I don't know if this happens to any of you, but I completely lose my cooking mojo over the cold winter months. Whilst I know many of you relish those hearty comfort food dishes that we turn to so often once the weather turns chilly ... soups, stews, casserole, substantial puddings, and so on ... I personally could hardly give a "thank you" for them. Sure, I don't mind those things occasionally (as in maybe once or twice a year), but I have no interest in any of it as regular fare.
As soon as the days begin to get longer and warmer, however, and the first asparagus spears appear at the market, my enthusiasm for cooking returns and sends me rushing to the kitchen with renewed creative spark.
I haven't cooked with my lovely friends at I Heart Cooking Clubs for a few months. This week, however, they're beginning a new six month culinary journey with guest chef Ellie Krieger. Ellie is a nutritionist, with a number of cookbooks and regular magazine features to her credit, and if you're a fan of Food TV you will almost certainly have come across her show featuring her unique blend of healthy meets delicious fare ... just my kind of food.
This week is a potluck challenge to choose a dish to welcome Ellie to the IHCC stable of celebrity chefs. Scrolling through some of Ellie's contributions to the Washington Post, I came across her article and suggestions for smoothie bowls. As Ellie says, the best reason to put your smoothie in a bowl is of course the toppings, and she served up a gorgeous looking cherry and banana smoothie, topped with fresh berries, flaked almonds, chia seeds and toasted coconut - gorgeous.
I've been on a major smoothie kick lately, and I'm always looking for new inspiration, so this idea was right up my alley. But then I got to thinking - what if I gave this a savoury twist ... a delicately flavoured avocado and cucumber smoothie, given a little bit of a kick with peppery watercress, and spiked with lemon and mint. And the toppings? Some toasted pumpkin seeds, crispy, crumbled chorizo, and a sprinkling of wasabi peas for a bit of heat and extra crunch, and finished off with crisp shards of sourdough crackers. Of course, if you want to keep this vegetarian - skip the chorizo.
This was deliciously light and refreshing, and the toppings added enough interest and substance to make this feel like a delicious and healthy lunch. Thanks for the inspiration, Ellie - I think this could become a bit of a lunchtime staple over the summer months.
Green Smoothie Bowls Recipe
with inspiration from Ellie Krieger
Makes one generous serving
Vegetarian (if you leave out the chorizo)
for the smoothie
1x small avocado, cut into rough chunks
1/2 a telegraph cucumber, peeled, deseeded and roughly chopped
2x cups ice
half a dozen mint leaves, roughly torn
two large handfuls watercress leaves
zest and juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/4 to 1/2 cup almond milk
generous pinch flaky sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
for the toppings
toasted pumpkin seeds
1/2 a chorizo sausage, thinly sliced, fried until crisp, then very finely chopped
anything else savoury and crunchy that you can think of
Place all of the smoothie ingredients in a blender and blitz until completely smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning or lemon juice to your liking.
Pour the smoothie into a bowl, and sprinkle toppings liberally over the top.
Dig in and enjoy!!
If you would like to get to know Ellie Krieger a little better, and to see all the wonderful "Welcome Ellie" dishes my friends have come up with, then do go visit I Heart Cooking Clubs and check out the links.