• Warts and all

    I landed upon a new blog one morning this past week and it put me in a deep, dark, dank, foul mood. The mother/blogger had a skinny waist, smooth skin, and seven kids. She dressed like she worked on a New York runway. She was gifted with a camera. She hammed up life in ways that I don’t even dare to dream of. For example, to celebrate Easter, she created a backyard fairyland complete with a white-gauzy Sukkot tent (yes, wrong analogy), a table spread with linens and giant bouquets of flowers, real chairs, and glass platters of iced goodies, candies, and the like. Her kids were magazine-worthy in their pastels, sundresses, be-ribboned hair, and chubby pink bare feet. Clean bare feet. Everyone was flashing smiles right and left.

    As I scrolled through her blog, I got grumpier and grumpier. Everything was peaches and cream to the nth degree, and the deluge of God-talk didn’t help matters. I felt like I was suffocating.

    (Let me say here, the woman may be a real dear. I don’t know her, and I wish her nothing but the best. These musing just come about as a result of my quick observations, some slap-dash judgment passing, and the resulting emotions and personal insecurities. Forgive me.)

    That night I ranted to Mr. Handsome about the blog. He looked at me, bemused, and said, “If you don’t like it, why are you reading it?”

    He was missing the point entirely, and I told him so.

    It took a lot of thinking and some conversations with some people other than Mr. Handsome before I figured out what was bothering me. It wasn’t that I envied the women (well, except for her stunning figure). I certainly have no desire to make gauzy tents in my backyard or to dress up my kids for photo shoots. Shoot, half the time my kids look like they just came out of the bush, dirty, stinky, and with burrs in their hair. (And sometimes it’s even worse than that. When I got back from town the other morning, Yo-Yo was sitting on the porch in a clown suit, a blue wig atop his head and a red clown nose strapped to his face. Miss Beccaboo was wearing a conglomeration of things, including an old lady’s blue zip-up bathrobe, a sequined red skirt with black poodles on it, a see-through cape, a scarf, and a sunbonnet. She had stuffed her underwear so that she was fat, in an inner tube sort of way. It was a sight to behold.)

    No, the thing about the blog that rankled me was this: presenting life as though it consists of just sundresses and cherubic children is dishonest. Life holds both beauty and pain. To talk only of the one part cheapens the whole.

    Not to mention that it puts thirty-four year old women who have to comb through their children’s hair on a daily basis to ensure all the lice are gone in a very bad mood indeed. (Excuse the bad sentence structure. I’m not going to nitpick it.) (And yes, the lice are gone.)

    Plus, I have some serious issues with employing God-talk to condone peaches-n-cream stories.

    The next morning I discovered another blog. This mother/writer was nearly killed in a plane crash two years ago. She survived, but her face is horribly deformed from the burns, and she’s still undergoing surgeries. She has four lively children, a lived-in house, a caring husband, and a new perspective on life. She grieves the loss of her old self, but she’s ever so thankful she’s alive, able to press her disfigured lips against her babies’ soft, perfect skin.

    This blog did not rankle. I was challenged, saddened, grateful, and inspired. I stood up from the computer and viewed my own home, a home filled with clown suits, burrs, arguments and head lice, with new eyes. My life is rich, no white gauze necessary.

    I don’t blog everything about my life, to be sure, but I try to be candid. When I first started this blog, I felt like a con artist. I was only writing about bits and pieces of my life. If I talked about packing Mr. Handsome’s lunch, then I worried that you would think I always pack his lunch and that I’m much nicer than I really am. If I talked about my kids cheerfully doing their chores, then I worried that you might think they always did their chores like so. But as I built my blogging history, I became more dimensional. I didn’t worry so much about pulling the wool over your eyes. I was more or less (hopefully more) showing you who I am, warts and all.

    Not everyone is inclined to splat as freely as I do, and some people splat even more. Honesty takes many forms, but the bottom line? A sugar-coated life (either blogged about or not) is not at all nourishing.

    Still, I have a long way to go.

    Just the other day I stopped at my friend Kris’s house to pick up something and she came over to the car to say hi to the kids. She and I started talking about movies, and I mentioned that my kids weren’t going to be allowed to watch the traditional Sunday night movie because earlier that week they had, unbeknownst to me, snuck the TV up to their room and watched a movie. When I had called up to ask what they were doing, they said they were having a reading party, the little stinkers.

    Yo-Yo piped up, “You shouldn’t be telling your friends about the stuff we do!”

    “I tell my friends lots of things about you guys and they still love you,” I said (rather patronizingly).

    Yo-Yo’s retort was swift and logical. “Well, then I should tell your friends about how you really are at home! You do all kinds of stuff that you don’t tell them about!”

    Kris chimed in, graciously smoothing things out, “As do all of us. And we still love each other.”

    Apparently I have not yet attained Atticus Finch’s ability to be the same in house as on the public streets (some days I don’t even try all that hard, I admit). This failing of mine is one of my warts, no doubt about it.

    Maybe I engineer more gauzy structures than I’m aware of?

    And that, my dears, concludes today’s ramblings.


    About one year ago: The mother of his children.

  • Nekkid

    I’m not going to be able to not talk about food for the couple of weeks while I wait for my new computer to get here. I just can’t. This means that any new recipes I post will be pictureless. (My computer is so full that it’s groaning. It spazzes out if I try to upload even one itty-bitty picture.)

    This grieves me. I love to look at pictures of food. I love to take pictures of food. I love to write around pictures of food. But it’s just not happening.

    Perhaps I’ll update these posts later with pictures, but perhaps not. It depends on many things, such as the amount of time I have on my hands and whether or not I remember. I’m just a reed, blowin’ in the wind….

    (Now, on May 17, new and improved, with pictures!)

    Two Sundays ago I was polishing off a bag of Stacy’s Simply Naked Pita chips while sitting on the sofa in the downstairs bedroom. Shortly thereafter a gigantic kettle of boiling chicken broth exploded across the kitchen. Because I was staring at the bag when the eruption occurred, the image of that empty bag of pita chips is now seared into my brain for eternity.

    Those pita chips became an obsession. I wanted to make them. I had to make them. I googled and read and googled some more. Everything I read said they were a cinch to prepare. So I bought a bag of pita bread, coated the pitas with melted butter, sprinkled them with lots of salt, hacked them up, and popped them in the oven.

    That evening when Mr. Handsome mentioned he was kind of hankering for a snack, I scurried to change into my birthday suit, wrap myself up in plastic wrap, and fetch him the jar of chips.

    Okay, so only the last part was true. But really, that scene from Fried Green Tomatoes where the plump wife outfits herself in nothing but plastic wrap in hopes that her husband will notice her is one of my favorite parts. That and the part where she repeatedly rams her car into the back of another car that dared to take her parking space.

    So I gave Mr. Handsome the chips, listened to him crunch for a minute and then said, “So waddaya think? Are they as good as the bought chips?”

    “No,” he said. I wrinkled my nose and turned back towards the sink. Darn, I’d have to do some more experimenting.

    “They’re better.”

    Yes! I did it! I can make pita chips better than Stacy! I’m a naked pita chip superhero!

    And now, by following the simple instructions outlined below, you can be a superhero, too!

    If, for whatever reason, the chips don’t turn out exactly right, remember—there’s always plastic wrap.

    With pesto torte

    Naked Pita Chips

    I used Toufayan pitas, but I think any pita would work. Do not, however, substitute the pitas with flatbread; flatbreads do not have the air pocket and are therefore not as light and crispy.

    1 12-ounce bag of pita bread (about six pitas)
    4 tablespoons butter, melted

    Brush both sides of each pita with the melted butter. Cut the pitas into wedges or squares. Pile them on a cookie sheet and sprinkle generously with salt. If there is any remaining butter, drizzle it over the pile of cut pitas. Use all of the butter.

    Bake the pita chips at 200 degrees for 2-3 hours, tossing every hour, until dry through and through. And then toast them a little more. They have to be dry, dry, dry.

    Add more salt as needed.

    Cool the chips to room temperature before storing in an airtight container.

    Serve these with hot artichoke dip, pesto torte, and/or baked brie. Or abandon the adornments and eat them buck naked.

    The chips, I mean, not you.

    About one year ago: Mr. Handsome’s sandwich

  • The bike question revisited

    There are seven kids running around outside: big boys on rollerblades, carrying sharp sticks, little girls and boys (some with lice, some without; I’m keeping my fingers crossed) drawing on the porch (on paper, I hope). I’m inside, sufficiently pumped on sugar and caffeine. There is no need to procrastinate further. It’s time to write.

    I was a little surprised that none of you commented on this one line in the lousy post: 26. Send the older two lice-free children on a three-mile bike ride to visit their daddy’s job site. I thought at least someone would spy it and shoot me an incredulous “WHAT???”

    I got feedback from a fair number of you regarding my question as to whether or not it is appropriate to allow the older kids to go on adult-free bike rides. Some of you were quite wary, others only so-so. (Just yesterday I got a letter from my mother-in-law in which she chronicled her children’s biking mishaps. Someone rode a bike into sister Sarah’s leg. Little Mr. Handsome got an elbow-full of gravel while riding on a country road. Sarah (what’s up with her, huh?) got some clothing caught in the spokes and flipped head over heels. But the best one was a trike accident. “Tom was riding down the front lawn with a nail in his mouth. The trike fell over and the nail went [I think] into the roof of Tom’s mouth.”)

    None of you said “Go for it.” So naturally, that’s what I did. Because I’m ornery like that.

    While I am by no means a hardcore biker, I’m no stranger to bikes. When I was a babe, I rode in a little plastic seat behind my mom’s billowing blouses, and by the time I was nine-years-old, or thereabouts, I was riding the three miles down country roads to my friend’s house. My town friends and I would peddle all over our little neighborhood and to the secluded (pervert alert!) public school where we’d play in the dark, spooky woods for hours on end. And then my family moved to West Virginia where bear prints were found in the swamp by the end of our driveway and my mother had to walk me out to the bus stop every morning because I was petrified. Different things are scary to different people.

    I tend to find myself on the more carefree side of the parenting fence. I hesitate to say no to risky (reasonably so) endeavors for fear that my children will end up feeling scared or unsure of themselves. I’d much rather teach them how to be safe, drill them, act out scenarios, put safeguards in place, and then empower them to (in this case) peddle free.

    We are very candid with our children about the dangers of country-road riding. In these matters, I try to emulate Amy Tan’s mother, who, when warning Amy about the dangers of crossing the street, said, “You don’t look, you get smash flat like sand dab.”

    I don’t know what a sand dab is, though I have a feeling it resembles Flat Stanley (now there’s another thing to worry about—bulletin boards), so I don’t say that exactly, but I did read to them the newspaper obituary about the community kid who wrecked his four-wheeler and died. And I told them, my adrenaline still pumping hours after the event, about sitting in my van at an intersection in town and watching our good (adult) friend nearly get hit by a car while making a left-hand turn on his bike.

    For the most part, Yo-Yo and Miss Beccaboo have been pretty well endowed with common sense. (Except for the time when they found a wallet at a park and then attempted to stop cars to see if it belonged to the drivers. We have since thoroughly discussed the inappropriateness of stopping strangers in cars.) When I drilled them on bike etiquette right before they took off on their three-mile ride, they listened very closely, eyes wide. Nerves sharpen the senses. (Did you know that the best stuntmen are the ones who are deeply terrified? We learned that from the video The World’s Most Spectacular Stuntman.) We discussed dogs, staying together, not talking while riding, and keeping their heads up. That’s my Amy Tan’s mother-like mantra, “KEEP YOUR HEADS UP OR THEY WILL GET SQUASHED LIKE PUMPKINS.” I don’t usually say the pumpkin part, but they know.

    I’m still not to the point of letting my kids joy-peddle around the neighborhood, but I’m thinking our next step might be to teach them a three or four mile loop, clock it, take them on a couple practice runs, and then let them ride that when they get the itch to burn off some energy.

    Till then, they just run around the yard with sticks.

    About one year ago: Going to work.

  • I have nothing to say

    But I’m not going to let that stop me from writing.

    Hm, let’s see. What to talk about?

    (Jiggle knee. Sip coffee. Look out window. Pick teeth. Scratch head.)

    For the next month, I have two-day, free shipping from Amazon. This is dangerous. And scary. And exhilarating. What should I buy? Hmmm? I’m hoping to order all school books for next year. Or maybe for the next ten years. After which we’ll need to reinstate the spending freeze for the next six months to compensate. Moderation is not my strong suit.

    Mr. Handsome finally broke his spending fast yesterday. I broke it long ago with lemons and goat cheese, but he was determined to go forever. (Snort-HA!) He bought two bags of day-old bagels. The Baby Nickel was so psyched for “donuts” that he was running laps around the table and bouncing off the walls.

    While I was puttsing in the garden last night, I discovered that the baby potato plants are covered with puddles of orange eggs, so I abandoned the radishes to crawl down the row squish-squishing the evil babes with my fingers.

    The feet of the Potato Bug Smoosher. Be very afraid, ye yucky bugs.

    And now for some kiddisms.

    1. Miss Beccaboo likes to pretend she has claws.

    She tapes these finger thingies to her toes and hobbles around.

    She has to take them off when she does dishes because she doesn’t want them to get wet.

    And I thought those fake fingernails must be a pain….

    2. She also twists her arms together in a backwards pretzel shape, fingers intertwined, and then states dryly, “I’m letting my brains talk for a little while.” Apparently a friend told her that when you cross your arms like so, the left and right sides of the brain can converse. Maybe she’s deficient in brain equilibrium?

    3. Which reminds me. The other day she said, “I used to be a good thinker, but I’m not anymore.” I’m not sure why she said that, and it actually sounds kind of pathetic now that I’ve written it. She probably just did a number of dumb things in quick succession. Getting in trouble repeatedly will make you feel like a not-so good thinker. That’s how I feel when I flop cakes and talk without thinking.

    Or blog without thinking.

    4. One day, out of the blue, The Baby Nickel said, “Mom, your hands are different.” I asked, “How do you know?” and he replied, “I smelled them. They smell like a new mom.”

    I don’t know what that means.

    5. Yo-Yo asked me, “What are statistics?” I tried to explain and failed, plus I kept mutilating the pronunciation, so I finally resorted to a round-about answer, “It’s what your uncle is studying in school.”

    Yo-Yo quipped, “What? Can’t he say it yet?”

    About one year ago: Baked Macaroni and Cheese

  • Saucy rhubarb

    My computer is giving me fits. It’s been giving me fits for several weeks now, but yesterday it threw a gigantic hissy fit and now it no longer allows me to upload pictures or save any word documents.

    All I have left (besides my family, house, and photo albums) is the internet, for which I am truly grateful. I can email and post, research and read to my heart’s content, but I can’t post any new photos that I take. That means no new recipes.

    But no matter. I have lots of old recipes that I’ve photographed and have been meaning to tell you about. We’ll work on those for now, okay? The new computer that we ordered last night should be here in a couple weeks. In the meantime, I’ve got some roasted rhubarb for you.

    I’ve made roasted/stewed rhubarb before, but I didn’t really like it all that much. I’m not a cooked fruit sort of gal. Fruit cooked in a pastry, yes. Fresh, yes. But just the hot saucy fruit? Not so much.

    This recipe changed that, at least in relation to rhubarb. I made it twice, in quick succession, and then I ate so much of it that I got sores in my mouth. At which point I went cold turkey. My mouth has now healed and I’m ready to dig in with my spoon again. But this time I’ll be a little more moderate.

    The recipe couldn’t be easier: a couple pounds of rhubarb, a half-cup of white wine and the same of sugar, and a vanilla bean, split in half. I found it to be an excessive quantity of vanilla (not because it didn’t taste good, but because vanilla beans are so darn expensive), so I recommend using half a bean. Even that will provide you with plenty of vanilla flavoring and lots of dainty black specks throughout. (Whatever you do, do not throw out that vanilla bean when you’re done with it. Rinse it off, dry it well, and then grind it up in your food processor with some sugar to make vanilla-flecked sugar. Or simply stick it in a canister of sugar and let it do its magic, no loud motors involved.)

    The second time I made this recipe, I served it with skillet cornbread and vanilla ice cream. The paring was delicious, if I do say so myself. And I do. Nubbly, buttery, slightly-sweet cornbread, tangy-tart rhubarb, and creamy-cool ice cream, oh my!

    I used this cornbread recipe, but I baked it in an eight-inch cast iron skillet which improved the texture considerably. Simply preheat the skillet in the oven, add a tablespoon of butter and swish it around, making sure to coat the sides. Add the batter and return the skillet to the oven to bake for 20-30 minutes (or longer, if you forget to turn the oven back on after removing an earlier batch of baking). It’s a 100-percent whole grain recipe (my mother’s jaw about hit the floor when I told her there was no white flour in it), what with the cup of cornmeal and a cup of whole wheat pastry flour, both freshly ground.

    Do I sound annoyingly holy? I’m not. I’m addicted to Swedish fish.

    So there.

    Roasted Rhubarb
    Adapted from Molly’s blog Orangette

    Molly says that red rhubarb is best for eye appeal, and I agree. However, the variety I have in the garden is mostly green with some red thrown in, and I deal just fine. Though I am hoping to get some starts of ruby rhubarb sometime soon. Anyone have some to share?

    2 pounds rhubarb, washed, trimmed, and cut into two-inch pieces
    1/2 cup sugar
    1/2 cup white wine
    1/2 vanilla bean, split in half

    Put the rhubarb in a Dutch oven. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir gently. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for about thirty minutes, or until the rhubarb is tender. You may need to stir it once or twice, but don’t overdo it. Otherwise it shreds and mushes and loses some of that all-important eye appeal.

    Serve plain, with whipped cream or vanilla (or strawberry) ice cream, alongside cake (or not), hot or cold.

    About one year ago: Pounding the pulpit

  • How to get your bedding/house/kids clean all in one day

    1. Get a phone call from your friend who tells you in a I’m-trying-to-be-really-calm-but-I’m-kind-of-hysterical voice that her daughter has head lice.
    2. Hang up the phone.
    3. Grab the nearest head and start looking.
    4. Be really uncertain because you have never seen head lice in your life and you have no idea what you’re looking for.
    5. Grab another head. Find lice.
    6. Call the doctor.
    7. Call the pharmacist.
    8. Call your mom.
    9. Call your friend back. Laugh as though you’re possessed. Listen as she laughs as though she is possessed.
    10. Yell at the kids to bring down all the bedding.
    11. Pile the bedding in the bathroom. To get to the washing machine and toilet, you now have to scale a pile of laundry that rivals Mount Everest, but never mind that.
    12. Start a load of laundry.
    13. Repeat Step Twelve every forty minutes for the next ten hours, sleep, and then continue the process the following morning.
    14. Email the relatives that were planning on spending the night to tell them that you are very sorry, but perhaps they might want to find other accommodations.
    15. Hang up the first load of laundry.
    16. Repeat Step 15 every forty minutes for the next ten hours, sleep, and then continue the process the following morning upon waking. Thank your lucky starts that the sun is shining and that you have a crazy-huge number of clotheslines.
    17. Throw all the kids in the car and hightail it to a pharmacy.

    18. Buy two delousing kits. Breathe deep when you see that you are spending 42 dollars and some odd cents on some lousy bugs.
    19. Arrive back home and shave the little boy’s head.
    20. Check with your daughter to see if she would like to have her head shaved as well. Don’t push her when she declines your offer.
    21. Be very glad that just several weeks prior you checked out a children’s book from the library, a book about a prissy little girl who gets head lice. Because of that book, your kids are totally up-to-date on lice and their treatment. They are unbelievably calm about the bugs in their hair. (You are not, but you pretend to be.)
    22. Vacuum the whole house.
    23. Spray down the mattresses and rugs with some stinky spray that you’ve heard doesn’t work, but you don’t care about that because you are going All Out.
    24. Yell at the kids. Then cry a little.
    25. Feed the kids lunch. Don’t forget to eat something yourself.
    26. Send the older two lice-free children on a three-mile bike ride to visit their daddy’s job site.
    27. Dump toxic chemical on the two littles’ heads, soak, rinse.

    28. Set the kids in front of the TV. Over the course of the afternoon they will watch both Aladdin and Beethoven.
    29. Be as nit-pickily nitpicky as you can possibly be for the next three hours.
    30. Surprise yourself by enjoying the task at hand. Massaging your babies’ round little noggins while listening to Robin Williams’ fabulous voice impersonations makes you feel rather zen-ish. Think of his—Williams’—poor mother and of how she must have suffered when he was ten years old and at the peak of annoyingness.
    31. Continue with laundry and cleaning.
    32. When hubby gets home, hand off the cleaning duties so you can finish cooking supper.
    33. After dinner, force yourself to keep cleaning.
    34. Collapse into bed, completely exhausted.
    35. The following morning, at your husband’s suggestion, go hang out in town for several hours to recuperate. While there, drink lots of coffee, write, and imagine your head itches.
    36. When you come home, the laundry is mostly finished and put away and you can mostly put the whole rotten experience behind you.

    P.S. For the next several days/weeks, obsessively check heads and wash sheets.

    P.P.S. For those of you who saw us in church on Sunday, know that both the doctor and the pharmacist said that there was no need to quarantine ourselves after completing the treatments. We were not carelessly jeopardizing your scalps. (My kids had a mild case and their heads never even itched.) But also know that the public schools are having trouble with lice right now so it would probably be a good idea to check heads anyway.

    About one year ago: Classy Rhubarb Pie and Cream Cheese Pastry

  • To rival Popeye


    We are now, officially, “That Weird Family.” And I’m perfectly fine with it. Absolutely, completely, and perfectly fine.

    I didn’t know they could or would do this until Thursday noon when I fixed them some spinach smoothies, a.k.a. green smoothies.

    I had heard of green smoothies but I thought they had something to do with green tea. Earlier this week I suddenly got curious, did some digging, and learned that, lo and behold, green smoothies get their name and color from greens like spinach and kale. Fifty percent fruit and fifty percent vegetables is what one site said.

    No freakin’ way, I thought. Then I recalled that I had two nanners in the freezer and thought, Well, why not? It was ten minutes till twelve and the kids were playing outside. They wouldn’t be around to witness what weird stuff went in my blender.

    So I put half a bag of frozen spinach into the blender, added the bananas, and then doused the contents with some of my home-canned apple juice. Flipping the blender on and watching the contents turn bright green, I started feeling a little odd, like I was suddenly a tree-loving, tie-dye wearing, dreadlock-sporting, granola-munching, weed-smoking hippie. I was gettin’ some pretty funky vibes, there was no doubt about it.

    I whirled the contents till there wasn’t one tell-tale sign of leafy-ness—the mixture was smooth, creamy, and very, very green. I poured the contents into glasses and summoned the children. They came running, but once inside they slowed down considerably, circling the table, suspiciously eyeing their glasses of green.

    “Have I got a treat for you!” I crowed. “Go wash your hands and sit up. Hurry, hurry! I can’t wait for you to taste it!” They hustled, sat, and slurped, and the feedback was immediate: Yum! WOW. This is delicious! Oh boy, this is good! What is it?

    “I’m not telling till you’re all done,” I said, grinning mysteriously. “Now, who wants toasted shredded wheat bread with peanut butter and honey?”

    They drained their glasses in no time flat. “It’s spinach,” I said.

    They froze. Horror and disbelief flashed across their trusting faces. I talked fast, happily, excitedly.

    “And there’s bananas and apple juice, too. It’s sweet, isn’t it? It’s so good for you and it’s delicious! You can’t even taste the spinach, and it turns it the prettiest green. Isn’t that amazing?”

    They relaxed, sucked up the last few drops, and asked for more. Score!

    I made a smoothie for Mr. Handsome that evening (after a trip to town where I bought more bananas). The kids fought over the bit that remained in the blender. Miss Beccaboo, who wasn’t around when I doled it out, was severely disappointed, so I promised her another one for the next day’s lunch, this time with pineapple, banana, and strawberries, and lots of yummy spinach, too.

    I didn’t get around to following up on my word (life threw me a humdinger of a curve ball—more on that later), but that evening for dessert (!!!!!), I whipped up another smoothie, this time with extra spinach, bananas, apple juice, and canned pears.

    I’m shocked. I’m tickled. I’m thrilled. Mr. Handsome loves them. There is no dairy to bloat him, he of the lactose-intolerant. I love them; they make me feel light and airy and energetic. The kids love, love, love them. Need I say more?

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go plant five more packets of spinach.

    Green Smoothie
    The formula is pretty simple: fifty percent vegetable, fifty percent fruit, and water (or fruit juice) to cover. However, at this point I’m using more fruit then vegetable. (I halfway weighed last night’s portions: 4 ounces frozen spinach, 2 bananas [about six ounces], two or three canned pears plus some juice, and about one cup of home-canned apple juice.)

    I’ve read that you can increase the veggies to sixty percent, and the variations are wide-ranging and never-ending. For example, in place of spinach try dandelion greens, purslane, nettle leaves, arugula, parsley, and basil. And other suggested fruits (though a banana or avocado helps to emulsify, or make creamy, the smoothie) include apples, lemons or limes (rind removed), strawberries, pears, peaches, raspberries, and blueberries. The experts also suggest including a teaspoon of super food, such as bee pollen, hemp seeds, goji berries, pure chocolate, and wheatgrass juice, of which I have none. For now, the fact that my kids are drinking spinach is more than enough.

    Basic Green Smoothie Formula
    4 ounces spinach (one whole bag), fresh or frozen (don’t bother to drain)
    2 bananas, fresh or frozen
    1-2 cups apple juice
    ice, if desired

    Blend thoroughly and serve.

    I will update this post as I try new variations. If you’re already a green smoothie afficionado, please share your secrets. I’m on a roll!

    Updated on May 3, 2010: Strawberries and spinach make a puke-y brown smoothie. Still delicious though, if you can get past the sludge-ish-ness.

    About one year ago: Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream.