Blender vs Juicer

Blender vs Juicer - Under the Monkey Bars

People ask me all the time which I prefer: blender vs juicer. They say, “Which should I buy? Which one is healthier?” Both appliances will boost your fruit and vegetable intake and add more nutrition to your diet. It’s tough to eat six to eight servings a day without a smoothie or fresh juice. Let’s break it down to help you decide which appliance is best for you and your family.

Blending produce into a smoothie preserves the beneficial fiber of the fruits and veggies. You might hear nutritionists say that fresh smoothies are healthier for this reason. I find it easier to pack a smoothie to go because most recipes keep for several hours and sometimes even overnight. These mason jar tops are perfect for traveling with smoothies! 

Smoothies are a great way to hide veggies! Sometimes smoothies can be more fruit based, obviously depending on the recipe. Be mindful to add at least one veggie to every smoothie. Cucumbers taste so fresh in a smoothie and avocados will  make your smoothy really creamy. No excuses! You can add healthy fats, seeds and protein to your smoothies, like coconut oil, almond butter, chia seeds, ground flaxseed and natural protein powder.

Beware that smoothies can increase the sugar in your diet if you use sweetened yogurt, store bought juice, frozen yogurt, or ice cream. That’s called a milkshake, people!

Juicing can help you transition off store bought juices. This totally worked for us so it can be done! I haven’t bought juice at the store in 4 years. To maximize the nutrients of your fresh juice — especially green juices — drink them within 15 minutes of juicing. And fresh juice is best on an empty stomach, like first thing in the morning or 2 hours after a meal.

Juicing is better at getting larger quantities of veggies into your belly. I’ve never sat down and eaten a raw beet, 8 raw carrots, an apple, 2 celery sticks, 4 leaves of raw kale, and a slice of fresh ginger — but I can drink it in my juice! My monkeys love fresh apple and ginger juice when they’re sick. Much better than a bottle of chemicals (not pointing any fingers but you know what I’m talking about!).

You may have heard that some of the fiber is removed from the fruit or vegetable in the juicing process. This is true. However, you can use the fiber-packed pulp for other things. I don’t like to waste anything so I frequently use my juice pulp to bake, add to soups, rice, or meatballs. When you pay extra for organic produce, don’t waste it!

Which appliance will you will use more often? Don’t let a big blender or juicer take up precious space on your counter if you’re not going to use it. I juice about twice a week and make smoothies at least 4 to 5 times a week. I also use our blender to make sauces, soups, pesto, and pancake mix.

Which appliance will you be willing to clean? My blender is super easy to clean. Fill it half way with cold water, add a drop of soap, and let it run for a minute. It literally cleans itself! On the other hand, juicers are a little more complicated to clean. I rinse the juicer parts off immediately and then wash them by hand when I have a chance, usually a few hours later. It’s not hard to do, just takes extra time. I’m willing to clean it because fresh juice makes me feel so good.

What kind of blender should you buy? I can’t recommend one over another because I have not tested them all. But I can say that I totally love my Vitamix! I have this model. Make sure you buy one that fits under your counter (some don’t!). You can use a high-speed blender to make juice, but it will be very thick and pulpy even with extra ice and water.

What kind of juicer should you buy? I have a Breville Juicer. It’s one of the fastest on the market because of it’s wide feed tube. I can literally drop a whole apple in there — no chopping required! This high-speed juicer leaves less pulp in your juice (perfect for little monkeys!). You do loose a smidgen of the fiber and nutrients with a high-speed or centrifugal juicer, but I don’t have the patience for the slow or masticating juicers. A few of my friends have this juicer and love it. I’m willing to loose a bit of nutrition for speed. It’s literally only a small percentage.

The Verdict? Both appliances serve a purpose in our home. They allow me to mix it up on a day-to-day and week-to-week basis. We can make a breakfast smoothie one day, a green juice the next, and a chocolatey treat smoothie another day. Ask yourself: Which would you use more? Do you have room for both? Blending and juicing your fruits and veggies will make sure you get your six to eight servings per day and leave you feeling healthier than ever! You’ll have extra energy and less cravings. Either way, you can’t go wrong.

Kale Summer Salad

Kale Summer Salad - Under the Monkey Bars

We love this Kale Summer Salad recipe on a hot day! If you pre-make the rice and chicken, you can throw it together without turning on the oven. Pack it up for lunch or dinner at the beach or bring it to a cookout. 

The combination of chicken, raw kale, brown rice, and sweet fruit in this recipe is nothing short of perfection. With this healthy Kale Summer Salad, you can check off almost all of the food groups with one simple, satisfying dish. 

The ingredients are really flexible and naturally gluten free. For vegans and vegetarians, try using tofu instead of chicken. The tofu will soak up the dressing and be really delicious. If you can’t have nuts, try pumpkin or sunflower seeds.

The original recipe calls for sweet red cherries, which have a really short season (like now!). We love sliced red grapes or chunks of crisp apples sometimes even more than the cherries. Pitting and cutting cherries are a lot of work!

Use left over roasted chicken or grill up some extra chicken a day or two in advance to save time. We love short grain brown rice with this salad, which I make in our rice cooker. It adds a hearty texture and flavor to the salad but can certainly be left out if you avoid rice or follow the paleo diet.

You’re going to love the garlic dressing in this recipe! I make it in my 15 year old Cuisinart food processor — no fancy high speed blender necessary. I typically double the dressing recipe and use it for salads or as a marinade for fish later in the week. Why not, right?

Look for lacinato kale at the farmers market, Whole Foods, or a natural market like the Natural Grocer. Curly kale or boxed baby kale will work in a pinch but it’s not as good as the thin ribbons of the flat leaf kale in this recipe.

Serve your Kale Summer Salad at room temperature. It keeps well in the fridge for up to three days, but it never lasts that long at our house. I hope you love it as much as we do. Cómelo todo!

Kale Summer Salad
Serves 4
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Prep Time
30 min
Prep Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup loosely packed basil leaves
  2. 1 garlic clove
  3. ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  4. Juice of 1 lemon
  5. 1 tablespoon coconut sugar
  6. 1 cup cooked brown rice
  7. 2 cooked boneless, skinless chicken breasts torn into bite-sized pieces
  8. Fresh-ground black pepper
  9. 1 8 ounce can artichoke hearts: quartered, rinsed, and drained
  10. 2 cups chiffonaded lacinato kale (stems removed, leaves chopped into thin horizontal ribbons)
  11. ½ cup slivered or crushed almonds
  12. 2 cups cherries (pitted and halved), grapes or apples
Instructions
  1. Make the garlic dressing: In a food processor, pulse the basil, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and sugar until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Assemble the salad: In a large bowl, mix together the rice, chicken, and kale. Toss with dressing until well coated. Gently fold in the artichoke hearts, almonds, and cherries. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Keep chilled until serving.
Notes
  1. Buy organic ingredients whenever possible.
Adapted from Saveur
Adapted from Saveur
Under the Monkey Bars http://underthemonkeybars.com/

Cashew Mac + Cheese

Cashew Mac and Cheese - Under the Monkey Bars

This recipe is magical. It’s mac and cheese, without any cheese. I’m serious — no cheese! You have to try it to believe it. When I stopped eating dairy, I craved cheese like you wouldn’t believe. It’s unbelievable how cheesy this Cashew Mac + Cheese tastes! I swear it tastes even better than the real thing, and it’s super good for you!

Why would you want to make mac and cheese without actual cheese?
1. Dairy should be eaten in condiment servings, and most of us consume far more cheese than we should.
2. The “cheese” sauce is made of veggies. We could all use more veggies in our diet, am I right?
3. The cashews pack in extra protein, fiber, and healthy fats to fill you up and provide energy.
4. When you have a cold or seasonal allergies, avoiding dairy is really smart. So, therefore, this recipe for Cashew Mac + Cheese is brilliant!

Bean requested Cashew Mac + Cheese for her 10th birthday dinner two weeks ago. The monkeys love this dish so much that they actually jump up and down when I make it. High fives all around. After sharing the recipe with many friends, every single person has raved about it — from toddlers to teenagers. It’s especially great for kids on a veggie strike. Another way to get veggies into little monkeys is a winner for sure!

I double the “cheese” sauce recipe every time I make Cashew Mac + Cheese because it freezes really well. Why not make extra for another day? Doubling the recipe makes about 35 ounces of “cheese” sauce. The whole meal takes about 45 minutes from start to finish including sautéing some extra veggies to mix in (peas, zucchini, broccoli), and sometimes cooking up meat like bacon or sausage too (sorry vegan friends!).

Cashew Mac + Cheese is one of those dishes you can tailor to suit your dietary needs or the needs of your friends with food allergies! We’ve never been into breadcrumb toppings for mac and cheese, but if you like breadcrumbs, head over to the original recipe for that version.

Give it a try. I can practically promise you’ll love it. Cómelo todo!

Cashew Mac + Cheese
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 8 ounces pasta
  2. 1 cup red or yellow potatoes, peeled and chopped
  3. 1/4 cup carrots, peeled and chopped
  4. 1/3 cup onion, peeled and chopped
  5. 1 cup water
  6. 1/4 cup raw cashews
  7. 2 teaspoons sea salt
  8. 1/4 teaspoon garlic
  9. 1/3 cup butter (or non-hydrogenated margarine if you’re vegan)
  10. 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  11. 1 teaspoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  12. 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  13. less than 1/8 teaspoon cayenne (see notes)
Instructions
  1. Cook your pasta according to the instructions on the box. Set aside.
  2. After chopping your potatoes, carrots, and onion, put the veggies and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cover the pan and simmer for 15 minutes, or until veggies are really soft.
  3. In a blender, process the cashews, salt, garlic, butter, mustard, lemon juice, black pepper, cayenne, softened veggies, and cooking water until perfectly smooth.
  4. In a large bowl, toss the cooked pasta and blended cheese sauce until completely coated. Or, add the sauce to individual bowls and store the left overs in a glass container or mason jar.
  5. You do not need a high speed blender for this recipe.
Notes
  1. Choose organic ingredients when possible.
  2. I usually throw in extra veggies and it always tastes great.
  3. Leftover cheese sauce can be frozen (in glass ideally). Add a teaspoon of extra butter and and a tablespoon of water to reheat. Warm on low heat and stir frequently.
  4. Use left over cheese sauce to dip veggies or stir it into plain risotto with some veggies.
  5. If you're gluten free, we love Jovial or Andean Dream GF pasta. Also make sure your mustard is GF; we like Annie’s.
  6. When cooking for little ones, be mindful of the cayenne. I started with just two tiny shakes and worked my way up to 1/8 teaspoon for a double batch!
Adapted from VegNews
Adapted from VegNews
Under the Monkey Bars http://underthemonkeybars.com/

Teff Almond Butter Cookies

Teff Almond Butter Cookie - Under the Monkey Bars

Teff Almond Butter Cookies - Under the Monkey Bars

Vegan cookies are the BEST kind of cookies. Why? Because you can eat the dough!! No raw eggs in this recipe. You are going to flip over these Teff Almond Butter Cookies!

No matter how healthy you are, you still need cookies! Am I right? I love, love, love cookies. These cookies are soft, rich, satisfying, and just the right balance of chip to cookie. They taste hearty and healthy like a molasses cookie but there’s no refined sugar. My favorite thing about Teff Almond Flour Cookies is that they’re really filling. I can eat two and feel satisfied (a.k.a., not devour the whole batch).

I know what you’re thinking: What is TEFF? I’d never heard of this grain until a friend sent me this cookie recipe. Teff is a whole grain from Ethiopia. It’s actually the smallest grain in the world. Teff is a nutritional powerhouse because its high in fiber, protein, calcium, and iron. So it’s super good for you and totally not a weird flour. Even Bob’s Red Mill makes teff flour so it won’t be hard to find.

As with all of my recipes, these cookies are pretty flexible and allergy friendly. Use whatever kind of nut butter you have: almond butter, peanut butter, sunbutter, etc. This Teff Almond Butter Cookie recipe is gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian, soy free, refined sugar free, and safe for egg allergies! 

The monkeys made this batch so I know you can do it. Only six ingredients people! Stock up your pantry so you can make these cookies any time you want. Drop me a note in the comments or write a review if you make them. I’d love to hear from you!

Cómelo todo!

Teff Almond Butter Cookies
Yields 22
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Cook Time
13 min
Cook Time
13 min
Ingredients
  1. 1-1⁄2 cups teff flour
  2. 1⁄4 teaspoon sea salt
  3. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  4. 1 cup chunky almond butter
  5. 1 cup pure maple syrup
  6. 1⁄2 cup chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Combine flour, salt, and baking soda in one bowl.
  3. Combine almond butter and syrup in another.
  4. Pour dry ingredients over wet and blend until just combined.
  5. Fold in chocolate chips.
  6. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  7. Drop batter by heaping teaspoons onto cookie sheet.
  8. Leave cookies free-form or press down dough with tines of fork in crisscross pattern.
  9. Bake 13 minutes or until just lightly browned. Don’t overbake them!
  10. Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool.
Notes
  1. - Amount of cookies is dependent on how much batter you eat!
  2. - Don't make these cookies without parchment paper. They will stick.
Adapted from Terry Walters
Adapted from Terry Walters
Under the Monkey Bars http://underthemonkeybars.com/

Banana Bowl

sliced banana - almond butter - chia seeds - shredded coconut - mini chocolate chips

sliced banana – almond butter – chia seeds – shredded coconut – mini chocolate chips

You wouldn’t believe how many bananas I buy each week. One time, the woman scanning my groceries asked me if I had monkeys at home. Actually I do! And one of them has a birthday today. Happy 7th Birthday to my Sweet Pea! 

Back to the bananas. I’m obsessed with anything in a bowl lately, probably inspired by my favorite lunch spot. One night after we got the monkeys to bed, Don and I were both starving. We each cut up a banana and added a few things to our bowls. The Banana Bowl was born!

A Banana Bowl is a healthy banana split. It’s a quick snack for any time of day — or even breakfast if you’re in a pinch. No need to measure. Just throw in what you have, mix it up, and enjoy! It’s so easy that little monkeys can even make a Banana Bowl themselves.

Here are some ideas to customize your Banana Bowl:
– Nut butter or sunbutter
– Fresh chopped berries
– Drizzle of honey or maple syrup
– Nuts: hazelnuts, pistachios, almonds, walnuts
– Seeds: sunflower, hemp, chia, pumpkin
– Chocolate chips or a broken up chocolate bar
– Cinnamon
– Granola or Paleonola (Have you tried it?!? Mmmmm)
– Shredded coconut or Dang

I love that bananas are such a controversial fruit. It’s the sugar and carbs that give bananas a bad rap. But they are loaded with potassium, magnesium, fiber, vitamins B6, and vitamin C. And we LOVE them. Bananas are so easy to take on the go. And cheap! When we went gluten free, we joked that bananas were our new granola bars. So great to balance energy levels after a work out too.

How do you eat bananas? Try a Banana Bowl this weekend!