Waste Not, Want Not aka Pumpkin Pie Smoothie FTW (Season of Self-Care: 3)

I’m pretty sure the blue hubbard squash I roasted for holiday pies weighed about as much as my Kia. It was the only blue hubbard that grew in our garden this summer, out of 12 plants, and it made up for being The Only by being The Enormous.

Perhaps this seems like an odd one to include in a month of recipes for self-care, but I’m often running late in the mornings and it’s too easy to leave empty-handed for breakfast and/or lunch. Remember the oxygen mask analogy? It’s a thing.

When I get the boy down to the bus stop, he’s equipped with a full belly and there’s a lunch in his backpack. The cats, ducks, goats, pigs, goldfish, and axolotls have all been fed and, if necessary, freshly watered.

Me? I only make the fed and watered list occasionally. The Enormous inspired me to start a habit of night-before prep, though, so I’m on my way to moving up in the ranks. It has, also, much to do with the fact that I only needed 3 cups of puree for my pies, and ended up with a gallon and a half from TE. I poured quite a bit of it into ice cube trays, but my squash-to-everything-else ratio in the freezer is quite high enough at this point, I’ve already made pumpkin curry soup, and I’ve still had two quarts kickin’ around all week.

Enter the Pumpkin Pie smoothie. Yeah, I’m one of those people who gets really into the autumnal winter squash and cinnamon-y nutmeg deliciousness thing. It’s a thing, after all.

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What to do:

Chuck all the ingredients into a quart-sized mason jar.
Blend it all up with a stick blender, if you’ve got one. If not, use a blender, or the smoothie-making device of your choosing.

Done.

Also, it could be any winter squash. Blue hubbard just happens to be my favorite. And Long Pie Pumpkin. Oh, and Long Island Cheese. And Butternut.

Sometimes, I add greens powder, too. It can be advantageous to mix green and orange to make your smoothie into a less-appetizing color. It’s less likely to be sipped on by curious co-workers (says the girl who used to dye sugar cookies the most hideous color so no one else would want to eat them). Nah, don’t worry. I’ll share.

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Green It Up! (Season of Self-Care: 1)

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Frost is on the straw on the beds that are abed (say that several times fast, just for fun).
It’s a harbinger of the longest night, closing in and driving us inward.

I’m ready.

I take the definition of the word “advent” to heart as the season begins: a coming into being. We spiral into darkness, and then emerge from shadow into light as we pass through the Winter Solstice. I’d like to devote these shortening days to riding that inward spiral towards building a solid self-care practice: physically, emotionally, spiritually.

After all, this is a heavily loaded season of giving to, sharing with, and welcoming others into our hearts and homes. It’s easy to forget about oneself in the chaos, to find the moments of pause, to put our own oxygen masks on before we help others, so to speak. It’s essential that we’re fit and ready in order to give the most of ourselves. If we’re struggling to find breath, our effectiveness wanes and a joyful season becomes stressful.

I’m kicking off here in my new Woodland Temple home with an advent calendar of sorts, Season of Self-Care, to remind you (and I) how to give to ourselves so that we can best give to our friends, family, communities, the world.

Day One celebrates bringing in the green. Around here, our landscape has become barren, dry, and crispy with ice crystals as we await the first real snow fall. The garden is almost all tucked in, and I ripped out the last bed of greens a couple weeks back. Usually, I leave them in to overwinter because kale is a tough cookie, but I want more freedom in the Spring for planting, and so brought it all in to preserve into a nutrient-dense powder to power up my smoothies all winter long.

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The result is a brilliant, vibrant source of immune-boosting, detoxifying minerals that are likely much more nourishing then wilted snow-bound leaves, as the source for this was picked at its peak.

Our farmers’ market will have fresh winter greens for at least the next several weeks, so if you aren’t pulling them out of your own garden, this is a great time of year to pick up great local greens for your own supplement-making adventure, sure to cost a fraction of what greens powders go for at health food stores.

How to:

There are no measurements here, and the rules are loose!

First, let’s talk about your greens. They can be any dark, leafy greens. My blend contains collards, chard, kale, turnip greens, and immature broccolini (the whole plant, actually). I don’t know about you, but raw greens don’t always agree with my belly. Steaming your greens will make them easier to digest, and unlock a bevy of nutrients that may not be accessible otherwise. Also, they’re sweeter prepared that way, so, you know. Win.

Therefore, Step One is to: steam ’em!

Just give your leaves a quick, two minute steam, until they turn bright and slightly wilted.
Do remove any thick stems beforehand. I didn’t bother with the broccolini or chard, but the collards, kale and turnip greens all had thick ribs. I simply tore the leaves from the ribs, no biggie.
Also, I wanted to fill my 9-tray dehydrator, so I went through several rounds of steaming.

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Step Two: dehydrate ’em!

You can perform this step in a dehydrator or an oven set to low heat (200 degrees or less). It’s not crucial to keep the leaves from overlapping, but a somewhat single layer is best. If you’re a kale chip fan, you’re basically making kale chips from steamed, unadorned leaves, rather than oil-massaged, so just use your favorite method of drying them out. I like to use the dehydrator because I can stick them in and forget about it. If you use an oven, check frequently to make sure your greens don’t burn.

Step Three: pulverize ’em!

For this step, I use my Vitamix. Again, equipment is a matter of taste, and you can get away with a food processor. I would, however, recommend a second pass through some sort of coffee or spice grinder to really get a fine powder. The dry container for the Vitamix makes a lovely fine powder. I achieved nearly the same results with the coffee grinder, but it takes forever and I was seriously worried about burning out the motor.

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Step Four: Dress It Up!

This step is totally optional, but if you want to play around with add-ins, these are awesome:

-Freeze-dried berries
-Probiotics
-Maca powder
-Nettles (steeped and dried)
-Holy Basil (steeped and dried)
-Chaga mushroom
– ___________???

I like to pulverize everything in what I like to call my Boost Blend individually and then mix it all together, keeping it separate from my greens powder, so I can add a boost whenever I want it. Your powders, except the probiotics, can hang out in a tightly sealed container in your pantry pretty much indefinitely. It won’t last long, though, if you’re like me and enjoy keeping summer alive and your vitality high by making winter smoothies. You can also use your powder in soups and stews, or blend it with salt and spices for a seasoning shaker to up your green game for any meal.

Boom.
Enjoy.

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Soak up every drop of sunshine, lovelies.

Join me tomorrow for Fire Tonic!