After my previous downer of a post, I think a more upbeat one is in order. I've been on a fresh-veggie and fruit kick lately - spring must definitely be within reach. (And yes, I know we're only a few days away from spring officially arriving, but I'm referring more to the ambiance in the air...It's been warmer and sunnier recently, and it's like a cloud has lifted.)
Lately, I've grown more adventurous with my vegetables, incorporating them into things I wouldn't have thought before. About a month ago, I decided to put some spinach into my usual post-workout banana smoothie to boost its nutritional content. To my surprise, I really, really, really liked it. The spinach taste was still there, but it didn't overwhelm the bananas. And it turned my smoothie into a rather pleasant shade of green, basically this:
Then I found out from one of my online fitness forum buddies that there's a great repository of green drink/smoothie recipes on a blog called Oh She Glows. I love it! Actually, the blogmistress there is also behind the "Green Monster Movement" website, where everyone can share the love for, uh, green monsters. ;)
I don't have a hard time eating fruit, but for the last few months, felt like I was in a rut with them. There is only so much one can do with apples and natural peanut butter, fresh berries with cottage cheese, fresh fruit by itself... You get the idea. Then I realized, why don't I apply the principles of further bringing out the sugar content in food... and bake fruit? Roasting veggies draws out some very splendid flavors in them, and the same exists with fruit like apples, pears, even grapefruit. I've been slicing up Golden Delicious and Granny Smith apples, sprinkling nutmeg and cinnamon on them, and then baking them at 375 F until they get a little soft in the center. Soooo delicious! I've been making these for dessert, and even DH gives his seal of approval.
And I've been on a genuine salad spree, too. I'm a big fan of Jason's Deli, especially because they have an awesome salad that includes:
-Golden raisins & dried cranberries
And all topped with a drizzle of sweet vinaigrette dressing. But going to Jason's Deli every day isn't exactly practical, and I realized this is a very easy salad to replicate. So I stocked up on those key ingredients, and have been munching happily at dinner for the past week.
I'll admit, I've been omitting the apples here because I use them for my baked apple dessert instead.
And I've officially overcome my baking phobia. First it was making apple-oat muffins from scratch a few weeks ago. Now, I'm proud to say I've successfully tackled Irish soda bread, and on St. Patrick's Day, to boot! I used this recipe, and it turned out superb. Though I personally prefer my soda bread more on the savory side, with caraway seeds and beer, this one is quite good for satisfying a light sweet tooth. Also, it's a great partner for imbibing Irish breakfast tea, or so my hubby says.
I still can't believe my finished product came out looking and tasting great.
If there's one tip I can share about the bread, it's to not overwork the dough.
That is it until the next post!