Lemonade “With Benefits”: Mint, Kale and Spinach

We just got back from a HOT weekend in the desert — easily 110 degrees in the shade.  Such weather calls for lemonade, and lots of it!  I’m calling this twist on a hot-weather classic “Lemonade With Benefits” because it brings a healthy dose of garden-fresh greens to a classic summer treat.  No one has to know this lemonade is spiked with kale, spinach, etc. — they’ll see the bright and beautiful green color, but all they’ll taste is lemon, bright sugar, and a hint of mint!  Here’s how it’s (quickly and easily) done:

Lemonade “With Benefits”

Toss into high speed blender (i.e. Vitamix):

6 tbsp. lemon juice (approximately 1/3 cup)

1/2 cup young, tender leaves of kale, spinach, or chard

1/2 cup sugar (or to taste)

Handful of mint leaves

Fill blender to 4 cups line with ice.  Add water until level reaches 5 cups.

Blend on high speed until all ingredients are thoroughly blended, and enjoy.  Makes 5 cups of ice cold, sweet/tart, green lemonade!

A few notes.  The ice is crucial in this recipe.  It provides grit to help break down the greenery into drinkable, not-the-least-bit noticeable bits.  Also, a powerful blender (I use a Vitamix) is key.  It breaks the sugar down so thoroughly, there’s no need to make a simple syrup, as would be required in a standard lemonade recipe.  Finally, don’t skip the mint, unless you want to taste the vegetables in your lemonade.  Which would be pretty hard-core.

You can try other sweeteners in place of the sugar.  For me, the clean, bright, old-fashioned flavor of sugar is unbeatable.  Stevia would be an interesting substitute (homegrown stevia would be a dream!)  Also, feel free to reduce or increase the amount of sugar to suit your taste.

Lemonade with benefits!  Enjoy!  (Oh and enjoying watching even vegetable-averse kids drink up kale, spinach and chard with green-tinged smiles on their face — I know I do!)

— Jen.

Heavenly Vanilla Shake { V, GF, DF }

I don’t make this stuff up! “Heavenly” is Aliya’s unscripted description of this rich, creamy, tastes-nothing-like-the-seeds-nuts-and-fruit-it’s-made-of, smoothie.  Aliya is very allergic to dairy, and it makes me so happy to be able to make her a dairy-free “milkshake” that helps her not to miss the “real thing”.  This delicious, 100% healthy smoothie — packed with Omega-3’s and -6’s, vitamins and minerals, healthy fats AND protein — is the NEW real thing!


Heavenly Vanilla Shake { V, GF, DF }

2 ripe bananas

1 date — no pit

2 tbsp. walnuts

1 tbsp. raw hemp seeds

1 tsp. flax oil

1 cup cashew milk — can substitute soy or other non-dairy milk

1 cup ice — less if using frozen bananas

generous pinch cinnamon

few drops vanilla extract or 1/2-inch portion vanilla bean

blend ingredients in high speed blender until consistency is thick and frosty.  Enjoy immediately! (bananas will oxidize after 10 minutes or so, and the smoothie will not look or taste quite as fresh).  Makes 2 regular or 3 small servings.

IMG_3257
mustaches are so trendy right now…

{kid-friendliest} greenie

redhead rocks green juice!
redhead rocks green juice!

so i’ve been blending up greenies for months now, and while Bob and I are sold — drinking our vegetables, and loving it! — the kids have not been having it.  but finally, today, i came up with a recipe that 2 out of 3 kids went crazy for (Aliya is my holdout.  weirdly, she is my only kid that will reliably eat vegetables in solid form.)  well 2 out of 3 kids going crazy for green juice is an excellent result ’round these parts — and here is the recipe:

kid-friendliest greenie (makes enough for 2 / 3)

2 to 3 cups of green leafy vegetables — kale, spinach, and/or chard — tough stems removed

1 orange or 2 to 3 tangerines —  peeled (seeds ok)

juice of 1/2 lemon — about 2 tbsp.

1/2 cup frozen cubed pineapple — pineapple is pivotal here, it’s what sets this greenie apart

1 banana — adds body to the brew

1/2 cup coconut water

1/2 cup ice — or more for a frostier greenie

2 tbsp. chia seeds

blend in a Vitamix or similar high-powered blender until creamy and smooth.

you’ll find that the lemon, orange and pineapple completely hide the flavor of the greens — they are seen, but not tasted!  the lemon also keeps the banana in this blend from oxidizing, so it retains its bright green color.  not only that, the vitamin C in all that citrus helps your body absorb the vitamins in the greens.  you should feel amazing after drinking this greenie; don’t be amazed if even your pickiest, vegetable-avoiding kid, insists on draining your glass!

carrots take the cake

Aliya lands a whopper!
Aliya lands a whopper!

One of my gardening rules is don’t bother planting things you can easily buy at the store that taste just as good. Unless, of course, when there’s a fun factor; an instant snacking gratification factor.  Carrots fit the bill!

Planting carrots from seed is fine family fun, especially when mom makes it go quick so it doesn’t get tedious. I use a chopstick to poke a row of holes, 2 inches apart. The girls then drop in the tiny seeds, smooth a little dirt over them to cover, and then take turns misting both seeds and themselves with water.  Two weeks later i invariably find a lovely row of carrot seedings, a few growing randomly among the potatoes and tomatoes, and sometimes even a funny little sprout heap six feet away. Thanks, girls, for bringing a little personality to the garden!

I do not recommend planting carrots from transplanted seedlings.  We’ve tried transplants unsuccessfully, and my research confirms that transplanting is not a reliable method of starting carrots.  Just because the garden store carries them, doesn’t mean they’re a great idea!

So, check out those seed packets.  Carrots come in tons of colors, shapes, and sizes — all interesting. They require very little to no effort to grow, just full sun and regular water.  They’re tasty, sweet, and crunchy.  You can make them into cake, for heaven’s sake!  But the best part about carrots is pulling them up.  Want to see a kid drop everything and come running into the garden?  Let her know there’s a carrot ready for the taking.  (A carrot’s ready when the above-ground foliage is thick and full — not wispy.  Also, you should be able to push away some of the dirt at the top of it, and get a sense for how developed the root underneath is; it should look/feel substantial.)

With the root vegetables, you never know quite what you’re going to get, especially when you buy a packet of carrot seeds promising a “Carnival Mix”.  Purple, white, red and orange. Par-tay!