The Banana Challenge

Over the past few weeks I have wondered if bananas are necessary to a smoothie bowl. I have nothing against bananas, but some other smoothie bowl enthusiasts insist on up to 4 bananas per bowl which seems a bit excessive. Reducing bananas is easy, but nothing fun is easy…

A few years ago, at my old favorite smoothie/ juice bar, I was talking with one of the girls who worked there. We were inventing a new smoothie because I have always been one of THOSE customers who wanted something specific, (which is why I’m doing it on my own now). I wanted to do a banana free smoothie for some reason or the other and the response was interesting. Everyone who worked there was pretty sure it “wouldn’t work”, but over the next couple weeks we experimented anyway. They brought me smoothies at the coffeeshop I worked at, and one by one we went through the alternative options. Some worked, some didn’t, but it was possible for sure.

Now coming up against the same problem with smoothie bowls presents new problems, especially when interested in the aesthetics of the bowl. Consistency requires cold and thick.

In the past few weeks I have experimented with avocados, cooked beets, pumpkin puree, butternut squash puree, soy yogurt and tofu.

My dad is a heart disease patient and I am on a mission to get him eating an Esselstyn inspired diet. (If you don’t know the research and writings of the incomparable Dr. Esselstyn go look him up RIGHT NOW please!) In an effort to support and encourage him I am going to do the diet with him. Almost. I am still eating coconut shreds in moderation because they are heaven. This diet does eliminate all oils and fatty foods, and I have omited extracts and anything that is not 100% whole plant food as a homage to my other hero in the field of holistic nutrition, Dr. T. Colin Campbell. (Again, look him up if you are not familiar with him and the China Study!)

Of all my experiments, avocados had worked well, but that did not fit in with the Esselstyn approach. The clear unequivocal winner here was the silken tofu.

Whole organic soybeans are protective against ovarian and breast cancer for women.

The only drawbacks to using the tofu are a concern about iodine and also the complication of using tofu for men.

Adding a small amount of seaweed, especially nori as it isn’t excessive in iodine unlike kelp for example, is a great solution. I personally love the taste of seaweed (Gina and I have been recently addicted to munching on dulse). If that’s not your thing however, rice cakes with nori flakes taste like… well, rice cakes. And there are shakers of seaweed flakes that you can shake on to anything and are virtually undetectable flavor-wise.

The concern about men eating soy is more complex.

While I am vegan, I am a proponent of mindful food choice. If you would be willing to kill/ procure the animal product in a ethical and cruelty free manner, go for it. Just keep all animal products under 10% of your diet to avoid health risks and reap the benefits of a plant based diet. If you wouldn’t feel comfortable procuring the product though,…do not eat it. That involves a dissociative approach to eating that breeds nothing but unhealthiness.

If you are a man, avoiding soy, and truly mindfully okay with dairy, substituting an organic and cruelty free, preferably local greek style yogurt would work just as well. Or take the regular organic cruelty free yogurt and strain it overnight for cheaper homemade yogurt cheese. That was one of my favorites when I was little. If you are a vegan man I can only say that’s a whole new challenge. I would love to hear any suggestions from that population.

While there are so many options to get the right consistency in a smoothie bowls including bananas, the more we experiment and discover other options and branch out, the more choice we have. And choice supports choosing the absolutely best, yummiest, and HEALTHIEST option for you.

Today’s bowl:

Base:

1/5 package organic silken tofu

1 acai berry organic unsweetened smoothie pack

Decoration:

Organic coconut shreds

Organic vanilla bean ground

Organic raw sprouted pumpkin seeds

Organic freeze-dried acai powder

Matcha (my love!)

Organic raisins…provide texture and sweetness! (Another note: I am also going back to being 100% sweetener free, as it makes me feel best and resensitizes my taste buds totally! So no honey, no maple syrup, no nothing. This bowl didn’t need it! Just that bit of raisins and well as the nuttiness of the soy provided the needed balance.)

Organic raw hemp hearts

Much love to you all!

Hadley and Gina

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Beautiful & Blue/Green: The Spirulina Bowl

My last phone upgrade was to the current Android that I am using today. Why bring up cell phones here? Well, being an owner of an Android, I was able to access the Instagram App.  For years and years (exaggeration) I found myself wishing that my Windows Phone had at least a version of Instagram.  Nope. So I went on, envious of the Instagram users I knew.  I have always enjoyed creative, aesthetically pleasing, interesting things and I used to be able to say that phtography was one of my past times.  So Instagram was right up my alley.  And then, UPGRADE! With the upgrade came Instagram.

And with Instagram came more time wasting but more importantly more INSPIRATION. Instagram introduced me to myriads of recipes and ideas – much like Pinterest but less intmidating and more realistic. In my opinion, at least.  I found myself scrolling through different Food-based feeds, looking at different artists’ creations, trying those recipes and ideas out myself.

Okay to sum up all of this Insta-love here… I discovered Smoothie Bowls.

Which brings it all back to this blog and our new adventure we (and you as the reader) are partaking in.

The Smoothie Bowls I have seen created on Instagram continue to provide inspiration and food-lust.  So this bowl was inspired by some of that inspiration – specifically COLOR related inspiration.  We all know how to make a green smoothie – stick a handful of Kale into the blender and voila! Purples aren’t too tricky either.

Bright pink, well without access to the beautiful dragonfruit, it took a little more creativity.  So we welcomed Beets to the smoothie bowl (see the result here: https://happybellybowls.wordpress.com/2015/02/10/beet-pink/).

Now, some Instagram feeds have been delivering BLUE smoothie bowls. Huh? Yes, bright blue base colors with all of the wonderful toppings.  I wanted to try to make this color.

The magic ingredient?

Spirulina!

Spirulina is actually a type of blue-green algae that is high in protein, iron and other important vitamins – specifically B-12.  It is used to build muscle, increase endurance and energy and turn smoothie bowls blue. Read more about the benefits of Spirulina here :https://hecticlifehealthygirl.wordpress.com/2011/02/12/what-is-spirulina-and-what-are-its-health-benefits/

Spirulina can have a funky taste to some, even for me it isn’t extremely enjoyable .. and I am NOT a picky taster at all. I can appreciate most tastes for their unique qualities, but spirulina is tough.  So, the base of this bowl includes Apples and Kiwi – tart fruits – to dilute the spirulina taste.

The spirulina I had was not as blue, but more green. I got it in the bulk spice/herb section at Common Crow Natural Grocer in Gloucester, MA.  Nevertheless, with some guessing/checking and science lab experimenting, I got a nice blue/green color.. not the bright blue I’ve seen on IG, but I’m going to experiment with different spirulina powder brands/styles to see what I can get next time.

Here it is!

The Spirulina Bowl

Spirulina creates beautiful teal colors

Spirulina creates beautiful teal colors

Base:

Banana

Kiwi

Apple

Raw coconut water

Spirulina

Organic Burst Wheatgrass Powder

A few blueberries

Tops:

Strawberry – cut into hearts, aw!

Almonds

Hemp seeds

Buckwheat groats

Toasted Sesame seeds

Shredded coconut

Dried cranberries&golden raisins

Raw homemade Bliss Balls crumbled up into Rawnola 🙂 – will describe below

Cinnamon

Bliss Ball ingredients include:

Almondmeal

Rolled oats

Tahini & PB

Cacao Nibs

Coconut

ONE mini banana for sweetener, along with a touch of Lucuma Powder

Organic Burst Maca

These babies are RAW and delicious.. Maca providing an energy boost and the tahini/peanut butter combo make them taste like PB cookie dough.  YUM. Super easy, quick and you can add/alter the ingredients however you’d like. Just as long as they are sticky enough to roll into balls 🙂

Quick Advertisement for Organic Burst – just ordered my first round of Maca/Wheatgrass powder from this company. Organic Burst carries different ‘superfood’ powders/granules/capsules that you can add to your smoothies, soups, salads, etc. to increase your general awesomness & health. Check them out: http://www.OrganicBurst.com

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My first Organic Burst purchases

My first Organic Burst purchases

Well. Happy belated Valentines Day.

Hope we all spent the day loving ourselves FIRST and foremost.

Peace & Love & Smoothie Bowls

Gina & Hadley

P.S. Looking forward to writing about my own personal ‘To go Vegetarian and/or Vegan 100% (I eat eggs, some seafood and Greek yogurt) or NOT to go Vegetarian and/or Vegan’ debate.  Curious about others’ food habits, choices and opinions.  Let us know!

The Book that furthered my internal debate. WHAT A WONDERFUL BOOK, though. SO good.

The Book that furthered my internal debate. WHAT A WONDERFUL BOOK, though. SO good.. whether you’re a Vegetarian or not – REMEMBER, I (Gina) am NOT (yet).  Hadley, on the other hand, represents the Vegan community. So we balance each other out! 🙂

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Taste The Jungle

This smoothie bowl was the last on a long list of kitchen enterprises yesterday.

Beginning with Kimchi, made from (mostly) local cabbage and other beautiful root vegetables.

Next,a ‘Raw-Slaw’ again made with those local veggies & some homemade lemon tahini garlic ginger etc etc. dressing

Third. Some Black Sesame Tahini Cookies (photo below)

Last BUT not least, the smoothie bowl creation of the day:

The Jungle Bowl

Base:

Banana. Surprise!

Pear

Berries

Cashew Milk

H2O

Celery

Tops:

Papaya

(Mini) Banana Coins

Black Sesame Seeds

Shredded Coconut

Whole Coconut meat slices

Buckwheat Groats

Raw Shelled Hemp Seed

Roasted Cacao Nibs

Organic Cinnamon

Jungle Peanuts

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The Jungle Bowl

The Jungle Bowl was definitely one of the more Guess & Check type bowls.  One of my goals is to have at least 1 veggie in the base.  I also feel it is important that the drinker/eater of the bowl is able to taste this veggie! Of course, some added veggies are added to give the bowls their color (see last Bowl), but when you throw Spinach in your smoothie, can you tell it’s there? I mean, besides the beautiful green color, do you TASTE the spinach? I know not everyone enjoys the taste of Spinach, or lots of other vegetables even.  So sneaking them into your diet is one way to reap the health benefits, definitely.

What if, though, we started enjoying the taste of these veggies? I’m not trying to convert anyone’s taste buds here, but what if we tried a bit harder to appreciate the vegetables for their taste AND their health benefits?  Wouldn’t it be THAT much easier to get in all 6-8 recommended servings throughout the day? We like to think of our smoothie bowls as a ‘gateway’ into a healthy lifestyle.  Beginning to enjoy the taste of vegetables blended into your smoothie bowls will help you add them to your other meals throughout the day and actually ENJOY them and SAVOR them in your other meals.  As much fun as it would be, we know it’s not really reasonable to consume smoothie bowls for breakfast, lunch & dinner (or whatever way you eat meals each day).  Let these fun smoothie bowls be a way for your taste buds to develop and start appreciating more tastes!

Anywho, just a thought I had this morning as I was enjoying the leftovers of this bowl.  As I was appreciating that I could actually taste the celery in the base, I realized that that was what I had enjoyed so much about the Beet Bowl too – I could taste the beets and their flavor blended in so nicely with the fruit.

Even celery – a mostly water-based vegetable that on its own is not extremely flavorful – I could really taste the celery and the flavor added a nice mellow, creamy note to the otherwise very fruity bowl. I had to add about 2 whole stalks – not just hearts – I mean entire stalks.  But the great thing about celery is that its moisture helped the smoothie blend up in the NutriBullet (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED PRODUCT FOR SMOOTHIE MAKING).

So to end this post I want to make a quick note about the toppings.  I named this the Jungle Bowl to highlight the tropical toppings.. including the cute-ly named ‘Jungle Peanuts’.  Jungle Peanuts are actually an heirloom nut, hailing from the Amazon. The toppings also included papaya – a beautiful tropical fruit that aids in digestion (this papaya was not yet fully ripened. I just couldn’t help myself .. more restraint will be had next time), as well as some mini-banana slices! If you’ve never bought a bunch of mini-bananas at the grocery store for $0.56 on a whim, you should do this tomorrow. I’ve always felt that the mini/baby bananas are even more of a treat because of their rich banana flavor and creamy texture.

Of course, coconut = tropical. I could eat coconut all day.

& Black Sesame Seed – not necessarily in the tropical sector, but something new & flavorful – nutty and crunchy, surprisingly noticeable in foods.

For example: These Tahini Black Sesame Seed Cookies!

Sweetened with banana & honey, NOT GF as I used the local & farm fresh whole wheat, and instead of chocolate chips, I used cacao.

Hand - shaped into hearts <3 (for V-day, ya know?)

Hand – shaped into hearts

So, IN CONCLUSION:

Eat the Rainbow & while you’re at it, why don’t you start really TASTING the Rainbow too?

Love ❤

Gina & Hadley

Some more pink to add to your day..

Rainbow Turnips from Alprilla Farm

Watermelon Radishes (not Rainbow Turnips..I made that up) from Alprilla Farm

Beet PINK

Today’s post is Beet – related.

What I love most about beets is how intrusive they are.  I mean, the second you cut into a beet.. raw, cooked. roasted,.. it WILL take over your meal.  The color, I mean.  Beets have a nice subtly sweet flavor, nothing too overpowering, in my opinion.  The sweetness is brought out even more by roasting and this also makes them easier to peel.

I’ve seen beautiful bright pink smoothie bowls on Instagram and related sites, usually pinkened by Pitaya.  Pitaya is a tropical fruit that I have only ever had when in Central America.  Of course, we import them, but they are only found every so often in local grocery stores.  There are sources for ordering them online in frozen packs, but I haven’t tried that avenue..

So I figured, why not beets? They are bold and beautiful and very pink/purple/red, depending on how much you add to a recipe.  Plus, beets are super duper good for the body.  Any veggie that colorful has to be, right? No seriously,;Eat the Rainbow’ are a few words I live my life by. Beets are liver & blood cleansing and full of vitamins and minerals.

I give you.. Beet my Valentine Bowl ❤

Happy Belly Smoothie Bowl
Numero 2:

Base:
Roasted Beet
Banana
Raspbabies
Raw Coconut water
Organic coconut milk

Tops:
Kiwi slices
Raw organic almond pieces
Organic shredded coconut
Shaved cacao
Organic raw shelled hempseeds
Organic buckwheat groats
Gina & Hadley Rawnola

And of course, Love …

The tanginess of the berries really gives this one a kick. 😉

Beet My Valentine?

Beet My Valentine?

So I ended up putting the finished product in the freezer for a bit and then brought it over to a neighbor’s potluck as “Ice Cream”!  We all grabbed spoons and went at it. Just another way to consume a smoothie bowl .. community style. 🙂

EXTRA! EXTRA!

Did I say I did a lot with beets yesterday?  Well I did.. being snowed in does the trick.

The first Creation for the blog:

Valentines Day Beet Pink Hearts

Dry: Almondmeal Flour, Cinnamon, Baking Soda, Salt

Wet: PB&Tahini (Didn’t have a lot of PB so mixed in some tahini.. yum!), Honey & Maple Syrup for sweetener, Vanilla Extract oh and Blended up beets – and some of the beet green stem.

Raspberry Chia Jam Topping: Raspberries, Maple Syrup, Chia Seeds

The strange thing about these cookies was that they batter was SO pink! But when baked, they became browner (duh, right? but I thought the pink would come through more? hmph.) and browner.  So of course I added more and more beet to the wet ingredients.

The end result was an Ombre selection of V-Day Beet Hearts!

IMG_20150209_140955

I know we aren’t posting quantities of ingredients right now, but a lot of that is because we do a lot of eye-balling.  Also, as this blog is so fresh of the press, we’re still building it up and the quantities don’t seem super important yet.  Right now Hadley and I are trying to put ourselves and our smoothies out there, first and foremost.

We’ll see what comes of it all, we are both SO excited.

Thanks for hanging out!

❤ Gina & Hadley

No, really will you Beet Green my Valentine?

No, really will you Beet Green my Valentine?

So it Begins: The Matcha Bowl.


Happy Belly Bowls Debut Creation: The Matcha Bowl.

Base:
(Lots&Lots of) Matcha
Spinach
Banana
Raw almond milk
Mango

Tops:
Gina&Hadley made Rawnola  – will reveal ingredients soon..
Buckwheat groats – what?! Amazing.
Strawbabies
Raw shelled hempseed
Jungle peanuts
Coconut
Raspbabies
Raw sprouted almonds& pink Himalayan sea salt
Tangerines

Disclaimer: ALL ingredients used are Organic

Yes, even the Love we added is Organic.

Inspired by @leefromamerica

!!!!!!
Taste buds are bouncing off the walls. Seriously. So. Good

What is Matcha?

Matcha is a finely ground green tea powder. This powder comes from a very specific part of the plant and the plant is grown in very specific conditions. Read: This is one picky plant. And that’s okay!

Matcha green tea powder contains lots of antioxidants (catechins) and provides a ‘boost’ without all of the caffeine jitters that coffee can be blamed for.  Most importantly, Matcha powder can be blended right into hot water, milk or smoothies and consumed completely, providing even more of all that good shtuff than steeped green tea.