Archive for the ‘Beverages’ Category

Vegan Pineapple Julius SmoothieHello, Opera Girl Cooks readers! First off, I’d like to thank you for following me here for so many years — it’s been a blast! Rest assured, I’m still blogging it up a storm. You can follow me on my brand new blog, It Was Just Right. The new design is open and bright, and I hope you like it as much as I do! Come on over for a Pineapple Julius Smoothie.

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Sweet Earth Za’atar Burgers

These veggie burgers made for two healthy and filling lunches — I’ll definitely be getting them again. I loved the pop of whole sesame seeds and the generous hand with za’atar spice mix — it was kind of like falafel on steroids! I enjoyed one burger simply on a whole wheat hamburger bun, and another broken up into a bowl with julienned, sauteed zucchini, shredded cooked beets, and sliced avocado.

Kiss Me Organics Matcha Powder

First, I’ve gotta give props to my adventurous husband for sipping the banana matcha smoothie I placed in front of him without a second of hesitation. A dull shade of tannish green, it tasted far better than it looked! I really enjoyed the tiny hint of bitterness from the matcha (I used a teaspoon for two servings), and it paired well with plain soymilk and ripe bananas, no extra sweetener required. I look forward to trying it out in savory recipes as well — a half teaspoon mixed into a tablespoon of salt, and you’ve got a topping for poached eggs, popcorn, and more.

Ayurvedic Roast Coffee Substitute

I’m a huge fan of coffee, but once I’ve gotten my morning cup of caffeine, any more during the day just makes me jittery. An afternoon cup of decaf often sounds like a good idea, but my stomach doesn’t like the extra acid, and I’ve dealt with acid reflux issues in the past. For a while now, I’ve been trying to find a good coffee substitute for those times when I want a nice warm mug of coffee minus the caffeine and acid.

I’m happy to say that Ayurvedic Roast is a great option! It’s a 100% organic mix of roasted barley, chicory root, and rye mixed with Ayurvedic herbs. I tried brewing it a couple of ways, and extracted the most flavor by boiling it on the stove for ten minutes, one heaping tablespoon per cup of water. I’ve been enjoying it with a splash of whole mlik, and it really hits the spot. It comes in two varieties, original and vanilla.

CocoaPlanet Salted Caramel Dark Chocolate

These disks of chocolate are perfect for a portion-controlled desert. The chocolate and caramel flavors are so intense that you’ll be happy with a small portion. The dark chocolate has little spherical pockets of caramel throughout (they call them “pearls of flavor”), so each bite has a burst of caramel, and it doesn’t squeeze out all over the place like other liquid-filled treats. CocoaPlanet also recommends dissolving the chocolate disks in a cup of hot milk for instant, flavored hot chocolate.

Sur La Table Coupe Cereal Bowl

I just love the size and shape of this bowl. It holds 16 ounces, perfect for my morning bowl of oatmeal or an afternoon strawberry snack. The coupe line is basic but modern, with shallow, sloping sides and a low profile that’s great for food photography, too. I picked up a pair of these, along with a couple dinner plates (you can see one in the photo of lettuce cups above), and I’m glad to have such basic but stylish pieces in my collection.

Where To Buy

1. Sweet Earth Za’atar Burgers via their Facebook Store Locator App

2. Kiss Me Organics Matcha Powder at Amazon

3. Ayurvedic Roast Coffee Substitute at AyurvedicRoast.com

4. CocoaPlanet Salted Caramel Dark Chocolate at Amazon

5. Sur La Table Coupe Cereal Bowl at Sur La Table


Whether I’m sent a product free of charge or have purchased it myself, all opinions are my own. Samples provided by Sweet Earth, Kiss Me Organics, Ayurvedic Roast, and CocoaPlanet.


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Smoothie trends come and go, and I think it’s time somebody said it: the green goop concoctions have had their day. It’s no longer revolutionary to pack your blender with spinach and kale, and for some (my mother included), there’s no getting used to the distinctly planty aftertaste.


It’s high time we came up with another way to play with our morning blend. And so, I declare spices the hot new smoothie ingredients of 2014. They’re the stars of today’s recipe, adding great taste as well as vitamins and minerals. Ginger aids digestion and calms nausea, and turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory containing manganese, iron, and vitamin B6. Manuka honey lends just enough sweetness to offset the tangy yogurt and cranberry juice. Its menthol-tinged aroma plays well with the warming spices.


Sunshine Smoothie with Turmeric and Ginger (printer-friendly version)  


1 C. frozen pineapple chunks
1 C. whole milk plain yogurt
1/2 C. unsweetened 100% cranberry juice
1 T. Manuka honey
1 tsp. ground turmeric
1/4 tsp. ground ginger


Combine all ingredients in blender in order listed. Blend until smooth, using a spatula to scrape down the sides of the blender if necessary.

Nutrition Information:

Servings: 1 Calories: 375 Protein: 13.1g Fat: 7g Carbohydrates: 62g Fiber: 2.5g Sodium: 156mg

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It’s been a while since I’ve made a smoothie, and I’m not sure why! They’re one of my favorite mid-morning pick-me-up snacks, and I’m definitely going to include this one in regular rotation. It’s packed with nutritions ingredients, including a couple sources of healthy fats to keep you energized long after you’re done sipping. Thanks to Linwoods for sending the sample of hemp seeds – they’re mild in taste and blend easily, adding lots of protein, magnesium and iron.


Berry Hemp Smoothie

Serves 2

3 C. loosely packed baby greens (I use a mix of chard, spinach and kale)
½ C. frozen pineapple chunks
2/3 C. frozen wild blueberries
½ medium avocado
2 Tbsp. shelled hemp seeds
1 C. unsweetened cranberry juice
3 Tbsp. agave nectar

1. Place ingredients in blender in order listed.

2. Blend until smooth, stopping and using a spoon to agitate the ingredients a couple times if necessary.

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One of my favorite summer indulgences is the Mint Mojito Iced Coffee at Philz. The combination is simple but genius. Each frothy cup starts with a handful of muddled mint leaves. Plenty of ice, freshly brewed pour-over coffee, cream and sugar complete the drink. It is creamy and sweet and delicious, perfect for a weekend treat.


While I could make you a copycat recipe, I chose to go a lighter route — this recipe makes two servings, each topping out at a cool 95 calories. My version is sweetened with a moderate dose of clover honey instead of spoonfuls of sugar, and I used 1% milk instead of the Philz standard, ultra-rich manufacturing cream. You could also easily sub in agave nectar or brown rice syrup for the honey, and almond milk or soymilk for a vegan version.


Honey Mint Iced Coffee (printer-friendly version

serves 2

2 C. ice cubes
1 C. 1% milk

10 large mint leaves (plus extra for garnish)

1 C. strongly brewed pour-over coffee (I use one ounce of coffee grounds per 8oz water)
1 Tbsp. clover honey
1. Divide the ice cubes between two large (16-ounce) glasses. Set aside.

2. Cut the mint leaves into 1/8-inch ribbons, and place in a quart-sized measuring cup, or other bowl or pitcher with pouring spout. Use a cocktail muddler to smash the mint leaves liberally, until uniformly bruised.

3. In whatever vessel you used to brew your coffee (I use a Melitta filter over a large mug) stir in the honey until dissolved.

4. Pour the sweetened coffee and milk into the measuring cup with the muddled mint. Stir for about 10 seconds to infuse the mint into the liquid.

5. Hold a small strainer over one of your serving glasses, and pour the coffee mixture through the strainer and into the glass. Repeat with second glass. Garnish with mint and serve.

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