Orange Cranberry Smoothie

IMG_6830I woke up Christmas morning this year feeling very excited! I felt like a kid all over again, the magic and anticipation of Santa and Christmas morning were very present. I didn’t sleep much, and by 5 am I was literally ready to get up and open presents. I seriously considered going and getting my parents up ‘for old times sake’ like when we were kids and getting up at 3 being told to go back to bed, then 4 then 5 and finally my parents would give up about 6.

I had the pleasure of sharing Christmas this year with both my parents and only me. No kids, no siblings, no in laws, just us, which is a rare and special occasion. It is not often that such an opportunity occurs and I felt that this in itself was a gift. Christmas Eve we watched a movie and my Mum and I sat up late talking and sipping gingerbread martinis. At midnight we toasted and wished each other Merry Christmas. We peeked outside, and experienced a calm beautiful evening. The snow gently falling and a peacefulness in the air, truly a unique energy that was not present earlier that day (or on Christmas morning when I popped outside either). It really was like in the movies, that magical energy, and presence there.

IMG_4491One of the things I love to do over the holidays is experiment with different festive recipes and on Christmas Eve I had already been thinking about trying a Cranberry smoothie of some kind Christmas morning. I googled a number of recipes and found some good ones, though undecided which one to try.

When I woke in the morning (or should I say finally got up around 8) I bounced out of the spare room wishing a Merry Christmas! Mum was at the sink, Dad dressing in red and I was moving towards the tree. Quickly with coffees or waters in hand we began a lovely ritual of opening gifts and sharing. After gifts Mum went to the kitchen to make brunch – a fabulous Impossible Quiche with Daiya smoked gouda, spinach and mushrooms and I proceeded to make the smoothies. I had decided to take the elements of some of the recipes I found that I liked and combine them, adding some of my own ingredients and creating my own. The result was fantastic! A smooth creamy, flavorful smoothie that we all socked back quickly, expressing how much we enjoyed it. I loved the added greens myself, which darkens the pink looking smoothie slightly but gets those greens in there without even tasting it! The added benefit is that cranberries themselves are considered a super food and are high in vitamin C, E, fiber as well as providing benefits such as improved immune system, antioxidant and decreased blood pressure.

When I arrived home after Christmas I made it again for the kids and they all loved it! Matthew who hasn’t been drinking many smoothies these days, tasted it said ‘Oh that’s good’ and drank the rest quickly. Chloe asks me every day since she tried it for one and has expressed that it’s her new favorite. Even my ex husband tried it the other day and said it was good (this is a big thing btw, as he is not really a smoothie guy and particular about tastes). I was quite pleased with the results and I think I drove my parents a little crazy that first day I made it when I kept saying throughout the day how good it was and how impressed with myself for creating it. Well it was good!

So if you’ve got a festive theme going over the holidays or simply want to try out a great new smoothie recipe, give this one a go! If you find it a little tart for your tastes just add more stevia when making it. Then come back here and comment telling me how you like it!

Orange Cranberry Smoothie

2 bananasIMG_6831

1 c. frozen cranberries

1 c. un sweetened almond-cashew yogurt

1 tsp. vanilla

1 c. orange juice

1/2 of 1 g packet of stevia

handful of spinach* (optional)

Put all ingredients in blender. Blend until smooth. Garnish with slice of orange and a few cranberries if desired. Pour into 8 oz glasses and serve.

*if you would like a bright pink smoothie do not add spinach as it will darken it. I love tossing in that bit of green as it is a great way to get those greens in a quick and easy way. And you don’t even notice it’s there!

Serves 3 (makes 3 – 8 oz servings)

Broccoli Cheese Soup

broccoli-soup-bryons-lrgI wanted to post a recipe today for something sweet, especially for all you party goers who are joining me from the UBP; but I finally perfected my Broccoli Cheese Soup recipe and had to share – now both dairy free, gluten free and delicious!

For the past while, I have been just making a straight creamy broccoli soup, which was ok, but I missed the cheese. And the kids, who use to gobble it up, were kind of taking it or leaving it when I made it. In fact I wasn’t eating it at all (ha ha)!

So earlier this week when I was making it for lunch I decided to experiment. First I decided to use brown rice flour instead of regular white flour, as I am trying to make more things gluten free in our house (plus I have noticed that I feel tired after some things with gluten). Then I decided that I was going to throw in some of this fabulous non-dairy cheddar cheese that I discovered by Daiya foods. See one of the things I really do miss about not having dairy is cheese. And though there are lots of choices out there now for non dairy cheeses, I just couldn’t find one that I liked. They either didn’t melt well, or taste good and they definitely weren’t tasty enough to put on a cracker (yuk!). But recently I discovered this vegan cheese made by Daiya, a Canadian company actually (Go Canada) based in Vancouver. It melts, it tastes good and everyone gobbles it up! I think it is very close to tasting like dairy cheese and they make it in all kinds of flavours! They even sell it in slices so, guess what? We are now having grill cheese once again, which honestly used to be a staple for lunch.US-Shreds-Cheddar

Anyway I tossed a handful of the Daiya grated cheddar into the blender and mixed it all up.  It was fantastic! Luke gobbled it up, I ate it and will eat it again (this is a good sign). And it tasted really cheesy, like you would expect a nice cheesy soup to taste. I think this means I can go back to making my Cheesy Potato soup now….

The recipe for this soup is really easy and doesn’t take any time at all to make. Give it a try! You won’t be disappointed.

And for those of you who are looking for a little sweet treat, check out Chocolate Peanut Butter Cereal Squares, Marshmallows, Chocolate Macaroons.

Do you have a favorite cheesy soup recipe? Please share it with us in the comments below.

Broccoli Cheese Soup

2 cups     fresh cut broccolibroccoli

1 cup      water

1 ¼ cup reserved juice, plus water if not enough juice left

1 cup      almond milk

1 tsp       chicken bouillon powder

¼ tsp     sea salt

1/8 tsp   pepper

2 tbsp    brown rice flour

1/3 cup   grated vegan cheddar cheese

Cook broccoli in water in covered saucepan until tender. Drain and reserve juice. Put broccoli in blender.

Add remaining 6 ingredients to blender. Process until smooth. Return to saucepan. Heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture boils and thickens. Makes 3 cups.

Serves 2-3

IMG_0753

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cereal Squares