.

Ready to bask of the glow of green juiciness?  Well, you need a juicer!  Stay tuned for a post on “How To Buy a Juicer” for the low down.

Are you enjoying greensypants??  Be sure to like greensypants on Facebook and follow on twitter!  Share with your friends and tell me what greensypants should talk about next!

Smooches,

Nikki

Categories: Green Love, Recipes, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

How to Choose a Blender.

DSC_4686I remember the first time I made a green drink.  I was brimming with anticipation.  I had my cucumber, kale, celery and frozen fruit in the blender ready to go.  It’s time now, the moment I have been waiting for. Flip the switch.  Nothing.  The obnoxious sound was coming out but the food wasn’t moving.  This is not at all what I pictured in my head.  I figured it would be a quick little spin and poof…green goodness.  Nope.  The blender was grinding away and nothing was moving.  So, like any other idiot, I took a spoon and shoved it in there to move stuff around.  Now we are getting somewhere!  I’m plugging away at the thing, mixing it as it struggles to blend the bottom inch of whatever I can shove down far enough.  Eight minutes later…Success!  I pour it in my glass. Hmmmm, it looks a little thick.  No big deal.  Here we go!  Cheers!

Vomit.  Like, actual vomit consistency.  “Viscous” is the best word I can use to describe it.  The taste wasn’t bad at all but the thick, chunkiness..No. Gag reflex activated.

How could this be?  I see all these pictures of smooth creamy shakes and I get this??   Am I doing something wrong?  Yes, Yes I was.

That night, by some strange divine intervention I just happened to come across a recipe that called for a “high speed” blender.  I figured all blenders were high speed. Have you ever seen the little blades turn?  They look pretty high speed to me.  Well, I was wrong. A high speed blender is not the same as my crappy blender.

The right blender is your key to successful green smoothies.  How do you know which blender will rock your world?  A little something I call the celery test.  Chances are you have a blender already.  Give it a whirl.  <—See what i did there?  Blend up some celery and see what happens.  If it’s still stringy you need a better blender.  If the contents stick to the outside and stay out of reach of the blade, you need a better blender.

I know what you’re thinking.  “I’m not spending a ton on of money on a blender”.  I’m with you, I felt the same way.  And they are pricey.  Then I started the typical dialogue in my head that always pops up when I want something.  “Well, it’s not like it’s another purse, it has real value.”  “I could always return it.”  And then the clincher…”It’s an investment in my health.”  How could I argue with that?  Decision made.  Get a high speed blender.

There are tons of blenders out there.  I spent hours upon hours figuring out which one to buy.  I considered price, power, customer reviews and personal experience while compiling info.  I narrowed it down to the three blenders that performed the best within these parameters.  My top choices are:  The Nutribullet Pro 900, The Ninja Ultima, and Vitamix.  Here are the pros and cons of each.

Nutribullet Pro 900

Nutribullet Pro 900

Nutribullet Pro 900– (900 watt) You flip past this infomercial every Saturday morning. I have no personal experience with this one, but I have a few friends that have it and like it. It’s basically a more powerful version of the Magic Bullet.  If you are going to use your blender exclusively for smoothies and nothing else this may be a good option.  Also, if you have limited kitchen space or plan to travel with your blender this could work for you.

Pros: Lower cost at $150 (on sale as low as $99), more compact size, and dishwasher safe.

Cons:  Product reviews suggest it is not built to last.  It has a smaller canister (32oz) compared to other high speed blenders. It  cannot make nut butter or other thick substances. Also, users report thick greens like kale and seeds leave grainy texture.  Reviews claim poor customer service, and there is only a one year warranty.

Ninja Ultima

Ninja Ultima

Ninja Ultima-(2.5 peak horsepower).  This one receives mostly good reviews for performance. There are a few reported problems that seem to be recurring. There is a set of blades about halfway up the blender jar.  They are there to keep the contents spinning instead of getting stuck at the bottom.  Seems awesome right?  People are cutting their hands. Not awesome.  I actually had a Ninja about three years ago and returned it a week after purchase for this reason.  If you are blending something that is a thicker consistency like peanut butter you usually will use a utensil of some sort to scrape the sides and you stick your hand in there not thinking about it.  Bloodbath.  Also, reviews report lid is difficult to get on and off.

Pros:  Makes great smoothies.  It has an extra large 72oz canister.  It is able to make nut butter, soups and sauces.  It has variable speed and 3 single serve cups included and is also dishwasher safe.

Cons:  Risk losing a finger or two.  Getting more expensive at $259 (have seen on sale for $199).  It is slightly large and bulky compared to others.  Users report thick blending (i.e. peanut butter) requires stopping the blender often to stir.  Only a two year warranty.

Vitamix

Vitamix

Vitamix(2 peak horsepower) If you are looking for the best of the best, I present to you the Vitamix.  It is coveted by foodies and greenies all over.  It will blend anything you put into it including nuts and seeds.  Like a boss.

Vitamix has a great reputation and is more widely known so there are more reviews.  You’d be hard pressed to find a legit bad one.  It’s been around for a while It’s not uncommon for someone to say they have had theirs for twenty years and it still works like new.  They have excellent customer service and it’s made right here in ‘Merica.  It also comes with this thing…

DSC_4678The tamper.  It’s like a plunger that goes right in the hole in the top of the lid and reaches just above the blades.  You can scrape the sides without having to stop or open the blender.  Genius!  Now for the hard part, the price…

The Vitamix is expensive.  I’m just gonna throw that out there because it will most likely be the only thing that will hold you back from buying it.  The price range is $379 to $650.  I know, I’m sorry.  $650 is bat $h!t crazy to spend on a blender.  The good news is that even the least expensive base model is amazing and will blend ANYTHING you wish into smooth oblivion.   Keep in mind these machines are very versatile.  They make more than just smoothies.  In fact, I bet you can put your blender into a Vitamix and it would turn it into a creamy milkshake.  (Don’t try that, as I’m sure it would void the warranty).

I am a proud owner of a Vitamix and it is one of my most prized possessions.  I use it everyday.  I have the Turboblend Two Speed which is the bare bones model and costs $379.  There is no variable speed and that doesn’t bother me at all.  The more expensive models have some nice bells and whistles but the base model works great and I don’t find myself dreaming of a better version.  The 64oz container is plenty large and I don’t see ever needing any more space.  (Important tid bit-To clean it you just fill it half way with warm water and a few drops of soap and blend for a few seconds, rinse out and let air dry.)

To sum up the Vitamix:

Pros:  Extremely powerful, blends perfect smoothies, nut butters, soups and sauces, great warranty, large 64oz container, excellent customer service.

Cons:  Price, hand wash recommended.

Many people wonder why the canisters of these expensive blenders are plastic and not glass.  It is because the high speed would shatter the glass.  All of these blenders mentioned here are BPA free.  The horsepower is important but as far as blenders go, a horsepower of 2 is sufficient for all of your kitchen needs.  If you know you want a more powerful blender for nut butters and such…Here is a great video from steamykitchen.com comparing the Vitamix to the Ninja Ultima.

Here is my final conclusion:  If you know you are going to make only smoothies and never want to make peanut butter or soup or anything like that go with the Nutribullet Pro 900.  It will serve you well.  Keep in mind, if you feel a juicer may be in your future also there are many units that can make nut butters if you can’t see spending the money for the Vitamix.

If you are willing to make the investment and want a more versatile blender, the Vitamix will not disappoint.  It will make the smoothest green drinks and creamy peanut butter.  You can also get a refurbished one for around $279 and that still comes with a 5 year warranty.

PS- There are many stores that send you coupons.  Sometimes it says right on the coupon it isn’t valid for certain brands.  Hypothetically, if you were to bring the excluded blender to a register and hand over the coupon it may work.   Just sayin’.

I hope this helped you on your quest to Greenyville.  Let me know what kind of blender you use and what you are whipping up by emailing me

nikki@greensypants.com!  Don’t forget to like Greensypants on Facebook and follow on twitter so you know when there’s so new greensypants info to soak in!

Smooches,

Nikki

 

 

Categories: Green Love, Product Recommendations, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Veggie Chili

DSC_4683

Get ready for some serious nomming.  All of my recipes start with things I throw together with whatever veggies I have laying around. This is one of my favorites.  I make a big ol’ bucket of it and have it for days.  It’s also a crowd pleaser so it’s great to make for din din if you have people coming over.  This recipe makes about eight meal size servings.  Every time I make this for a friend they ask me for the recipe.  The problem is really have no clue how to make it because it’s just floating around in my brain and I never bothered to write it down.  So I just made it special for you guys and took pictures.

Here is what you need:

 

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 cloves of minced garlic

1/2 sweet onion chopped

2 large or 3 small peppers (red, orange or yellow) chopped

1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon chipotle powder

1 medium zucchini chopped

1 can tomato paste

48 oz diced tomatoes (1 large and 2 small cans or dice yourself)

1 can pinto beans (1/2 cup dry beans if making your own)

1 can black beans (1/2 cup dry beans if making your own)

2 cups water

salt and pepper to taste

Now, I included canned conversions here.  Obviously I’m going to tell you it’s best to prepare your own beans and tomatoes but, realistically, ain’t nobody got time for that.  I mean, I have time for that but you may not.

Method

In large pot on medium heat add oil and garlic until warm.  Add in onions and sauté for about 2 minutes until they start to soften.  Add in peppers and sauté another 3-4 minutes.  Add cumin and chipotle powder and coat vegetables and continue to stir for 2 minutes until you start to smell the spices.  Next add in the tomato paste and zucchini and stir until the paste gets a deep red color (about 3 minutes).  It should look like this…DSC_4684

Add in tomatoes, beans, water and salt and pepper.  Turn up heat and bring to a boil.  Quickly turn down to low heat and simmer for 20 minutes.  You can leave it on longer if you want really soft veggies, but I like them a little firmer.  The more vegetables are cooked the more nutrients they will lose so don’t leave in on the stove forever.  Don’t ruin my recipe, okay?  The reason I wait to add the zucchini is because different cooking times for veggies in the same dish results in different textures.

Add the toppings you like. I like a spoonful of “Better than Sour Cream” non-dairy alternative to sour cream and some blue corn baked chips.  If you like it really spicy some jalapeño or just some extra chipotle powder or cayenne will get the job done.  That chipotle powder has a kick though so taste it first before you go tossing handfuls of fire in there.  Enjoy!

DSC_4687What would you like to see a recipe for???  Reply below or email me at nikki@greensypants.com and you shall receive!  Don’t forget to like Greensypants on Facebook and follow on twitter so you know when there’s so new greensypants info to soak in!

Smooches,

Nikki

Categories: Recipes | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Blend Baby Blend

 

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So you’re ready for some liquid love from the Earth. Pat yourself on the back.  This is a big deal.  At some point you have probably made a smoothie/shake/blended drink (Margaritas don’t count, but nice try).  Blending is a great way to get a ton of vitamins, nutrients and fiber down your gullet without even realizing it.  Some people enjoy green smoothies right from the get go and others find them a little to “healthy” tasting.

An important thing to remember is that food doesn’t owe you anything.  It keeps you alive, ok.  What more do you want, people?  It doesn’t always have to taste sweet or savory or amazingly decadent.  Once you start changing your diet to include more whole, real food your taste buds will change.  Ever eat a full meal then an hour later be like “Ugh I’m staaaaaaaarving…”.  Well, you are starving.  You’re starving for nutrition.  Imagine for a moment there are little human workers in your body that digest your food and you just ate a cheesesteak. It sounds a little something like this…”Ok, I’ll take some of this protein, maybe a little fat.  A few pieces of onion, good,  a couple pepper slices, fantastic.  Wait…That’s it?  WTF Nikki, where’s the G.D. rest of it?  I don’t need this bread and cheese.  Where’s the vitamins for F’s sake? Guess I’ll toss the rest of this crap on your ass and thighs, enjoy it. Now, give me something I can actually work with.”  That’s what your body’s actually saying when it’s growling at you an hour after you filled it with processed crap….So, back to blending…

I am not talking about the kind of shake you get from the gym bar or pick up pre-made at the grocery store.  Those are garbage and stop drinking them yesterday.  They are filled with sugar and chemicals.  A gym, or any other fitness center should be a place of health promotion.  Nothing is more aggravating than walking into a gym and seeing that awful menu hanging above the shake bar.  It’s giving people the wrong idea of what is healthy.  It’s in the gym it must be good for me! No. If it tastes like brownies or cookies it’s not good for you.  Seriously, you’re better off just having a brownie or cookie.  At least you know what flour, sugar, vegetable oil, and eggs are.  (note:  Analogy purposes only.  I am not suggesting you eat brownies and cookies whenever you damn well please).  Same goes for all those branded bars and shakes in a can.  Take a gander at the ingredient list.  How many of those things do you recognize?  What’s the sugar content? I’m sorry if this information is difficult to hear. Tough love is hard for me.  But, I do love you, and that’s why I am here.  I was once in line at the store with a cart full of garbage I thought was good for me.  We are in this together.  Let’s get that body of yours cleaned up and looking like brand new, OK?  Ditch the weight loss shakes and read on…

So what do you use to blend?  I’m so glad you asked!  Vegetables mostly, and some fruit.  Some lovely add in items, like your favorite protein powder and super foods.  Oh, and almond milk.  Don’t forget about coconut oil!  And flax, and chia seeds and hemp seeds…see where I’m going with this???  The possibilities are endless.

Let’s start with your base.  Something green like cucumbers and celery are the foundation of a good green shake.  They are full of moisture and take on flavors easily.  Next, you want to add some leafy greens.  Kale, collards, dandelion greens and spinach are good ones. Then a little fruit to sweeten it up.  Frozen pineapple is a great choice.  It makes anything taste good and freezing fruit before you blend it gives your shake that smooth consistency.  I always like to add some lemon when using greens.  It will cut the bitterness.  Here is a good recipe to start with.

Basic Green Shake                                                   

1/2 cucumber (peeled if not organic)

1 stalk celery

1 large Kale leaf

1/2 cup frozen pineapple

1/4 to 1/2 lemon

1 cup almond milk

1/2 tablespoon coconut oil (optional)

scoop of protein powder (optional)

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This recipe is a good foundation and you can always add seeds and yummy little enhancers later which we will talk about in the near future.   If it seems too thick you can add more almond milk.

Now, I know it isn’t going to taste like a milkshake.  It’s not supposed to.  Your taste buds may be sullied by sugar and other chemicals that you have unknowingly (or maybe knowingly) been eating for years, maybe even decades.  This alters the taste of everything you eat.  Sugar is a drug.  A bad, addictive drug, and it’s in almost everything that has a wrapper.  If you have ever tried to eliminate sugar from your diet you have probably experienced withdrawals.  Anything that gives you headaches, nausea and the shakes when you stop eating is not good for you.  We are going to be talking a lot about ways to reduce sugar.  Guess one way…blending!  You will start to look forward to your smoothies.  You’re going to get creative and in no time you will be putting all kinds of things in the blender.  You will be amazed at what your body can do for you.  (Side note:  The type of blender you use is VITAL to a good smoothie.  Stay tuned to find out which blenders are best.)

Already a green drinker?  What do you like to blend???  Reply below or email me at nikki@greensypants.com!  Don’t forget to follow on twitter and like on Facebook so you know when there’s new greensypants info to soak in!

Smooches,

Nikki

 

 

Categories: Green Love, Recipes, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Oil-icious

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As promised, and without further adieu, I present to you a how to guide on getting coconut oil into your bod pod.  I’ve already posted how its changed my life in the beauty department so now let’s talk about health.

Coconut oil has amazing health benefits.  It’s actually a superfood.  That is one of my favorite words.  That means a whole lot of goodness is headed your way.  It has lauric and caprylic acids, which kill bacteria, viruses, fungi, and yeast and, in turn, boost the immune system.  Now there’s saturated fat in it and lots of it.  But relax, here’s why you don’t need to care about that…The fat contained in coconut oil is Medium Chain Triglycerides.  If this sounds like a complicated scientific term, that’s because it is.  To break it down for you, it’s a healthy fat.  It is metabolized differently than those long chain icky ones that are found in junk food.  If you don’t trust me, go ahead and do some research to ease your pretty little head.

The first time that I took the plunge and actually ate (or in this case drank), coconut oil I had about a half a tablespoon in my green shake in the morning.  Then another half a tablespoon at night in tea. I didn’t really notice anything different at first except perhaps feeling fuller a bit longer than usual.  The next morning when I was brushing my teeth I looked in the mirror and noticed that my complexion looked different.  Amazing different.  My skin looked hydrated but not oily.  It looked perfect actually.  Like you see in face wash commercials.  I wanted to do that thing where they splash the water on their face in slow motion.  It was THAT good.  I had never seen my skin like that.  It was so soft and smooth.  I’m not sure exactly how it happened but I have to believe it had something to do with the oil.  Unless a magical, anti pimple, skin perfecting angel blessed my face when I was sleeping?  Maybe.

So I continued on my quest of ingesting coconut oil.  My skin started glowing.  I actually had a complete stranger tap me on the shoulder and ask me about my skincare routine while on line at Target.  Now, to give full disclosure, I will say that I eat a pretty clean diet so I’m sure that has a lot to do with it. Before I switched to a mostly plant based diet, my skin was pretty much skin of a hormonal teen.  Switching my diet was a huge step in the right direction for my skin, but I saw an even bigger improvement when I started the coconut oil regimen.

Here’s the deal…the consistency is vile in its waxy form, which is what it will be like at room temp unless you are in a really warm room.  Like hot yoga warm or on the beach or something. I insist you NEVER try to just take a big old heap on a spoon and shove it in your pie hole.  It does not taste like pie.  It doesn’t taste bad, it just won’t end well. But there are plenty of ways to get this stuff down the hatch. Here are some of my favorite ways…

Cook with it.  You can use it in place of any oil you cook with.  It has an extremely high smoke point at 350 degrees.  Keep in mind that it does have a coconut flavor.  It’s not very intense but is great for sautéing and even better for baking.  To use in baking, you will need to melt it.  Some people put it in the microwave.  DON’T.  You will destroy all the good stuff you’re trying to get from it. It melts on contact with skin so it doesn’t take much heat.  I’ve found the easiest way to melt it is to get a very small mason jar or other type of air tight jar and put the oil in that.  Then just drop it in a bowl of hot water.  If its warm out and you have some time just put the jar in the sun and it will melt pretty quickly.  Don’t melt it until your ready to mix it in or it will solidify again.  It can be a tricky bastard like that.

Blend it.  One of the best ways to eat coconut oil is to toss it right in your smoothie.  If you don’t have a high speed blender it will solidify in small waxy balls if you have something cold in it like yogurt or ice.  I don’t mind it but it may be less than appealing to some. If you do have a high speed blender (Vitamix or similar), you won’t even know its in there.  You don’t have to melt it first.

Tea I love me some herbal tea.  You can melt a good tablespoon into your hot tea.  The melted oil will float on the top and you can just sip it off.  My favorite tea is Echinacea with a little raw honey and some ginger grated in.  The coconut gives this a really great smoothed out flavor.  Any tea you prefer would also work fine.

So how much?  One to three tablespoons a day is the goal.  Now don’t go effing crazy and dump three tablespoons in your smoothie the first day.  Here’s why…It will make you nauseous.  You will want to die.   You will need to lay down and feel like you want the sweet angel of death to have mercy on your soul.  Okay I’m exaggerating… but really it’s not good.  Your stomach will hurt and you’ll feel awful.  Ease into it.  Try a half a tablespoon and gradually add more.

The same rules apply when buying coconut oil whether you’re ingesting it or using on your skin.  UNREFINED and COLD PRESSED coconut oil is the only type you should buy.  Any brand is fine as long as you follow those two criteria. Here is an example… .DSC_4668 I like to buy a large mouth, shallow mason jar and put oil in that and keep it in the bathroom to use for my skin and keep the rest in the jar in the kitchen.  No need to be putting my fingers in the same jar I’m eating from.  Vom.

Haven’t read The Holy Grail aka Coconut Oil?  Click here see more coconut oil magic!

Already using coconut oil??  Reply below and tell me how it’s going!  Also, have any questions you want answered??  Comment or email me at nikki@greensypants.com!  Don’t forget to follow on twitter so you know when there’s new greensypants info to soak in!

Til next post…

Smooches,

Nikki

 

Categories: Body, Green Love, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Blending vs. Juicing

DSC_4636If you’ve been alive lately you’ve heard about juicing and/or blending.  Unfortunately, these things are extremely misunderstood.  Let’t chat about it.

First things first.  Blending and juicing are not the same thing.  I was watching Long Island Medium a really educational documentary and someone was using a blender to make a smoothie from fruit and vegetables and kept calling it juice.   It’s not really a big deal but I think it’s important to address because there is a difference.  A big one.  Fiber.

BLENDING:  When you combine vegetables and fruits in their whole form into a blender.  aka “smoothie” or “shake”

JUICING:  When you put vegetables and fruits through a juicer and extract liquid leaving pulp (fiber) behind.

Simple enough right?  For some reason there are some people who want to have a face off between the two. There are actually threads online where people fight it out trying to prove which one is better.  The blenders argue that blending is better because it’s maintaining the integrity of the whole food and fiber that would be left behind after juicing is essential; also juice has too much sugar.   Hmmmm, makes sense.  The juicers claim juicing is better because you are concentrating the nutrients from the vegetables and fruits and providing your body with tons of energy and goodness in a small glass.  Well crap that makes sense too.  Oh no!  which one do I choose?!  Hey guess what lovely…BOTH!!

Turns out we can have it all!  I started with blending and added juicing later.  They each have amazing advantages.  The key is using the right ingredients.  If you aren’t used to drinking vegetables it can be a little weird at first. The best way I can describe the taste is “earthy”.  If this sounds gross, it might mean you need to overhaul your taste buds.  We are so used to processed foods that when we try to eat something that’s actually a real food it tastes, well, like $h!t.  Blending and juicing are great ways to start to change your diet.  You can start your blending or juicing journey by using fruit to make it taste better.  The more you drink, the more appetizing it will become.

I can remember having a hard time at first.  Some of the first smoothies I made I had to choke down.  But after a few days of smoothies for breakfast I actually started to crave them.  Then even more amazing things started to happen.  I had more energy and I started wanting more vegetables.  I’d be sitting around and then think to myself, “I could really go for a good, crunchy red pepper right about now”. WHAT???  I don’t even like peppers.  Well now I do!  My body started asking me for things.  Healthy things.  Before it yelled “Get ice cream now woman!” or, “Man, a Snickers would be so clutch right now”.

Now that you have a basic handle on this stuff, we are going to need to have a serious talk about what you are using to blend and juice.  All machines are NOT created equal.  Luckily for you I will be breaking down the good, the bad and the ugly regarding blenders and juicers in another post as well as what vegetables and fruits to use.

Until then my little greenies…

Smooches,

Nikki

Have any burning questions or ideas you’d like to see here?  Reply below or email me at nikki@greensypants.com and let me know!  Don’t forget to follow on twitter so you know when there’s new greensypants info to soak in!

 

Categories: Green Love, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Holy Grail…aka, Coconut Oil

 

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Bold statement, I know.  I have the secret to amazingly supple, clear skin, strong hair and nails, all natural anti-bacterial ointment, cooking oil, shaving cream, body lotion, face wash and more.  I sh!t you not when I say this stuff can do ANYTHING.

I used to be a product whore.  My bathroom was stocked with tons of half filled (note the optimist in me with the half full) but mostly practically all the way filled bottles of shampoo, lotions, face creams and cleansers.  I’d see a commercial and be like, well I have to have that, it’s going to make my hair look so gorgeous!  And sometimes it did.  But then came the inevitable day when you get out of the shower and there’s no more silky flowing hair.  Back to the dull lifeless mane hanging off my skull.  Well that was amazing while it lasted but here I am, waiting for the next commercial that will promise me that luxurious hair that cascades and flows across the TV screen just like the model’s does.  I want to tie my hair in a knot!  Well, ladies, (and gentleman too) here it is, behold the miracle that is COCONUT OIL!

I have replaced almost every beauty product I had with coconut oil.  To kick off the millions of things I use it for…hair. I use it as a scalp and hair conditioner once a week.  Before you get in the shower take small amounts at a time and massage into your scalp.  It feels amazing.  Follow through the length of your hair.  Wait a few minutes (or longer if you want) before getting in the shower.  Follow up immediately after washing out with your regular shampoo and conditioner.  You may even feel you don’t need conditioner anymore.  It took me some trial and error to figure out how much to use and how much to wash after so I wasn’t left with any oily spots.  If you get out of the shower and realize its still a bit too oily, fear not.  Hop back in and give it another wash-a-roo.  Don’t whine about it- it’s no biggie, you’re about to have your mind blown so just deal.  If the idea of this scares the sh!t out of you then just try doing your ends. Lean in doll face.  You’ll get there.

Want to know what’s even more crazy than slopping oil on your hair?  Slopping oil on your FACE.  WHAT????  Right now your like, ok, no way.  This bitch is nuts if she thinks I’m gonna clog up my pores with straight up oil.  I thought the same thing.  Then I decided to be a little daring one day and just went for it.  WOW! Unbelievable.  You know when you wash your face with typical cleanser and it ends up really dry and you feel like you must look like Joan Rivers with your face all tight and awful feeling?  Then you just pile on some really expensive moisturizer right?  WRONG.  Coconut oil.  Only oil can dissolve oil.  I know right?  I was as surprised as you are.  The coconut oil (and many other oils which I will talk about in another post) can actually dissolve those little oil pluggy black head things you see on your face.  This method of using oil on your skin is called The Oil Cleansing Method.  Learn about it here.  I noticed a difference in my skin immediately.  No tightness.  Amazing.  After about a week of using coconut oil as a cleanser my skin was so even.  No more dry patches on my cheeks and oily patches on my forehead.  I mean, how does that even happen anyway?

The best way to wash your face with coconut oil is to take about a dime size amount of oil and spread on your skin.  Massage it in your skin for a minute.  Enjoy the tropical smell, it’s delightful.  Then turn on your hot water and wet and wring out a wash cloth.  Lay the hot washcloth over your face for a minute and feel the magic infuse your pores.  Use the washcloth to wipe away excess in a downward motion then look at your gorgeous mug in the mirror.  Your skin will glow.  After a few minutes if I feel any dry spots I put a little extra oil on them in place of moisturizer.  Eventually you most likely won’t have to anymore once your skin adjusts. That dewey supple JLo complexion you’ve been dreaming about??  Well it’s yours now.  You’re welcome.

Eye makeup remover.  You thought I was gonna stop at oil cleansing method?  Oh no.  Try it.

Want stronger nails?  Boom.

Do your legs get all scaly and gross after shaving.  Coconut oil as shaving cream.  Use it.

Deodorant, mouthwash, toothpaste, anti-fungal cream…the list goes on and on.  Check out some more uses here.

I was skeptical too.  Especially when you see it for the first time.  It’s got a waxy consistency at room temp.  I was like, “well what the hell is this sh!t?” It’s effing magic ok, trust.  As soon as it touches your skin it melts.  A little goes a long way.  I slather it all over my body after a shower.  I haven’t bought chemical filled lotion in years and my skin thanks me.  No more weird dry patches that would show up in random spots.  No more dry elbows or heels.  Fingernails and toe nails strong like bull.

So where do you get this jar of ecstasy you ask?  Probably your local large grocery store.  If not there then Whole Foods or any health food store.  But before you abandon my words here and run to the nearest natural foods section there’s a few things you must know.  First, it must, and I mean MUST be UNREFINED.  There will most likely be both refined and unrefined oil right next to each other.  Refined oil has been bleached and chemically treated.  Plus the heavenly coconut smell is removed.  Who would do such a thing??   Any greensypants would say no to that crazy talk.  Second, look for the words “COLD PRESSED” on the jar.  That means no heat was used to extract the oil.  Heat can damage the nutrients and other little goodies in the oil. There are several different brands but I’ve seen no differences.  I just get whatever is least expensive and has the two criteria listed above.  This is the one I happen to have now…

DSC_4668Notice the yellow detail I so kindly added for your informational pleasure.  You can also order it here. It will cost you anywhere from $7 to $12 dollars for a 14oz jar.  If that seems like a lot don’t forget a little goes a long way.  Even when I put it on my whole body I don’t use more than a tablespoon so settle down.  You probably spend more on your tiny jar of age defying chemical garbage eye cream (yeah it fights wrinkles too). What’s more?  Yup there’s actually MORE!  You can cook with it and eat it!  Yup you read that right.  Talk about glowing from within!  Check out Oil-licious!

Stay tuned my little green seekers.  Much more to come on this topic and many others!  Get your greensypants on!

Reply Below or email me at nikki@greensypants.com if you have any green questions you want answered!  Don’t forget to click follow on twitter so you know when there’s new greensypants info to soak in!

Smooches,

Nikki

 

Categories: Body, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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