With the sun shining and temperatures rising, I’ve been happy to see Spring and Summer produce trickle into my local grocer. I’m still waiting for cherry season, but in the meantime have been happy to load up on peaches, avocados, and unique heirloom tomatoes.

I’ve not always been a huge tomato fan. I remember as a child disgustedly picking the tomato chunks out of my tomato sauce. And raw tomatoes? Unthinkable. No, I’m afraid that I didn’t willingly eat raw tomatoes until I was 20. I was studying abroad in Europe with a group of classmates the summer between my sophomore and junior year of college. I can’t remember if it happened in Germany when the tomatoes were likely soaked in a horseradish dressing, or if it wasn’t until we were in France and I was suddenly eating all of the tomato basil things.

S, unfortunately, has yet to fully appreciate raw tomatoes. Much to my surprise, when we were out to dinner with friends a few weeks ago, he excitedly devoured a pasta dish that had raw red and yellow tomatoes, even demanding that I try one of the pieces on his plate.

S was able to pinpoint the appeal of these was their lower acidity, as confirmed by the gospel – google

So when we were grocery shopping the next day and I spotted the irregularly shaped, “ugly” tomatoes in a rainbow of green, yellow, orange & red – I happily purchased a few, unsure of what I’d do with them.

On a warm afternoon that week, after raiding my fridge – I had an idea. Tomato toast for a late lunch, or perfect afternoon snack. Tomato basil is one of my favorite flavor combinations. I was sure that I’d miss the fresh basil taste without having the fresh leaves on hand. But because of the herbaceous chèvre, my tastebuds were happy!

I began with my current favorite bread – a purple wheat walnut loaf from aforementioned grocery store, but any crusted bread will do. Into the toaster it went, until it was lightly toasted.

I then carefully spread Purple Haze Goat cheese, from Cypress Grove Chèvre. It is packed with lavender and fennel pollen, giving the cheese a fresh herbal flavor. If you aren’t familiar with goat cheese, it can be a bit difficult to spread on warm bread. To not completely butcher your toast, it is best to let the cheese acclimate closer to room temperature from the fridge before use.

And then, come the beautiful tomatoes! Slice to your heart’s content. I used two different tomatoes, but combined only used approximately 1/2 of a tomato in total.

Topped with freshly ground salt and pepper and voila! You have a perfect lunch, or afternoon snack.


Credit: Lauren of Creature & Cave
Serves: 2

Ingredients

  • 4 slices of whole grain, hearty bread (2 per person)
  • 2 ounces Purple Haze from Cypress Grove Chèvre. It can be found in most grocery stores, but any herbed cheese like a Boursin will do.
  • 1 Large Heirloom Tomato
  • Salt & Pepper

Directions

  1. Remove cheese from refrigerator ~15 minutes in advance.
  2. Toast bread to desired crispness – I like my bread hot with edges crispy, but not a whole lot of color change.
  3. Slice tomatoes
  4. Assemble: Spread cheese on toasted bread, top with tomato slices
  5. Add salt & pepper to taste.
  6. Serve & enjoy!

[/recipe]

Happy Monday!

Today I wanted to share my favorite Green Smoothie – which I refer to as “Try The Grey Stuff, It’s Delicious” (not to be confused with this grey stuff, which admittedly is equally delicious – just a different kind of delicious). So why the name? In a previous life, I worked a couple of blocks away from a really fancy whole foods, where I would stop in every morning for a smoothie (that is long gone from their menu) and a latte.

One day, while I was waiting on my order, I noticed a decidedly grey smoothie be placed on the counter waiting to be picked up. My mind immediately said, “try the grey stuff it’s delicious,” because it is silly – so I inquired about it. I was told that it was a riff on my usual order, with the addition of blueberries. They offered to make it for me so I could try because they thought it was a better tasting version. Indeed they were right! The addition of the blueberries make the smoothie infinitely more palatable, and my morning ritual went from repetitive and comfortable to being something I honestly looked forward to.

So when Whole Foods decided to overhaul their menu and standardize it across all of their stores, I (along with some other regulars) wanted blood :x. Ok, *I* was sad. But I heard that another regular was out for blood. As such, this particular store continues to make the smoothie, but at a pretty significant premium. As I no longer work in the area, I was *very* kindly given the recipe by a staff member so that I could make it at home. So behold – the recipe for my favorite green smoothie!

This recipe is extremely easy and quick to follow – the keys are all in the prep work (which can easily be done in advance of a work week on a weekend), and the order ingredients are placed into the blender.

As soon as we come home from grocery shopping, I’ll immediately start by washing my spinach in a mix of water and red wine vinegar, and do the same for the blueberries. While both are soaking in the vinegar water concoction, I’ll take my bunch of bananas, and slice them one banana at a time. I’ll bag them individually in a ziplock baggy, and toss the baggies into the freezer. I’ll then rinse and dry the blueberries and spinach, and place them in separate tupperware containers, and pop those into the fridge.

Freezing the bananas and refrigerating the fresh blueberries is absolutely key to the consistency and taste of the smoothie. Whole Foods uses a commercial flash freezer for their fruit, which guarantees a fresh texture, but we have to improvise at home. ***Note that subbing in frozen blueberries purchased from the freezer section will result in a grainier smoothie and the taste will be different.

Prepping these 3 ingredients will make your Monday (and Tuesday, and Wednesday…) morning much easier! Come Monday morning, I will begin measuring out the Almond Milk, and pour that into my Vitamix container. I highly, HIGHLY recommend purchasing one of these! Ours is nearly 4 years old and has been worth every penny (and their 7 year warranty is amazing). I’ll then add the frozen banana – be absolutely sure to pour the almond milk in first, having the liquid as the first ingredient ensures a longer living blender!

After the banana, in goes the blueberries and spinach (order on these doesn’t matter), followed by the protein and spiraling powders. I then add the avocado, and top it with the agave. I tend to like this order, as I find that the avocado and agave provide extra moisture to break down the powders.

 

I’ll use my smoothie preset – which is about 45 seconds on high, if you don’t have a Vitamix. You may have to play with this a little bit on different blenders!

And – voila! This recipe produces a large 24 ounce serving. If you are active, and based on your caloric and nutritional needs – this may be the perfect serving size for you. For my needs (as you can see above), I usually consume 12-16 ounces of it, and save the rest for a snack the following day.

Please note that the color is really determined by the balance of the spinach (packed cup vs. not) and blueberries (when you fluctuate between 4 and 6 ounces). My preference for taste is when the liquid comes out grey with a slight purple glow (you’ll know it when you see it). If the liquid comes out purple, it will likely be on the sweeter side, and if it comes out more green, it may be less sweet.

'Try The Grey Stuff, It's Delicious' Green Smoothie

  • Servings: 1-2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A creamy, well balanced Green Smoothie packed with protein, antioxidants, and tons of vitamins and minerals.


Credit: Adapted from Whole Foods recipe

Ingredients

  • 10 ounces of Almond Milk (I like Califia Unsweetened Almond Milk)
  • 1 medium to large organic banana (size pending freshness and availability), frozen and cut into slices
  • 6 ounces of fresh organic blueberries, refrigerated
  • 1 cup of organic raw spinach leaves, washed and dried
  • ~7/8 of a scoop of protein powder (I like Garden of Life Raw Organic Protein Powder. I use Vanilla Chai flavor, but that’s up to you)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Spirulina powder (I use Now Organic brand.)
  • 1/4 organic large, Hass avocado (so half of what is pictured above)
  • 1 tablespoon of Agave Nectar

Directions

  1. In a blender (I use a Vitamix Professional Series 750), combine all ingredients in the following order: Almond Milk, Banana, Blueberries, Spinach, Protein Powder, Spirulina, Avocado, and Agave Nectar
  2. Close the top!
  3. Turn Blender on – I use a smoothie preset, and run for exactly 1 cycle – about 45 seconds on high
  4. Serve & enjoy!


Our Sunday will be spent enjoying coffee and breakfast at our favorite spot, and then cleaning and preparing for a Labor Day brunch. Thiss will be the first time we have this many people in our new house at once, so hopefully the place will clean up nicely.


I hope everyone is enjoying their long weekend!

Favorite places around the web this week…

1) I almost feel like I’m cheating by sharing this, as it isn’t gluten free – but it is too yummy not to share! Ashley, of Not Without Salt, has partnered with Anthropologie to give you Skillet Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies. In addition, you can snag her cookie mix at a discount (and part of the profits go to charity, to boot)!


2) An extremely enabling Sneak Peek of the 2015 Holiday beauty collections


3) If I had some extra (ok a lot of extra) cash laying around, this Chloe Dress would be in my closet!


4) 20 People from Famous Paintings Who Literally. Can’t. Even. Right now


5) 129 of the Most Beautiful Shots in Movie History


6) Sinderella – one of my favorite bloggers! Documenting the misadventures of a 20 something on the hunt for true love in the big city, using what else but the modern day matchmaker: Tinder (I can definitely relate – hang in there Sinderella!)


7) On my to try list: Coffee Tonics! Coffee addict? Check! Fan of Gin & Tonics? Check! Love trying new foodie things? Double check! What could go wrong?


8) Traveling to Paris soon (or are you just lucky enough to live there)? Then I’m jealous of you, because you will get to visit Shakespeare & Company’s new cafe, which is opening this Fall!


Listening to this week…