Skinny Lemongrass Mojitos

Skinny Lemongrass Mojitos

Summer has officially begun this week – and we’re making mojitos!

I hope your herb garden is ready because instead of the basic mint mojito, these are made with lemongrass and basil as well. Basically, I like to build cocktails the same way I approach salads – the more fresh herbs and citrus, the better.

Skinny Lemongrass Mojitos

To make these “skinny,” I skipped the sugar and sweetened these with Truvia Natural Sweetener instead. It has no calories and it’s sweetness comes from the stevia leaf. Personally, I’d rather splurge on a dessert than on a sugary cocktail so I love that these mojitos are on the lighter side! Since stevia is sweeter than regular sugar, a little goes a long way. 1/2 teaspoon of Truvia is equal to 1 teaspoon of sugar.

Skinny Lemongrass Mojitos

For awhile, I was intimidated by preparing lemongrass – but it’s so easy! Just peel off the outer leaves, exposing the softer part of the stalk, like this:

Skinny Lemongrass Mojitos

The next step isn’t pictured, but you want to take the back of your chef’s knife and bash that inner stalk so that the flavors of the lemongrass release. After that, dice it finely like this:

Skinny Lemongrass Mojitos

Muddle the minced lemongrass with the rest of the ingredients into a cocktail shaker – then shake it up and pour!

Skinny Lemongrass Mojitos

Super Fun Summer Smoothies!

Super Fun Summer Smoothies!

Every so often, I get on these mean green daily smoothie kicks that in all honesty, can get a little TOO green over time. The kick starts with delicious well-balanced smoothies but as the days go on, I start cutting corners. I add too much liquid so that the blender will blend fast, leaving me with a watery smoothie. And speaking of water, that’s what I use when I run out of almond milk. I add ice in the name of “thickness” and I start skipping all ingredients that actually add flavor. What I (we) are left with to drink first thing in the morning is basically a Kale Icy. I know that sounds like it might be good and healthy, but it’s really not – we gulp them down these leafy drinks are hungry a few hours later.

But now that it’s summer, I’ve decided to re-up on my smoothie game – these new recipes are SO delicious and they’re inspired by four of my favorite summer treats: blueberry muffins, peaches & cream, PB&J sandwiches, and mint chip ice cream. In other words – smoothies worth waking up for! For this post, I’ve teamed up with Whole Foods Market to try out some new plant-based protein powders. Their supplements are often on sale, click here to check out the sales flyer for your local store!

Blueberry Muffin Smoothie

First up: Blueberry Muffin Smoothie
This is next best thing to cake for breakfast! Its muffin-like flavor and thickness comes from whole rolled oats. It’s naturally sweetened with dates and a pinch of cinnamon. I used Whole Foods Market™ Plant-Based Fit Protein, which makes this a well balanced breakfast full of plant protein (pea protein, cranberry protein and hemp seed protein) as well as a little pick-me-up from the green coffee bean, and green tea extracts that are in the powder. I also snuck a handful of spinach in this smoothie which is pretty undetectable.

Peaches & Cream Pecan Smoothie

Peaches & Cream Pecan Smoothie
I love peaches more than any other fruit on the planet so this is by far my favorite smoothie. When I first made it, I tasted it and said “this is ice cream!” It works with almond milk or coconut milk, and the pecans make it so rich and creamy. The Whole Foods Market™ Plant-Based Fit Protein adds a nice vanilla and cinnamon flavor along with it’s protein boost. I like to make this one really thick and eat it with a spoon. Beyond breakfast, I’ll eat this for dessert any day.

Super Fun Summer Smoothies

Last week while making these, I basically raided the Whole Foods supplement aisle to test out the protein powders that would best compliment my summer smoothies. In the end I chose 2 favorites – both are both fantastic plant-based protein options that have great texture and complimentary and/or neutral flavors. Whole Foods Market™ Plant-Based Fit Protein works especially well with in the Blueberry Muffin and Peaches & Cream Pecan smoothies. 365 Pea Protein is great in these last 2 smoothies – Strawberry PB&J and Mint Chip – because its flavor is so neutral.

Strawberry PB&J Smoothie

Strawberry PB&J
Berries and peanut butter (or almond butter) is a go-to smoothie combo for me but I never get sick of it. It always reminds me of a PB&J sandwich and it always leaves me full until lunch. To thicken this smoothie, I used chia seeds and 365 Everyday Value® Pea Protein. I added a bit of spinach to this one as well – just enough to keep it pink. If you add too much spinach it will turn brown but it’s still delicious.

Mint Chip Smoothie

Mint Chip Smoothies
This one reminds me of summer as a kid because my sister would always order mint chocolate chip ice cream (I was a cookies & cream girl). To make this creamy, I used coconut milk frozen into ice cubes, dates, and 365 Everyday Value® Pea Protein. Its green color comes from a few handfuls of spinach and a good handful of mint. In lieu of chocolate, cacao nibs make this a healthy breakfast treat.

Super Fun Summer Smoothies!

Avocado Strawberry Caprese Salad

Avocado Strawberry Caprese Salad

Years ago, Jack and I went on vacation to the island of Capri where we ate Caprese salads every day. We’d sit at hilltop restaurants overlooking the teal blue Mediterranean Sea. The air was warm, the wine was flowing, and the tomatoes were the sweetest I’d ever tasted. It was a few days after he had proposed and looking back it was the most blissfully happy week of our lives. Or at least that’s the way I remember it. I will spare you the story about strep throat, almost getting seasick on a hydrofoil ride, and trying to find an Italian pharmacy that would sell me an antibiotic. Those memories, while stressful in the moment, seem to fade into the background over time.

Avocado Strawberry Caprese Salad

So while I remember those perfect 3-ingredient Caprese salads from Italy, I’m going to also, uhh, change the details and bring you my “re-remembered” version, with strawberries, avocado, and pecans! This recipe is in our cookbook and is one of my favorites. One of the reasons is that, well, it’s hard to find tomatoes that are quite as sweet as the ones in Capri, so this salad lets you get away with using less-than-perfect tomatoes (although the ones pictured here were pretty good) because the other ingredients pick up the slack, just like those less-than-perfect vacation memories!

It’ll take you all of about 15 minutes to make and it’s yummy with anything you’re grilling.
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Vegan PB Cookie Dough Milkshakes

Vegan PB Cookie Dough Milkshakes

There’s a vegan restaurant that we love in Chicago called The Chicago Diner. Jack and I make it a point to stop there nearly every time we’re in town. The food is really good, but the thing to get there are the milkshakes – the peanut butter chocolate chip cookie dough milkshake to be exact. And yes, it’s as decadent as it sounds. A few weeks ago, we ate lunch there and I tried to not order one. Then Jack’s shake came to the table and I said, “I’ll just have one little sip… ok, well maybe just one more…” and before I had stolen nearly his entire shake, I decided I should re-create them for the blog.

Instead of making regular cookie dough to blend into my milkshake, I made a new version of these No-Bake Almond Oatmeal Cookie balls to use instead. So this recipe has 2 parts:

1. No-bake Peanut Butter Oat Cookie Bites, which are a delicious healthy snack on their own.

2. The milkshakes, which are made by blending a few of the cookie balls with almond milk and ice cream.

Vegan PB Cookie Dough Milkshakes

Although my original cookie dough ball recipe was a delicious one, I’ve improved it here – these new cookie balls not only have a shorter ingredient list but they’re naturally sweetened with dates and they contain no added oil. They’re also much quicker to make.

Vegan PB Cookie Dough Milkshakes

To help me re-create this recipe, I used my new kitchen helper, Google Home. I wanted to keep the same overall ratio of dry-to-liquid ingredients, so it was helpful (when my hands were messy with peanut butter dough) to call out questions like “hey Google, how many tablespoons are in 1/3 cup,” or “hey Google, what’s 1 cup, plus 1/2 cup, plus 2 tablespoons, minus 1/4 cup.”

Google Home is also very useful for setting multiple kitchen timers and adding items to your grocery shopping list. Fun tip – you can also call out “play cooking music,” or “play baking beats,” which are some fun playlists to listen to in the kitchen. 🙂

Vegan PB Cookie Dough Milkshakes IMG_2017_05_25_10214

So here you have it – my “healthy-ish” yet still pretty darn decadent version of the Chicago Diner milkshake. If you want to make these a little less indulgent, you can use a frozen banana in place of the ice cream and make smoothies.

Pop the extra cookie ball bites in the fridge or freezer for later.

Vegan PB Cookie Dough Milkshakes

Orange Peel Black Tea Sangria

Orange Peel Black Tea Sangria

Happy Long Weekend! Jack and I are off to the farmers market this morning but I wanted to pop in quickly and share this sangria recipe. I posted it on Instagram awhile back – but I think it’s such a refreshing cocktail for weekend BBQ’s that I wanted to share it here on the blog as well.

This combines two of my favorite things in the world – iced tea and wine! Its simple to make – just pour the wine and iced tea into a large pitcher and add the fruit. Chill overnight, so that the flavors will infuse, and serve it at your holiday gathering tomorrow!

Orange Peel Black Tea Sangria