Tuesday, May 24, 2011

stiiiilllll going...powered by smoothies & espresso

I'm not sure there are words strong enough to express my longing, yearning, pining even, for Friday.  Once I have safely made it to and through Friday, I have a glorious, much needed, and much deserved 3-day weekend.  I do mean 3 days, too - I'm not teaching on Saturday and I don't have to go back to Diet Land until Tuesday.  Nevertheless, powered by three things that are becoming steadfast favorites, I am powering on, pushing myself to endure every day that stands between me and Friday night.

What three things?

  • Espresso (say what you want about Starbucks, but I will not apologize for my iced caramel americanos - they taste like iced heaven in a cup)
  • More Italian food - old habits die hard, especially when I can't think of a terribly good reason to stop this addiction.
  • Smoothies!  Tasty, frothy, drinkable nutrition!  If I got enough sleep at night, I could probably easily sub out a smoothie for my espresso.  But I don't get enough sleep.  I love you, Starbucks.

I really don't think anyone wants to read my Ode to Caffeine and besides, I am well aware that this is not a healthy way to go about life.  Like I said, I don't get enough sleep.  It's a long story.  I'm pretty sure any faithful readers are also growing quite weary of my pasta-worship, too, but let me just share for a moment before moving on to the "good stuff."

Last night, I finally made Italian-Style Rice Casserole from Vegan Italiano because I finally bought peas.  In the course of preparing it, I realized I was woefully short of carrots, a fact that did not truly "hit home" until I started to prepare dinner tonight.

I love this risotto-like dish.  I love it because it's hearty and creamy and fully of veggie goodness (the peas nearly outnumber the rice!) with a few spikes of salty mixed in from the chopped kalamatas.  I love that even though it's supposed to be a baked dish, it comes together stovetop in approximately 30 minutes - I think that is at least partially owed to my use of the not-so-indigenous-to-Italy Jasmine rice.  After a ton of pasta dishes, I was happy to let go of my Italian fetish with a rice dish.  Or so I thought.

Tonight, I started to get everything together for Naked Burritos, and then remembered that I used the last four pitiful carrots for dinner last night, leaving me no carrots for the burritos.  Stop asking yourself what kind of sick person puts carrots in burritos and follow me back down the path to Il Belpaese.

So, I opened up my little gold book of magic and started to assemble ingredients and found myself lacking a fairly important one, so I looked at my menu for a quick-cooking one, as my stomach was trying to eat itself, and decided upon a recipe from Appetite for ReductionBroccoli Con Pasta, to be precise.  I made Dynise's version of this recipe not long ago, but I think I prefer Isa's.  It has a hot little kick from the red pepper flakes which can be at least partially dimmed by balsamic vinegar and wine, or left to simmer on your tongue and lips a bit.  It also does not involve trying to dissolve miso in hot oil with a flat whisk.  It also fits into that wonderful and welcome category of Perfect Portions/no leftovers.

With my continuing tribute to Italy out of the way, we can get to the real fun: Smoothies.  A few weeks ago, I posted about my smoothie virginity.  At least one daring and caring soul stepped forward to help me overcome my scarcity of smoothies: Kelly from Living on the Vedge.  She offered to meet up with me for a smoothie date, which we did on Saturday and it was delightful.  Prior to our meeting, though, I decided to dabble a bit - test the chunky, fruit-filled waters, if you will.

I began my Smoothie Odyssey on my way to work one morning.  I had an unintentionally light breakfast, leaving me quite ravenous by the time I got to the train station.  As luck would have it, there is a delightful little corner joint right where the Gallery meets Market East.  I have stopped a few times in the past for one of their abundant and varied fruit salads.  I noticed they had fresh-pressed juices, so I thought maybe I'd give one a try, but as I drew closer, I noticed a smoothie menu.  I shrugged a little to myself, then smiled at the waiting countergirl and ordered the Pink Lady: banana, strawberry, and carrot, blended with ice.

isn't she pretty?

I tried to reserve my judgment a little as I had nothing, really, to which I could compare my pretty pink smoothie, but it was darn good.  There was enough ice to give it texture, and I'm pretty sure they used a frozen banana, too, but it was totally drinkable as well.  I can't deny I was a little bit attracted to the color, especially since I thought the carrot would make it a little more orange...kind of like the Pineapple-Carrot Smoothie I got at Pure Fare on Saturday (the prettiest little Judgment Day there ever was!):

However, lest you believe that was all carrot turning it that amazing shade of orange, I think it was more the orange juice than anything else.  It was a tasty smoothie, profuse with citrus flavor between the OJ and the pineapple.  It was obvious there was carrot, though, as the blender did not completely pulverize it, resulting in the occasional chunk lodging itself in either the straw or my teeth.  Hot, I know - it's a good thing I wasn't trying to charm Kelly with my good looks and graceful smoothie consumption.  It was very thick but there was a certain comfort to be derived from drinking something that was clearly whole fruits and vegetables only moments before.  Kelly sipped on the Detoxifying Green Juice - she had been in a few days earlier and fell in love.  I think I am destined to return and try the Kale-Apple Smoothie and the green juice...and possibly one of the brownies I was assured is vegan!

Finally, when I got my hair touched up a few weeks ago for BIL's wedding, I stopped into Cups & Chairs to pay a long-overdue visit.  I had my detox tea for the first time since I finished Mister's this winter and could have kicked myself for forgetting how refreshing and addicting they are.  While I was waiting, I glanced up at the newly revamped drink menu and noticed something I hadn't seen in the past (probably because it wasn't there): a Matchanana Smoothie.

I correctly assumed it was matcha and bananas, as well as some plain soymilk and ice.  I headed over to Salon Sugar with my detox tea, but returned the following morning for a Matchanana to sip on my way to work.  By the time I made it to the train station, I'd sipped through half of it.  It was okay, but a little strange - first of all, it was way more soymilk than anything else.  Since she used a fresh banana, it didn't really stand out the way the texture of a frozen banana would have.  The matcha added a unique grassy-green flavor, but overall, it was not outstanding.  It was kind of like green milk.  Which doesn't sound that good.  It wasn't bad, but I won't get it again.

I wanted to try a Starbucks (anyone surprised?) Vivanno Smoothie, but the whole focal point is a blend of fiber and whey protein they add to promote energy and satiety.  Considering whey is a milk protein, that kind of went out the window.  I have my smoothie-eyes open wider now, so if I find anything exceptional, I'll report back, but for now, I'm going to sign off and dream of kale-apple smoothies and maybe treat myself to another smoothie from the corner place at Market East tomorrow...if there's time and space after my SBUX run ;)


  1. First of all, I had pasta for lunch AND dinner today. It was sort of a mistake.

    Also, I can't remember the last time I wasn't tired. Memorial Day weekend can't come soon enough.

  2. Jackie, sometimes I think we're living the same life - mister and I ALSO had pasta for lunch, then dinner, yesterday. As I was cleaning up and realized this, I thought to myself "wow...leftover fail!"

    there things happen - today is a new day :) and we're one day closer to Friday!