Yesterday was my first day back at the office, after enjoying two weeks of vacation at home. It was a glorious two weeks. We didn’t do much – we visited Lonesome Dove in Fort Worth, saw a movie, visited the Dallas Museum of Art and the Nasher Sculpture Center, played with the XBOX 360 and Kinect, and I met Amy of Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free for lunch one day (which was wonderful!). Other than those things, some shopping, errands, and doctors appointments, there wasn’t a lot of schedule or planned activities. Which left me with LOTS of time to test recipes for my upcoming book!
Testing recipes starts out as fun. First, there’s an idea. It’s like a spark in your brain. This can happen anytime – many times, I’ll be immersed in another activity, such as running, watching TV (okay, so watching shows like Top Chef Masters does help get those creative juices flowing!), or chatting with my husband, and a concept will pop into my head. Then it’s as if I have little control over the mind flow that happens next – I start to envision a dish, and components fall into place. A bit of color here, some fresh herbs there, and a bit of citrus for acidity and balance…and suddenly, I need to do one of two things: either hop into the kitchen and start making my creation immediately, or else grab whatever I have to write on (or type) and jot down my ideas. During these past two weeks, many times, I had the freedom to hop into the kitchen. That was liberating and great fun.
But then reality starts to set in. Sometimes these grand ideas work the first time. But sometimes (many times), they don’t. Not that they’re all failures (although I’d had my share of those!), but they need tweaking. So I start again. And again. This is where it starts to not feel as “fun”. However, if I can persist through multiple trials, and see a successful dish arise from my experiments, then it’s all worth it. There is nothing more rewarding than working hard at something and finally feeling that sense of accomplishment.
But there’s another side to recipe testing. This is the side “they” don’t talk about. The part where you have to taste. And taste. And taste again. All day, you’re nibbling. Next thing you know, that scale creeps up, bit by bit. That fourth and fifth version of your cookie recipe is slowly doing your figure some damage! Not to mention all those nibbles are not likely to add up to a balanced diet by the end of the day.
So I am trying to balance however I can. Being back at work this week puts me back into my routine, which helps. (It also slows down recipe testing progress, but c’est la vie…) I’m also trying to incorporate a good, nutrient-rich smoothie pretty often in my diet. This is a smoothie I’ve enjoyed quite a bit lately. For some reason, the combination of blueberries, mint, and spinach works well for me. It’s fresh, just barely sweet, and with a scoopful of protein powder, it’s filling enough and has staying power to get me through the morning. It certainly helps that blueberries are plentiful this time of year, and the mint in my garden is beginning to really take off. It’s perfect on a hot summer day, when the thought of a hot breakfast just doesn’t appeal.
Rarely do I follow a recipe when making my smoothies. It’s more of a dump-random-stuff-together-and-see-what-happens event. So if you don’t have something, feel free to substitute. A banana would work well in here. So would some coconut milk or yogurt (dairy or non-dairy, your choice). Change up the greens – use kale or swiss chard instead of spinach. Or omit them entirely, and add multiple varieties of berries for a berry-mint smoothie. It’s YOUR smoothie – make the most of it!
Blueberry Spinach Mint Smoothie
About 2 cups of baby spinach
1/2 c packed mint leaves
1/2 c fresh blueberries
1 T brown rice protein powder (I’ve been using Jarrow Brown Rice lately)
1 T hemp seeds (optional)
1 c coconut water
Stevia to sweeten, if desired
Add spinach, mint, blueberries, protein powder, hemp seeds, and coconut water together in a blender. Blend until smooth, adding more coconut water or ice if desired. Taste – if it’s not sweet enough for your liking, add a few drops of stevia extract and blend again.
Serve cold. Makes 1-2 servings.
Don’t forget! You can enter for your chance to win Gluten-Free Made Simple by Carol Field Dahlstrom, Elizabeth Dahlstrom Burnley, and Marcia Schultz Dahlstrom! Check out my giveaway post here. Hurry, because the giveaway ends Saturday, June 25, 2011!