Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Bright Side

After weeks like this week, I think I need to just look on the bright side. With the SAT test, school presentations, projects, tests, and assemblies, this week has been stuffed with stress. So, now it's nice to just look at the bright side of things--literally. Check out these light and bright dishes I made this week to make me smile :-)

Bright Green Pea Soup

Berry-Pineapple Smoothie

Banana-Millet Granola (berry parfaits)

Pea soup just reminds me of spring, and with spring weather finally showing up, who doesn't want a big bowl of delicious, bright, smooth soup?! I ate this hot the first day, and then ate (and photographed) the leftovers the next day. I actually liked it better cold! It really was yummy as a spring treat, and I added some edamame for protein, while keeping the fantastic green color!

Bright Green Pea Soup

2 shallots
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup veggie broth
3 cups water (you could use more broth and less water, but I ran out of broth, so I used more water)
1 16 oz bag of frozen peas
8 oz frozen shelled edamame (meaning the ones without the shells on them)
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
salt and pepper
feta and pita chips* for serving

-Finely dice the shallots. It doesn't matter exactly how big or small they are because the soup will be pureed. -Saute them in the oil in a large pot over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, or until soft and slightly golden.
-Add white wine, veggie broth, and water.
-Turn heat to high and bring to a boil.
-Add peas, edamame, and ginger, keep boiling just for about 2 minutes, until the veggies are defrosted.
-Transfer part of  mixture to a blender, and puree in 3 or 4 batches, pouring into a separate bowl after each batch.
-add all of the pureed soup back to the pot if you are planning on serving it hot, or keep it in the bowl if you are planning on serving it cold.
-Stir in the chopped dill and season well with salt and pepper.
-Serve topped with feta and with pita chips or bread on the side!

*For the pita chips shown in the pictures, I heated the oven to 400 degrees F and put whole pita breads right on the oven rack, then baked for about 7-10 minutes, until they were completely crisped and hard, then broke them up into pieces.

To be honest, I never measure what I put in smoothies. I've tried, but then I end up switching around the measurements and adding more of some things and wishing I'd added less of others. So instead of a recipe for this beautiful, delicious smoothie, I am going to just share what's in it :-) . That still counts as kind of a recipe, right?

Berry-Pineapple Smoothie:
(yes, that's edamame)

-frozen strawberries
-frozen blueberries
-frozen shelled edamame
-frozen pineapple
-vanilla greek yogurt
-orange juice

-Put the largest frozen pieces, like strawberries, on the bottom so they get blended up first.
-Add edamame (without the shell)! You can't taste it, see it, or detect it, and it adds a ton of protein.
-Use greek yogurt. It comes in a variety of fruit flavors, so feel free to mix it up, and it has more than double the protein of regular yogurt
-Buy frozen fruit without added sugar--you can always add a little honey or agave at home if it's not sweet enough
-If you can't find frozen pineapple or peaches, or if they're too expensive, you can buy canned fruit (in fruit juice, not light or heavy syrup) and freeze it on a wax-paper lined sheet tray.

Fun Ideas:
- brew some fruity tea and let it cool in the fridge, add it to the smoothie instead of juice for a flavorful, less sugary option!
-when you feel like making extra-pretty smoothies, blend up a few different batches that are different colors and layer them in glasses. For example, a green layer could be kiwi, green grapes and honeydew; an orange layer could be mangoes and peaches; a red layer could be strawberries, raspberries, and watermelon; and a yellow layer could be pineapple and banana! Get creative and mix and match!
-Garnish with the fruit that's inside the smoothie, umbrella toothpicks, or brightly colored straws.

I make granola all the time, but my usual recipe is really more of a treat thanks to lots of maple syrup and oil, so I really like experimenting with other recipes that taste just as yummy! I've found that a great addition is a puffed cereal--like rice krispies--to add volume to the granola without making it too dense or calorie-filled. The other day when I went to the grocery store, I found a variety of puffed cereals like puffed brown rice, kamut, and millet. The millet cereal was just so cute and perfectly round that I had to buy it. It was great in this recipe,  but I'm sure you could use just about any other cereal, just try to make sure it's a puffed whole grain.

Banana-Millet Granola

2 cups oats
2 cups puffed millet
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
pinch of salt
1/4 cup agave
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ripe bananas, mashed
2 tablespoons ground flax seed meal
2/3 cup roughly chopped almonds

-Heat the oven to 375 degrees F, and prepare a bakingsheet by lining it with a silicon baking mat or parchment paper.
-In a large bowl, mix together oats, millet, flour, and salt. Set aside.
-In a small saucepan, heat agave, water, oil, vanilla, and bananas until bubbling
-Stir in the flax seed meal to the wet mixture and let cool for a few minutes.
-Add the wet mixture to the dry and mix with a spatula.
-Add in the almonds and mix them throughout.
-Spread the mixture on the baking sheet and bake for about 30 minutes or until the mixture is browned and a little crispy.

Berry-Granola Parfaits:

Again, no measuring here...

-granola (above)

Pretty simple, right?

-Place chopped berries in the bottom of a tall glass, then top with yogurt and granola.
-repeat these layers until the glass is full!

-Use greek yogurt again here! It's full of protein and the thickness works really well in parfaits.
-If you're out of granola or don't have time to make any, you can use whatever cereal you have on hand or just some chopped nuts.

Fun Ideas:
-Use different kinds of fruit (bananas, apples, strawberries, blueberries, mangoes, peaches, figs, kiwis, pineapple, or melon, just to name a few) in each layer to make your parfait really colorful and flavorful!
-Add different flavors to your granola, like cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon zest, walnuts, pistachios, craisins, or cocoa powder.

Enjoy this week! Hopefully some good weather is in store to keep me happy :-)

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