Friday, June 27, 2014

Almond joy coconut chocolate almond green smoothie

Almond joy coconut chocolate almond green smoothie 

I love green smoothies.  Let's face it - that's pretty much the only way I get any fruits and vegetables into my diet these days.  I'm not much of a cook so when I cook, you get an entree.  Side dishes to go along with it are usually beyond my capabilities unless it's a frozen bag of veggies or a bag of salad.

However, green smoothies are amazing!  It's a fruit smoothie with veggies thrown in, and I promise you will NEVER TASTE THEM if you do it right.  If you've never had a green smoothie before, try this and you'll be hooked. 

Best thing about this?  Every single ingredient in it is good for you!  Yes, even the chocolate.  I drink this for breakfast, or have it for dessert when I'm jonesing for chocolate.  I even add extra ice and make it into "ice cream" and give it to the kids.


1 1/2 cup almond or coconut milk (or the new one that's a blend of each - my favorite!)
2-3 cups of kale - this is a superfood and is arguably one of the healthiest leafy greens out there.
1 1/2 bananas - makes it sweet and creamy 
1 tbsp coconut oil - unbelievably good for you!  And tastes great too.
1 tbsp almond butter - full of heart healthy fat.
3 tbsp raw unsweetened cacao powder - antioxidants galore.
2 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut - yum, more coconut!

You'll need a high speed blender for this, such as my beloved VitaMix.  

Add the liquid first.  I used Silk Almond/Coconut milk blend, which was not unsweetened.  I wish it were but it's all I had on hand.  It adds just a bit of sweetness so because of that I didn't have to add any other sweetener.

I freeze all my kale because it goes bad so quickly.  If I don't cook it the day I buy it I remove the stalks, rip it into small pieces, and freeze it.  I also freeze my bananas once they are good and brown.  They're nice and sweet that way.

So toss in the kale.  If this is your first green smoothie just use a handful.  You'll see that you can't taste it so next time add more.  I can now add three huge handfuls of kale before it gets noticeable (and turns the drink green.)

Add all the other ingredients.  I had homemade almond butter (also from my beloved Vitamix - I cannot rave about this thing enough) but store bought is fine.  Just try to get an unsalted version.   I used this video to make mine.

It has one ingredient - raw, unsalted almonds.  No oil, no seasonings, just almonds.  And it's sooooo good!  Here's what mine looked like.

The raw unsweetened cacao is ideal but if you can't find it, unsweetened cocoa powder (like your grandma used for baking when you were a kid) is the next best thing.  I buy mine off Amazon because I can't find it locally.  This is the one I bought and if I can keep my daughter from making hot cocoa with it, it lasts quite a while:

100% Natural Raw Cacao Powder From Latin America. Raw, Pure, Non-gmo, Vegan, Gluten-free

When it comes to coconut oil, try to get unrefined.  Refined isn't as good for you and it has no flavor.  Unrefined tastes like coconut.  Here's my baby licking the spoon after I tossed it into the blender.

Now blend it all up.  I turn it to high and let it run for about 45 seconds.  Enough to make it totally smooth but not too long or it will start to heat up.

Now taste it.  If it's not sweet enough add some dates (with the pits removed please!)  Maybe 2 or 3.  Raw honey or pure maple syrup would work too but I honestly don't think you need it.  If it's not cold enough, add a handful of ice cubes.  If it's too thick, add some more liquid or just plain water.

If you want some chunks in it toss it a bit more shredded coconut and a few raw almonds.  Then blend on low for 10 seconds.

And that's it!  It tastes like an Almond Joy because of the chocolate, coconut, and almonds but it has NO SUGAR and it's great for you!  I mean, HELLO!  You just had a decadent chocolate milkshake that had three cups of kale in it.  Kale’s health benefits are primarily linked to the high concentration and excellent source of antioxidant vitamins A, C, and K.  One cup of kale provides more than 100% of your daily requirement of these vitamins.  It has cancer-fighting phytonutrients, lowers cholesterol levels, helps reduce the risk of heart disease.

I often add ice and mix it till it's like ice cream and give it to my daughter for breakfast.  She goes to school and tells everyone she had ice cream for breakfast.  I'm waiting for her teacher to call me and say, "Do we need to have a little talk about proper nutrition?"  I'm kind of looking forward to that call!  ;)

If your kids are resistant to veggies, the following foods can be added to almost any smoothie and you'll never know they're in there:

raw zucchini or yellow squash

Just add them in small amounts and work up to larger amounts over time.  If you're making a berry smoothie and it starts to turn green, just add more berries to keep it purple.

Do you drink green smoothies?  Share your favorite recipes as I'm always looking for new ones!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Free Kindle Book This Weekend!

New Kindle children's book dirt cheap - or even FREE!

Ok all, I'm asking you guys a favor.  My grandmother wrote a children's book back when my mom was little and tried for years to get it published.  For whatever reason she was turned down so she just shelved it.

Years later after my grandmother had passed away my mom wanted to try to get it published in her honor but I didn't know where to begin and quite honestly, I forgot all about it.

Suddenly it occurred to me to publish it on Kindle.  So I did!

I have it available for download FOR FREE on Saturday, June 28 2014.  Otherwise it's a whopping $2.99.

I would love it if you would go grab a copy while it's free.  I'm not looking to make money here, just want to do this as a surprise for my mom.  And then, if you would be so kind, write a quick review.  The books on Kindle that have the most reviews seem to appear at the top of the search results so the more reviews I can get, the more people will become aware of it and get it all on their own.

My parents both turn 70 this year and we're having a joint birthday bash in July.  All the kids and grandkids are flying in for this, so what a great surprise it would be to show her that her mother's book has been published after 60 years!!!

Please, if you think of it, please go get this.  If you want to pay for it, awesome!  But I'd be every bit as happy if you get it while it's free.  Here's the link and THANK YOU in advance for making my grandma's dream a reality.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Say goodbye to satellite or cable TV and save a bundle!

Say goodbye to satellite or cable TV and save a bundle!

I've been a loyal Dish Network customer for years.  I love their service and have had almost no problems with it.  But one day I looked at my bill and thought, "We're spending over $100 a month to watch TV."  And most of the time we don't really even "watch" what's on.  I'm on my Kindle, hubby's on his iPad, and the TV is just on in the background.  That's more than $1200/year that we're throwing way!

So I did a ton of research on streaming with a Roku-type device, polled all my Facebook friends, and called my brother.  He gave me the 30 Minute Nutshell version of how to get rid of satellite.  So I took the plunge.

It's been trial and error but I think we finally have a winner.  Here's what I've learned.

You need:  a modern (or old fashioned) TV antenna, just like the rabbit ears on your grandma's old TV but probably much cooler looking.  Mine is a totally flat, flexible square that sticks on your wall or window.  If you live more than 30 miles away from the nearest station that's broadcasting a local station like ABC, NBC, CBS, etc. you may need something stronger.  I bought this one first and if we didn't live so far away, it would have worked just fine:

AmazonBasics High Performance Ultra Thin Indoor HDTV Antenna -Made in USA

An outdoor antenna or one that goes in your attic might be a better choice for you.  But a typical antenna will set you back somewhere between $25-100.  After I returned the first one I exchanged it for this one instead.  It's about $57.00.
AmazonBasics Extreme Performance Ultra Thin Amplified Indoor HDTV Antenna - Designed and Assembled in USA

You also need a way for your TV to access the internet (more on this later.)

Last, you'll probably want a few subscription-based channels like HuluPlus and Netflix.  Each is approximately $8/month.  I find that Netflix has more movies and kids shows and Hulu has more TV shows.  We subscribe to both.

So we were ready to begin!  Luckily we have an internet enabled TV in our family room.  Meaning it already can access Netflix and some other sites on its own without needing a media streaming device of some sort. 

The pros:  It's free.
The cons:  There are only a few stations to choose from, like Netflix, Hulu, and Youtube, plus a few others I've never heard of before.  The interface is terrible too.  Trying to find a show to watch takes 10 minutes using their search feature.  Trying to type a movie or TV show title on my TV remote takes forever.

But then again, it's free!  So we did not buy a streaming device, such as Apple TV or Roku.  Why bother, right?

Here's what the interface looks like.  Not much to choose from.  (I am absolutely, hands down, the world's WORST cell phone photographer.  Sorry!)

If you want to watch Scandal from last night's episode, you have to find it first.  You go search on Netflix, can't find it.  Then you search on Hulu.  Not there either.  Ok, how about if we go to and click on "Full Episodes".  Yes, that worked.  That took about 10 minutes.  Hmm, kind of a pain.

We used this method for about a week but hubby was not happy that he couldn't find any of his favorite outdoor shows to watch (hunting and fishing), car shows like Chasing Classic Cars, or live sporting events.  So then we bought an Apple TV.

Since we are an Apple household with two Macbook Pros, two iPads, and two iPhones, we thought this would be great.  And the ability for the mobile devices to sync with the TV is pretty awesome.  If I were watching a movie on my iPad I could just display it on the TV screen instead.  Which is very cool!

Unfortunately they still don't have that many channels to watch and the search capability still sucks.  And the remote is the size of a big, pink pencil eraser that my 9 year old uses in school.  I mean seriously, what full grown adult could possibly press those tiny little buttons?  It's ridiculous.  I get the whole minimalist concept but come on!  The picture below is of the regular TV remote and the Apple TV remote.  It's truly about 5" long.

So after a week of this and still no outdoor channel type programs, I hit the internet to do some research on which unit is the best for streaming.  And the one that kept showing up over and over again?  The Roku 3.

Roku 3 Streaming Media Player

The Roku 3 was by far my favorite!  More channels to choose from but you can search by title and it will look through ALL their channels for that show/movie.  This is so much easier!

In review, here's the cost for our setup:

$59.99 for the antenna  

$89 for the Roku 3  (It seems like the price has gone up a bit since I bought it a few weeks ago.) 
**These are both one time costs.**

$7.99/month - HuluPlus
$7.99/month - Netflix

**These are our only monthly costs.**

Former DishNetwork monthly cost - $112.00
Total savings the first year alone - $993.00
Total savings the second year - $1153.00

So seeing those numbers on paper, is it worth giving up cable or sat TV?

Sadly, to my husband, the answer is no.  I was totally willing to go this route but he couldn't watch his favorite shows on Velocity or a few of the other "guy" shows he likes - car shows, gun shows, shows where the build something and then take it out and blow it up.  So he insisted that we continue to pay for cable.

I'm bummed but after listening to him bitch and moan about it for a week I gave up trying to convince him.  I wish you all much more luck than I had, my friends!

Comment below and let me know if you have tried this and whether you think it's doable.  I'm hoping I can wear hubby down after another year or two of getting that stupid Dish bill each month.