Morning Juice

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Am I weird for wanting to bro out every so often? Go camping for 4 days without showering, call everyone “dude” and let them call me that right back?

Girls do that, right? Because I definitely do that. Often.

For one thing, I’m a sucker for action movies. Give me a pair of 3D glasses and a fistful of popcorn and I’m all set for the next 2.5 hours. This is the first summer since childhood that I’ve made it a point to watch nearly every blockbuster that comes out.

Except Fast & Furious part 1289494. Why do those exist?

I think bro-ing out is important to keeping a healthy and balanced lifestyle. Sure, there’s running a 5K, practicing yoga, and cutting out processed foods — but sitting down for a few evenings with a cheap can of beer, a blazing fire and conversations amid farts? It reminds me that there’s a chunk of me that doesn’t care about nail polish, brushing my hair, or that parachute pants are back in style (Seriously, when did that happen?).

But don’t worry guys, I’m still here. By Sunday morning, I’m looking up recipes for kale salad and pulverizing vegetables into juice.

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Kale, celery. I’m really sorry for what I’m going to do to you. It’s going to be loud. It’s not going to be pretty. It’s borderline plant murder.

Also, hey, I know not everyone has a juicer. They’re expensive, bulky, and you really have to be willing to deal with a single-purpose contraption, unlike blenders, which make smoothies, margaritas and salsa. But the juicer I just bought was $100 and it’s probably the best thing I’ve bought all year. Actually, here’s a list of my favorite kitchen things.

So nix that end-of-summer clothing shopping spree and invest in something with a little more sustenance.

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I’ve made four different kinds of juices thus far without using a recipe. I’ve yet to make a bad batch because a) vegetables taste delicious and b) it’s all about balancing the greens with the sweets.

For example! If you’re packing in 4 cups of spinach or kale, make sure you complement it with sweet beets and pears. Apples are also spectacular sweeteners and give you an energy boost in the morning similar to coffee.

Oh, and ginger. In everything. Please.

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I should paint my nails in that color.

Morning Juice.

4-5 stalks lacinato kale
1 large pear
2 large carrots
1 chunk ginger, about a 1″ cube
2 small beets
6-7 stalks cucumber
1 large cucumber

Shove the ingredients in the blender in the order listed above. It’s always good to start juicing with leafy greens.

Serve with ice or at room temperature. You can make a large batch at night and drink it in the morning so you don’t wake up your roommates with what sounds like an alien spaceship hovering in the kitchen.

Makes about 20oz of juice.

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Beet Smoothie

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Never have I ever gone skiing.

Never have I ever shaved my eyebrows (People do that, right?).

Never have I ever slipped on a banana peel.

Never have I ever done a cartwheel.

Never have I ever run a marathon.

And never have I ever thought I would ever call myself a runner, but after demolishing one pair of shoes and successfully killing a 5K with a time of 24 minutes, I’d say it’s about time I put away the notion that my bones are “too weak” for running or my body “isn’t built” for a marathon.

I mean, I’m not doing today’s Boston Marathon. Because that’d just be crazy. But maybe this time next year, my Never Have I Evers will be a little different.

You know, “Never have I ever ridden a unicycle” or “Never have I ever done a triathlon” or “Never have I ever hung out with a sloth.”

Oh my god why haven’t I hung out with a sloth yet?

Start to cross off your nevers.

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That’s it. Beets, bananas, flax. And some almond milk. Maybe some honey if sweetness is what you crave before a run. Or after? This could be a great recovery drink, too.

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Blender, where would I be without you? My mornings would be smoothieless and filled with other breakfast things like cereal and donuts. Thanks to you, I’ve made coworkers drool and effectively woken up my roommates at 7 a.m. to the sound of your engine.

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Yes, that’s a sparkly pink straw.

Beet smoothie.

1 medium beet, roasted or boiled and chopped into cubes
2 ripe bananas, sliced and preferably frozen
1 tablespoon ground flax
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tablespoon honey, to taste

Blend it together and what have you got?

Enough for two runners-but-not-marathoners on a Monday morning.

Chocolate Beet Cupcakes with Beet Cream Cheese Frosting

I totally win. Vegetables in a dessert? Come on. I deserve a trophy. A medal of valor. At least a foot massage. I also think that these look like a Care Bear took a magical poop on top of them.

Before we leap into tomorrow, let me tell you a short story:

My apartment almost burned to cinders this week.

Before you start to think I left a pizza in the oven and it set the place ablaze, let me put all guessing to rest. The fire started beneath the front porch and those men in red had to hack away at some of the shingles. I wasn’t there, but thank poop my housemate smelled it in time.

I came home and it smelled like the flame-cooked eggplant my mom makes. Except more like a burning house.

We still have no idea how it started. Maybe someone got super sick of smelling these amazing beet cupcakes and not being allowed to eat them. I totally would’ve given them to said arsonist.

This is a PSA: wash your beets before you roast them! You might accidentally snuff a lady bug!

Beets are cut with about 1/2 inch of stem left, wrapped in foil, then roasted for a while.

Totally shredded. One batch for the batter, the other for the frosting.

These are pretty normal cupcakes outside of the root vegetable chunks. Chocolate-ee, sweet, fluffy, yum.

Cocoa powder should always be sifted to get rid of the millions of little chunkies.

Butter should be room temperature so that your mixer doesn’t heat up and burn the house down.

Beets are a natural food coloring. If you like pale pink frosting.

Always have spare frosting.

Chocolate Beet Cupcakes.

For the cupcake:

2 medium beets
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2/3 cup dutch cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate soy milk (or buttermilk, or regular milk)

For the frosting:
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup cream cheese, room temperature
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
fresh-squeezed lemon juice from 1/2 a lemon
Pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cut off the beet stems to about 1/2 inch and scrub well, but do not peel. Wrap tightly in foil and place on a baking sheet. Roast in the oven until a fork penetrates it with ease, about an hour. Once done, let them cool completely.

Turn down the heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease two 3/4 cupcake pans or dress with cupcake liners.

After the roasted beets have cooled, snip off the stalks and peel before grating them at the finest grade. Set aside 3/4 cup for the cupcakes and 1 tablespoon for the frosting.

In a medium bowl, sift together the dry ingredients. In a large bowl, whisk the butter and sugars until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla, milk and beets. Mix for a few minutes until the beets are full incorporated.

Add about 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the wet at a time, making sure it’s fully mixed before adding more.

Fill each cupcake container about half way and bake for about 15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

For the frosting, mix the butter and cream cheese until fluffy. At the rest of the ingredients and mix until creamy, pink, and amazingly good. Dress the tops with desired flair.

Makes 24 cupcakes.