Monday, May 20, 2013

Jumping In

Apologies for the long absence after my promise to be a dedicated blogger. In the last three weeks: (a) my boyfriend Brian almost died of heatstroke in a rural Vietnamese hospital after running in a 10k where the race company ran out of water halfway through, (b) we interviewed and accepted jobs at a school in Maputo, Mozambique, and (c) we got engaged and are planning a wedding for this December!

If you're gonna jump in, jump in ALL the way :-)

Lots of updates and recipes to come on delicious smoothies I've invented. But for for now I will give you the engagement story.

I am definitely not a morning person. Capitalizing on that, Brian decided it would be a fabulous idea to wake me up and propose to me on Monday morning. From what I remember, it was very special. Apparently, my answer was, "What??? Brian?!?!" He continued, "Is that a yes?" And I finally responded, "Of course!" Then I proceeded to administer two shots to his leg as part of his medical recovery. And here we are.

He used a pearl ring that my grandfather gave my grandmother in the 1940s when they lived in Japan. While I absolutely love this ring and it means the world to me, we will most likely switch it when we return to the US in July for a diamond ring from the same time period that belonged to his great aunt.

My family was already planning a Christmas trip to Puerto Vallarta, so we are thinking of piggy backing on that, inviting his family to join us, and whipping together an intimate ceremony. Yes, I recognize this is crazy to plan in seven months. BUT we are not going to be able to plan anything that is not a destination wedding while living in Africa. The beauty of this situation is that everything is planned via emails with wedding planners who are experienced in not having brides on site, and we show up to a fantastic party. I know it will be more work than that, but it seems like the easiest way to have a lovely experience with our families with minimal stress. I will certainly keep everyone posted as to how this evolves.

For now...I am tingling with excitement about being engaged and embarking on this new, African adventure with the best partner on the planet. <3 br="">

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Blender Bender

That's right, I'm on a bender! It's smoothies, smoothies, smoothies. I can't get enough. I'm throwing all kinds of weird stuff in there: spinach, cucumbers, mint, apples, mangoes, papaya, bananas, celery, lime juice, green tea, almond milk. I've got ginger, fennel, parsley and green beans just waiting for me to get even crazier. Slowly letting go of sweet fruit comforts and gearing up to try some savory concoctions.

I want to share recipes and pictures of my experiments, but will mostly share pre-blended ingredients rather than resulting drinks...because...well, the colors are not too appealing. Maybe I'll get better at appearances once I get the hang of the flavors, but I can assure you that they are delicious and give such a vitamin buzz when imbibed. And since I'm not doing a total deprivation detox here--just a slight lifestyle adjustment--I will be revealing a guilt-free watermelon martini recipe.

Before I get into ingredient combos, however, I will give some basic tips.

*Blending versus juicing. There are camps that advocate for one over the other. I am blending because I am not prepared to buy a juicer right now. I'm not to concerned about which is better nutritionally because they both are better than not having any fresh food at all.

*Best blender. Dedicated green smoothie bloggers swear by either the Blendtec or Vitamix brands of blenders. I wish either were available in Vietnam, but alas, I will have to wait until this summer to purchase one in the U.S. Future update to come on which I decide to buy and how deeply I fall in love with it. I'm currently using my Phillips blender, and it's working fine. I have only had problems with the motor when making cashew butter or almond milk, but it's still alive and spinning.

*Order of ingredients. For best preservation of the motor, it's best to blend liquid and softest ingredients first and then add firmer fruit and veggies one at a time. If the blades aren't catching, just jiggle the machine or add more liquid.

Don't be afraid to experiment! If the result is not so tasty, just hold your nose and rejoice in all the healthy things you are putting into your body

Apple, Celery, Cucumber, Watermelon, Aloe and Lime

1/2 C water
1 apple sliced
2 stalks celery
1 cucumber in chunks
watermelon (2 servings?)
juice of 2 limes
1-2 TBS aloe gel

 Aloe is a bit of a bitter taste, but it can be masked by sweet fruit. I don't mind it, but my boyfriend hates it. I keep a whole aloe leaf in the fridge and cut two inch chunks for smoothies. If you've never worked with the leaf before, just cut away the outside green part (never eat this or your intestines will be very unhappy!), then toss the clear gel into your blender. I keep the green scraps in refrigerated for a few days and rub the gooey side on acne spots, bug bites, and sunburns. Individual aloe leaves are super cheap and widely available in SE Asia, and I used to have a huge aloe plant in Virginia.

I've spent enough time fiddling with html as I try to make this blog pretty, so it's time for bed. But stay tuned for several more smoothie recipes tomorrow.