The Blender Girl by Tess Masters

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antioxidant avenger

antioxidant avenger

 

Tess Masters (aka, The Blender Girl) has just published her much anticipated debut cookbook, The Blender Girl: Super-Easy, Super-Healthy Meals, Snacks, Desserts & Drinks, and it’s a beauty. This is one colorful collection of 100 gluten-free, vegan recipes that all incorporate the use of a blender.    And so, it should come as no surprise, that Tess’s philosophy of life is all about blending.  “Blended” is a metaphor.

For those of you who have followed Tess’s blog, Healthy Blender Recipes, you already know how dynamic Tess is both in her persona and also her food writing.  What I learned from reading her book is how flexible she is on both fronts as well.  While she is a self-professed zealot, she is no preacher.  For Tess, “the way” is a winding path, and it winds in a different direction for each and every one of us. So, this is not a “Gluten-Free” cookbook, or a “Vegan” cookbook, just a celebration of whole foods and a really great way to coax more fruits and vegetables into your daily diet.

Living in a world of fads and trends, it’s refreshing to have a cookbook author admit that there is no one diet that suits all, or even one diet that suits all of us, all the time. For example, Tess eats a lot of raw foods during the warmer months, but eats more cooked foods during the colder ones.

She puts forward the concept of bio-individuality. And while she makes no secret of the fact that she could “easily live without teeth”, this is not a prescription for others.  It would be easy to assume that there would be rigidity to a vegan, gluten-free, (raw foods) cookbook full of recipes all made in a blender, but the opposite is actually true.  This book will open your mind to endless new possibilities. I was delighted by the creativity and ingenuity of these recipes. “Optional” is a key word in this book, because whether you add an ingredient or not is up to you.  But why wouldn’t you want to add the suggested ingredients, when what Tess has created is so perfect? I’m pretty sure that while Tess herself is not dogmatic or didactic, others will be tempted to make her their guru and follow her teachings to the “T” for Tess.

And speaking of “T” for Tess, one of my greatest takeaways from this book was the revelation that a blender-based diet is defined by the four Fs. It’s fun, fast, flexible, and forgiving.

While it might seem odd to focus so much attention on the prevailing philosophy of this cookbook, I think it’s important to recognize that it’s carving out a new genre.  The blender isn’t just for smoothies anymore. It’s become a central kitchen tool in our busy, hectic, and often toxic lives, helping us create nutritionally dense, and delicious meals in a very short amount of time.

The Blender Girl: Super-Easy, Super-Healthy Meals, Snacks, Desserts & Drinks is packed with one healthy mouth-watering recipe after another.  All made with natural flavors and sweeteners, all vegan, gluten-free and many raw. Many are also nut-free, soy-free, corn-free and sugar-free.

So what’s in the blender if you’ve excluded all that? A myriad of fantastic flavors melded into all kinds of exotic concoctions.

Highlights of the book are the “Love your Blender” chapter in which I learned more about blenders than I ever knew possible, (I was delighted to realize I own 3 types of blenders!)  And yes, I too am smitten with longing for a Vitamix.

I also give a nod to her instructions for dehydrating – and I learned a lot from the soaking and sprouting tips.  I also just adored the “Milk it baby!” chapter in which Tess walks readers through making your own vegan milks, of which there are countless varieties.

And here are a few shout outs: hats off to the super gorgeous inventive salads.  To the “butters” and jams, to the dips, the smoothies, the chips, the fruit leather, the drinks chapter (love), the condiments and sauces, and of course, the desserts.  In particular, the “Key Lime” Pudding, made with the incredibly simple and inventive combo of agave nectar, lemon and lime juice, avocado, bananas, and citrus zest.  I loved this recipe because it got me thinking about “dessert” in a totally new way.

Now I will share a couple recipes from the book, which are both free of the Top 8 Allergens.  Please note that you do not need a Vitamix to make the recipes in this book.  While it may be the dream machine, I don’t have one, and these worked just fine. :)

 

antioxidant avenger

 

I think of this powerful blend as “field to shield.” With the antioxidant weight of these ingredients, nothin’s gettin’ the better of you! You can enjoy this booster in summer with a little sweetener and omit the trio of orange zest, cinnamon, and ginger. But, these warming spices taste absolutely incredible with the berries, really pull the other flavors together, and elevate this smoothie from good to great. The açaí and maqui are optional but provide an invaluable boost, and I always include them. If you don’t add these superfoods or the spices, you may not need the dates. However you make it, this one’s got your back.

 

serves 2

 

1/2 cup (120ml) coconut water

1/2 teaspoon probiotic powder (optional; see note, page 30)

1 packet (3.5 ounces/100g) frozen açaí pulp, or 2 tablespoons dried açaí powder

2 teaspoons maqui powder

2 cups (320g) mixed fresh or frozen berries (1/2 cup each of blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries)

1/2 cup (85g) red seedless grapes

1 ripe pear, skin on, cored and diced

1/2 teaspoon minced ginger (optional)

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)

1/2 teaspoon finely grated

orange zest (optional)

1 cup (125g) ice cubes

1 chopped pitted date, soaked,

 

Throw everything into your blender and puree on high for 30 to 60 seconds, until smooth and creamy. Tweak the sweetness to taste.

 

 

watermelon gazpacho is the bomb

 

watermelon gazpacho is the bomb!

 

The name says it all. Gazpacho rocks, and this concoction delivers a surprising taste explosion with every spoonful. A happy blend of sweet and spicy, the flavors in this chilled first course or main mellow nicely with time. In fact, the change in flavor is quite pronounced. This is particularly true of the onion. Like a fabulous sangria (see page 174), this soup is better the next day. But, it’s delicious a few hours after preparing, so don’t feel like you have to wait beyond the three-hour chill.

 

serves 8 as a starter, 6 as a main

 

4 cups (640g) roughly chopped seedless watermelon, plus 6 cups (960g) diced

2 cups (300g) diced tomato

1 cup (145g) peeled, seeded, and diced cucumber

1/2 cup (70g) diced red bell pepper

2 tablespoons diced red onion, plus more to taste

3 tablespoons finely chopped basil

3 tablespoons finely chopped mint

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice, plus more to taste

1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest

2 teaspoons minced ginger

1/2 teaspoon minced green serrano chile, plus more to taste

1/2 tablespoon natural salt, plus more to taste

Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

 

Put the 4 cups of chopped watermelon into your blender and puree on high for 30 to 60 seconds, until liquefied. Pour into a serving bowl. Add the 6 cups of diced watermelon and all the remaining ingredients. Stir to combine well. Tweak flavors to taste (you may want more onion, lime juice, chile, or salt).

Cover and chill in the fridge for at least 3 hours, but preferably 12 to 24 hours to allow the flavors to fuse and the vibrant red color to develop. Before serving, tweak flavors again (if it’s too spicy, add some lime juice). Pass additional lime juice and salt at the table.

 

 

Recipes reprinted with permission from The Blender Girl: Super-Easy, Super-Healthy Meals, Snacks, Desserts, and Drinks–100 Gluten-Free, Vegan Recipes! by Tess Masters, copyright © 2014. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.

Photo Credit: Photo taken by Anson Smart © 2014

 

The Blender Girl High Res Cover

 

 

Allergy Free Pumpkin Pie Popsicles

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IMG_3014

Allergy-Free Pumpkin Pie Popsicles

(Pumpkin Piesicles)

Makes 8

This recipe was inspired by one I saw on TAKEAMEGABITE.com, which was inspired by one on OMFGSOGOOD.com.  I was smitten by the concept of a no-bake Thanksgiving treat, with all the rich flavors of pie, but a lighter hit on the tummy, post feast.  I tried the recipe as written and found it much too sweet for my taste.  I’ve cut the sugar in half, and made them allergy-free, vegan, and gluten-free by using my allergy-friendly Cybele’s Free-to-Eat Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, and swapping light coconut milk for the cream (also bumping up the proportions by an extra half a cup so you get a truly creamy piesicle).  The only problem? These pops won’t make it anywhere near Thanksgiving. I already ate 2 today!

 

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup water

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

pinch of ground nutmeg

pinch of ground cloves

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree

3/4 cup canned light coconut milk

pinch of salt

6 Cybele’s Free-to-Eat Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, crumbled (1 scant cup), or 1 scant cup of allergy-free granola

 

1. Combine first 7 ingredients in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, about 3 minutes until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add the pumpkin puree and warm through, stirring until completely combined.  Remove from heat, and stir in the coconut milk and pinch of salt. Once completely combined, stir in the cookie bits.

2. Use a ladle to spoon into popsicle molds.

3. Freeze overnight or at least 6 hours.

Allergy-Free Pumpkin Pie Popsicles
© 2013 by Cybele Pascal

Allergy Free Halloween Cupcakes

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red_velvet_cupcakes

Still looking for a safe treat for your Halloween party? These Top 8 Allergen-Free Gluten-Free Cupcakes are easy to whip up, and so very festive. Top them with your favorite Halloween party favor (such as a plastic spider or bat ring), and you’ve got a perfect Halloween party treat.

Halloween Velvet BooCakes

Free of the top 8 Allergens, Gluten-Free, and Vegan, but full of flavor and fun.

1¼ cups + 2 tablespoons my Basic Gluten-Free Flour Mix  or Authentic Foods GF Classical Blend
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ + 1/8th teaspoon xanthan gum
¾ teaspoon double-acting baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
¾ cup rice milk
¾ teaspoon cider vinegar
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons dairy-free, soy-free
vegetable shortening
¾ cup granulated sugar
2¼ teaspoons Ener-G egg replacer mixed with 3 tablespoons
rice milk
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon natural red food coloring
1 recipe Velvet Frosting (recipe follows)
- Natural orange food coloring

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin pan with 12 liners.

2. Measure out flour mix by spooning flour into a dry measuring cup and leveling it off with the back of a knife. (Do not scoop the flour directly with the measuring cup or you’ll wind up with too much flour for the recipe). Whisk together the flour mix, cocoa powder, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

3. Combine the rice milk and cider vinegar. Set aside.

4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the shortening, sugar, egg replacer and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the natural red food coloring and mix until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Sift in the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the rice milk mixture and beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Beat until smooth, about 30 seconds, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.

5. Divide batter equally among muffin liners, smoothing down the surface with a frosting spatula or butter knife.

6. Bake cupcakes in the center of preheated oven for 18 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking time.

7. Let cool in the pan on a cooling rack about 5 minutes. Transfer cupcakes to cooling rack to cool completely before frosting.

8. Once the cupcakes have cooled completely, frost with Velvet Frosting. Top each with a Halloween party favor. Once frosting has set, store covered at room temperature. Extras can be frozen for eating later.


Velvet Frosting

ENOUGH TO FROST 12 CUPCAKES

½ cup dairy-free, soy-free vegetable shortening (like Spectrum)
- Pinch of salt
1½ cups confectioners’ sugar
1½ tablespoons rice milk
1½ teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the shortening and salt on medium speed for 1 minute.

2. Add the confectioners’ sugar in three batches, beating after each addition.

3. Add the rice milk, lemon juice, and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until smooth, creamy and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

4. Add a few drops of natural orange food coloring to the frosting until desired shade has been reached. Frost cupcakes and decorate with Halloween party favor.