Tag Archives: bananas

Smoothie Recipes and Tips: Drinking Your Lunch

Gentle Readers, it’s confession time. I like to chew my food. Having grown up in an era of diet plans that included SlimFast, I have never understood how people lose weight like that. If I drink calories, I’m still hungry. So I can not in good faith recommend a drinkable only diet.

My preferred means of cold yogurt consumption! (And current addiction--I love toppings.)

My preferred means of cold yogurt consumption! (And current addiction–I love toppings.)

However, when it comes to feeding growing kids who have loose teeth and/or braces something nutritious in a short time, I’m willing to go outside my own personal set of rules. Smoothies are very calorie dense, and when that’s important, they are a great option for portable snacks, breakfast on the go, and infinitely variable lunch additions.

Here are some of my findings.

The Practical Cook’s Smoothie Recipes and Tips:

1. Use frozen fruit instead of ice to achieve good smoothie texture. No one likes a watered down smoothie. My favorite trick, throw that last banana that’s almost too ripe in the freezer, in its own wrapper.

2. However, let the frozen fruit come up to temperature a bit, or pop in the microwave to speed the blending process. Remember that banana? Thirty seconds in the microwave and you can peel it and blend.

Start with the liquids before adding the fruit to avoid the dreaded blender jam.

Start with the liquids before adding the fruit to avoid the dreaded blender jam.

3. Put the liquids and yogurt in first. This will absolutely aid the blending process. I’ve blended a lot of food in my time, in commercial and home settings. Trust me on this. No matter how much you paid for your Blend-O-Matic, this rule holds true.

4. Try orange juice or another whole fruit juice as your liquid/sweetener. If that’s not enough, add a dash of honey!

Mango Raspberry Smoothies--Pretty Snacks!

Mango Raspberry Smoothies–Pretty Snacks!

5. Mix your fruits. This goes without saying, the blends usually work better. The house favorite right now is plain low-fat yogurt, OJ, mango, raspberries, and a dash of honey. My personal favorite? The Elvis: plain low-fat yogurt, peanut butter, a frozen banana, a little milk, and honey.

The best way to transport? We’re saving the drinkable yogurt bottles for re-use with homemade concoctions. It’s a great hit of protein and calcium that can be consumed very quickly while talking during a short school lunch period.

So drink up, and share your favorite combinations! Post a comment or tweet in my direction. I can hear you out there.

Send your frozen fruit, lucrative ideas, and travel cups practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today! Also, follow the food pictures on Instagram @amylewi.)

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Chocolate and Fruit: Where Do You Stand?

Gentle Readers, though The Practical Cook is fond of chocolate, deeply fond, she does not think it goes with every fruit under the sun. Yes, there, I said it. There are some fruit/chocolate combinations of which I’m not fond. As the Golden Globes are going on, let’s nominate our favorite fruit and chocolate pairings, shall we. And in some cases, it is not an honor to be nominated.

Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries

Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries

In the category of fruits that pair well with chocolate, we have:

1. Strawberries. This is a clear winner. Easy to make, delicious to eat. Love them. Dearly. Here’s a simple recipe for chocolate-dipped strawberries.

2. Cherries. A favorite since childhood. I would show you a picture of the box I got for Christmas (thanks Mom!), but I ate them all.

Sticky Popcorn: Chocolate Almond Cherry

Sticky Popcorn: Chocolate Almond Cherry

3. Bananas. Banana splits, I put them in my chocolate yogurt, they’re frozen and dipped in chocolate for the fair! A clear front-runner.

4. Apples. Rolled in caramel and then dipped in chocolate and a variety of candy. Brilliant invention. Yes, please.

The Caramel Apple That Eats Like a Meal

The Caramel Apple That Eats Like a Meal

5. Boysenberries. Just trust me on this. I had a chocolate torte on a black walnut crisp with boysenberry sauce. It was as good as it sounds.

For fruits I don’t want near chocolate, we have:

1. Oranges. Yeah, you heard me. Though I have admittedly consumed several pieces of chocolate orange from the holidays, it was a matter of chocolate desperation, and I was unhappy with myself. This combo doesn’t work for me.

Chocolate peanut butter, chocolate orange, chocolate mint.

Chocolate peanut butter, chocolate orange, chocolate mint.

2. Raspberries. I know, you can boo me off the stage on this one. I think it goes back to the days of the Whitman’s sampler, when I would always manage to get the “raspberry gel” no matter what. Ugh and double ugh.

Whitman's Sampler

3. Peaches. This just came to me as an extremely unfortunate pairing. Having never tried it, I can’t say for certain. I would add kiwi and mango to this category as well.

Okay, the nominations are in, it is time to vote! Post a comment below, or Tweet with #chocofruit as the hashtag.

Questions, suggestions, chocolate? Email me at practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Tomorrow, speaking of cheesy, it’s Veggie Nachos Perfected!

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Chocolate Yogurt: A Poor Man’s Banana Split

Gentle Readers, lean in close, it’s confession time. The Practical Cook adores a banana split. In her misspent youth, she would devour an entire one by herself. After all, it’s practically a fruit salad with the bananas, walnuts, and cherries. Well, perhaps that is a touch hyperbolic. Fast forward a few years, and an entire banana split would spell sugar crash, complete with headache.

Trader Joe's Low-Fat Chocolate Yogurt Topped with Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup

Trader Joe's Low-Fat Chocolate Yogurt Topped with Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup

Enter Chocolate Yogurt. Yes, it’s a bit of a sugar bomb compared to unflavored plain yogurt, which you can certainly chocolate up yourself (and I sometimes do, a topic for another day), but it’s portion controlled and convenient at 3 pm, when all good people crave chocolate. (Okay, fine, I crave chocolate then, who’s with me??)

One dark chocolate peanut butter cup from Trader Joe's.

One dark chocolate peanut butter cup from Trader Joe's.

For the purposes of this test, I ate Trader Joe’s Low-Fat Chocolate Yogurt, as The Practical Cook does not believe in fat-free yogurt, in two ways. First, with a few walnut pieces and half of a banana, sliced, second with a single, finely chopped dark chocolate peanut butter cup, also courtesy of Trader Joe’s (note to self, stop shopping there when hungry, it’s like a freaking chocolate emporium).

I really enjoyed the balance of sweet and crunchy in the first combination. With little imagination, I was back at Topsail Island or perhaps the Mayberry Ice Cream Shop. Bliss. I might even add a maraschino cherry next time. The second version was more reminiscent of a Blizzard than a sundae, and is dessert-worthy. Simple, easy, and portable.

What are your thoughts on Chocolate Yogurt? Comment below, or confess your snack secrets. I won’t tell.

Thoughts, favorite ingredients, and queries can be emailed to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Up next, Halloween snack review: Jack-o-Lantern Jo Jos!

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