(408) 548-0361 hello@muxcooks.com
Liver-loving Green Smoothie

Liver-loving Green Smoothie

This is my go-to green smoothie when I’m feeling run down, or when I just need a pick-me-up. It’s a wonderful snack or light breakfast, tastes like a dream and makes a treat for the whole family. 

With liver-loving kale, ginger and flax, amazing fats and fiber (nuts, seeds and oats) – this smoothie feels like your favorite detox without the deprivation.

Liver-loving green smoothie

Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time2 mins
Course: Drinks, smoothie, Snack
Servings: 2

Equipment

  • High-speed blender

Ingredients

  • 1-2 cup raw kale or 2-3 stalks
  • 1 banana
  • 1/4 cup oats gluten-free if possible
  • 1/4 cup raw, unsalted cashews - soaked in water for 30 minutes or nut-milk
  • 1-2 inch ginger
  • 1 tbsp hemp hearts
  • 1 tbsp flax seeds
  • 2 cup water plus ice to thin out

Optional:

  • 1/2 apple
  • 1 tsp spirulina
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp almond butter unsalted

Instructions

  • First soak raw cashews (or other nuts if using) in filtered water.
  • Wash & dry the kale (use the whole leaf, stalks and all!).
  • Add all the ingredients to your high-speed blender.
  • Blend until smooth. Sip & enjoy!

Notes

The recipe is listed with a prep time of 30-minutes because this includes soaking time for the cashews. 

Homemade Cashew Milk

Homemade Cashew Milk

Last week, I shared my favorite recipe for almond milk. She’s simple, quick and nourishing AF. Yes, my homemade almond milk recipe goes by “she.” My obsession is real, people. She’s outlasted all my romantic relationships, and will always have a soft spot in my heart.

So it was a surprise when homemade cashew milk came along. A dear friend casually mentioned it five years ago over WhatsApp, and I was like, “what is this crazy talk?”

And yet, there it was – homemade cashew milk. Even simpler than almond milk, quicker, and dare I say, creamier too. A cashew milk that I now make once a week as a base for smoothies, cereals, pasta sauces, chia puddings, or straight up drink plain.

Because of how straightforward this recipe is, you don’t need a lot of advanced planning.

All you need is:

    • raw cashews
    • water
    • a blender (high-speed is preferable, but optional).
    • 30 minutes of soaking and 1 minute of blending.

You don’t need to peel or strain anything either – it’s the ultimate low-maintenance recipe!

Plus, cashews come in a pretty sweet package nutritionally. Check it out in the table below.

Nutrition in 1/4 cup of raw cashews:

NutrientAmountNotes
Protein5.9 gA reasonable range of amino acids.
Fats7.7 gA good balance of unsaturated and saturated fats.
Fiber1 g
Resistant starch7.6 gA soluble fiber that helps regulate blood sugar and improve insulin sensitivity
Magnesium94.9 mg
Potassium214.5 mg
Phosphorus192.7 mg
OtherA good balance of copper and zinc, Vitamin K and B vitamins.

In addition, raw cashews like other raw nuts and seeds contain essential enzymes that are only activated when you soak them. Heating (roasting/boiling) will damage the enzymes, so keeping them raw increases the nutritional value.

And sure, you can buy cashew milk at the store, but I have my reservations about all store-bought nut milks (you can read about it in my almond milk recipe).

So, what are you waiting for? Time to make some cashew milk!

Easy Homemade Cashew Milk

A creamy, dreamy cashew milk that you'll want to make every day.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time1 min
Course: Drinks, smoothie, Snack
Cuisine: all
Keyword: cashew milk, cashews, nut-milk, plant-based, vegan
Servings: 1 cup (8 fluid oz)

Equipment

  • Blender (high-speed one preferred)

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup raw cashews
  • 1 cup filtered water (more needed for soaking)

Optional

  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Instructions

  • Soak the raw cashews in filtered water for at least 30 minutes (overnight is fine too).
  • Rinse the cashews thoroughly, then add to a blender with 1 cup filtered water. Add more water to make it thinner if you like.
  • Blend for 30-60 seconds until creamy.
  • Drink, use immediately in your favorite recipe, or store for up to 3 days in an air-tight jar in the fridge.

Notes

If you plan on heating this milk, do so at a low temperature - otherwise it may separate. 
For a cool chocolate drink - Blend with a pitted date, 1 tsp raw cacao and a vanilla bean (or drop of vanilla extract).
For a cool turmeric latte - Blend with a pitted date, 1/2 tsp turmeric and a dash of black pepper.

Did you make this recipe?

Let me know below, and tag me @muxcooks on Instagram or Facebook if you try it! As always, share with your friends too. xo

Homemade Almond Milk

Homemade Almond Milk

I’ll go ahead and say it. The world doesn’t need another homemade almond milk recipe. A quick Google search brings up 149 million hits (which, granted – is a lot less than a search for ‘Brad and Jen’. Seriously, why is this still a thing, people?).

And yet, I still get loads of questions (and perplexed looks) when I talk about my homemade almond milk. Don’t get me wrong, I love going on about almond milk: how I first started making it 10 years ago without a high speed blender. How I got hooked when I found it could taste like kheer (hint: add cardamom and a date!). How it’s soo much better than store-bought…

This is probably why I don’t get invited to parties.

But that’s okay, I’m about to gate-crash your party to tell you ALL about it. Listen up – homemade almond milk is one of the simplest luxuries that you will make in your own kitchen. It’s also a nourishing substitute for dairy, especially if you’re lactose-intolerant or trying to go dairy-free.

All you need is:

    • raw almonds (soaked overnight)
    • water
    • a blender (a high-speed one like a Vitamix, Blendtec or Nutribullet is helpful for this)
    • a clean, air-tight jar or bottle to store it in.
    • optional: a nut-milk bag, cheesecloth or clean t-shirt/pantyhose (I’ll explain why this is optional).

So, what’s up with store-bought?

While I’m all about convenience, and get that homemade almond milk can be a pain to make every few days, here are my gripes with store-bought almond milk:

Gripe #1: Store-bought is full of junk (but there are exceptions).

Where to begin? First, there’s carrageenan (admittedly a type of seaweed) – a filler ingredient used to emulsify and thicken the milk. As early as the 80s, carrageenan was observed to suppress the immune system, later shown to trigger symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease in sensitive digestive tracts and even suspected to be potentially carcinogenic. Some almond milk brands now pride themselves on being “carrageenan-free!” for that reason (but know that carrageenan is also in some brands of ice-cream, cottage cheese, yogurt, and deli-meats, so read the labels!).

Then there are gums like xanthan, guar, gellan and locust bean that are used as thickeners. To be fair, these gums are also used in gluten-free cooking, but what are they doing in my almond milk? No.

And, then we have BS like rapeseed oil, once again, an emulsifier, typically found in almond milk creamers. WHY, why why why! Finally, don’t get me started on the added sugar, natural flavors, etc, etc.

Here’s the thing. Almond milk is already mostly water (as it should be: almonds+water). Does it really need all the other fillers to increase its shelf-life and make it thick like milk? You tell me.

(Exceptions: check out Malk and Elmhurst, as of 1/22/20, the only brands that seem to have minimal ingredients).

Gripe #2: Store-bought is mostly water.

So is home-made almond milk. But bear with me a sec.

Almonds by themselves are nutritional powerhouses. 1/4 cup almonds contains 7g protein, 4g fiber (with prebiotic benefits), 16g healthy fats (of which 10g are monounsaturated, 4g are polyunsaturated and 1.2g is saturated), a stellar vitamin E profile (8mg or 75% of your daily required intake), a good range of B-vitamins (needed for energy production), and reasonable amounts of copper, magnesium, manganese and zinc. Almonds are a nutritionally balanced food.

But almonds ≠ almond milk. Let’s compare the above to the nutritional facts of a few store-bought almond milk brands.

YUM.

The problem is not the added minerals – it’s that your body may not know how to process them, when they’re consumed in an isolated form (i.e., not as a whole food).

(Exceptions: check out Malk and Elmhurst, as of 1/22/20, the only brands that seem to retain a lot more protein, fats and fiber. They’re also more expensive than other brands.)

Which begs the question – what are you paying for? Water mixed with a multivitamin? Oh, right…the packaging.

Gripe #3: Store-bought involves packaging.

That means more plastic or Tetra pak packaging that not only require resources (some sustainable, some not) to be produced, but also more packaging that you now have to recycle, reuse or discard in a way that minimizes your carbon footprint.

Tetra pak, by the way is not fully recyclable – it’s made of paper, aluminum and polythene, and only 75% (the paper portion) rebirths as a new Tetra pak, the rest goes into a polyaluminum compound that eventually ends up as a single-use plastic. And we now know that not all plastics are recycled either.

See, I told you I’d talk your ear off. Let’s get back to this recipe already!

So, what makes my homemade almond milk different?

Well, most almond milk recipes involve 5 steps: 1) soaking the almonds overnight, 2) rinsing the almonds, 3) slipping the peels off, 4) blending with water – with sea salt and yummy additions like vanilla bean, dates and more, 5) straining the milk of all the almond meal before drinking.

My recipe involves 3 steps. That’s right, the key element differentiating my recipe from the others is (my) laziness. I’ve found ways to make my homemade almond milk more convenient and a breeze to make. Will it be as creamy as the other recipes? Probably not – but it will be more nutritious, and that works for me.

Here are my 3 steps:

    • 1. Soak the almonds overnight.  This is a critical step to activate the enzymes in the almonds.
    • 2. Rinse the almonds.  Peeling the skins is optional; the skin contains potent flavonoids (antioxidants) that are bioavailable when combined with vitamin C&E. Although, some claim that the skin contains tannic acids that are nutrient inhibitors, I haven’t found specific evidence to confirm this (shh, I never peel #lazy).
    • 3. Blend! Straining the milk using a nut milk bag is optional, and will make the milk creamier. Not straining (as shown in the photo below) allows you to retain all the lovely fiber (and prebiotic benefits) and almond goodness, such as protein, healthy fats, and powerful antioxidants. Bonus – your body knows how to use them!

You can now store your almond milk in the fridge in an air-tight container for 2-3 days. Use it for smoothies, chia puddings, overnight oats and dairy-free pasta sauces. Heating this almond milk will make it separate, so heat at low temps if you must!

No-waste hack: Almond milk goes bad if stored for longer than 3 days. So to avoid the risk of waste, I now prefer to blend almond milk on-the-go. To do this:

    • Soak a bigger batch overnight – say 1 cup of almonds for 4 days.
    • Rinse and blend up what you need (usually 1/4 cup for 1 smoothie.
    • Rinse the rest and thoroughly dry them (air-drying is fine).
    • Store the remainder in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to a week.

This way, you can have fresh almond milk on demand all week!

Easy Homemade Almond Milk

Almonds + Water = Almond milk. No peeling, no straining, just soak, blend & drink!
Prep Time8 hrs
Cook Time5 mins
Course: Drinks, smoothie, Snack
Cuisine: all
Keyword: almond milk, almonds, dairy-free, nut-milk, plant-based, vegan
Servings: 1 cup (8 fl oz)
Author: Mukta Gadkari

Equipment

  • Blender (high-speed is helpful)
  • Optional: nut-milk bag or strainer.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup raw almonds (organic if possible)
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • pinch sea salt (optional)

Instructions

  • Soak the almonds in cool, filtered water overnight or for 8 hours.
  • Rinse the almonds thoroughly. (Optional: slip off the skins)
  • Place in a high-speed blender with 1 cup of filtered water, and blend for about 30 -60 seconds until smooth. (Optional: strain using a nut-milk bag and use the remaining almond meal in baking, or add to soups/stews/pasta sauces for more fiber.)
  • Use immediately, or store in an air-tight jar in the fridge for 2-3 days.

Did you make this recipe?

Let me know below, and tag me @muxcooks on Instagram or Facebook if you try it!

Sassy Red Smoothie (Tomatoes, strawberries, raspberries, apple, mint & basil)

Sassy Red Smoothie (Tomatoes, strawberries, raspberries, apple, mint & basil)

Sassy Red Smoothie (Day 7 – Red)

This recipe is part of a series of colorful smoothie posts to celebrate Pride month.

This is the last smoothie in my Pride challenge; and it’s about time I posted this recipe. Not to completely change the subject, but will ya take a look at this baby. This smoothie’s a complete stunner — with the style of a fashionista, the sass of a punk rocker and the audacity of a Kardashian. When this smoothie walks into a room (just work with me here), the lights dim and a single spotlight perfectly hangs overhead, waiting for it to croon some saucy tune.

You get my point.

But there’s more! This show-stopper drink’s got summer written all over it. It has ripe tomatoes, strawberries and raspberries (I used frozen ones), mint, basil, chia seeds and an apple. It has the perfect blend of sweet and tart, with just that fleeting waft of mint and basil that you get during a stroll through a garden patch on a summer’s evening.

I added chia seeds for a bit of fiber and good fat content (to steady the blood sugar and provide a satiety element), but you could instead add a little coconut milk, avocado or soaked cashews to do the same.

Finally, like any good summer drink, this smoothie’s flavors go really well with a splash of gin, tequila or vodka, a poolside umbrella, an impossibly blue sky and your favorite swim-wear!

Recipe super-powers:

Tomatoes are the star of this smoothie. They are a member of the nightshade family, also including potatoes, eggplants and peppers. This vegetable (technically a fruit) contains lycopene, the potent anti-inflammatory carotenoid (responsible for its red color), along with other phyto-nutrients; plus it is rich in vitamin C, biotin, molybdenum, vitamin E and vitamin K.  The combined antioxidant and anti-inflammatory power of of lycopene, vitamins C and E, make tomatoes an excellent protector of heart health. For one, these compounds aid in preventing the oxidation of lipids (fats) in the cell lining. In addition, they seem to help lower total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol AND triglyceride levels. Interestingly, these cardiovascular protective benefits seem to increase significantly when the tomatoes are cooked in olive oil.

Eating tomatoes is also associated with a lower risk of certain cancers – particularly prostate and lung cancer – thanks to the phytonutrient “alpha-tomatine,” which has shown to trigger programmed cell death in formed cancer cells.

However, tomatoes are somewhat controversial as they may trigger an allergic reaction, particularly in people with arthritic symptoms. If you love tomatoes but they don’t love you back, don’t eat them. Better yet, work with a nutrition professional to eliminate nightshades for a few weeks, or to test for food sensitivities. 

Sassy Red Smoothie

Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Total Time10 mins
Course: Drinks, smoothie, Snack
Keyword: basil, mint, raspberry, smoothie, strawberry, tomato
Servings: 3 cups

Ingredients

  • 2 tomatoes, chopped into large wedges
  • 10 frozen strawberries
  • 1 cup frozen raspberries
  • 1 apple
  • 1/4 cup mint leaves (adjust to taste)
  • 1/4 cup basil leaves (adjust to taste)
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup ice-cubes
  • 1/2 avocado or 1/4 cup coconut milk (optional)

Instructions

  • Wash and prep all ingredients and add to a high-speed blender with water.
  • Blend at a low-speed for 30 seconds then gradually increase the speed until you reach the desired consistency. 
  • Thin it out further with ice-cubes or more water if needed. 
  • Pour, sip and enjoy!

References:

Murray, M., Pizzorno, J., & Pizzorno, L. (2005). Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. New York, NY: Atria Books.
Orange Glow Smoothie (Carrot, peach, banana)

Orange Glow Smoothie (Carrot, peach, banana)

Orange Glow Smoothie (Day 6 – Orange)

This recipe is part of a series of colorful smoothie posts to celebrate Pride month.

I’ve been neglecting my blog and it is time to make amends. Orange you glad we’re almost done with this series? Let’s do this.

With the theme “Orange”, Day 6 was a breeze. Think about it – there are just so many ways to construct an orange smoothie, the options are limitless! You can use carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkins or any winter squash, orange bell peppers, peaches, mangoes, papayas, cantaloupes and let’s not forget good ol’ oranges.  Heck, you could even throw in some turmeric and call it a party!

And the benefits of a fruit and veggie powered orange drink are just as diverse! For instance, while we normally associate the color orange with the potent antioxidant “beta-carotene” (a form of Vitamin A), many orange-hued fruits and veggies are also full of Vitamin C, manganese, copper and a range of essential B vitamins (like biotin, riboflavin and folate).

For this smoothie, I used what I had on hand – a couple carrots, a very ripe peach, a banana, oats, cashews and ginger.

I’m not sure what delighted me more – the color (I mean, look at it!!) or the clean, subtle flavors. The drink could have used a little more ginger to amp up the spice, so don’t hold back if you love a good punch-you-in-the-face ginger drink!

Recipe super-powers:

Carrots most definitely stand out in this drink. As little as 1 cup of carrots contains more than your daily recommended intake of vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene), and a healthy dose of biotin, vitamins B6, K, C and fiber. And beta-carotene is just one of the anti-inflammatory carotenoids present in carrots – the other two are lutein and alpha-carotene.

Eating carotenoid-rich foods has great long-term health benefits! Some include a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, improved bone health, and protection from age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Studies have also suggested a possible link between carrot intake and a lower incidence of breast cancer  – largely due to the tumor-suppressing, antioxidant and anti-mutagenic benefits of these carotenoids.

What’s more, beta-carotene absorption in the body seems to increase when the veggies are cooked or combined with fats (such as olive or coconut oil, avocados, eggs, wild fish and nuts). I guess blending carrots with cashews wasn’t such a bad idea after all!

Orange Glow Smoothie

Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Total Time10 mins
Course: Drinks, smoothie, Snack
Keyword: smoothie
Servings: 4 cups (approx)
Author: Mukta Gadkari

Ingredients

  • 2 carrots (medium size)
  • 1 ripe peach or nectarine
  • 1 banana
  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 2 inch ginger adjust to taste
  • 1/2 cup cashews soaked for at least 30 min
  • 3 cups water

Instructions

  • Wash and prep all ingredients. Peel carrots if needed (I left mine unpeeled) and de-seed the peach or nectarine. 
  • Add all ingredients to blender. 
  • Blend at low-speed at first for 30 seconds, then on high for another 30 seconds or until you get the consistency you want. Add more water or ice to thin out your smoothie as needed. 
  • Pour, sip and LOVE. 

References:

Lugavere, M. (2018). Genius Foods. New York, NY: Harper Wave. 
Murray, M., Pizzorno, J., & Pizzorno, L. (2005). Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. New York, NY: Atria Books.
Golden Glory Smoothie (Turmeric, mango, banana)

Golden Glory Smoothie (Turmeric, mango, banana)

Golden Glory Smoothie (Day 5 – Yellow)

This recipe is part of a series of colorful smoothie posts to celebrate Pride month.

It’s not lost on me that I’m over a month late in posting the last few smoothie recipes of this series.  Pride month was in JUNE. It is now August. I have no excuses, except you know…life.

July was full of activity. We went camping in Sequoia National Park for four days during the July 4th week; which besides being my first time camping since high school, was also my first experience pitching a tent (well, I only sorta pitched), planning for campsite meals to transport in a cooler (yes, we were spending as little time cooking on this trip as possible), and swimming in a breathtakingly icy cold alpine lake.

Oh, and my first time among giants!

Giant Forest

In the Giant Forest, Sequoia National Park

Emerald Lake

Wildflowers and Emerald Lake in the distance

It was also my longest time unplugging, since, well – the internet – and if that’s not a sad realization, I don’t know what is.

Meanwhile, work has gotten busier, which is so invigorating when you love what you do. And I’ve taken on an additional challenge of getting Board Certified in Holistic Health through the National Association of Nutrition Professionals (NANP), so the studying has begun again. But I digress….

Let’s get back to that smoothie, shall we?

Ever so often, I meet a drink that makes my eyes widen with delight. A year ago, I met one of them: a smoothie called Ram & Sita, made in the lovely Mandala tea house at Breathe Together yoga studio. It’s got ginger, raw honey, turmeric, black pepper, cinnamon, mango & almond milk. It’s served ice-cold, is a beautiful yellow, and such a treat on a hot day.

00100dPORTRAIT_00100_BURST20180624161753811_COVER

My version was similar, except I replaced the raw honey with a banana, and added some oats for extra fiber.

And this smoothie was a winner. Like a mic-drop kinda winner. It’s cool, softly refreshing and a pure flavor that will leave you smacking your lips once it’s done.

Recipe super-powers:

Turmeric for the win! I’ll be honest. I find it hilarious but also oddly comforting that turmeric is enjoying its moment in the Western world, when it’s all we knew growing up. Not only does it serve as a basis for most Indian food, but it is used for all manner of ailments. Got a cold? Drink warm milk with turmeric and honey. Get a bleeding cut? Stuff it with turmeric. Want glowing skin? Put some turmeric on it!

Wives tales and anecdotal evidence aside, turmeric does have plenty to be proud of. Its highly anti-inflammatory properties come from its yellow pigment (curcumin) which has demonstrated pain-reduction benefits comparable to drugs like Ibuprofen, powerful antioxidant activity (excellent for cleaning up those harmful free radicals), ability to improve insulin sensitivity and possibly prevent Type 2 Diabetes, and reduction of inflammatory biomarkers associated with Metabolic Syndrome, to name just a few.

But before you start adding turmeric to everything, add a dash of black pepper too. Studies have shown that curcumin’s bio-availability (accessibility) increases almost 2000% with the addition of piperine, the major active component of black pepper!

Golden Glory Smoothie

Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Total Time10 mins
Course: Drinks, smoothie, Snack
Keyword: smoothie
Servings: 4 cups (approx)
Author: Mukta Gadkari

Ingredients

  • 1 mango, peeled and deseeded or 1 cup frozen mango
  • 1 banana
  • 1/4 cup oats rolled or instant
  • 2 tsp turmeric ground
  • 1 tsp cinnamon ground
  • 1 tsp black pepper ground
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 2 cups water

Instructions

  • Wash and prep ingredients, and add to a high speed blender. 
  • Blend on a slow speed first for about 30 seconds, then at high-speed until the ingredients have been incorporated.
  • If desired, add more water or ice-cubes to thin out.
  • Pour, sip and enjoy!

References:

Murray, M., Pizzorno, J., & Pizzorno, L. (2005). Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. New York, NY: Atria Books.