Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Green Smoothie

Sometimes green smoothies can taste so delicious you’d swear you are drinking a milkshake rather than fruits and vegetables! This chocolate peanut butter protein smoothie is like a rich and creamy dessert packed with vitamins and nutrients. I love to make one of these after a good workout for some muscle recovery. It’s so good it will make you want to work out just to have the smoothie afterward!

Chocolate PEANUT BUTTER

What you need:

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  • 1 banana (frozen preferred)
  • Handful frozen blueberries
  • 1 1/4 cup spinach
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 scoop chocolate protein powder
  • Almond milk
  • 1 cup (or 1 package) vanilla yogurt

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Mix everything in your blender, adding milk in small batches to ensure your smoothie isn’t too runny. To make a thicker consistency, I often freeze my banana and yogurt ahead of time. This will make your smoothie more like a milkshake.

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This is a great green smoothie for beginners because the strong peanut butter and banana flavors hide the spinach taste almost completely. Top with a little whipped cream if you are feeling adventurous, and enjoy!

Easy Slow-Cooker Chicken N Dumplings

I love comfort food. Anything savory, warm, gooey, and hearty is a hit with me. But what makes a dish even better is when it requires little to no effort to make! That is why this super easy slow cooker chicken n dumplings recipe is one of my favorites.

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What you’ll need:

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  • One pack chicken breasts, thawed
  • Two 10.5 oz. cans cream of chicken soup
  • One can ready-to-bake biscuts
  • 12 oz. chicken broth
  • 1 tsp onion flakes
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • Non-stick cooking spray

What to do:

Spray your slow-cooker with non-stick cooking spray. Place the chicken breasts at the bottom of the cooker. Season with salt and pepper.

Next you will pour in chicken broth and cream of chicken soup. Add onion flakes. Stir slightly to mix cream of chicken and broth.

Cook on low for 10 hours.

By this point, your soup will be fairly runny. Don’t worry, it will thicken up after you add the chicken and biscuits. After chicken is cooked through, pull chicken apart to shred.

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Break off small pieces of biscuit and drop into soup mixture. Stir to make sure all of the biscuit pieces are covered with the soup mixture. Cook for an additional hour in your slow-cooker until your biscuits are cooked through, but just barely! Let cool and enjoy!

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“Sea Creatures” by Susanna Daniel

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http://www.susannadaniel.com

I picked up Sea Creatures by Susanna Daniel on a whim at a used bookstore to read on my honeymoon. I knew nothing about the author or storyline, but the title intrigued me as something that might complement days spent lounging about the Caribbean. I was pleasantly surprised with what turned out to be a beautiful tale of motherhood, love, and to what extent one will go to protect their family.

Sea Creatures is set in Miami, where Georgia, her husband Graham, and their three-year old son Frankie, have recently moved. For Georgia, the move back to her hometown comes as a welcomed surprise when her husband receives a job at the University of Miami.   The family moves into a houseboat on Georgia’s father’s property, and Georgia takes to being a stay-at-home mother with Frankie, while Graham spends many long hours at work. Much of Georgia’s time is spent learning and teaching sign language to Frankie, who mysteriously stopped talking several months prior to their move. As Georgia begins to grow bored of the slow pace of her new life, her stepmother sets her up with a job as an errand girl for a mysterious old acquaintance named Charlie, who the locals refer to as “the Hermit.”

Overtime, Georgia and Frankie develop strong relationships with Charlie as they spend more and more time on his stilt house secluded in the middle of the ocean, accessible only by boat. Daniel spends plenty of time slowly and beautifully describing the hours the new friends spend together, and the experiences and emotions they share.

But when a string of tragedies hit that affect Charlie, Georgia and her whole family, relationships are tested, challenged and changed and Georgia’s picture of family takes on a new shape.

Sea Creatures is a lovely painting of following what is best for one’s self and family, and the consequences, both good and bad, that can result from these choices.

“Paper Towns” by John Green

www.johngreenbooks.com
http://www.johngreenbooks.com

With the movie opening in theaters this week, I decided to check out Paper Towns by John Green. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film an 88%, and I would give the book version a pretty similar rating. This is the third of Green’s young adult novels I have read, the other two being The Fault in Our Stars and Looking for Alaska. I would say Paper Towns falls in between these two as far as quality. I’m still not emotionally over The Fault in our Stars and never got emotionally invested whatsoever in Looking for Alaska, so Paper Towns was a nice happy medium. It kept me interested and entertained, but also didn’t completely shatter my heart.

Paper Towns follows main character Quinten, “Q,” as he embarks on an unexpected journey during the last week of his senior year. Q grew up being best friends with his neighbor Margot, who since high school has blossomed into the most beautiful and popular girl at school. Considering Q spends most of his time hanging out at the band room and cruising in his parent’s mini van, it’s safe to say the two have grown apart in recent years.

Until one night when Margot randomly shows up outside Q’s window and takes him on a night-long adventure he would have never expected. But as quickly as Margot shows up, she then disappears, leading Q and his best friends on a wild goose hunt to discover her end destination, both literally and emotionally.

Green does a great job in painting a reality of high school friendships in a crowd that just doesn’t quite fit in. Q and his friends are extremely likable, which may be why I had such a hard time with the amount of effort they put into searching for seemingly self-absorbed Margot. Although, her character, as egocentric as she may be, is extremely believable, in a teenage angst and emo sort of way.

“Paper Towns” is a quick and fun read that may not have all of its puzzle pieces perfectly aligned, but will make you yearn for your days of teenage freedom, friendship, and adventure.

Beginner’s Guide to Green Smoothies

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I love green smoothies. There is no way in hell you’ll ever catch me eating handfuls of raw kale, celery, spinach or cucumbers. But a tropical smoothie? You betcha. Green smoothies are the perfect way to ensure healthy vegetables and fruits make their way into your daily diet, ensuring powerful punches of vitamins and nutrients to help you stay healthy and lean.

But what exactly is a green smoothie and how do you make one? How will you know what combinations will be deletable and which will taste like pond sludge? When I first began my journey into green smoothies, I was a little overwhelmed with all of the information that was out there. I hope that this guide will give you a place to start in an exploration into your healthier side.

First, you will need a good blender. I personally use the Nutribullet, but have heard great things about the Ninja and Vitmaix lines. I know what you are thinking: “$90 for a blender? Seriously?” Yes, seriously. You can try your $15 blender from your wedding registry if you’d like, but the likelihood of needing to use your teeth to get your smoothies down the hatch will be pretty high. Being a notorious cheapskate, I balked at the price tag too, but I guarantee you, the investment is worth it! I love the personal portable size of the Nutribullet, which is the main reason I chose this blender over others on the market. It is so easy to pop my smoothie in the blender and head right out the door without having to transport it into a separate travel mug and dirty up more dishes (and the Nutribullet is dishwasher-safe!) Additionally, you never have to worry about waste with the Nutribullet. It blends up the perfect personal sized smoothie with no extra leftover. I can personalize a smoothie for myself and one for my husband without pouring remnants of either down the sink.

Now, what makes a green smoothie work? You need three main components: greens, fruits, and liquid.

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Here are some typical staples I use for each category:

Greens: kale, spinach, swiss chard

Fruits: bananas, peaches, berries, mango, pineapple

Liquid: water, coconut water, almond milk, low-calorie orange juice, low-calorie lemonade

I use something from each of these three areas in every green smoothie I make. They are your staples. Then you can add in your extras. Some common ones I use include:

Celery, carrots, peanut butter, greek yogurt, ground flax seed, almond butter, protein powder, coconut oi;

The key in any green smoothie is to perfect your fruit to vegetable ratio. You want the sweetness of your fruit (or extras like peanut butter or yogurt) to overpower the bitterness of your greens and other vegetables. I typically use approximately 1/2 cup of fruits to ever large handful of spinach or 3 leaves of kale. Celery and kale have a stronger taste than spinach, so you might want to up your sweets a bit when using these.

I prefer to use fresh vegetables and frozen fruits. I like buying fruit already frozen and bagged up from the store due to the convenience factor, but you can certainly buy fresh fruit and freeze it yourself if you have that kind of time.

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I recommend starting light on your liquid. You can always add more, but cannot take it away! You want your smoothies to be a creamy, smooth consistency. Too much liquid will cause a runny mess. Too little will cause your blender to not work correctly and result in a chunky soup.

I recently blogged about juicing. I am certainly still a fan of juicing but green smoothies have found a special place in my heart. Two benefits of smoothies come to mind in comparison to juicing: 1. Smoothies fill you up better than juice. I will often replace a meal with a smoothie and find myself feeling fully satisfied when pairing one with a slide of cheese, handful of almonds, a few pretzels, etc. 2. Produce goes much further with smoothies than with juice. When juicing, I found myself using two apples and a half a bag of kale for one juice concoction. For smoothies I can use only three kale leaves and a half an apple. So with this being said, smoothies are a much more budget-friendly option. However, I still do juice and find it can be a great way to add nutrients into my diet without making myself stuffed.

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There are plenty of recipes out there for creating a variety of green smoothies, but be creative and try your own! Just be sure to follow the key formula listed above. I swear they taste 100 times better than they look! I’ll post some of my favorites in the weeks to come, so be sure to check back!

What are your favorite green smoothie recipes?