Happy 2015! I hope the coming year brings you all good things.

This is my second year belonging to a winter farm share. One of the items I’ve happily learned to count on each month is frozen organic blueberries. With these berries, I usually make smoothies, scones, and muffins.

blueberries | healthy green kitchen

Recently I was flipping through the new book Silvana’s Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Kitchen: Timeless Favorites Transformed. (Silvana is a friend of mine and she was sweet enough to give me a copy of her book.) The blueberry swirl muffins caught my eye: they feature both whole and swirled cooked blueberries, along with a lemon sugar topping, and looked positively delectable. So I gave them a try, and delectable they are!

blueberry swirl muffins | healthy green kitchenblueberry swirl muffins | healthy green kitchen
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I’ve owned a Blendtec blender for at least 10 years and I use it as much or more than any other piece of equipment in my kitchen. It’s perfect for grinding, wet and dry chopping, kneading, and of course blending ingredients for smoothies, shakes, batters, soups, sauces, and dressings.

Blendtec recently gave me the chance to upgrade my blender to the newest model and at first I wasn’t going to do it because my old machine worked fine. But now that I have the newest Blendtec model with the “Twister Jar” designed specifically for blending thicker recipes, I am pretty thrilled because this Blendtec works like a dream.

making pear smoothie | healthy green kitchen

I really only used my old Blendtec for smoothies, but I am having lots of fun experimenting with the new one. It’s great for making frozen desserts and nut butters. You can even use if for pizza and pasta dough.

For this Blendtec review post, I made two recipes. The first one is a Spiced Pear Smoothie I’ve been enjoying a great deal lately.

pear smoothie

The second is a Homemade Peanut Butter that tastes better than store bought.

peanut butter done on spatula_

peanut butter done

You can find both recipes below, and for more information about Blendtec, please check them out on social media!

Blendtec on Facebook
Blendtec on Instagram
Blendtec on Twitter
Blendtec on Youtube
Blendtec on Pinterest
Blendtec on Google+

And if you’re looking for a great deal on one of the Blendtec blenders, be sure to shop their website for refurbished models.
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Disclosure: For this post, I’ve teamed up with Madhava Natural Sweeteners. I received 2 bags of their Better Baking Blend to try, and I am being compensated for my recipe development and photography; all opinions are 100% mine.

madhava giveaway image

This is going to be a jam-packed post! Madhava asked me to discuss how I stay healthy during the holiday season so I’ll be talking about that below, and I’m going to share a recipe I created featuring Madhava’s Organic Better Baking Blend. I’m also going to tell you about Madhava’s Healthier Holidays social media contest, and I am giving away a bunch of Madhava products, too!

I don’t really approach the holidays any differently than I do “regular” days when it comes to food, exercise, and other healthy habits. I am consistent about eating well and getting regular exercise all the time, including during the holiday season. While the holidays are definitely busier, and there are more opportunities for overindulging in treats and skipping the exercise, I just try not to do too much of either one of these. I work treats into my regular diet on a daily basis so I have no reason to overconsume these at parties, on vacation, etc., and I get to the gym and walk as much as I can. That said, if I do overeat now and then, I don’t stress about it…I just go back to my “regularly scheduled programming” the next day. (I also make sure I get plenty of sleep!)

Cookies are one of my favorite treats. To keep them healthier I like to make my own (I included many of my favorites in my new Holiday Treats eBook!), and when I eat them, I do so in moderation. For me, this generally means 2 homemade cookies, usually after dinner when I am in the mood for something sweet.

unrefined sugar cookies

These sugar cookies that I made with the Madhava’s Better Baking Blend are delicious. Their thickness (and not overbaking them) results in a delightfully chewy cookie. Use the bottom of a patterned glass jar to give them a distictive design, if you like.

unrefined sugar cookies

If you don’t have access to Madhava’s Better Baking Blend, you can use coconut sugar or dark brown sugar in these cookies.

cookies top_

To enter Madhava’s Healthier Holidays contest, please visit this link, where you’ll find information on how you can share recipes on Pinterest and possibly win one of Madhava’s gift packs or grand prize.

mixandmatch

And to enter my giveaway for A Mix and Match Package from Madhava Sweeteners, please leave a comment on this post about your favority holiday treat (I want to know what it is!). For extra entries, you can “like” Madhava on Facebook, follow Madhava on Pinterest, follow Madhava on twitter, or follow Madhava on Instagram. For each extra entry, please leave an additional comment letting me know.

Official Rules: This giveaway ends on Monday December 29, 2014 at midnight EST. I will choose a winner via random.com and I’ll email the winner on that day. The winner will have 48 hours to provide me with their shipping address. If no shipping address is furnished, I will choose another winner. You must be 18 years or older to enter this giveaway. No purchase is necessary to enter or win this giveaway.
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Sorry it’s been a few weeks since I last posted…I’ve been busy working on my new eBook! It’s called Holiday Treats and it was really fun to write.

pecan squares 2_text

I made a sales page for the book here (and I have a sales page for ALL my eBooks here). For the month of December I am running a 1/2 off special on all of them including Holiday Treats. Use the discount code treatyourself during the checkout process and you can buy any or all of the eBooks for just 99 cents each. If you have any trouble at all with the discount code or the downloads, shoot me an email at winnie@healthygreenkitchen.com and I’ll be happy to straighten it out for you.

omelet 2_

Since the last two weeks in my kitchen have been all about making and sampling sweet treats, I have been taking care to make sure I am otherwise eating a balanced, calorie-appropriate, nutritious diet (I talk more about my “dessert philosophy” in the intro of Holiday Treats).

One meal I’ve enjoyed a few times recently is this Smoked Salmon Omelet, the recipe for which appears in my print book One Simple Change.

eggs_

It’s quick to whip up, filling, and delicious. When I know I am going to “have to” eat some carbohydrate-rich cookies (I know…poor me…testing recipes really stinks…NOT), this is a perfect lunch. I’ve photographed the omelet atop a bed of baby arugula- the hot omelet cooked the greens just a bit, which I love!
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Disclosure: This recipe is part of FIJI Water’s “Perfection Takes Time” campaign. I am being compensated for my recipe development and photography; all opinions are 100% mine.

I grow Cheese Pumpkins in my garden every year and one of my favorite ways to use them is in this gorgeous-hued Pumpkin Soup.

Pumpkin Soup | Healthy Green Kitchen

I thought it would be a great fit for the “Perfection Takes Time” campaign because it’s not a quickie recipe (just like FIJI Water isn’t quickie water!). FIJI water is collected in a natural aquifer, the result of rainwater trickling down through layers of volcanic rock. This is a slow process that allows for the gathering of minerals and electrolytes along the way, and which results in an amazingly pure, great-tasting water. (You can learn more about FIJI Water here.)

Pumpkin Soup | Healthy Green Kitchen

The recipe, which I adapted from the Butternut Squash Soup with Brown Butter in The Essential New York Times Cookbook, requires the ingredients to rest at several stages so the flavors can develop. Here’s how I recommend you time the making of this soup:

Day 1: bake the pumpkin and prep the leeks, carrots, and shallots/onion
Day 2: Prepare the soup then allow it to rest overnight
Day 3: Reheat the soup, make the fried sage leaves, and serve.

This makes a great first course any day, but will also fit right in at a holiday meal this season.

If you cannot find the variety of pumpkin that I used, substitute a winter squash such as Butternut. Sour cream makes a perfectly acceptable substitute if you don’t have crème fraîche (my “diy” crème fraîche recipe is here); the fried sage leaves are fun, but definitely optional.

Get this and other “Perfection Takes Time” Recipes on fijiwater.com.

Get a full Thanksgiving menu with recipes in my brand new eBook Fresh and Flavorful Thanksgiving.

Pumpkin Soup | Healthy Green Kitchen