Sunday Reading 03-29-15 #29

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I went to my Grandmother’s on Saturday for the family Easter get together. I talked about the trip last year, which is a grueling trip to Amityville Long Island. Things worth noting? My outfit was pretty much the same- same shoes, same skirt, different shirt and tights. ha. Yes, it is Amityville as in the Amityville Horror, I really need to pick up that book. And Alec Baldwin and De La Soul are from Amityville, I wonder if they know my Grandma? Oh and most importantly Alien Ant Farm will be performing in a bar there in April. Betcha you didn’t know they still kept making music after Smooth Criminal. Neither did I.

Sidenote, I finally bought two bags of Vega protein powder. The more frequently I run, the more I want a quick shake. So I finally got the vanilla and berry smoothie powders and they have already been a huge lifesaver. I made a shake with the berry powder, a banana, and strawberries. Perfect. Today I had a mango blended up with kale, water, and the vanilla powder. Perfection!

Recipes:

This is giving me inspiration for the beets I get from my CSA…. months from now.

Gotta make these mole roasted chickpeas. She uses Kevita cinnamon tonic, so maybe I will make a special cinnamon kombucha for this.

Emily is making me drool with this strawberry cashew cream cake… hey I just got really cheap strawberries. Maybe I should be making this.

I am not the type of person who likes cutesy holiday themed sweets, but I am stealing this idea for my second Easter get together (uggg… married life)

Food/Vegan News:

New York Times talks about the myth of a high-protein diet. People are misinformed about when protein is important.

I loved this article since I have this debate often with my Mother in Law. We never get very far because we don’t actually know which would be more harmful for the environment- animal products or fake leathers.

Farmers are going on strike.

This article gave me hope that working conditions can improve in restaurants. Working in the food industry sucks, and it is hard to point the blame on a person. Most of the time it is just being misinformed.

Fun Stuff:

Coloring clubs for grown ass adults? I need to start my own chapter!

And OMG OMG OMG OMG I need this shoe! Too bad they don’t have my size T_T

What is going to happen in the frozen sequal? Experts give their predictions! Probably gonna be everyone’s birthday.

Alexa needs to come and visit me soon so we can walk around the gaybourhood and cross the street like we are fucking unicorns.

National Geographic talks about bioluminous life. Note: there are cool photos and a video on the left side when you are done reading the article.

Every year SXSW keeps getting cooler and cooler acts. Last year it was Glen Check, this year it is PERFUME! Apparently they released a stellar live video (meaning a video you create/edit in real time) that has been described as being from the future.

Project 365: Days 74-80

Day 74: Jon asked if I wanted to go for a walk, then started to refill the window wash in the cars. I photograph him to kill the time.

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Day 75: Jon suggests another walk and proceeds to waste time by checking out the cars before heading out.

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Day 76: This was not a very tasty shake, but it sure looked cool with the marbling effect.

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Day 77: My work got some special “congrats on your new location flowers”

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Day 78: My back was hurting so I left work early and I got some Sweet Freedom snacks to cheer me up.

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Day 79: Took some photos of the abandoned bowling alley before heading to work.

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Day 80: Made a huge pan of lasagna- so much that I needed 4 lbs of tofu.

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My Vegan Restaurant: b.good Medford, NJ

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b.good

500 Rte 73 S, The Promenade at Sagemore, Medford NJ 08053
More locations in MA, NH, CT, ME, NC, and RI
website | facebook | instagram | twitter | youtube

I have an unspoken rule that I try to avoid chains when talking about restaurants on this site. There are many blogs that give vegan ordering hacks at major chains like Chipotle and Panera. But I make excepts for budding businesses, or chains that vary drastically for the menu, like Loving Hut.

The other day I was trying to find a good vegan friendly restaurant near by that would be good for a lunch, maybe a smoothie. And I stumbled on the website for b.good foods. They opened a location in Medford in a shopping plaza known for their higher end shopping, including a Mac store, Anthropology, LLBean, and Pottery Barn Kids.

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The chain’s goals are pretty simple- fresh and local foods. It is hard to promise that with a chain, even when it is still fairly small. But they don’t kid around. When entering the store there is a big chalk board with local farmers and bakers that they get their food from. Although it seems like all stores have the same core menu, each location does have some specialized foods. There were even some baked goods to buy from Wild Flour Bakery inside, even with a vegan option.

Although they boast healthy food, I would say it is hit or miss on how healthy your meal can be. There are lots of combo options, which can quickly add up in calories. But if you keep it simple, a burger, salad, or bowl, you are looking for a reasonable meal- ranging on average from 400-600 calories. The lowest calories is in a salad, 284 calories, and the highest calories is in a burger, 710 calories. Neither are vegan so who cares?

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So if the menu isn’t 100% vegan, what can you get? Answer: A Lot.

The menu had cute little v’s written next to vegan items. But realistically, almost anything can be made vegan. Most the salads and the kale and quinoa bowls are vegetarian and have cheese added which can be taken out (lemon-caesar ving, lemon-mint ving, jalapeno ranch, and croutons not vegan though). They have a vegan burger pattie and vegan buns! Again, you might have to ask for some modifications for their specialty burgers, like no cheese or bacon. So you can come into the store craving a light salad, protein packed kale & quinoa bowl, or super filling burger, with options in each category.

Some of the sides are vegan, though these change the most during seasons so always ask if they are vegan. But even in this category you have a lot to choose from, including fries, veggie chips, and some smoothies. I am sure you could request modifications to make a non-vegan smoothies to be vegan as the only non-vegan ingredients are honey and yogurt. There are no soy options for milk shakes though, bummer.

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So hows the food? Well I got a acai berry smoothie to drink right away and the spicy avocado and lime kale and quinoa bowl to take home. I wasn’t blown away by acai berry smoothie, but this might just be a reflection of my changing opinions on smoothies. This one wasn’t too sweet which I liked, but was really icy thick. It was so thick that it probably prevented it from blending all the way. Truthfully, I don’t think smoothies are their main focus since most people don’t get smoothies to accompany their meals.

After about an hour of running errands I got home and dug into my bowl. Even sitting around for an hour it still tasted great. Because let’s face it guys, if you are taking out your lunch or dinner, you might not get to it right away. Everything tasted fresh and flavorful, I could tell the corn and green beans weren’t frozen, and cherry tomatoes tasted like they weren’t refrigerated. Just to point out, the spicy avocado and lime kale and quinoa bowl technically isn’t vegan, I asked for it to not come with cheese.

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I am a little bummed that I didn’t grab a burger during my visit, but before visiting I did my research. The website said that the local bakery they used didn’t make vegan buns for the burgers. Bummed out I emailed the company to share my disappointment. Guess what? After I got home with my food, I got an email back saying they changed the recipe to be vegan awhile ago and never updated the site! How awesome is that? I am not putting it against them that they didn’t update their website since they are trying to keep track of several different locations. It is hard to have each and every ingredient correct for so many different foods with several locations. But one of biggest pet peeves is when restaurants have vegan burgers but no vegan buns. No Zinburger, I don’t want a salad, if I wanted to ’86’ the bun I would of been reading the salad section. End rant. Point is this place has great customer service and has lots of options for vegans.

Overall this is a nice place to dine with a vegan or non-vegan friend. There is something for everyone. And if you aren’t vegan a lot of the salads and kale & quinoa bowls can have chicken added to it for an additional price. There are also lots of sauces and vinaigrettes that are dairy and egg free which is a plus for vegans and allergy sensitive people.

My vegan dream shoe wishlist

Hubby and I went for a walk together last Sunday and I noticed a sad little hole in my favorite pair of shoes. I am not very kind to my shoes, I only own a few pairs and I wear them to death. It probably doesn’t help that I rarely pay more than $20 for a pair of shoes either. Realistically I’ll probably check out shoes at a thrift shop and try and jazz them up. But for now, I can check the internet and make a vegan shoe dream list.

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Who Could Be Saddle Shoes byPinup Couture ($39.99) | Confetti Cork Oxford Shoes by Golden Ponies ($42) | Carefree Choreography Flat in Cognac at Modcloth ($34.99) | Holographic Oxford Shoes by Golden Ponies ($42) 

I’ve been noticing that I am feeling more and more comfortable in shoes with a slight heel to them. I think this because when I am in flats I kind-of walk like I am running, on the balls of my feet. Either that or my walnut crushing bunz are so HUGE that I walk funny. But I like when shoes have a pretty traditional style but are pretty quirky, like those holographic oxford shoes. Yes please!

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Razzle Dazzle by Irregular Choice ($125) | Swift Stride Flat by BC Footwear ($59.99) | Green Velvet Foxy Flats by Tuk Shoes ($55) | Foxy Herringbone Heels by Tuk Shoes ($65)

I love heels, but realisticly, they are the only shoes that I don’t wear to death (they can actually get donated to charities!) Which makes me wonder why I bother buying them new. Then they make cute heels with metalic turquoise bows and foxes on them. Ugggg! Life’s not fair! And I am weirdly realistic in my shoe fantasies and still put some flats in there. I keep eyeing up some leopard print flats, which is probably a sign I should bite the bullet and buy a pair.

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Bikila EVO WP by Vibram ($150)

Oh and I am starting to think I’ll need to replace my running shoes soon. I am loving this bright pink and orange sole. It will be my own little fun running secret. Right?

Anyone has some dream shoes they been pining over?

Massaman Curried Lentil and Carrot Soup

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A while ago I made my own massaman curry from Connoisseurus Veg and it made a large amount. Not sure how long it would last, I froze the whole jar which has such a large fat content, it is still pliable. This makes it easy to save, and easy to use in a flash. You can just scoop and use right out of the freezer.

So I wanted a super quick dinner to make with the leftover curry paste. I wanted a recipe that used up staples I always have around carrots and lentils. Prep work is easy since everything is being blended together. And if possible, grab a loaf a bread to dunk in.

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I know many people are starting to get sick of soup, since it is becoming spring, but I say this soup is perfect for the spring. Some days you are going to have hot days, and some days will be really cold. And that is when you make this soup. For those spur of the moment cold days.

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As for the massaman curry, you can use homemade or store bought. I used the recipe from Connoisseurus Veg. There are many different brands on amazon that you can buy but maesri is the only brand I can verify as vegan. I would recommend checking out different brands in store so you can read the labels to make sure there aren’t fish sauce or shrimp paste in the curry.

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Sunday Reading 03-22-15 #28

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Happy spring everyone! A lot of people in the Northeast had a fairly large snowstorm on the first day of spring. I enjoyed it, I ran a little during the beginning of the snow, but had to cut it short since the snowflakes kept getting stuck in my lashes. I guess what made the snow enjoyable (for me) was knowing that it was just going to melt the next day. No shoveling. Although driving home sucked, it should of only been 20 minutes, and it took a whole friggin hour!

Other things that are going on? Let’s talk about my exploding fridge! I got some food for our Easter dinner (which is being celebrated with my family this weekend) and I am making lasagna. Oh man, it just felt crazy buying 2 frozen bags of spinach, 1 lb mushrooms, 3 cartons of tofu, and I think I am going to double the recipe.. so I am going to make another trip to the store. I am also going to make a berry crumble and maples syrup sweet potatoes and brussel sprouts. What are you guys planning on making for Easter dinner?

Food News:

The vegan blogging world has been rocked by marshmallow fluff from chickpea can juice. So I am pretty excited to try out Seitan is My Motor’s recipe or these Macarons from Morsels and Moonshine.

I don’t even understand how special yeast would do this, but apparently it could make a hangover free wine? Being a fermenting connoisseur I find this really interesting.

The Kitchn finally clears up the confusion between spring onions, scallions, and green onions

And there is a race to make a whole test tube chicken.

I love New York Times article that shows how much 2000 calories look like when eating out. What I find funny about it is that none of the “meals” would be something I eat (you know ignoring the meat aspect) I mean, a sub with chips AND a cookie AND soda? It can’t be too far fetched since it is something that is offered on the menu.

Fun Stuff:

I love Jezebel’s interesting and long article about the evolution of Harlequin books. I remember seeing SO many romance novels at library book sales from them, and seeing how they went from innocent love stories to more butt-plug-ish.

Yo man, I need to get me some of these sick tatts.

Videos:

Tyrannosaurus Lexxx lays down the truth about pigeons. Yeah, their dirty, gross, and pee in public, but so do drunks, and we don’t hate them… or at least try to kicked them.

Ga-in released her newest songs, Apple and Paradise Lost. I love her music since she brings a lot of taboo topics about sex to the front lines. Bloom featured female masturbation, Fxxxk You featured date rape, and it seems that these two title tracks have biblical references. Paradise Lost featuring snakes, and song titled apple, Adam and Eve everyone. But I am happy they are putting translated lyrics, as Paradise Lost seems to be about separating guilt with sex. I also have to point out that these videos are coming from a very prudish country, one where kissing and holding hands in public is a no-no, where performers are constantly having to cover up bare legs in order to perform for TV shows.

Project 365: Days 67-73

Day 67: Jon stated taxes, and I loved how Toulouse looks like she is managing Jon. Making sure he is staying on top of his work.

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Day 68: I don’t think this is a particularly good shot, but I love the drastic change in color. The yellow from the lamp, red-orange from the couch, green walls.

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Day 69: Made a recipe from Ani’s Raw Food Asia and I am always amazed at how “cooked” some raw food look.

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Day 70: Soap Suds.

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Day 71: A nice warm day. I can’t wait till the tree start turning green.

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Day 72: Great outtake from my photo shoot for the CrossFit post.

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Day 73: And then on the first day of spring it snowed! It was, in my opinion, a great surprise. I went for a run in the early morning snow and it was wonderful. It made me think about how and why I love running. It is quick to start up, no driving, cheap, etc. But I like it for a similar reason why I like to hike, you are just out there, taking whatever weather nature hands you. 

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My first CrossFit Class

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The other week I drove up north and visited Alexa. Although Alexa hasn’t mentioned on the blog (she is on a mini hiatus from writing while she gets some things in order) but she has been taken up CrossFit. She has been very devoted to it, taking hour long classes 3 to 5 times a week! She is now working out more than me! As person who works out at home, I thought it would be fun to take a class, and to see why CrossFit has such a cult like status.

Pro: Guy and Girls

There is something empowering about being a class full of girls and guys, as if, as a female, you are doing just as much work as a male. I know I had gym class with boys and girls, so when I take a class and it is filled with all women, it seems like I am taking an easier modified workout. I think this is a similar reason why I like running, I can talk about running with someone regardless of their sex. But if I try to talk about barre workouts or yoga? There are some males, but not many.

Con: Price

I know this point can be said about almost any type of certified fitness class. I first started with taking fitness classes with the YMCA. I can’t remember the actual price, but in my mind it was something like $10 a class. With some research, many local yoga studios are $17 for a drop in class. The location we went to is $25 for a single class. I know this is a “warped” view since most CrossFit offer a free first class and want you to pay monthly passes. So for Alexa, who pays for a monthly fee, she is probably more commonly averaging $6-8 a class.

Pro: Socialization

As mentioned, I do most working out on my own. I do a lot of videos, light weight training, and running before heading into work. It fits my budget and I don’t have to add on travel time. What I wasn’t prepared for was how friendly everyone was in the class. Previous classes I’ve taken were half filled with sociable people, and half with people who kept to themselves. It was nice hearing everyone help each other out, and praise each other.

Con: I can see where common criticism comes from

There are two common criticism I read about CrossFit- people are prone to overexertion and that people are taught poor form. I can kind-of see how some people can come to that conclusion from my one class. Let me state that I don’t lift often, so I can’t say I was taught “the wrong way” to lift a barbell in class. But having so many people in a class, I can see how bad habits can form. That being said, unless you have a personal trainer, it would be worse to self teach yourself how to lift at a gym. That leaves only you to research and self correct.

I’ve read a few articles about CrossFiter getting injured badly from overexertion. My class wasn’t being “over pushed,” no one got “yelled at” for not doing something, or forced to something over again until completed in full. But I can see where people overexert themselves, if they have an incredibly competitive spirit. No, stats are being compared in class, but if you find yourself outdoing others with out being prompted, then you might ignore signs from your body in order to break records. But I don’t think this is an issue for like 99.9% of the population

Pro: Feedback

This might only apply to the fact that I work mostly alone, but it was nice having a person come up to me and say I was doing a good job. It was also nice to get direct feedback, as most classes the instructor gives vague instructions on how to correct form, as to not single anyone out. So it was nice to get a little extra attention about how to lift. At the end of the class the instructor gave a “good job summery” making note of some of the achievements for the class for the day. I liked that.

Pro & Con: Commitment

I mentioned before that the best way to get your “moneys worth” is to do a monthly membership. And that might not be a possibility for everyone. I find it hard to fit in working out, but I do it because it makes me feel happier and healthier. So trying to fit in my schedule an three different hour long workouts during the week, that would probably need an extra 30-40 minutes for travel and prep time would be hard. Which is why I like the idea of studios with open classes, that have cheaper individual classes so I can maybe take one a week, or less. I find this problematic as well since I like doing lots of different things, some days I like the major burn of a barre workout, some days I just want cardio, sometimes I want to lift. CrossFit seems to only have room for CrossFit.

BUT this can be a pro. Because of this, I think some beginners are much more committed than they would be. If you sign up and can’t make it to many classes, you might feel more motivated to get your moneys worth and go to more classes. You start working out a schedule and you will be taking classes with the same people, you make friends, and you have even more motivation to go. 

Overall View: CrossFit is Good

Putting all the pieces together, I can see why CrossFit has such devoted members. It does a great balance of cardio and weight training and builds a great community to surround yourself with. It can be great for a beginner to get just get the ball rolling. The biggest downside for me, is that it is easy to get stuck only doing CrossFit. 

Any CrossFitters reading? What makes you love CrossFit?

Blog Recipe Round Up: Hot Chocolates

Depending where you are, this recipe roundup is either late or just in time. Anyone on the northern hemisphere is coming out of winter and are probably looking for iced tea recipes. But if you are in the southern hemisphere, you are probably dreaming of hot chocolate and lattes. This post right now is for you guys.

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I usually start these posts by talking about all the recipes as a whole. But truthfully, it is hard to talk about all these recipes and not compare them. Out of all the different styles and techniques, I noticed one ingredient made one hot chocolate shine out of all the others- using chocolate bars. Yes, out of all the different recipes the Luxurious Dairy Free Hot Cocoa from Oh She Glows takes first prize. Why? Well she uses chocolate that isn’t just in a powder form. Using a chocolate bar or even bakers chocolate, she adds a whole lot more dimension to the dessert. That being said, all the other hot chocolate recipes would benefit from using a chocolate bar over cocoa powder. But all the different hot chocolates have their positives.

Hot Cacao with Cinnamon, Coconut + Dates

This sounded super yummy and low in fat. Sometimes I don’t like how rich hot cocoa can be. Emily uses coconut to make the milk base, and uses ginger tea and cinnamon to add flavor. The end result tastes great, I love how you get a kind-of chocolate chai drink. But, I found that even with long blending, the coconut didn’t blend all the way. If I made this again, I would probably toss the coconut in while the tea was brewing.

Bottom Line: A little chunky, maybe pre-soak coconut

Luxurious Dairy Free Hot Cocoa

I love the idea of being able to make hot cocoa from scratch instead of using mixes. Most mixes have dairy in it so why not just make it from scratch? This recipe uses an actual chunk of chocolate, making the drink incredibly rich. And if that isn’t enough, she uses a little cocoa powder as a big double punch. The biggest downside? It makes more than just one serving. I probably have “two servings” and added the rest in a smoothie for my husband to make sure it didn’t go bad.

Bottom Line: Whoa so perfect- hope you have friends to share with

Vegan Nutella Hot Chocolate

I wanted to love this recipe so badly, I mean come on guise?! Nutella AND hot chocolate? Well, it was pretty good, but I think it could of improved. The drink was too bitter, and probably needed a little more sweetener. I probably would of also included some melted chocolate to the recipe, mostly because if the name is going to include nutella, I want it to be RICH!

Positives? The recipe is super easy to cut in half, if you don’t want to make four servings (let’s face it is more like two or three servings). The drink was really smooth, which I liked as well.

Bottom Line: Good, want it to be richer

Vegan Chai Hot Chocolate

This recipe is pretty simple, milk, chocolate, and chai mix. Luckily, it links to another part of the blog that gives a recipe for a homemade chai spice mix. The mix is okay, focusing mostly on ginger, which I though was weird since I smell more cardamom than ginger in chai teas. This is easily overlooked with the final product, I can barely taste the ginger! The recipe is alright, the chai spices give an interesting variation to hot chocolate, but I found myself adding more sweetener to my hot chocolate.

Bottom Line: Not bad, added some sweetness

Raw Maca Maple Hot Chocolate

I feel like I have a sneaking hunch that there might be a misprint in the recipe, because my drink didn’t look like hers and had too much of a chocolate taste. The drink was really bitter, and I found myself adding the max suggested maple syrup AND some liquid stevia. I think if I divided the chocolate in half, meaning 1/8th of a cup for two servings, instead of 1/4th, I would be much happier with this drink. The plus? It was easy to halve, and therefore making only one for me. It is easy to make whenever, just add ingredients and enjoy. I cheated and used store bought coconut milk that is in the refrigerator non-dairy milk section (instead of making a raw-homemade version).

Bottom Line: Too bitter, not enough maca & maple flavors

Pumpkin Spice Hot Chocolate

This hot chocolate has an nice thick creamy body. It is so thick and creamy from the pumpkin puree, not from fats. The drink isn’t too bitter, but leaves too much open ended with how much to sweeten the drink. I like having defined measurements sometimes, if anything suggested amounts. The overall drink didn’t scream pumpkin or pumpkin spice. In fact, I probably would ditch the pumpkin spice, and just leave as is. The pumpkin got overwhelmed by the chocolate, and I am okay with that. As mentioned the pumpkin did much more for the body and texture of the drink.

Bottom Line: Thick creamy, and delicious

Super Duper Green Smoothie

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I am not a huge Saint Patricks day fan. I think it is because I lived in Center City Philadelphia for four years. The entire week of Saint Patricks Day was a big party. It was quite annoying going to class and seeing people stumble out of bars at 10 in the morning. Some years it seemed like it was a two week party marathon, depending on which day of the week Saint Patricks Day landed on.

I know live in a walking distance of about 5 bars (I live between two dry towns, if that explains it) but it seems like we can be pretty secluded from the holiday. Because of that, I am finding myself starting to warm up to the holiday. Well, up until I got stuck in traffic on route 76 due to the Saint Patricks Day parade yesterday. Ugh!

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Truthfully there is nothing special about this smoothie. I am not 100% being modest, this is just my typical morning shake. It is pretty much the same shake I have before running or starting me day. Sure I make modifications here and there like swapping out water for a milk or blending in an orange over a banana. I am so unfazed by this green drink that when asked by guest what I’m drinking, I just say it is a smoothie. But I love this shake. It gives me just the right amount of energy to run, but not be too filling that I feel like I’ll need to hurl.

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Since I have “perfected” this shake I figured I would share it in honor of Saint Patricks Day. Okay I am a little late, but I’m a rebel like that. I tend to not to follow holiday standards for food. I am actually confused half the time what people serve for some holidays. Like what do people serve for Easter aside from ham? What is a classic Easter dessert? As a kid that answer would be jelly beans and chocolate.

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What I love about this smoothie is how much nutrition is packed in here. It counts at around 250 calories per drink, and if you need more calories you can use a milk instead of water, or you can add some protein powder. The shake I made in the photograph actually has some hemp protein powder in it, making it even more green. I like to use whichever greens I have on hand, lettuce, chard, kale, collard green, spinach, whatever. It is particularly handy during the summer when it is a mystery what I will get from my CSA. Depending on your green you can get anywhere from 9-15% calcium and 17-25% iron! 

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