Blending with Tea: Three Smoothies!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted any healthy recipes, but these were much needed. After a highly emotional weekend with ample occasions of eating my feelings, my body was in desperate need of something fresh! Plus, I had a full container of kiwis left from some kombucha I flavored last week that were desperately calling to be utilized (ha– I really do sound like a healthy blogger this week!)

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When I say I ate my feelings, though, I’m not referring to a nice indulgent dessert, a proper “treat yourself” evening. I’m talking about pajamas, ugly crying, graham crackers and tub frosting. That’s exactly what my roommate and I experienced on Friday–it was the night our other roommate Allie, our best friend, got married. We’d spent the entire day with her and her mom, helping her prepare for the ceremony and assembling the bouquet and doing whatever else needed to be done. It was such a sweet day, and we were both incredibly thankful to have been a part of it. I’ve blogged in the past about the preparation for Allie’s wedding day: it had been a long time in the making, and I was fortunate enough to watch every step leading up to it. I was sitting with Allie on her living room floor when she initially told me about some guy named Kenny she really wanted to get to know. I was there the night she sent her first text, helping her engineer the perfect message before she hit send. She’d come over to my apartment to figure out what to wear on their first date, and I’d enjoyed dinner with them minutes before he proposed. I watched them get to know each other, fall in love, and make the decision to spend their lives growing in that love for each other and for Christ. My best friend, the one who used to giggle with me about crushes over sushi and Disney movies, became a wife this weekend.

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So, needless to say, after tearfully watching our best friend drive away from our porch and into her new chapter of life that night, Annie and I couldn’t race to the pantry fast enough.

Our recovery time wasn’t long, though, because after staying in an Airbnb for a night, the newlyweds returned just in time for us to drive them to the airport and say goodbye–for good. They were heading off on their honeymoon and then directly to California for the summer. I struggled to hold it together during the car ride, Allie’s arm tightly around my shoulders in the backseat. I became frustrated with my own mind, which decided to eagerly bring back every wonderful memory I’d ever shared with her to add to the sting of the occasion. We all laughed and chatted, filling up any silence that arose or tears that threatened to arrive early. When Annie asked what airline they were flying, I felt an emptiness unfold in my stomach with the realization that it was actually happening. She gathered her bags as the car came to a stop and picked the perfect airport mask. I followed her out onto the sidewalk, and the four of us tallied up their luggage before initiating the inevitably lengthy series of hugs: Allie and me, Annie and Kenny, me and Kenny, Allie and Annie, Allie and Annie and me, all four of us.

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You can always tell when it’s the last one, though. I’ve experienced enough goodbyes to know the feeling–the hug that’s just a little bit tighter and a little bit longer, the one that has to make up for all the hugs you suddenly realize you won’t have after it. Well, we eventually got to that hug, Allie and me. Another thing about goodbyes is that they instantly make you aware, in one moment, of everything you wish you had said or could say now to someone, all at the same time. As I hugged her, I wished that I would have told Allie more often how her friendship is the deepest I’ve ever experienced outside of family. How she challenges me, loves me, cares for me, and teaches me more than I could ever explain. How I have such admiration for her pursuit of the Lord, her heart for the  students she works with, her selflessness. How she cried with me and laughed with me and held me through my lowest moments. How she doesn’t have even a fraction of an idea just how beautiful she is. How, regardless of where our lives take us, I’ll never forget the experiences we walked through together throughout these last four years. IMG_3266

But I couldn’t say anything in the moment, let alone all of that. Instead we both said a lot of I love you’s, blinked through our soaked eyelashes, and finally stepped apart. As I watched her walk towards the airport, away from me and Annie and a pretty hefty chapter of our lives, my heart felt just about as heavy as I’d expected. When she finally turned her gaze away, though, Allie grabbed Kenny’s arm and dropped her head onto his shoulder; and even though that painfully symbolic gesture could have felt like salt in the wound of our goodbye, it didn’t. Kenny is the reason that I was able to make it through this weekend. Allie didn’t walk away from us on her own that afternoon–she walked away clinging to a person who adores her, who loves her unconditionally, who I know without a doubt will build a life with her rooted in faith and loyalty. What more could I ask for my best friend?IMG_3211

And while that doesn’t negate the need for frosting and graham crackers, it does reassure me that, through the sadness, everything really is going to be okay. For all of those tackling goodbyes in an already difficult time, I feel for you. Know that no amount of devastation can steal your sweet memories (or your sweet frosting 🙂 ).

 

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:17-18

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Tea Smoothies!

Ingredients

KIWI MINT SMOOTHIE

  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 mint tea bag (I used Twinings green mint)
  • 2 kiwis, peeled, chopped and frozen
  • 1 packet stevia
  • 1/2 cup Greek Yogurt (frozen in ice cube trays for a frozen smoothie)

BLUEBERRY PASSION SMOOTHIE

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 TBSP almond milk
  • 1 Tazo “Passion” tea bag
  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1 packet stevia
  • 1/2 cup Greek Yogurt (frozen in ice cube trays for a frozen smoothie)

LOADED BERRY SMOOTHIE

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 TBSP almond milk
  • 1 Trader Joe’s “Berries and Cherries” tea bag
  • 1/2 cup frozen raspberries
  • 1 packet stevia
  • 1/2 cup Greek Yogurt (frozen in ice cube trays for a frozen smoothie)

Instructions

  1. Heat the almond milk, add the tea bag, and allow to steep until milk is cold. Squeeze out tea bag and throw away, stir the brewed milk, and refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. Blend the tea, fruit, Greek Yogurt, and stevia in a blender or Nutribullet. Add more of any ingredient as desired to taste. Enjoy!

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Dark Chocolate Mint Brownie Bites (V)

IMG_2758You could ask any of the three of my immediate family members what their favorite week of the year is, and I guarantee they’d all be unanimous in their answer: our week at Edisto Beach. Though only about an hour from our home, this island makes the distance between us and normal life feel wonderfully expansive. The vacation has been a part of our lives for many years now: we’ve celebrated birthdays, performances, reunions, and graduations during this beloved week, many of them in the same house. It’s become an irreplaceable highlight to the summer season, one I hope will remain intact even as my sister and I grow older and eventually move on to careers and families of our own.IMG_2627

There are so many elements of this week about which I could lovingly elaborate, but a new one came to mind yesterday. We’d come down to the freshly exposed sand in shifts from the house–some of us taking walks along the shore, some bounding down to the water for kayak outings, some sprawling out on the whitest, softest sand with books in hand. After the first couple hours of the day, everyone tends to wander back from their choice excursions and regroup beneath and around our little blue canopy (a life and skin-saving addition to the vacation supplies this year). It was around noon when this occurred yesterday.IMG_2706

I was reading a Billy Collins poetry book, lounging in a small chair between my uncle with the snack bag in hand and my sister nearly asleep just outside the reach of our canopy’s shadow. My aunt was stretched across another sunny patch, and both dogs lay at our feet, everyone feeling drowsy now from the excitement of the morning and from the hypnotic blanket of the sun’s midday heat. My dad had taken his usual post at the water’s edge, fishing pole stuck faithfully into the sand on one side of his chair and my mom seated faithfully down on his other.

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I had nearly succumbed to the sun’s persuasive call to sleep–to my dismay because I HATE napping–when I noticed a slight increase in movement near the water. I lifted my head and observed as my dad got up from his chair and gripped his white pole, which had begun to take a sharp arc towards the choppy waves. I didn’t move yet, just watched from my chair as what would become a 15 minute fight with this mystery sea life ensued. My dad’s back was towards us, but each member of my family could feel the boyish thrill that had overtaken him as he executed the dangerously delicate dance of keeping tension on the line without risking a snap and adding another “the one that got away” story to his repertoire. Soon, each of us was perking up from our inattentive slouch and watching the battle before us. And not long after, so was every surrounding beach-goer on our length of shore. Fathers left their own hopeful stations by fishing rods, teenagers dropped their beanbags on the cornhole boards, moms stood from their towels and chairs, all to commune around the most action they’d seen in the day–my dad and his Moby Dick.IMG_2792

My heart fluttered with nervousness for him: his chance at winning this fight had suddenly changed from a personal victory to a chance at winning the hearts of his audience. Another tense 5 minutes went by, the hoard of onlookers following my dad as he paced back and forth with the beast of the water like a flock of ducklings behind its mother. Finally, with a final tug and a splash of salty sea, the opponent slid into view at the ocean’s edge: a massive stingray, tail missing from another battle in his life, flapped angrily in the center of the crowd as he realized his failure. My dad, high off the well-deserved win and the admiring eyes around him, raced through a ring of applause to his tackle box to get his pliers before squatting to release the hook from the ray’s mouth, a teenage neighbor pinning the glistening, muscular wings to the wet sand to keep it still. In maybe a hundredth of the total time my dad had wrangled in the ray, the frantic animal was released back to its home.

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The buzz of what had been the most action we’d all seen on the beach that day still whizzed through the air as the condensed mass dissolved into smaller groups of chatter. My dad received fist bumps and shouts of affirmation from strangers; I found myself in a friendly conversation with a middle-aged woman with a dog who I’d never seen before that moment. It was then that I realized one of the beautiful powers of the beach–it truly is an equalizer. No matter what social backgrounds, economic status, or political opinions people may carry with them, you can strip them down to swimsuits and throw them out on the sand, and suddenly they’re all the same, members of some unspoken community that’s bound solely by the rise and fall of the tides–and an occasional fishing episode.IMG_2770

It’s an idea that hearkens back to my recent fascination with unity. I guess you could say lately I can’t stop noticing little manifestations of our humanity, tiny hints that our blood truly does all run horizontally red despite the many ways in which we love to convince ourselves otherwise. Who knows whether me and the lady with the dog or my dad and the neighbor boy would have ever gotten along or even approached each other in our everyday lives. But in this short, isolated stretch of shoreline, stretch of time– on Edisto Beach, South Carolina, there’s nothing really separating us. And that may be just one of the things pulling us back to this paradise year after year.

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 3:28

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Dark Chocolate Mint Brownies (V)

These little bites of gooey, chocolaty brownie are the perfect addition to any dessert table (for us it was the choice conclusion to our Father’s Day dinner). With a sweet, minty frosting and a slightly bitter dark chocolate top, they’re bound to please everybody. 

Ingredients

BROWNIES

  • 1/2 cup plus 3 TBSP all-purpose flour
  • 2 TBSP dark cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s Special Dark 100% Cocao)
  • 1/8 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup sunflower oil
  • 2 flax eggs (to make 2 flax eggs, mix 2 TBSP ground flax and 6 TBSP of water and leave to sit in the fridge for at least 5 minutes)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup sugar (vegan if desired)
  • 1/4 tsp mint extract
  • vegan dark chocolate, broken into pieces (optional)

FROSTING

  • 1/2 cup vegan butter at room temperature (Earth Balance is great)
  • 1/4 tsp mint extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar (vegan if desired)
  • 2 tsp almond milk (I used unsweetened)

Instructions

BROWNIES

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two mini cupcake trays with liners. (Recipe makes about 16-20 brownies).
  2. Whisk flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder in a small bowl.
  3. In a larger bowl, stir flax eggs, sunflower oil, sugar, mint extract and salt together.
  4. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet until smooth.
  5. Fill the cupcake liners about 3/4 full. Press a piece of dark chocolate into the top of each brownie.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for 14-16 minutes, or until inserted toothpick/knife comes out clean. Allow them to cool in trays.
  7. They can be sticky–don’t fret–just enjoy the gooey chocolate goodness!

FROSTING

  1. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a hand mixer, mix the butter on medium speed until light and soft.
  2. Gradually begin adding in the powdered sugar as you mix.
  3. When the mixture starts to become dry/crumbly, add the extract and almond milk.
  4. Continue mixing in the powdered sugar until completely combined.
  5. Mix in the salt, and then increase speed to high, mixing until very smooth.
  6. Use a piping bag to pipe frosting on brownies.
  7. Use a peeler to shave chocolate curls on tops of frosted brownies if desired.
  8. Enjoy!

 

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