Monday, January 31, 2011

Pregnancy drink series: week 2, Green smoothie (spinach-banana-strawberry)

You need even more iron when you're pregnant, and that's one nutrient I struggle to get enough of normally with my mostly vegetarian diet (and the few meats I do rarely eat - chicken and turkey, stocks, aren't very high in iron anyway.)  There's certainly Fe in my prenatal vitamin, but supplements are generally harder to absorb than natural Fe ... it's less bioavailable due to its chemical form ... I won't get started on this but could go into a lot of chemistry if anyone's interested.

There's lots of iron in greens, and combining green with a little acid, especially the citric acid found in citrus, is a great way to increase its availability.  I love spinach in almost any form, but the smoothie form is a great way to start off the day.  Or for a snack.  My dad tried this this morning and despite he skepticism over the color and eating spinach for breakfast said it was good.

Green smoothie, serves 1
2 c. baby spinach greens (I buy the prewashed and add straight from the bag or clamshell)
0.5 banana (frozen is fine, even preferable)
a small handful of strawberries (4-6) (ditto the frozen remark)
0.5 c. plain yogurt
0.25 c. orange juice, adjust to achieve the preferred texture
optional: sweetener to taste (I usually skip this)
optional: a few ice cubes

Directions: Put in blender.  Blend.

I say that frozen fruit is preferable cause it makes the smoothie nice and frosty.  You may want to add a few ice cubes if your fruit is fresh.  I don't think they sell bananas frozen, but I buy a large bunch when they're on sale, and when they are good and ripe (a little overripe even), I peel them, break them in half, and throw them in a freezer bag.  Then they are ready smoothie making.

Other fruits are really good too - this morning I added some mango - but I would say strawberry makes for a classic taste.

Oh, and a random question - Andy picked up some Whole Foods 365 organic brand plain yogurt for the first time yesterday.  Did we just get a weird batch or is it about 10 times more sour than other brands of plain yogurt (specifically Mountain High, which is what we usually get)?  It was sour enough that when I licked the spoon I immediately spit it out thinking something was wrong with it.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Pregnancy drink series: week 1, Grapefruit spritzer

As I mentioned in the last post, I'm getting creative with non-alcoholic beverages lately.  I'm going to attempt to keep a semi-regular posting schedule by putting a new drink up once a week. Most will be pretty simple, some a little more complex.  We'll start with a simple one.

Grapefruit spritzer, serves two

1 grapefruit
2 T. agave syrup (or to taste)
2 cans seltzer water

1.  Juice the grapefruit.
2.  In each of two glasses, combine half the juice and 1 T. agave syrup and stir.  Add an ice cube or two.
3.  Pour in the seltzer water (slowly as it will bubble up a lot) and stir. 

Note: My glasses aren't big enough to hold all of the seltzer water; there's always a little left in the can, so I just top it off when I've had a little of it.

Barley edamame soup

I haven't posted in quite a while!  I'm not abandoning the blog, but if the next 6 months are anything like the last one (and they probably will be), posting frequency will probably be somewhat similar as well.  My master plan is to finish up my PhD work by mid-May; this is commanding most of my attention right now.  That and pregnancy!  To make up for the lack of well though out recipes and nice pictures, I think I'm gonna try to post a weekly pregnancy (a.k.a. non-alcoholic) drink recipe because I've been getting pretty creative in that arena lately.  These aren't necessarily cocktail type drinks, but a variety of warm, cold, blended or whatever beverages.

But I did make a nice soup a few days ago - it disappeared before I could take a picture, but I wanted to share it anyway cause I think barley and edamame go great together.  Really the rest of the ingredients are optional, just use what you have.  Sauteeing them might bring out some more flavors, but this is so easy as is, it's really great as is.  The water used to cook the barley has a nice barley taste, so I just supplement that with some broth.

I made about 1.5 c. worth of dry barley (half a bag), and have been enjoying the leftovers for breakfast like oatmeal.  I've been mixing in (not necessarily all in one bowl) toasted pecans, maple syrup, chopped stewed prunes, craisins, diced apples, cinnamon, milk, All-bran cereal (bran buds)... yummy.  If you do this, you'll need to pour all the barley into a strainer and catch the barley water (you'll also need more water than I call for in the recipe); add about a cup of cooked barley and 1 - 1.5 c. barley water, then proceed with the recipe.

Serves 3-4


1/3 c. dry pearled barley
water to cover by about 2 inches
1 can chicken (or veggie) stock
1/2 onion, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 c. frozen edamame (pre-shelled)
1/2 c. frozen spinach
1-2 t. soy sauce (to taste)
2 T. grated parmesan cheese
fresh ground black pepper

1.  Cover barley with water and bring to a boil. Cook for about 35 minutes, or still al dente (should be edible, but it's going to cook a bit longer so doesn't need to be super soft.  Chop veggies while barley is cooking.
2.  Add in the stock, bring to a boil.
3.  Add in the carrots and onion.  Cook for 5 minutes, then add in the celery.  Cook for another 5 minutes (or more) till the veggies are tender.
4.  Add in the edamame and spinach, bring to a boil, and boil for 2 minutes. 
5.  Season with soy sauce, cheese, and pepper and serve.