Blackberry Beet Smoothie

Blackberry Beet Smoothie - The Lotus and the Artichoke - Vegan Recipes from World Adventures

For years, I’d been dreaming of getting an awesome blender and making the transition from juice guy to smoothie guy. I’ve been into juicing for almost a decade, making a fresh juice about 4 or 5 times a week. When I go through phases of more raw living and detox days, and especially when I do a juice fast a few times a year, my juicer gets some serious play in the kitchen. Well, life took an amazing turn for me about two weeks ago…

I got a super duper, high-powered blender: a Vitamix Super TNC 5200. And I’m in love. I knew I’d love it, but I didn’t know I’d love it this much. It’s awesome for smoothies (duh!) but I also use it at least once more nearly every day for sauces, soups, spreads, desserts… in other words, all kind of prep work and kitchen fun. I also never expected it’d replace pretty much all of my favorite kitchen appliances, or at least fill them with envy. It’s kind of crazy how I just don’t need my small or large food processor anymore, and even my trusty coffee grinder, which I used daily for grinding nuts and spices has taken a back seat. Poor guys! Anyone want a used blender / food processor? Seriously, come and pick it up in Berlin.

Let’s be honest. These things are pricey, especially if you live in Europe, as I do, and get these goodies as imports from the U.S.. I keep telling people when they ask me: Could it possibly be worth the investment? Well, if you cook and blend a lot, and if you love smoothies; Yes. Find the funds, take the plunge. (In the intro to my cookbook, I talk about getting the best tools you can afford, and considering practical needs, priorities, as well as budget.) Soon, you’ll be wondering how you ever lived without a power blender. All the blenders I had over the years were difficult to clean and I avoided using them. This one’s a totally different story: Simple to clean and practically indestructible. It’s fun. It’s awesome.

Of course, there are other brands and models. It shouldn’t be too hard to find something that you can afford. And if you’re already buying smoothies outside the house regularly, in a few months you’d probably have spent the same amount of money. (Based on my current Smoothie Addiction, I’d be spending over 50€ a week if I was buying them, not making them at home. Instead, I probably spend about 5 or 6€ a week on fresh, mostly organic ingredients for juices and smoothies.)

Since I love to travel, I’m already starting to wonder how I’ll feel when I leave home for a few weeks or months (for example, this coming winter during my planned Mexico trip) and won’t have my beloved smoothies just about every morning. I guess I’ll be back to the stick blender, which fits well enough in my backpack and does the job. After all, I got by in India for a year without a juicer, and the stick (immersion) blender and small food processor I got there were enough. For several weeks in Africa I was always able to get by with a simple citrus press. So yeah, I’ll survive.

Enough about the blender! Give me the smoothie!

This smoothie recipe, a Blackberry Beet Smoothie (with lots of other fun stuff in it, too) is part of a series of smoothies I plan to post about. Many of them have stories that relate to my travels and places I’ve lived in the 40+ countries I’ve seen. But this one is just fun and delicious. I’ve always loved beets and berries. I could talk about how beets remind me of India and berries about my childhood days of scouting trips in the forests of Northeastern America. Nah… Let’s get on to the tasty stuff.

If you don’t have a power blender (yet), you could make this with a standard blender, or even an immersion blender. Just chop the stuff well, and soak the nuts and seeds longer. Or use cashew butter. Be creative, have fun. It’s your smoothie now. Enjoy!

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Quinoa Tomato Avocado with Carrot Ginger Sesame

Quinoa Tomato Avocado Salad - Carrot Ginger Sesame Dressing - The Lotus and the Artichoke

Here’s a quick and healthy vegan recipe for one of my favorite salads. It’s great for lunch on its own, or as an appetizer before a soup or lighter meal. Instead of quinoa, you can use other grains like couscous or bulgar, or use the dressing, avocado and tomato on fresh greens, like spinach or arugula.

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Endive Sprout Boats with Sesame Soy

Endive Sprout Boats with Soy Sesame Dressing - The Lotus and the Artichoke - Vegan Cookbook

This is a fun salad that I came up with sometime last year. The inspiration comes from salads I’ve had at restaurants and homes across Europe, especially in Germany and France. I’d seen endives (chicory) prior to moving to Europe over ten years ago, but they seem to be much more popular and celebrated on this side of the Atlantic. That said, I have had some great endive salads in Montreal, too.

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Ginger Lemon Chickpea Sprouts

Raw: Ginger Lemon Chickpea Sprouts - The Lotus and the Artichoke

This is an all-raw variation on one of my favorite, traditional Indian snacks — roasted chickpeas. Actually, my earliest memory of roasted chickpeas is having them served as part of breakfast at the Hare Krishna temple in Philly in the early 90s.

Years later, when I really got into raw foods, I was sprouting just about everything I could find. I’ve experimented a lot with sprouted chickpea houmous and I love chickpea sprouts in salads. That said, they’re not for everyone. Try it and see if you like the fresh, raw, nuttier flavor. On their own they taste a bit weird, but the ginger and lemon and pinch of spices brings out a nice, zippy flavor to go with the crunch. Earth-crunchy, that is.

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Guacamole for a Summer Day

Raw Vegan Guacamole for a Summer Day - The Lotus and the Artichoke

Guacamole is simple, wholesome, refreshing and delicious. Everyone has their own unique recipe. I debated about posting my own online, but I’m such a fan of guacamole… and it’s naturally vegan (unless you do something silly like add mayo to it – ick!) and all raw. So, I decided to write up this post to celebrate guacamole, avocados, and raw food in general. It also gave me an excuse to practice more food styling and play with some new serving dishes. I know, how domestic of me.

Guacamole is very well-known in North America, due in no small part to the proximity and popularity of Mexican and Latin American food – much of which can be made vegan quite easily. Guac is also one of those things, like hummus and other dips that shows up all the time at buffets and picnics.

Despite loving the versatility and flavor of vegan cooking, I try to eat a lot of raw food. Depending on the season it’s usually about 30-50% of my daily food intake. In the summer, and when I’m traveling in warm climates (where safe-to-eat raw fruit and vegetables can be found) it’s even more.

I try to plan a one-day fast every month to let my system detox and have a day off. I work with juices, tea, and raw snacks and simple things on the pre- and post-fasting days, to ease my digestive system into and out of the fast. Sprouts, salads, raw fruits and vegetables, and raw snacks like this work well not just for the fasting transition, but also to accompany cooked dishes.

Perhaps another time I’ll explore in more depth the topics of juicing and fasting, but for now, let’s get right to that awesome guacamole recipe.

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