Cherry Hemp Smoothie

by Maja Lukic


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My mornings are typically reserved for green smoothies but with the cooler weather -- and pie season and flu season -- already here, I've been craving sweeter and more substantial snacks throughout the day. The standard afternoon dose of an apple (as much as I love them) seems woefully inadequate in these times of aggressive pumpkin and sugar consumption. 

In the interest of satisfying my cravings while remaining reasonably healthy, I developed this smoothie: a cherry/apple/pear/hemp concoction that sort of reminds me of a cherry dessert. To be perfectly honest, it tastes nothing like cherry cobbler and it would be completely absurd for me to claim that it does. Nor would I dare suggest that you abstain from pies and other tantalizing desserts during the upcoming holidays. All I can say is that this is a very sweet and delicious little drink to savor now, early in the month, before the onslaught of poultry and pumpkin spice. 

 

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The best thing about this recipe is that it makes use of seasonal, dried, and frozen fruit, which is a completely respectable combination in the colder months. Frozen organic cherries are my favorite item in the frozen food aisle and I always have some in the freezer. It's a great and ridiculously overlooked product. And the hemp seeds are a solid addition to basically anything. I really like them in smoothies because I avoid synthetic protein powders and hemp is a great natural source of plant protein. (By the way, if you find yourself with an abundance of hemp seeds, put them to use in a salad or chocolate bars).

Hope you like it -- happy snacking. 

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Cherry Hemp Smoothie

Serves approx. 2

1 large organic apple (or 2 small), peeled, cored, and chopped

1 large organic pear, peeled, cored, and chopped

2 organic celery stalks, chopped

1 lb. bag frozen organic cherries  

1 frozen banana, chopped

3 tbsp raw shelled hemp seeds, plus more for topping

1 tbsp ground flax seeds

juice of 1 lemon

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

water or coconut water, as needed

unsweetened dried cherries, for topping

In a large blender, blend apple, pear, celery, and lemon juice with enough water to roughly combine the ingredients. Add the hemp seeds, cinnamon, vanilla, frozen cherries, and frozen banana. Blend until fully incorporated, adding water as needed.  

Evenly distribute the smoothie between two 16 oz. jars or glasses (you may have some leftover) and top each smoothie with a teaspoon of hemp seeds and a small handful of dried cherries. Serve. 

Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for a day. 

Note: Take the cherries out of the freezer about 20-30 minutes before you prepare the smoothie and allow them to slightly defrost on the counter. Peeling the apples and pears is optional -- I usually don't. 

 

Music this week? I've been toggling back and forth between the new Arcade Fire album and vintage Leonard Cohen and Lou Reed but I will leave you with the latter. 


Warm Kale and Mushroom Salad

by Maja Lukic


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Bridging the gap between late summer and fall today with a warm salad that incorporates the last of the summer's bounty of ripe tomatoes and hearty, substantial kale, mushrooms, and walnuts. Another raw kale salad? Correct. I know - kale is no longer the trendy, sexy vegetable it was two years ago (three years?) and we are all suffering from kale salad fatigue now that every restaurant has ventured to place one on its menu. But stay with me because I've loved kale for years and never thought it needed to be the glorified vegetable of the moment.

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With the advent of fall, though, and the slight chill in the morning air in New York these days, even I recognize that warmer kale dishes are needed now.

Feel free to use any variety of kale here - Tuscan kale has that gorgeous blue-green shade and I see baby kale popping up everywhere lately. If you would like to substitute a different green, some fresh spicy arugula or pea shoots or anything else that looks lovely at the market would work just as well.

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I had the last of my late summer cherry tomatoes for this salad but if tomatoes are not in season when you make this, leave them out. It will taste perfectly delicious without them. Or add in a few slices of a sweet, ripe pear instead.

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The salad has a lot of separate components but it comes together quickly and easily. The walnuts, mushrooms, and balsamic vinegar are added to the kale warm and the heat wilts the leaves ever so slightly making them soft and sweet. Reducing the balsamic vinegar transforms it into a tart syrup that accentuates the sweetness of the shallots, the warm toasted walnuts, the dried cherries, and the sweet juicy tomatoes.  With the meaty cremini mushrooms, it's fairly substantial on its own but to turn it into a meal, feel free to add a cup of cooked quinoa or millet.

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It's simply beautiful, healthful comfort food.

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Warm Kale & Mushroom Salad (v/gf)

Adapted from Tasting Table

Serves 2 as a meal, 4 as an appetizer

1 large bunch of organic curly green kale, stemmed

1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved

1/4 cup unsweetened dried cherries (see Note)

1/3 cup raw walnuts, chopped

1 large or 2 medium shallots, finely chopped

3/4 lbs cremini mushrooms (or other meaty variety), thinly sliced

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar (see Note)

1 tbsp plus 1 tsp olive oil

sea salt, black pepper

Wash the kale, dry it, and then roughly tear it up into bite-sized pieces with your hands (no chopping here). Gently massage 1 tsp olive oil and 1/4 tsp sea salt into the leaves. As you work the kale with your hands, the leaves will become shiny and turn a vibrant green. Add the dried cherries and cherry tomatoes to the kale and set it aside while you prepare the rest of the components.

Toast the chopped walnuts in a skillet over medium-high heat until they are just fragrant. Be sure that they do not burn. Alternatively, you can roast them in the oven by spreading them out on a baking sheet and baking at 350 degrees F for about 10 minutes. Start checking them at the five-minute mark and make sure they do not burn.

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in the skillet you used for the walnuts over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring frequently for a few minutes. If the shallots start to burn or brown too much, reduce the heat to low and cook until soft and translucent. Turn the heat back up and add the mushrooms. Cook the mushrooms for a few minutes, stirring frequently until they are browned and have started to release their liquids. Add 1/4 tsp sea salt and continue to cook until the mushrooms are cooked through, about 2-3 more minutes.

In a small saucepan over high heat, add the balsamic vinegar and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for a few minutes until thick and reduced. Take it off the heat when it has a syrupy consistency but note that it will continue to thicken as it cools.

Add the toasted nuts and sauteĢed mushrooms to the kale. Drizzle everything with the balsamic syrup and season with additional sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.

Serve with a bottle of wine.

Notes: Be sure to use unsweetened dried fruit. The reduced balsamic syrup is fairly sweet on its own. If you can't find dried cherries, you can definitely substitute dried cranberries or blueberries. As for the balsamic, this is not the occasion for a fine aged import - a basic grocery store balsamic vinegar will do because once it reduces, it will become a thick, luxurious syrup. Of course, if you'd like to use your best balsamic for this project, I won't stop you.


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Your soundtrack? A friend sent me this song and it seems fitting for the approaching fall evenings.