Smoothie Fever

My sister introduced me to the miracle of smoothies several years ago. Never a veggie fan, I learned that smoothies are a delicious way to consume nutrient packed spinach, kale, celery and cucumber (to name but a few). Smoothies are unlike juicing in that you are getting the benefit of the whole fruit or vegetable (think fiber).

In one of my 74 attempts at following Weight Watchers, I was dismayed to learn that, although most fruits and veggies count as zero points when eaten whole, become a point pig when blended. The argument on the web is this: when you eat your fruits and veggies whole, it takes more chew time, thus is more satisfying. THERE IS NOTHING SATISFYING ABOUT EATING KALE. Nothing.

I used to stress about being perfect when following Weight Watchers or any other diet program. For instance, I’d follow the program perfectly one day (usually Day 1). On Day 2, I might “sneak” a small piece of chocolate. On Day 3, I would “sneak” an entire pepperoni pizza. By Day 4, my mouth would be open and anything in my path would enter.

WhaleShark

When you hit age 50,  you realize perfection is a ridiculous endeavor. I’m still a work in progress to shake those perfection tendencies, but I’m getting better. For instance, I no longer berate myself for having a smoothie instead of having the veggies whole. The thing is this: I would never eat raw kale or cucumber. Both of these food items are full of nutrients. If whirring it up in a smoothie is the only way I’ll get the benefit of those nutrients, then whirring it up in a smoothie is what I will do.

My favourite smoothie right now is a bright, fresh tasting blend of veggies and fruit. This is what I blend:

Baby spinach (handful)
Celery (half a stick)
Cucumber (1″ peeled)
Ginger (1/2″ peeled)
Lemon (slice, with peel)
Frozen fruit – currently frozen mango, peach, strawberries and pineapple (1/2 cup)
Water (to cover)

Nobody pays me to write this blog, so I will not advertise what device I use to blend. There are many choices on the market. Mine rhymes with Butri-Nullet, is not expensive and works beautifully.

 

 

 

 

 

Carrot Ginger Soup – My Way

Evidently June is Carrot Month in Walsh Cooks world. Remember, one year ago I had my epic failure at Pickled Carrots – My Way. “Try try again” I will say to anyone who will listen, so I am taking my own advice, dusting myself off and carrying on.

Looks like pickled carrots – but don’t be fooled. These tasted like orange coloured wooden sticks swimming in a watery bath of vinegar. FAIL.

Last Friday I was out with a friend at The Bothy, and after a lot of chatter we finally found ourselves choosing supper. The Soup for the day was announced as Carrot Ginger. I was game to stray from my usual favourite and menu fixture, Tomato Bacon and try something new.

Well, my God.

It was so delicious, the next morning I was on a quest for a recipe for Carrot Ginger soup. I posed the question on Facebook, and with the lovely friends and relatives that I have, I received a plethora of recipes. Some tried and true favourites, others the result of a Google search, etc. etc.

Helpful friends.

I reviewed each of these recipes with care, and also drew on my memory of the night before and tried to recall some of the key flavours…. carrots, check. Ginger, check. But then, some of the recipes I was sent, had… butternut squash… hm… nutmeg.. no no nutmeg at The Bothy. Garlic? I don’t remember garlic! Thicken with potato. Potato? Was it a white or yellow onion? And just like a memory flashback montage in a 1970’s movie, I had images of garlic, butternut squash, nutmeg and onions swimming around in my head. Best solution? Go back to The Bothy and ask for the recipe.

INTERRUPTION: If I’m getting too verbose, you can stop here. My soup is done, and I’m happily eating a bowl of it right this minute. Splatters of orange on the keyboard as proof.

You’re still there? How lovely! Let’s continue…

If you remember last Saturday, June 23, it was a beautiful sunny afternoon and it required absolutely no effort to get Michael interested in an afternoon on a sunny patio.

Blue sky, fluffy white clouds, no mosquitoes. Perfect day.
Icy cold Prosecco. Perfect on a hot summer day.
How the professionals do it.
How I do it. Serve yourself. Bowls are in the cupboard, spoons in the drawer. Use the ladle! Cream is in the fridge.

I asked for the recipe, and Ray-the-Bothy’s-chef came out an talked to us. He’s a decent sort of person, and was happy to share the ingredients along with some tips. I’ll share with you because I believe in sharing (except my daily allotment of milk chocolate that I have with my late-night tea. Touch that and you risk harm).

Now, the ingredients are this:

Carrots (10 ish), ginger (chunk – grated), white onion (half), celery (one stalk), garlic (couple of cloves) chicken broth (2 boxes), salt, pepper, cream

“Wash, don’t peel your carrots” says my new friend Ray. “All the nutrients are in the skin”. Peel that away and you might as well be eating white bread. (That last sentence was my own. Ray did not say that).

“Scrape your ginger with a spoon. This way you don’t waste valuable ginger when peeling it off with a knife”. OK Ray, got that part, but no where, I mean NO WHERE have I read how miserable a task it is to grate ginger. I pulled out my trusty box grater, used the second smallest hole, and ended up with a pool of ginger juice and a few bits of ginger stuck to the grater. Nothing else. I stood there for a few seconds saying, “WTF?”.  I girded my loins. I used the cheese-grating side of my box grater, and ended up with a pile of ginger string. Now what? If you were invited over for supper, I’d strain the soup. But in my Test Bowl, I did have a few strings of ginger. Sounds appealing to kids though!

** CARROT SOUP now with GINGER STRINGS!! **

I could easily sub-title that, “Watch Grandma pretend she’s a cat with a hair ball!”. The strings of ginger are just that – stringy. But easily enough removed.

Any tips you might have about how to effectively grate ginger will be appreciated.

The great thing about soup is you don’t have to fuss with chopping your veg. Rough chop is fine.  Toss the lot of vegetables in your pot and saute for about 15 minutes. Add salt, pepper, chicken stock. Simmer for as long as you have. Blend until velvety smooth.

Ladle a generous amount in your favourite soup bowl, add a bit of cream. Eat.

There you have it. Carrot Ginger soup. Enjoy!