The Best Green Smoothie Ever

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I try to force myself to drink a green smoothie about once a week because I believe (perhaps unreasonably) that it will keep me healthy. I’ve invented a couple recipes over the years that makes them more bearable, but I had yet to find the magic formula for a truly enjoyable green smoothie that doesn’t make me want to barf. All that changed this morning.

I had some kale in the fridge and a perfectly ripe avocado, so I blended them with a handful of frozen pineapple, a few frozen kiwis, almond milk, coconut probiotic yogurt from The Coconut Cult, a drizzle of honey, and a banana. I’m not going to lie to you: I was very nervous about this concoction. The last time I tried to make a green smoothie, I basically choked it down. It was my fault though because I didn’t have a lot of ingredients so it turned into blended spinach leaves and frozen berries with almond milk.

When I took a sip of the green smoothie this morning, I started reeling. “Oh my god,” I said to myself. “This is incredible.” I stopped drinking it long enough to take a picture and sprinkle some hemp seeds on top. Hemp seeds make most things look better.

The star ingredient in this smoothie is the coconut probiotic yogurt. I splurged on it the other day at a local health store because it looked and sounded so good. The saleswoman described it as “effervescent,” and I’d tend to agree. It has a very bright flavor. It’s also considered a dietary supplement so you’re only supposed to use a tablespoon or two in a smoothie or with granola. I used two tablespoons and the flavor was subtle but present.

Plus, you can feel extra good about this smoothie because it’s full of probiotics. It’s really hard this time of year to get all the vitamins and nutrients you need so I count on products I actually enjoy eating to keep me healthy.

Before I start sounding like I joined a health cult, I’ll leave you with the recipe for this green smoothie. Feel free to tweak it. I’m sure spinach leaves would also work well, and frozen fruit such as peaches would be a nice addition.

Here’s a song to get you started on your green smoothie journey.

The Best Green Smoothie Ever

Ingredients

1 handful kale leaves (baby kale or red kale works well)
1 cup frozen pineapple
1/2 cup frozen kiwi
2 Tbsp coconut probiotic yogurt
1 banana
drizzle of honey
1/2 cup-1 cup regular almond milk (depending on how thick you want the smoothie)

Directions

Blend all the ingredients together in a blender on high. Pour into a tall glass and top with hemp seeds. Enjoy!

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Date Cacao Truffles with Hemp Hearts

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During the snowstorm this week, I scoured my cabinets and found a big bag of dates and an even bigger bag of unsweetened cocoa powder. I impulsively decided to make these date cacao truffles from Minimalist Baker.

I’m a big fan of Dana and her recipes because they’re quick, simple, and usually involve 10 ingredients or less. It seems like I’d devote more time to cooking in the winter when it’s cold and I don’t want to be outside, but actually the reverse is true. I like meals, desserts, and snacks that come together quickly and will last a while in the fridge or freezer.

Which brings me to these date cacao truffles. Dana technically calls them “Dark Chocolate Hemp Energy Bites,” but I like to think of them as healthy-ish truffles. You throw all the ingredients into a food processor, pulse them together, refrigerate the mixture so it firms up a little, and then roll the mixture into balls. As a final touch, you can roll each truffle in hemp hearts and bee pollen. I’ve also topped them with dried goji berries before and it’s a delightful combination.

A note: I ended up changing the original recipe a little because I was running low on walnuts and obviously I couldn’t go get them in the middle of a blizzard. I used mostly raw almonds with a 1/2 cup of walnuts, which worked well in a pinch. Still, I’d advise to use more walnuts because I think they give the truffles a better texture.

The truffles will keep for about a week in the fridge but they’ll stay even longer in the freezer. I like to eat a couple for dessert or put a few in a bowl and have them as a snack with a cup of tea or coffee. This weekend I ate a bunch as I lounged on the couch watching reruns of “Jane the Virgin.” I’m still trying to figure out why I stopped watching the show after Season 2.

ANYWAY. Make these truffles as soon as possible. They’re sort of healthy, very flavorful, and easy to transport if you need a quick snack.

Here’s a song to get you started on your date cacao truffle journey.

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Dimanche (That Means Sunday)

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Welcome to this edition of Dimanche (That Means Sunday), a roundup of things that caught my eye this past week.

I was sitting at a work luncheon on Thursday with a colleague and a librarian from the university I work at, and conversation lulled so I brought up the weather. “I wonder how much snow we’re going to get this weekend?” I asked. The librarian scoffed. “Are you from St. Louis?” she said. I said that I was. “They always overhype these things,” she said.

At the time, I agreed. Even though I’ve lived in different cities throughout my adult life, I grew up in St. Louis and I know how this city reacts to snow. Typically, the weatherman or woman says something about a snow storm, everyone rushes out to buy supplies, and then we end up getting a snowflake. “I bet we’ll get an inch,” I said to the librarian at Thursday’s lunch.

Well, as you can see from the above photo, we got a little more snow than an inch. Read: A LOT more snow. The storm started Friday afternoon and continued through the weekend. As I write this post from my couch today, I’m looking out the window and I still see snow coming down. As my sister said, this is probably the most snow we’ve seen in our lifetimes.

I’ve enjoyed hibernating the past few days but I’m starting to get cabin fever. I guess staying in your apartment for an entire weekend is kind of like getting a new toy when you’re little. You’re excited about it for a day but eventually, you get bored and toss it aside. I ventured out for a walk yesterday and I’m going to do the same today. Also, I have to dig my car out of an embankment today, which should be fun.

Still, I’m going to enjoy this final snow day. I was thinking about it yesterday and inclement weather can be the perfect excuse to slow down and enjoy life’s simple pleasures. I made coffee and waffles for breakfast this morning and it’s fun to lounge on the couch in my pajamas for most of the day. I hope that you’re enjoying the snow days if you’re in or around St. Louis. If you’re on the East Coast, look out because apparently the storm is coming your way.

Without further ado, here is Dimanche:

Decadent breakfasts are very important on snowy weekends. Yesterday I made chocolate chip pancakes and a big cup of my new favorite coffee from Goshen Coffee. If you’re in St. Louis or Southern Illinois, I’d highly recommend picking up a bag of their coffee beans.img_8137

My nerves cannot take all these updates about Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I’m happy that the justice apparently has no more signs of remaining cancer, but I’m still worried because she missed a day of Supreme Court arguments for the first time earlier this week. Stay well, Justice Ginsburg! Our thoughts and prayers are with you. Read more about the situation from NPR and BuzzFeed News in this story and this article.

I really enjoyed reading this guide to winter citrus. Food writer Kat Kinsman rounded up a bunch of different oranges and ranked them from her least favorite to most favorite. I totally agree with her assessment of pink navel oranges. They are very underwhelming. Get the full guide from Extra Crispy.

Things keep going from bad to worse for French President Emmanuel Macron. The “yellow vest” protestors keep rioting against Macron’s reforms so he decided to open up a period of town hall discussions. Still, this will probably not do much to quell public unrest. This article from Reuters compares Macron to the late Louis XVI, who was beheaded in the French Revolution.

I love this idea of bringing story time for children to laundromats. The Chicago Public Library last year launched a program that turns self-service laundromats in underserved areas into public libraries where children can read, play educational games, or participate in story time. Every city should have a program like this, in my opinion. Read more about the Chicago Public Library’s program in this Mental Floss piece.

Many cities in the U.S. claim their own style of pizza but now those styles are popping up across the country. The resulting “paradox of pizza authenticity” means that people are arguing whether a certain kind of pizza is legit or not, all while they put their own spin on the pie in question, food writer Jonathan Kauffman says in a recent story. Kauffman dives into Detroit-style pies in San Francisco and how they compare to their Midwestern counterparts. Read the full story in the San Francisco Chronicle.

I’m *slightly* obsessed with this farro bowl that I made earlier this week. The star of the bowl is the lemon tahini sauce, which is bright, citrusy, and addictive. You can make the bowl with roasted broccoli and radishes like I did or you can swap in other vegetables. Get the recipe in one of my latest blog postsimg_8128

Last but certainly not least, I really want to visit Little Baghdad. The neighborhood, which is located in San Diego County, is home to many Iraqi refugees who are starting restaurants and bakeries. I love Middle Eastern food and the descriptions of the Iraqi pastries and dishes in this story literally make my mouth water. Read more about the restaurants and bakeries in this Los Angeles Times story.

Enjoy your week! Here’s a song to get you started.

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Farro Bowl with Lemon Tahini Sauce

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After the holidays were over, I sat down and did a mental scan of my body. I felt fine but my body was also crying out for healthy, whole foods. Weeks of cookies, babka, ice cream, and doughnuts will do that to you.

Cue: This farro lunch bowl. I made it yesterday before the blizzard hit St. Louis and it was the perfect warming meal. It’s full of good things such as broccoli, radishes, farro, and egg, and it comes together quickly.

A word about making soft-boiled/hard-boiled eggs: You can actually do it in the same pot as the farro. I was nervous to try this but it ended up working out well.

Wait until the water with the farro in it comes to a boil, then add you egg and place a lid on top of the pot. You can tilt the lid if things sound chaotic in the pot. Remove your eggs with a slotted spoon and place them in a bowl filled with cold water. Then you can carefully peel them. I like to peel my eggs under a slow stream of running cold water.

The real star of this show is the lemon garlic tahini sauce. I wanted to eat it by the spoonful. It’s light and citrusy and pairs well with ingredients in the bowl including the broccoli and egg. If you have extra, you can always put it in tupperware and use it in other bowls and salads. It’s a versatile dressing.

The other great thing about this dish is that it can be vegan. Just omit the eggs and you’re good to go. You could also add in mushrooms, tempeh, or tofu so you have more substance in your bowl.

If you don’t have farro on hand, feel free to sub in quinoa or rice. Those would be equally delicious with the veggies and tahini sauce.

Here’s a song to get you started on your farro bowl journey. I just discovered Nick Waterhouse and I’m really into his music.

Farro Lunch Bowl with Lemon Tahini Sauce

Ingredients

for the bowl:

1 cup farro, rinsed and drained
2 large eggs
1 large head broccoli, cut into florets
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp sesame seed oil
thinly sliced radishes
1 scallion, thinly sliced
salt to taste

for the sauce:

2 1/2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
3 Tbsp tahini

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Fill a medium pot with water and add the farro (proportions are according to package directions but in general, you should put about 3 cups of water in the pot so it covers the farro). Add a healthy pinch of salt to the pot. Bring the mixture to a boil and carefully add the eggs to the boiling pot. Put a lid on the pot and cook the eggs for about seven minutes. Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon and put them in a bowl filled with cold water. Wait a couple minutes and then crack the eggs and carefully peel them.

Cook the farro until it’s tender but still slightly chewy. Drain it and set it aside.

Toss the broccoli florets with olive oil and soy sauce and then spread into an even layer on the prepared baking sheet. Roast the broccoli for about 10-15 minutes, or until slightly charred on the outside. Toss with sesame seed oil and sprinkle with salt. Set aside.

To make the sauce, whisk together the lemon juice, garlic, and salt. Whisk in the olive oil slowly until the sauce thickens slightly. Whisk in the tahini until the sauce is smooth.

To serve, place the farro in a bowl and top it with the broccoli, scallions, radishes, and egg. Drizzle on some lemon tahini sauce. Leftovers will keep for a few days in the fridge. Enjoy!

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Lemon Lentil Soup

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I’m starting a tradition in the new year where I do more meal prep on Sunday. I’ll probably fall off the bandwagon in a few months but at least for now, I’m sticking to it.

I kicked off the tradition on Sunday night with lemon lentil soup. I found the recipe as I was browsing Pinterest and I immediately knew I had to make it. I had a cupboard full of red lentils and a fridge with a bunch of lemons that I bought right before the new year that I never used. The time, it seemed, was ripe.

This soup can be made on the stove top but it’s waaay easier to make in a slow cooker. If you’re like me and you’re not a fan of stirring, you might want to opt for the latter method. I essentially dumped all the ingredients in my slow cooker, stirred them, and then latched on the top and cooked the soup for a few hours on high. If you start the process earlier in the day, you can always do this process and set the slow cooker on low.

The standout ingredient in this soup is the lemon. Without it, the soup is a traditional lentil that still tastes good but isn’t particularly exceptional. With the lemon juice and lemon zest, this soup goes to the next level. You might be tempted to skip the step that calls for fresh grated lemon zest, but DO NOT skip it. You will be rewarded with savory, slightly sweet, citrusy lentil soup that tastes even better on day two.

I served my soup with a few slices of the Dark and Mild bread from Union Loafers, but you could also serve it with rice or grains. Or you could eat it with crackers if you want some extra crunch.

The soup keeps well in the fridge for a few days. I’d recommend filling up a few tupperware containers and freezing part of the batch for future weeknight dinners or even weekday lunches.

Here’s a link to the recipe from Gimme Some Oven. I didn’t deviate it from it too much except I cut down on the amount of garlic. I’m very sensitive to garlic so less is more for me. Feel free to use the original amount if you’re a garlic fan.

Here’s a song to get you started on your lemon lentil soup journey.

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Dimanche (That Means Sunday)

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Welcome to this edition of Dimanche (That Means Sunday), a roundup of things that caught my eye this past week.

The first week of the new year flew by. I spent part of it on vacation with my boyfriend in Hermann, Missouri, a cute little town about an hour and a half west of St. Louis. It was nice to relax and get away from day-to-day life for a bit.

When I got back to work on Thursday, things were pretty hectic. I ended the week feeling somewhat drained and wishing that I was still on vacation. As I told one colleague, the week after the holidays is the longest short week ever. So Saturday morning, I decided to go to a yoga studio down the street for the first time. It’s been a while since I went to yoga but I thought that it would help me relax.

I was right. It was a new studio so I didn’t know what to expect, but the teacher was welcoming and encouraging. I felt my body unwind gradually throughout the practice, and by the end, I surprised myself by easing into somewhat difficult positions.

At the end of class, my teacher told us a story about how she had a rough year once and by the end, she was feeling completely overwhelmed. She started to go back to yoga to relax and revive herself. Her teacher told the class to close their eyes and picture their inner self. She visualized herself in a challenging yoga pose in a peaceful room with bamboo, and she ended up painting her vision and giving it to her yoga teachers as a gift.

When my teacher told me to visualize my inner self yesterday, my mind immediately went to a lush green forest with lots of fields. It was startling because at this time of year, my insides start feeling like what’s around me. Winter is my least favorite season and looking at dark, grey, dreary landscapes only depresses me more.

Still, it helped to realize that I carry around a part of myself that’s unaffected by external circumstances. Also, it made me realize that spring will come, eventually. I’m going to go back to that image of the green forest this week whenever I feel overwhelmed in the new year. I’m also going to remember that life is about balance. At least, that’s what my yoga teacher tells me. I tend to agree.

Without further ado, here is Dimanche:

We had a glorious day of early spring-like weather yesterday and I took advantage of it by going on a hike with my boyfriend at Pere Marquette. The park is about an hour away from St. Louis next to the Mississippi River and Illinois River. The hiking trails are beautiful but challenging. If you persist, though, you’re rewarded with a great view from the top of the cliffs (see the photo at the beginning of this post). img_8082

If you’re on your way to Pere Marquette, you should stop for a second on the Great River Road. The road runs alongside the Mississippi River and it goes through some cute small towns including Grafton, Illinois. My boyfriend and I stopped at a cute fudge shop for ice cream on the way home.img_8080img_8085

Apparently, it helps to hold a grudge. I initially thought this story about holding grudges was ridiculous, but then I read it and it started to make a lot of sense. Holding grudges can help if you think of them as lessons learned and internalized to protect yourself. Also, they can help you process negative emotions instead of burying them or shrugging them off. Read more about grudges in this New York Times story.

I’m loving this new profile of Samin Nosrat. Nosrat, the author of the popular cookbook and Netflix show “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat,” is as genuine as ever and discusses her rise to fame. I like the fact that she goes to a psychic because admittedly, I do the same thing. I wish I could meet her in real life. Check out the profile in The Guardian.

I’m not always into New Year’s resolutions, but this approach caught my eye. A writer was inspired by an illustrator to make a visual representation of her wishes for the new year called “Less This, More That.” You write stuff in one column that you want to cut down on and stuff in the other column that you want to increase in the new year. I’m keeping mine on my desk at work so I can check in with it more often. Learn more in The Cut.

Beyonce and Jay-Z filmed a music video in the Louvre and now everyone wants to go there. The music power couple filmed their video for “APES**T” in the Parisian museum and now it’s seen an uptick in visitors. I had to laugh a little when the Louvre Director said that he’s happy Americans artists are interested in an archaeology and historic art museum. Some stereotypes never die, unfortunately. Read more in Reuters.

The grocery store in “A Star is Born” is finally getting the recognition it deserves. Anyone who saw the movie with Brad Cooper and Lady Gaga will remember the grocery store from the pivotal scene (SPOILERS AHEAD) where Cooper and Lady Gaga wrote a song together in the parking lot that would make Lady Gaga’s character famous. Apparently, the store is also a landmark in L.A. Read more about it in this story from The Ringer.

Last but certainly not least, everyone in St. Louis should go to Yoga In DeMun. I can’t say enough good things about the studio. As I mentioned before, I went for the first time yesterday and had a fulfilling and rejuvenating practice. Check out their website for more information about class schedules and rates. img_8028

Enjoy your week! Here’s a song to get you started.

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Dimanche (That Means Sunday)

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Welcome to this edition of Dimanche (That Means Sunday), a roundup of things that caught my eye this past week.

I was sitting at brunch with my boyfriend this morning and I said how this time of year always feels weird to me. I feel like I’m coming up on a deadline, probably because I associate the new year with new beginnings. I have the impulse to clean my car, do laundry, and anything else that you would associate with starting anew.

Still, I’m trying to find time to relax before the new year and I’d urge you to do the same. For some of us, it feels like we’re coming to the end of a very long chapter and we just want to close the book. For others, it might feel like the new beginning we’ve been waiting for and we’re excited about the possibilities. No matter what your take is, I think it’s important to sit back, relax, and reassess.

I’m sure this year will bring me more food and travels but I’m also excited for the surprises. I was thinking about it the other day, and it’s true that many of the moments I treasure most from the past year are the ones I didn’t anticipate. I think it’s important to cultivate this sense of wonder in our lives. I worry about the future a lot sometimes so I try to step back and embrace the present moment. When I do, I usually feel better.

I hope that this year brings you wonder and joy. Stay tuned for more food, travel, and cooking coverage on Allez Le Food in 2019. Thanks for reading!

I ate some doughnuts this morning that were out of this world. My boyfriend and I stopped by Sqwires restaurant for brunch this morning and I ordered the “donuts and coffee.” The doughnuts were perfectly fried and drizzled with chocolate and caramel sauce, and they came with a side of whipped cream. I ended up putting some of the whipped cream in my coffee, which I’d highly recommend doing if you ever stop by for brunch.IMG_8001

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is out of the hospital but I’m still having massive anxiety. The Supreme Court Justice left the hospital last week after having two cancerous nodules removed from her left lung. My thoughts and prayers are with the justice and her family. Stay with us, Ruth. Read more about the situation in this BBC story.

I finally started watching the adaptation of Elena Ferrante’s novels on HBO and I’m obsessed. I love Ferrante’s books and I’m equally enamored with the new television series, which brings her stories to life on the small screen. The show has gotten some poor reviews but I don’t understand why. The acting is spot on, especially early on in the series. Watch the episodes here.

A Frenchman is sailing across the ocean in a barrel. Jean-Jacques Savin, age 71, is sailing from Spain to the Caribbean in a “reinforced capsule” with a sleeping bunk, storage, and kitchen. Naturally, Savin’s supplies include foie gras and two bottles of wine. Read more about his trip in this BBC piece.

I tried the Fig and Bourbon ice cream at Clementine’s and almost started crying tears of joy. The ice cream is my new favorite flavor at the shop, which has locations in Clayton and Lafayette Square. Read more about Clementine’s and its booze-infused ice cream hereIMG_7958

This cookie cutter machine is mesmerizing. I dare you to watch the video only once. I saw it on Twitter earlier this week and I can’t stop watching.

Last but certainly not least, I got a good deal on a new media stand and I have to tell you about it. World Market is having a huge sale right now and I managed to get this TV stand for less than $200. My living room is finally starting to come together, which I’m excited about. Check out the sale here.

Enjoy your week and New Year! Here’s a song to get you started.

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