Girlbert's Shamrock Shake


Everybody's talking about that funky, neon green shake that McDonald's blesses us with every St. Patrick's Day.  Apparently, people like my Little Brother are even trying to make their version at home, to keep with the 43-year-old, Irish-American tradition of green-shake eating whilst sparing themselves a trip to the supersized burger-and-fries mega-chain.  While there are already plenty of recipes out there, most of them requiring a lot of emerald food coloring, so I've got a solution that will get you the green naturally (unlike the crazy leprechaun wig that I'm currently wearing!) and deliciously!  I even surprised myself!

Tools needed: 
15 minutes
Shamrock Shake a la Girlbert
1/2 cup coconut cream, really cold, but not frozen
1/4 cup mint leaves, washed
1 1/2 cups raw baby spinach leaves, washed
1/2 cup raw parsley leaves, washed
1/2 cup dandelion leaves, washed
1 frozen banana
1 large, ripe pear, washed and cored
1/2 cup ice
  1. Put all the ingredients in the blender, blend on high until delicious! 
  2. Add more ice if necessary and blend again.
  3. Drink with a straw wearing a green wig!

Coconut Curry Pumpkin Soup


The first time I had this lovely winter soup was many years ago, and I haven't had it since.  That is until we were looking for something to do with our autumn decor a few weeks ago -  after freezing 48 cups of pureed pumpkin, we needed to find some pumpkin recipes! 

The sweetness of the pumpkin and coconut milk balances nicely with the curry spices and red pepper flakes.

Those of you averse to coconut milk (which I find hard to imagine, but there are some!) can leave it out completely for a thicker soup, or use a milk or cream substitute instead.  The original calls for a dollop of sour cream, but it's not necessary if you're trying to stay away from dairy.

Don't forget the pumpkin seeds!

Tools needed: 
large saucepan or pot
40 minutes
Pumpkin Soup
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
4-5 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 stick butter or 1/4 cup butter substitute
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
3 cups vegetable broth
1 15 oz can pumpkin (or 2 cups pureed pumpkin
1 cup coconut milk or even better, (coconut cream!)
Sour cream
Chipped fresh chives or cilantro
Toasted pumkin seeds
  1. Saute the onion and garlic in the butter in a large saucepan or pot until the onion is tender.
  2. Stir in the curry powder, salt, coriander and red pepper flakes. Cook for one minute, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the broth and mix well. Bring to a gentle boil.
  4. Boil for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Stir in the pumpkin and coconut milk.  Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Process the soup in batches in a blender until creamy.  Ladle the warm soup into bowls.
  7. Top each serving with a dollop of sour cream (if desired - skip if dairy free) and sprinkle with chives, cilantro and/or toasted pumpkin seeds.

Orange-Pumpkin Spice Bread


Okay, so it's really just cake, but it's the pumpkin holiday time of year, so let's have some dessert!  I made this recipe many years ago, but recently needed something to bring to a luncheon, and this was the perfect complement to our after-lunch tea.  I  switched it up a a bit by changing some of the sugar in for some applesauce and it was just perfectly moist, and not too sweet.

Tools needed: 
1 9-in loaf pan
1.5 hours
Orange Pumpkin Spice Cake
1/2 15oz can pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
3/4 cup water
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup pureed apple (or store-bought applesauce)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs lightly beaten
1 3/4 cup flour (original recipe calls for bleached all-purpose, but I used whole wheat)
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbs orange zest, plus 1 tsp orange zest
  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Heat pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves in a small saucepan over medium heat until steamy.
  3. Stirring continuously, cook until pumpkin is stiff and starts to stick to the pan bottom, about 3 minutes.
  4. Transfer to a medium bowl; whisk in 3/4 cup water, then brown sugar, then applesauce, then oil, then eggs, until smooth.
  5. In a separate bowl, whisk together remaining dry ingredients, then fold into the pumpkin mixture until just combined.
  6. Mix in 1 tbs orange zest.
  7. Scrape batter into well-greased pan.  Top with remaining 1 tsp orange zest.
  8. Bake until firm and golden brown, about 45 minutes. (or until toothpick comes clean)
  9. Turn onto a wire rack and cool to room temperature before slicing and serving.

Recipe doubles easily (what else are you going to do with that half can of pumpkin?) and freezes well.

12 slices

Sundried Tomato Artichoke Salad


This summer's salad of choice!  I sampled  this at Trader Joe's recently, and we've been making it several times a week ever since.  As much as I love my arugula, spinach, and mixed greens, this Romaine-lettuce based salad is a refreshing break from my standard salad choices!  The artichoke antipasto and sundried tomatoes make it no-dressing-required simple, too!

Tools needed: 
Big salad bowl
10 minutes
Artichoke Salad
4 Romaine hearts, leaves washed and chopped
1/2 cup chopped sundried tomatoes
1 cup Artichoke Spread (I used Trader Joe's Artichoke Antipasto)
3 large red bell peppers, sliced into strips
3 cups pea shoots or microgreens
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
  1. Mix lettuce and artichoke spread in a bowl, coating lettuce.
  2. Toss in remaining ingredients and combine.
  3. Salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Serve chilled.
Trader Joe's

Kale and White Bean Soup


I couldn't be happier to get back into the swing of green since the sugar-laden holidays with a warm bowl of savory soup!  This is my go-to soup this winter - I saw a version of it in Sunset magazine, then had a bowl of something similar at one of my favorite restaurants, the fabulous Full of Life Flatbread, a couple of weekends ago.  Seems like wintery greens are on everyone's menu!

Keep in mind that you can mix it up by using different kinds of kale - I don't have a favorite, I'm still trying them all.  You can also add some cooked veggies like carrots, squash or potatoes, depending on your taste.  I occasionally usually have mine with a thick piece of toast to dunk in the broth. Mmmm...

Despite the fact that kale is packed with enough vitamin C, A, K and B6 to make it a nutritional powerhouse, not to mention cancer-fighting properities, magnesium, copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus (that's a mouthful!); people still can't get past the bitter taste of raw kale.  Not to worry - sauteing for just a few minutes with garlic and onions subdues the flavor, and before you know it,  you'll be be a fan of this queen of greens!


Tools needed: 
large saute pan, large pot
45 minutes
Kale and Cannellini Bean Soup
2 bunches kale (any kind), washed and sliced thinly, crosswise
1 large (or two medium) yellow or sweet onion, peeled and cut into thin strips
~4 tbs olive oil
2 - 2.5 quarts vegetable broth
3 cups cooked white cannelini (white or Great Northern) beans, or 2 15oz cans (rinsed)
6-8 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1/2 tsp red chili powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp paprika
1 tbs sage leaves (dried sage is fine, too)
  1. Heat broth in large pot over low heat.
  2. Heat 1-2 tbs olive oil in saute pan to medium heat, add onion and cook until they start to brown, add oil as needed.
  3. Add a bit more olive oil and garlic.  Cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes over medium heat.  Be careful not to burn or brown the garlic.
  4. Add a bit more olive oil and kale and move around the pan until it starts to soften, about 3-5 minutes.  Cover and turn off heat.
  5. When broth is simmering, add beans and other ingredients.  Stir to incorporate ingredients together in broth.  Add more broth (or water) if needed to cover all ingredients. Bring to a simmer again, test greens for tenderness before serving.
  6. Season more to your desired taste.

NOTE: One recipe I came across suggested to remove the ribs and stems of the kale, I usually keep them.  Some varieties might be a little tough for some tastes, so use your discretion.


Mushroom & Green Onion Frittata


This simple recipe is tasty and hearty, an appropriate meal as we head into the cooler months of fall and winter.  Boyfriend and I made it for dinner this evening in under an hour and plan to have the leftover portion for breakfast in the morning with one of our fabulous fruit and green smoothies!  This recipe can easily be made dairy-free with milk and cheese alternatives - we used almond milk and soy cheese.

Tools needed: 
10" oven-safe skillet or baking dish
45 minutes
First Fab Frittata!
4 cups cubed baby red potatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chopped green onions, white and green parts
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
6 eggs
1 cup milk (we used almond milk for non-dairy, soy would work, too)
1/2 cup cheese (we used soy cheese for non-dairy)
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp dried, crushed oregano leaves
1 tsp dried, crushed sage leaves
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place potatoes in a medium saucepan with enough water to cover.  Bring to a boil and cook about 10 minutes, until tender but firm.  Drain.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a skillet over medium heat, add mushrooms, cook about 5 minutes or until mushrooms start to brown.
  4. Add a bit more oil and garlic, cook until garlic becomes fragrant, stirring into the mushrooms.  Remove from heat - set aside in a bowl.
  5. Layer the potatoes in the bottom of the baking dish or oven-safe skillet.  Evenly layer the other ingredients: mushroom and garlic mixture, then cheese, then green onions.  Add a little salt and pepper in each layer (or as desired).
  6. In a small bowl, whisk the milk and eggs until fluffy.  Mix oregano and sage into mixture at the end.
  7. Pour the egg mixture into the skillet over the other ingredients.
  8. Bake 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until eggs are no longer runny and top is lightly browned.

Green Monster Smoothie


Wait!  Come back!  Greens are good! They're packed with enough antioxidants guaranteed to put a pep in your step in addition to tasting great in this delicious smothie.  Not to mention Green is in thing, you know,  and will you look at that color

My own concoction contains lots of parsley, which is zesty, but has coveted tumor-fighting properties for a cancer warrior like myself.  I add enough fruit to tone down the spice of certain greens, and you're welcome to adjust to your liking, but be warned that too much fruit just makes it another sugar-laden fruit drink.  Kris Carr, Wellness Guru and Crazy Sexy Cancer Chick, recommends sticking to a 1/3 fruit to 2/3 veggies rule to keep your sugar intake balanced with everything else.  This recipe reflects that, but you may have to adjust to your personal taste.

Go on and get your GREEN on!

Tools needed: 
5 minutes
Super-Green Monster Smoothie
1 orange, peeled and quartered, seeds removed
1 frozen banana, peeled and chopped in to 1 in. pieces
1 cup cubed fruit, such as apple, pear, mango, pineapple, fresh or frozen (no-no-not canned!)
1-2 cups of rinsed greens, such as arugula, parsley, mixed herbs, cilantro, baby romaine, kale, or spinach (I try to do different combos)
1 small, washed and cubed zuchinni or cucumber
1 tbs chia or ground flax seed, if desired (will thicken the smoothie and provide extra protein)
  1. Put banana and orange in blender, blend until juicy and mixed.
  2. Add greens and blend until GREEN!
  3. Add the rest of your fruit, veggies, and flax or chia (if desired), blend until smooth.
  4. Add a bit of water or ice if too thick.
  5. Enjoy the deliciousness and health benefits daily!

Please tweak to your taste, and remember that some combinations of greens are better than others.  I know some people are averse to cilantro, even though I find it quite scrumptious!  And raw kale is not for everyone, so if you're not sure about something, go light on it at first, so you don't ruin a whole blender full of fruit!You can keep the smoothie refrigerated for up to a day, but it's best enjoyed right away.


Beet Greens with Mustard


This is such a light, simple and delicious dish; just perfect for spring and summer.  But don't wait long - the mustard is in bloom here in California (all the little yellow flowers covering the hills in Santa Barbara are mustard!), so go for a hike and pick a little straight away!

Tools needed: 
large saucepan, salad spinner (or at least, a colander)
15 minutes
Beet Greens with Mustard Flowers
1-2 tablespoons of mustard blooms, rinsed and patted dry
8 cups fresh beet greens (the tops of 6 or 8 beets) rinsed and chopped (not too small, they'll cook down a lot)
1/2 to 1 tbs olive oil
sea salt to taste
  1. Fill the saucepan 3/4 full of water and bring to a boil.
  2. Put beet greens in boiling water for 1-2 minutes, carefully remove with a slotted spoon into salad spinner basket to drain a bit before spinning. 
  3. Spin greens until most of water comes off.  (If you don't have a salad spinner, put in a colander and gently toss, then pat dry.)
  4. Toss into a bowl with olive oil, salt to taste, and top with mustard flowers.
  5. Enjoy the simple beauty before devouring!

Greenberry Smoothie


In the neverending effort to incorporate more greens in my diet, I've been adding greens to my morning smoothies, and it's fantastic!  This is my favorite version so far:  the spinach has a pretty undetectable flavor and the berries make it purple, so kiddos and health-phobes won't know the difference.  Enjoy the green deliciousness, and email me if you have any taste-tantalizing tweaks or tips!

Tools needed: 
10 minutes
Greenberry Smoothie - Wait - where's the green?
1 banana, peeled, chopped into pieces
2 oranges, peeled, deseeded and quarters
1 1/2 cups total, any combination of frozen blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, chopped strawberries (I choose 3, 1/2 cup of each)
1/2 - 1 cup almond milk (or preferred milk, may have to adjust amount to desired consistency)
2 cups fresh spinach leaves, rinsed (or favorite greens like parsley or arugula)
  1. Put all ingredients into blender, and blend with lid on until everything is mixed thoroughly and your desired consistency.  You may need to add milk to thin it, or more frozen fruit to thicken it.
  2. Pour into a fun glass and serve or consume immediately.

Tips: Use spinach if you "don't want to know" or throw in some parsley, arugula, or cilantro to really add some zing and "green" flavor to your smoothie.


Winter Vegetable and Greens Sage Soup


I was tempted to name this hearty winter vegetable soup "Bottom of the Fridge Soup", based on its conception:  Boyfriend was fighting a cold a couple of weeks back, and he was craving something warm and soupy for his aching throat.  I just started throwing stuff from the "bottom of the fridge" into a pot, and voila - it was really tasty!  So we've tweaked it a couple of times, but it's vegetabley, soupy, sagey and gosh darn it - downright delicious!  Perfectly suitable for enjoying by a warm, toasty fire this winter!  Enjoy!

Tools needed: 
big pot with lid
1 - 1.5 hours
Winter Vegetable and Greens Sage Soup
2.5 lbs. potatoes, cut into 1-in. pieces, boiled until you can easily insert a fork in them
1 large or 2 medium yellow onions, roughly chopped
6-10 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups carrots, sliced into 1/2" pieces
1 - 2 cups rice or barley, cooked
6 cups vegetable broth
4 packed cups winter greens, such as kale, collard greens, radish/beet greens, spinach rinsed roughly chopped
2 tbs dried sage (or more, depending on your taste)
olive oil
hot water
salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Add onions and salt, cover, reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally until onions are soft, about 3 - 6 minutes.
  2. Add garlic and another tablespoon of olive oil and cook until fragrant.
  3. Add carrots, sage, and vegetable broth and bring to a boil.  Turn down heat and simmer with the lid on for about 10 minutes, until carrots begin to soften.
  4. Add barley or rice and potatoes, replace lid, and bring to a boil.  Add water or more broth if necessary to cover all the ingredients.
  5. Add greens, mixing in to cover with broth, adding more water or broth if necessary.
  6. Bring to a boil, and simmer for 5 - 15 more minutes to cook down the greens.  Add more sage or other spices, depending on your tastes.  Salt and pepper to taste.
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