Purple Smoothie

Purple SmoothieDid you know that foods that are naturally purple (like blueberries or acai berries) are exceptionally high in antioxidants are therefore are super good for you? It’s true. Back in 2010 when I first began my weight loss journey, before I discovered juicing, I would have a purple smoothie every morning with a slice of cinnamon raisin Ezekiel bread. It is such a good breakfast. In fact I may just have to start doing it again.

Blend all of the ingredients below in a magic bullet or whatever blender system you have. I specify the Sambazon variety of acai berry juice because this is the brand they carry at Costco – it’s 2 bottles for $10, whereas one bottle will run you around $7 at Whole Foods. I also get all my frozen berries at Costco. Usually I buy one of their huge bags of frozen strawberries and either frozen blackberries or whatever berry blend they have available. It lasts for weeks and is such a good bang for your buck. As far as bananas go, the more ripe the better. If you like your smoothies extra thick and cold you can freeze the bananas once they’re ripe and add them to  your smoothie that way. At the end of the day, it’s your smoothie, so put in whatever you like – I’d love to hear your variations!

The Ingredients: 

  • 1/2 cup Sambazon acai berry juice
  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 fresh or frozen banana
  • 1/2 cup frozen blackberries or blueberries
  • 1 large frozen strawberry
  • 1 generous squeeze of honey
  • 1 tbsp fresh ground flaxseed
  • pinch of old fashioned rolled oats
  • dash of vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp Greek yogurt (optional)

Now I am not an advocate of protein powders and the like because at the end of the day they are super processed products that your body will have trouble digesting. However, if you must, this smoothie will be a perfect vehicle for that or any kind of powdered or liquid supplement you take.

Starving Artist Rotisserie Chicken Soup

I know, it’s cold outside. Really cold. Maybe you’re feeling under the weather or battling that nasty cold that’s been going around. In your desire for some warm, soothing comfort, you open your cabinet, pull out the can with that ubiquitous red and white label, and reach for your can opener. No one blames you – we’ve all been there. The starving artist is here to tell you that you don’t need to fall into this trap. You can have hearty, comforting, HOMEMADE chicken soup with that all-day slow-cooked rich flavor in less than 40 minutes. Seriously.

How does the starving artist do it? Let Costco do all the slow-cooking for you by grabbing one of their $5 rotisserie chickens. That cheap little chicken is all the depth and flavor you need to make a killer soup. With just a few additional ingredients – veggies, noodles, and stock – you’re going to have the best soup you’ve ever had in practically no time at all. Watch the video and see how it’s done!

Here’s the recipe in printed form:
Starving Artist Rotisserie Chicken Soup (Recipe PDF)

This soup will last in your fridge for 5 days and also freezes very well if you happen to make too much.

I really REALLY want you to try this recipe. Homemade soup is perhaps the starving artist’s greatest weapon. It is filling, it is healthy, and there is no other food that will give you bigger bang for your buck without sacrificing quality. Try it once and you’ll never waste your money on canned soup again. Hooray!

New Episode Tomorrow!

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Friends, I’m pleased to announce that tomorrow I’ll be posting a new episode of the Starving Artist!

Looking for a cheap and easy dish that will warm your body in soul in those frigid single digit temperatures? Tomorrow I’ll show you how to take a $5 rotisserie chicken from Costco and turn it into a big steaming pot of homemade chicken soup that tastes better than your grandma’s and can be ready in less than 40 minutes. It’s the perfect comfort food to melt away all that cold and ice and make you feel all warm and gooey inside. Tune in tomorrow!

And don’t forget, you can all episodes of the show by clicking on the video tab at the top of the page or, better yet, by visiting my YouTube channel and becoming a subscriber. Hooray!

Conquering Canned Salmon

Canned Salmon CakesIf you’ve been following my blog since the beginning, you have more than once heard me sing my praise for Costco. It is both the starving artist’s best friend and worst enemy. My friend Joel coined the phrase in regards to Costco “go broke saving money.” And those of you who shop at Costco know exactly what I’m talking about – if you get out spending less than $75 it’s a miracle. Whenever I get a paycheck, it’s one of my first stops, which is dangerous… it’s hard enough showing restraint with no money, but with a full wallet, I spend at least $100 without breaking a sweat. Let’s be serious, this bitch can shop.

A few weeks ago I had one of these visits to Costco and, like I often do with some extra cash to spend, I made an impulse purchase on something new… a six pack of canned salmon. I know, I know, canned salmon?? Weeks previously I had been having a conversation at the fitness studio about protein and how canned salmon could be a good and inexpensive source (40 grams per can!). So, here I was at Costco, the place where everything is cheapest when bought in mass quantity. Time for some canned salmon. Fair warning, if you’re looking for the satisfaction of a fresh grilled filet of salmon, this is not the post for you. The starving artist has to make do.

My first attempt was to use this like I would use a can of good tuna or sardines: throw it into my salad. I opened the can, drained the liquid, and turned it onto a small plate. The can-shaped brick of dirty pink fish thwopped out onto the plate as if it was being birthed. Hmm. Not what I was hoping for. A quick taste revealed more disappointment: it tastes just like canned tuna. Not that I mind canned tuna, but, well, I was hoping for salmon. Yeah, this is going to need some starving artist pizzaz.

My next move? Salmon cake. Normally one will put in things like mayonnaise, bacon, bread crumbs… but I’m in bootcamp – those won’t fly. I must be exceptionally creative. So here’s what I did. Instead of mayo, I used soy-free veganaise, which I keep in my fridge nowadays. Obviously this is not a vegan recipe, so you can just use real mayo if you have it, but veganaise is what I have and makes me feel better. Also instead of breadcrumbs I used almond meal, which is really just almonds ground up into a powder. A gluten-free breading that you can get at Trader Joe’s for $3.99. The one exception I did make is using panko bread crumbs on the exterior for an unbeatable crunch. I normally use almond meal instead of bread crumbs to coat things, but for this particular recipe it really needed the panko.

I eat them just as pictured with a bit of hot sauce on them. Also great with homemade tzatziki sauce or the infamous secret sauce. You can top them with avocado, put them on a bun, or you can make them into balls and serve them as finger food at your next gathering. Just put out some store-bought remoulade for dipping. Mmm!’

Now, much like the ice cream post from yesterday, these should not be eaten every day. I ate these three days a row last week and stopped losing weight – not good! Have them once a week and you’ll be golden. Woohoo! I’m going to try for one or two more creations with this stuff… I’ll let you know what I come up with.

Almost Guiltless Salmon Cakes – Recipe PDF

Summer Picnics in LA

I gotta tell you, I love LA in the summer. This weekend was a showcase of my favorite summer activities, both of which happen to involve picnics – no surprise there, I’m sure. As you might imagine, the Starving Artist is a good friend to have at a picnic.

The festivities began on Saturday with Cinespia, which is an organization that screens movies every weekend in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. You pay $10, gather a group of friends, show up at the cemetery with food and wine, and picnic out on the cemetery lawn with a movie. This weekend was Sunset Blvd, which I had never seen. Such a fun evening and such a great movie. Then on Sunday I went to the Hollywood Bowl to see Pixar in concert. I absolutely adore going to the hollywood bowl. Tickets come in a large range of prices, so you can cheap it up or splurge. Everything is outdoors and they let you bring your own food and drink. I’m lucky that I live close enough to walk, so we all meet at my place and walk over. No parking nightmare and of course the weather is usually perfectly gorgeous for an evening stroll. It’s weekends like this that I’m reminded how great LA is and how lucky I am to have such great friends.

But, more important than camaraderie is food. Remember last week when I posted that recipe for apple-cherry-peach sauce? Well I still had quite a bit leftover. It occurred to me that such fruity sweetness would go well with a nice strong cheese. I went for my default, which is Cabot extra sharp white cheddar from Vermont. Only $10 for a giant block at Costco. I mean come on, I’m a New Englander. I used half the block for Saturday and half for Sunday. Picked up a large box of Triscuits on sale for $2.99 at Gelson’s and voila, a lovely snack. You’ll notice in the picture I made them on French bread that one of our friends had bought. Also nice, but I prefer the crisp of the Triscuit myself. Slice up some fruit, grab some pretzels and a bag of M&Ms and you have yourself a picnic. Some people go all out and bring baked goods or entire meals. I keep it more on the finger food side – then we have a good excuse to hit up a diner afterward. Glorious.