Thursday, May 1, 2014

Oh the Things You Can Do With a Blender: The Blender Girl Book Review

I have been waiting to receive my copy of The Blender Girlsince I pre-ordered it in December. Having met author Tess Masters at the Food Allergy Blogger Conference last year, I had very high expectations for this book. Simply said: I love it!

I rarely buy a book for the recipes. With my family’s food restrictions, it’s unusual to be able to make a recipe as written (and I have a natural tendency to tweak). I didn’t buy this book for the recipes either (although I have flagged the I Love Veggies Bake recipe to try) – I bought it for inspiration, and oh my, I am inspired.

First I must mention that the book is beautifully designed – a feat that is not easy given all the hands that touch the creation of a book. The book evokes a sense of healthy living, underscored by a green colored theme throughout.

Tess is indeed selling healthy living, but she doesn’t prescribe the answer for everyone. The ingredients used in the recipes are whole foods. All of the recipes are gluten-free and vegan, however, many of the recipes do call for nuts (primarily almonds and cashews) and some use soy products. One of the things I appreciate most about the book is the flexibility. In some cases, such as where almond milk is used in a smoothie, it’s easy to swap out the almond for hemp milk or your favorite non-dairy milk; in other cases (such as Cashew Cream), the nut is more critical to the recipe.

Tess shares her knowledge in a direct, down-to-earth manner. If you want to learn about acidity and alkalinity of foods and how they affect your body, why water is so important, or how to combine foods for proper digestion, Tess gives condensed lessons. She even has lessons on how to pick the right blender and how to properly add ingredients to the blender.

One of my favorite lessons is how to build your own smoothie. I never would have thought to combine avocado and strawberries in a smoothie – in fact, I wouldn’t have thought to use avocado in a smoothie at all (go figure, since I love avocados). And so, using Tess’s blueprint I created my own smoothie:

Strawberry Avocado Smoothie

½ cup hemp milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon of coconut nectar
½ tablespoon hemp seeds
½ small avocado (or ¼ large avocado)
1 medium mandarin orange
a handful of strawberries

I put the ingredients into the blender as ordered above (because now I know that the order is important to proper operation of the blender). The avocado and mandarin orange both came from California Avocados Direct, my favorite source for avocados. The result was a thick, creamy smoothie with a hint of citrus taste.

I intended this recipe to make one smoothie, but it easily serves two.

Next, I was inspired to start growing sprouts from seeds and grains (yes, there’s a lesson on soaking and sprouting!). I am a sucker for kitchen science projects. My first attempt was with amaranth. That may not have been the best choice as the seeds are tiny and I had difficulty draining them completely. My second attempt was with sunflower seeds -- a better choice!

Is that not the coolest thing you've ever seen? Expect me to talking more about sprouts in the future!

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