August 2012 | The Rising Spoon

Friday, August 31, 2012

How to Make a Protein-Packed Green Smoothie

How to Make a Protein-Packed Green Smoothie |

{Update: I've since changed the recipe to incorporate full-fat yogurt instead of fat free. Why? Because in order for your body to absorb certain fat soluble vitamins and nutrients in vegetables, it has to be consumed with a healthy fat. That means when you eat fat-free foods mixed with veggies or fruits, your body is likely just flushing the vitamins out! For more info read here and here.}

Tired of paying $5+ for smoothies that are touted as "healthy", but are really loaded with artificial ingredients, fruit juices and sorbets that skyrocket the calories and sugar content? 

Would you rather have complete control over what goes into your drink? Are you enticed by the idea of consuming half your daily servings of fruits and veggies in one drink?

Time to make your own healthy green smoothies! 

All you need are some basic fruits and veggies, a liquid (like water, milk or 100% no sugar added juice), quality protein powder and a reliable blender

Pick whatever flavor combinations you like. The variations are endless. Experiment until you find a favorite or just use whatever is handy in your fridge or freezer at the time. 

Just keep in mind that you should consume everything in moderation. This is not a be-all-end-all solution for consuming healthy greens. You should also be eating them cooked, as well. :)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Healthy, Hodgepodge Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Healthy, Hodgepodge Grilled Cheese Sandwich |
Crunchy bread, runny egg yolk, gooey cheese, creamy avocado, juicy tomato: c'est parfait! 
It's the middle of the day, you're starving and you desire something both nutritious and comforting to chomp in to before you continue onward. You filter through a mental list of ingredients you have on hand and maybe crack open the fridge to peer inside. 

Let's assume you have basic ingredients like bread and sliced cheese. You think,  "Ah hagrilled cheese". 

Then you quickly realize a few slices of melted cheese in between buttered toast will taste scrumptious but won't really fill you up.

What's the best option?

Upgrade your favorite childhood sandwich to a healthier version. 

Choose two slices of fiber & protein dense bread, fill it with whatever healthy fats, proteins and veggies you have on hand and layer it with cheese. That's the centerpiece of the sandwich, after all.

Okay, so keeping in mind that you can literally stuff this sandwich with whatever (healthy or not so healthy) ingredients you have on hand, here's my upgraded, filled-with-a-hodgepodge-of-ingredients grilled cheese sandwich. 

And if you want to make it a more complete meal, add my quick heirloom tomatoes with cottage cheese on the side.

Healthy Hodgepodge Grilled Cheese Sandwich
A healthier, upgraded grilled cheese sandwich with crunchy bread, runny egg yolk, gooey cheese, creamy, heart-healthy avocado, and juicy tomato. Easy, quick and more filling than the original.
Serves: 1

2 slices of sprouted 100% whole grain bread, toasted
2-3 teaspoons of grass-fed butter or unrefined, virgin coconut oil 
4 teaspoons of goat cheese 
1 1/2 slices of swiss cheese 
2 1/2 thick slices of heirloom tomatoes, approximately 1/2 a tomato
salt & pepper, to taste (for use on tomatoes, egg & avocado)
1 pastured egg, cooked over-easy (click here to read why I only buy pastured eggs)
1/4 of a large avocado or 1/2 a medium avocado, pitted, skinned and sliced

Recommended Equipment
cast-iron skillet (I use mine almost every day)

Want more real food & gadget recommendations? Check out my shop page.
  1. Spread 2/3 of the butter or coconut oil on the outside of each bread slice. Spread the inside of each piece with 2 teaspoons of goat cheese, then layer with 3/4 a piece of swiss cheese, torn to fit evenly on bread (see picture below).
  2. Heat a small pan to medium heat. Place both bread slices into the pan with the cheese facing upward. Heat for 2-3 minutes or until the bottom side is toasted and golden and the cheese is starting to melt slightly. Be careful not to let the bottom burn. When they're done, remove from pan and turn off heat.
  3. Slice 1/2 a heirloom tomato into thick slices, about 2 1/2 pieces. Layer on bottom piece of bread, then sprinkle with sea salt and cracked black pepper.
  4. Heat broiler to high and let warm up for a few minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, re-heat the same pan to medium, add in the last 1/3 of the butter or coconut oil and fry one egg until over-easy. Flip egg halfway through, making sure not to break or overcook yolk. (You want it runny.) 
  6. Place each slice of bread onto the middle oven rack. The broiler will further melt the cheese and warm the tomato slices. Check after 2-3 minutes. When cheese is melted and just bubbling, remove from oven. 
  7. Place the over-easy egg on top of the tomato slices and salt & pepper the egg. Slice the avocado, layer it on top of the egg and salt it, as well (optional). Place the other piece of cheesy bread on top and set on a plate. Cut the sandwich in half and watch the warm yolk run out (yum)! Make sure to dip your sandwich in the yolk with each bite.
Healthy, Hodgepodge Grilled Cheese Sandwich |
I doubled the recipe here to make two sandwiches. I couldn't leave my BF hanging.

How This Sandwich is Healthier, While Still Remaining Tasty
  • I'm using sprouted 100% whole grain wheat, which has significantly more protein and a bit more fiber than regular white bread. It is denser and keeps you full longer and it's less processed so it's easier on your body.
  • Using only 1 1/2 slices of swiss cheese (as opposed to the 2-4 slices normally used for grilled cheese) saves a lot of fat and calories. I'm not afraid of fat, but I still try to keep my day's intake in check (for calorie purposes). Spreading a small amount of creamy, tangy and goat cheese on the bread helps maintain the cheesiness and intensifies the flavor.
  • Heirloom tomatoes are healthy and the perfect juicy addition to grilled cheeses. Enough said.
  • An over-easy pastured egg adds an additional 6g protein and the gooey, broken yolk lends a savory element to the sandwich.
  • Sliced avocado has heart-healthy fats. Plus, it tastes fabulous on almost anything.
Healthy, Hodgepodge Grilled Cheese Sandwich |
See those red grapes hiding in the background? They were cold (I refrigerate them) and paired wonderfully with this.

More Recipes From The Rising Spoon:

I'd like to hear from YOU!

What are some of your favorite additions to grilled cheese sandwiches?

PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. However, I ONLY recommend helpful products that I myself would use. And I'm really picky about what I share with you guys. Because I myself am super choosy about what I buy and consume. Recommending products that I love or want to own helps me cover the costs of running this blog and keep providing you with free, helpful information. And it costs nothing extra for you. Thanks! 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Pan-Fried Hatch Green Chile Burgers

Pan-Fried Hatch Green Chile Burgers |

It's nearing late August, which means: HATCH CHILE SEASON. Depending on what region you hail from, you may never have heard of a Hatch chile. 

In case you haven't, here's a brief run down of the Hatch green chile:
  • Hatch is not a variety; it indicates the origin of the chile. So, the name comes from the village it's grown near: Hatch, New Mexico. 
  • These regional chiles are harvested only once a year and the picking season usually goes from August through September. It can sometimes begin earlier in July and extend into October. 
  • The spiciness of Hatch chiles (there are different varieties) range from very mild to much hotter, similar in heat level to a jalapeno. I've only seen them sold as either "mild" or "hot", but you honestly can't predict how spicy each individual pepper will be until you cut into it. 
  • Green chiles have thick skins that make them ideal for roasting, which intensifies their flavor and produces a unique aroma. 
  • Because their season is so short, most people roast large batches of the chiles, leave the skin intact and freeze them in plastic bags to use in recipes throughout the year.
  • Alternatively, cans of fire roasted Hatch green chiles are sold at grocery stores year round. Some of you in the northern and eastern regions may not have access to fresh Hatch chiles. Luckily, I've only ever lived in Kansas, Missouri and Texas, which is close enough to New Mexico that they're shipped to our local markets. That said, I've still been using the canned variety for years (they're great in scrambled eggs), so if you can't get fresh hatch chiles, definitely used canned! However, if you have time to roast and freeze your own, the flavor will be exponentially better. Plus, your house/apartment will smell divine!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Let's Talk Tomatoes, Specifically Heirlooms

Let's Talk Tomatoes, Specifically Heirlooms a.k.a. Why Regular Tomatoes Suck |

Why all the tomato hating? 

It's puzzled me for years how anyone could dislike tomatoes. They're sweet, sometimes savory, and compliment an endless variety of dishes. I figured it was a texture issue for most people. Too squishy, maybe? 

I never judged, though, cause I have my own weird food no-nos. I steer clear of mushrooms because I hate their rubbery texture. Can't do it. Love their flavor, though, especially in sauces. Seems weird, right? 

Someday I hope to incorporate mushrooms into my diet. I don't enjoy turning my nose up at mushroom laced recipes. If anything, being a picky eater is a nuisance. But, it's not unforeseeable that I may, in time, let curiosity lead me to noshing on a tasty mushroom or two. 

After all, I'm obsessed with onions and blue cheese: two things that I loathed only six-ish years ago. 

Keep an Open Taste Bud

And I've heard that your taste buds change every seven years. That might be an old wive's tale, but I choose to embrace it. Doing so forces me to try new things and give certain ingredients a new chance. 

Speaking of new things, I recently tried Heirloom tomatoes for the first time. For years I snubbed them, assuming they were just expensive tomatoes catered to the hipster variety of foodies. 

BOY WAS I WRONG! And what was my punishment for the reverse snobbery? 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Spicy Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing

Spicy Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette |

Are you still buying bottled dressings from the grocery store? Hopefully your answer is no. If not, PLEASE STOP! 

The vast majority of salad dressings are high calorie, low quality, sugar-laden products. Just check the back label of your favorite bottle. Look for these words: sugar, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and corn syrup. How high up on the ingredients list are they? Usually third or fourth, sometimes even second. 

Gross! Who wants to pay for a bottle of watered down processed sugar with some vinegar & seasonings added? 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Roasted Purple Cauliflower

Roasted Purple Cauliflower |
When you hear the word cauliflower, what comes to mind? 

Perhaps some white, bland vegetables you were forced to eat as a child. Or, maybe it conjures up images of white, crunchy trees—akin to broccoli—that often appeared in pre-packaged veggie trays at your social gatherings. You probably dunked it deeply into a french onion dip and munched it down without ever actually tasting it. 

Well, if that's the case, it's time to meet this vegetable's sexy fraternal twin: purple cauliflower. 

Not only is purple cauliflower an eye treat, but it also packs more of a nutritional punch, in the form of antioxidants, than its white counterpart. In fact the same antioxidant pigments that make this vegetable purple are what also give blueberries their color. 

Okay, now that I've established purple cauliflower looks tastier and is actually healthier, how should we go about cooking it? My usual preferred cooking method for vegetables is pan saute, roasting or steaming; HOWEVER, I found in my two minutes of super authentic wikipedia-esque research that boiling purple cauliflower diminishes the nutritional value. SO, don't boil it...ever. Well, you could if you absolutely had to, but you shouldn't.

Instead, do what I did and make the most delicious cauliflower of your life by roasting it with garlic and lemon juice. Oh my gawd, lemon juice is SPECTACULAR on roasted veggies. Unfortunately, I just realized this less than a month ago. I've been missing out for years. 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Cilantro-Lime Mayonnaise a.k.a aioli

Cilantro-Lime Mayonnaise a.k.a aioli

After a lengthy separation, I'm developing a taste for mayonnaise again (in tiny amounts). For years, the sight or even thought of mayo slathered thickly on any sandwich I was about to eat initiated my gag reflex. Maybe this was due in part to my being raised on that "zippy mayo" as a young'un. Eek! 

I cringe at that fact now. High fructose corn syrup + extra sugar, anyone? It DID have a zip though, which as a kid I happened to enjoy. Nowadays I squirt spicy brown or yellow jalapeno mustard on just about anything deserving a condiment. 

Back to my re-liking mayonnaise. I blame it on one of my favorite high-end burger joints in KC. This particular restaurant has quality ingredients, fresh baked buns, homemade ketchup and mustard and most importantly...aioli

At least half of the burgers on their menu have an aioli spread with ingredients catered to a certain flavor theme. Unbenownst to me, I consumed these gourmet burgers several times without realizing they were smeared with a flavored mayonnaise!

Eventually curiosity overtook me, I searched google (the ultimate answer giver) and was slightly horrified for a total of five seconds, then kind of impressed. Me, a hardcore mayo detester, duped by some flavorings? Yes, indeed. 

That is the power of garlic, lemon & other seasonings, my friend. How could I say no to garlic? I love, love, love, love, love garlic. In all forms. The concept of garlic breath has no meaning for me. I've never once eaten something garlic-laden and worried afterward about my mouth smell. In fact, if someone were to chomp on a piece of garlic and speak close to my face, I'd probably thank them for the wonderful aroma. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Mexican Street-Style Tacos à la The Gringa Girl

Mexican Street-Style Steak Tacos |
When I left Kansas City this past March and moved to Dallas, I mourned losing access to a wide array of quality food joints. Oklahoma Joe's BBQ, McCoy's Public House, Blue Koi, and Blanc Burger+Bottles were a few of my favorites out of the slew of restaurants that were within a 15 minutes (or less) drive. Yet, for all its diverse offerings, Kansas City lacks one thing—good Mexican food.

I was oblivious to this fact until my boyfriend moved to Texas nearly four years ago. Every few months I'd fly down to visit him and because his kitchen was only equipped with bachelor necessities, we ate almost every meal out. Inevitably, he took me to his favorite lunch spot: Chiloso Mexican Bistro.

While we stood in a line that wrapped around the dining area for 5-10 minutes, I immediately compared it to Chipotle. Yes, it had burritos and tacos, but it also had a more expansive lunch/dinner menu, not to mention they served Austin-style breakfast tacos.

Like a timid newb, I ordered a burrito with lots of meat, cheese and veggie toppings smothered in queso, plus a side of chips & salsa.

I almost had a gut explosion trying to polish off 3/4 of that infant-sized wrap, but in the process I had a taste bud epiphany

Thursday, August 16, 2012

And In The Beginning There Was A First Post: The Pioneer Woman's Green Beans

Making The Pioneer Woman's Fresh Green Beans

This is a photograph I took about two months ago from when I followed Ree Drummond's The Pioneer Woman recipe for Fresh Green Beans. These green beans were close-your-eyes-and-savor-the-taste good. Seriously, I could eat them every night. Unfortunately (and fortunately), the recipe involved bacon fat. In addition to this, I took the liberty of adding a lot of crumbled, thick-cut pepper bacon as a mix-in and then garnish (not pictured). Bacon makes everything taste better, right? 

YES, but I happened to start a workout routine a little over two weeks ago and the accompanying diet ( I dislike that concept) does not involve copious amounts melted meat fat. Le sigh. The jar of bacon fat in my fridge has been lonely these past few weeks. 

Since then, I've remade this recipe, opting instead for a mixture of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) & balsamic vinegar, which cooked down and formed a tangy, slightly-sweet glaze. Maybe I'll post that adaptation in the future. Until then, here's to cooking!

Question for DiscussionWhat's your favorite way to fix green beans on the stove top?  

Answer in the comments section below or join the conversation on The Rising Spoon Facebook page. Prefer Twitter? And feel free to circle me on Google Plus or follow me on Pinterest.

PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. However, I ONLY recommend helpful products that I myself would use. And I'm really picky about what I share with you guys. Because I myself am super choosy about what I buy and consume. Recommending products that I love or want to own helps me cover the costs of running this blog and keep providing you with free, helpful information. And it costs nothing extra for you. Thanks! 
Blogger Template Created by pipdig
Customized and Tweaked with Love by The Lady Gadget
Back to Top