recipe: all-green smoothie

We've all heard about the celebrity following and myriad health benefits of "green juices". But even for those of us who like the flavor of "musty grass" (as one friend put it), paying upwards of $9-a-pop for the health fix seems absurd. Moreover, the DIY types will tell you that juicers are labor of love (emphasis on labor - they're obnoxious to clean), and thus often end up on the shelf.  If you've gone through all those steps and still want the green stuff, you've maybe considered the green smoothie option - typically linked with buying the infamous Vitamix (yup, that's where I'm at). But the frugal foodie  - and MacGyver - inside me wouldn't stand for it, so I set off down the green smoothie road with only a mediocre blender at my side. (This isn't the first time I've mis-used my blender for bizarre projects.) Well, the first batch ended up all over my kitchen - but! - it did work. After a few go-rounds, I worked out the kinks and quickly became addicted to the little suckers. I tested the satiation question last week (this isn't a cleanse, and I'm anti-starving oneself for any purpose), and after a busy workweek with only green smoothies for breakfast, I can honestly attest they are energy in a cup. Caffeine without the crash. (Basically, I'm a convert...I'm sipping one now.)

Energy in a Cup: All-Green Smoothie

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 3 romaine leaves
  • 5 kale leaves (de-stemmed)
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1-2 tbsp minced ginger
  • 1/4 cup chopped basil
  • 1/4 cup chopped mint
  • Lemon juice/lime juice/unfiltered apple cider vinegar
Instructions
  1. Pour water into your blender.
  2. Finely chop and add to blender (one vegetable at a time) celery, cucumber, romaine, kale, avocado.
  3. Scoop out ripe avocado, blend into mixture.
  4. Add minced/chopped ginger and herbs to mixture.
  5. When you are ready to serve, add acidity to taste: either a healthy squeeze of lemon/lime juice, or – for a probiotic boost – a splash of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar.
Notes/Tips
1. Blend the cucumbers and celery into the water first. This will create a good liquid base that will make it easier to blend in all the other, rougher veggies. (You can use a wooden spoon to pre-mix the rougher vegetables into pre-existing liquid in order to ease the process.) 2. Be easy on your blender, especially if you don't have a Vitamix. Use the ice-chop/pulse button to break things up before testing the higher settings. 3. Don't overfill your blender. If you get it more than 2/3 full (unless you are making a very water-y smoothie), you will definitely end up with green juice flying around. 4. Make your smoothies on the thick side for easy conservation. Add lemon/lime/apple cider vinegar and extra water just before eating, to make the texture more drinkable.

recipe: purple cabbage summer slaw

When the weather heats up, I prefer to spend as little time slaving over a hot stove as possible. And when I've got a bunch of people to feed, I prefer quick, easy recipes that can sit worry-free in the sun. I came up with this colorful slaw last summer, when my mom happened to have nothing but half a head of cabbage and a well-stocked pantry/freezer to pull from. It has since become one of my family's go-to beach day eats.

Purple Cabbage Summer Slaw

Ingredients
  • 1 head of purple cabbage (medium sized)
  • 1.5 cups of frozen peas
  • 1 cup of shelled, frozen edamame
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • Dressing:
    • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
    • 1/3 cup olive oil
    • 2 tsp honey
    • 1 tbsp whole grain mustard
    • 1/4 tsp salt (or to taste)
    • 1/2 tsp pepper (or to taste)
  • Optional:
    • sunflower seeds
    • pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
Instructions
  1. Wash and de-core cabbage. Shred in food processor, or finely chop by hand.
  2. In a large bowl, mix peas, edamame, dried cranberries and golden raisins with cabbage.
  3. Mix together vinegar, oil, honey, mustard, salt and pepper. Pour over slaw and mix well.
  4. Let sit until peas and edamame are properly defrosted (10-15 minutes).
  5. Top with seeds and serve.
Notes You can also serve this slaw over mixed greens (pictured) as a light, but filling, vegetarian salad.

eater's digest: natural gourmet institute

Photos by Madeleine Goico Here’s a challenge: find a three-course dinner in New York City that is not only innovative and elegant, but healthy and affordable. To boot, make it a prime time reservation: Friday night.

It’s a seemingly impossible set of criteria and yet, the Natural Gourmet Institute’s Friday Night Dinner promises all of the above. Every Friday at 6:30 pm, students, instructors or alumni guest chefs prepare a three-course vegetarian feast for at least eighty guests. Each meal features the highest quality organic, seasonal, whole, unprocessed foods. At the remarkable price of $40 per person, that’s a guilt-free indulgence all around.

I had the pleasure of joining a few NGI administrators for a graduation dinner in June, the culinary culmination of months of student preparation and planning. The soon-to-be-alumni had chosen a dynamic, Latin American inspired menu, featuring foodstuffs such as yucca, tomatillos and plantains.

We began with a watercress and grilled asparagus salad, as well as a summer melon soup. A light, lemon-y vinaigrette complemented the bitter, spicy seasonal greens. The soup was clean and translucent, textured with subtle, finely chopped guava-smoked salted cucumber. Elegant, refreshing and balanced, this appetizer left your palate awakened for the following course.

Our entrée was a duo of tamales, plated over a zesty carrot and plantain habanero sauce. The umami of wild mushroom and white truffle was nicely spiced with tomatillo and chipotle, a diverse range of flavors for a relatively mild dish. The other tamale, swiss chard and almond cream, tasted of nutty root vegetables, with a remarkably light, smooth, mashed-potato-like texture.

Last but not least, dessert was a Mexican cinnamon ice cream and a spiced chocolate truffle. The ice cream was dairy-free and lightly spiced, resembling sorbet in texture. The truffle rivaled any that I’ve ever eaten, with an addictively dense outer shell and luxurious, molten center.

The lasting sentiment at the table – at least among the guests – was that of awe and curiosity. It was difficult to guess the ingredients that allowed for certain items’ vegetarian transformation, as - aside from the ice cream - each dish matched, if not surpassed, its omnivorous counterpart. In fact, dinner at the Natural Gourmet Institute is the best possible advertisement for their Chef’s Training program and public classes. For once you’ve tasted the food, you’ll be hooked on recreating the recipes.

Natural Gourmet Institute 48 W 21st St # 2 New York, NY 10010 (212) 645-5170