I have a strong immune system and I'm generally successfully at staving off illness or keeping it pretty mild when I do get sick. But for about the last month, I've periodically felt like I'm fighting something off, which is annoying. I know I'm not getting enough sleep, and that's job one. Locking the cat out of the bedroom at night, sad as it seems, is helping with that.

But I also don't think I've been eating as well as I could, and too often I find myself mindlessly gobbling down something that doesn't make me feel good (or that I don't even enjoy very much), and thinking that I need to make some changes. I can just tell that I'm undergoing some kind of dietary shift, which I posted about over on mavenhaven last week.

Enter the green smoothie.

There are eleventy billion raw food sites and green smoothie recipes out there, and advocates of particular high horsepower blenders--and while I have to admit that I sort of covet the Blendtec, the nice thing about green smoothies is that you don't really need any dietary philosophy, recipe, or special equipment to make them.

So I'm just adding a green smoothie every day, and I'm going to see how it goes. Here's what I am drinking today:

Green and Mean
Two handfuls of spinach (stems are fine)
A deveined leaf of dino kale
A deveined collard green
A handful of parsley
A kiwi, with some of the peel removed
A banana
1/4 cup applesauce (fresh apple chunks would be great too)
1/4 of an avocado
(A blender of some description)

Blend leafage and water first, adding more water as needed to get everything well blended. Add fruits one at a time. Drink slowly, maybe not in a single sitting. The flavor is fresh, lightly sweet and fruity, with a grassy undertone. If that bugs you, add more fruit. This made about 24 ounces.

You'll notice I'm starting slow with the tougher greens. I'm not interested in instigating a bunch of toilet troubles, as my boyfriend likes to call them, so you're not going to catch me chugging these or drinking an all-kale smoothie any time soon.

The beverage.
This is day two of the experiment. I'll keep you posted.

I have been a bad, bad blogger, but I have been cooking! Here are a few recipes I've followed lately, and then eaten:

  1. Vegan Nacho Cheese Dip, from the (apparently abandoned) kid-friendly vegan blog, Shmooed Food. We have this non-vegan friend who is always raving about the home fries and vegan nacho cheese at the Triple Rock. I've never tried it myself, but I've been intrigued by the whole idea. The Shmooed Food recipe has gotten a ton of hits and positive comments, so I went for it. The result was pretty good, but didn't set my pants on fire, and believe me, I wasn't expecting it to be CHEESE, so that wasn't the problem. Also, I love nutritional yeast, so that wasn't the problem either. I think I would adjust the spice profile--maybe ease up on the garlic powder and cumin and add adobo instead, or in addition. We ate it with broccoli and cauliflower. Maybe that was my problem: I should have been eating it with chips. Or the aforementioned home fries. Oh heck, I might make it again.
  2. Balls! To be exact, they were Peanut Butter Buckeyes from my friend Kickpleat's adorable food blog, Everybody Likes Sandwiches. I made them for a clothing swap two weeks ago, and they were a HUGE hit. I even used healthy cereal in them (Kashi flakes) and natural peanut butter, so they were, y'know, healthy. Also vegan, incidentally. I sustained an impressive burn while melting the chocolate, the aftereffects of which I am still suffering. The bowl sizzled my middle finger right across my writing callus, and the wound tends to crack every time I bend my finger, thanks to winter dryness. I know, you're welcome. Anyway, I would most CERTAINLY make these again, even though they are messy and my ball-dipping technique (hee) leaves something to be desired. If you're anything like me, you'll call them Chocolate Salty Balls and spend the whole day singing that song from South Park.
  3. Also from Kickpleat and IN PROGRESS, these vegan Power Cookies are awesome. She sent me some of her first batch in the mail and I ate them for two days straight, to the exclusion of other food. I have eaten two of the first sheetful of my batch, and will probably eat more. The best part so far is that the contents are customizable and I can envision tweaking the recipe any number of ways. I subbed chopped dried apricots and some currents for most of the raisins, and topped off my maple syrup with molasses (didn't have quite enough maple syrup). Also, the cookies can be eaten for breakfast--well, all cookies can be eaten for breakfast. But these have nutritional value!! So you will feel virtuous.

Dried beans, esteemed for economy, deliciousness, and long shelf life, are totally worth buying and preparing. That said, don't let your dried legumes sit around too long. I learned the hard way that yellow split peas that have been properly stored embarrassingly long time will never soften completely, no matter how stinkin long you cook them, and your delicious curried yellow split pea soup with sweet potatoes and spinach will be an indigestible chore to eat, not to mention a waste of delicious ingredients.

Brought to you by my ineptitude.

I try not to devote much of my mental energy to hateration, because I want to put happier energy out into the world if at all possible. That said, I must admit to hating on Rachael Ray more than once, even, at a low level of hate, on this blog. For one thing, the branding of celebrity chefs--and the product tie-ins--make me nuts, especially since I would probably enjoy owning more orange cookware if it didn't have RACHAEL RAY emblazoned on it in a kicky font.

I'm just letting you know where I stand, though really it's neither here nor there because I snagged one of Ray-Ray's recipes as the basis for last night's dinner anyway.

Thanks to the Brit's love for the stuff, I have made many mac and cheese recipes over the last year or so. My favorite is still this one from the New York Times, which boasts a cheese-to-pasta ratio of 2:1 and requires no pre-boiling of noodles. It's not exactly what you want to eat on the regular, especially if you're cutting back on the dairy. Still, I might have made it last night if I'd had all the ingredients handy.

Instead, I took Ray-Ray's recipe and changed one vital thing: instead of a can of jalapenos, I added two minced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, probably 3 tablespoons total, and used all cheddar cheese. Oh mama, was it good: smoky and creamy and hot. After I poured the sauce over the mac, I had to stand there and eat several bites before popping it in the oven to finish. I also used a full pound of macaroni. What's the point of making a twelve ounce batch?

Chipotle Macaroni and Cheese
Boil a pound of elbows or rotini or whatever until al dente. Drain well and dump into a casserole dish.

Melt 2 T unsalted butter in a medium saucepan. Add two minced chipotles in adobo sauce (or more to taste), and heat for a minute until the smell torments you with deliciousness. Add two cups of milk and heat it all over medium heat until it starts to boil.

In the meantime, mix 1/2 cup of milk with 2 T of cornstarch until smooth. Whisk this mixture into your saucepan once it comes to a boil, cook til it thickens, and then chuck a pound of grated cheddar in by handfuls, reserving one handful for the top of the casserole. The cheese will incorporate beautifully and delight you totally. If you think it needs salt, add some.

Pour the sauce over the pasta, mix to disperse, and stand there eating it like a crazy person while the broiler heats. Scatter the last handful of cheese on top and broil for a few minutes. Our stove is rabid and the broiler is best used with extreme caution, so I actually baked it at 400 for 8 minutes and broiled for 2.

I'd show you a picture, but I've eaten it all.