“Hi, my name is Tess, and I’m a blendaholic,” admitted Tess Masters recently at the book launch for her new cookbook, “The Blender Girl: Super-Easy, Super-Healthy Meals, Snacks, Desserts & Drinks” (Ten Speed, $19.99), held at Melissa’s Produce headquarters — “the perfect messenger,” she said.
Think your blender is just for smoothies? Think again. “I don’t expect everybody to stop using their teeth,” she quipped. You’ll find appetizers, salads and main dishes with a blended component like Fresh Spring Rolls with Orange-Almond Sauce and Spicy Chickpea Burgers with Portobello Buns and Greens; pizza and pasta dishes; and desserts like Chocolate-Chile Banana Spilly, Flourless Triple-Pecan Mousse Pie and Chai Rice Pudding.
Of course, no blender cookbook would be complete without smoothies and shakes, and with tempting titles such as Raspberry-Lemon Cheesecake and Tastes-Like-Ice-Cream Kale, you’re thinking, this is a health book? Bonus sections include what to look for in choosing a blender as well as nutritional information, such as the benefits of soaking, sprouting and dehydrating; proper food combining; and eating raw, probiotic-rich and alkaline ingredients.
Masters developed her interest in health and nutrition when, as a teenager, she was struck with the Epstein-Barr virus. “A naturopath suggested I forget gluten, dairy and meat, and embrace a diet high in plant-based foods and fish,” she said. “Almost overnight, I felt better. It turned out I was gluten- and dairy-intolerant. This was my own awakening to food as medicine, and the miracle was not lost on me.”
She studied nutrition and took cooking classes, and for years seesawed between different health regimes until discovering the concept of bio-individuality. “No single blanket diet will work for everyone,” she noted. “I shifted to an intuitive approach to my health, listening to the signs in my body, and teaching myself a healthier way to move through the world with food. I discovered that flexibility and fluidity rather than rigidity were, for me, among the keys to health and happiness.”
Masters claims to use her blender five times a day, but it is more than a mere cooking implement. “It is a metaphor for my life,” she said. As she notes on her website, “While I am a plant-based eater and am convinced that a diet containing vast quantities and varieties of leafy greens, alkaline vegetables, raw sprouted nuts, seeds and grains, all combined with daily green juices and smoothies can be beneficial to anybody, I also believe that each person’s ‘perfect blend’ (foods, exercise, joyful activities, fulfilling work, loving relationships, time with family, etc.) will add up to a unique combination, and so the ingredients each of us will put in the blender will also be a unique combination. We nourish our beings with many things, and so it only makes sense that we nourish our bodies in diverse ways, too. That’s the great journey called life, isn’t it?”
Incredibly Edible Edamame Dip
One of the enduring favorites on my [Master’s] website, this recipe is addictive. Not only because it tastes so darn good, but also because it only takes minutes to blend up and devour. For this recipe use a high-speed blender or food processor. Use it as a dip with raw vegetables and crackers, or spread it on sandwiches or wraps. Totally guilt-free, super-healthy, alkalizing, and nutrient-dense, this one’s a winner on all fronts.
Makes 2 and 1/2 cups
3 tablespoons cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups shelled raw edamame beans
2 cups loosely packed baby spinach
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more to taste
3 tablespoons tahini
1 and 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped onion (yellow, white, or Vidalia is good, but not red)
2 cloves garlic, minced, plus more to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon natural salt, or to taste
2 tablespoons sesame seeds (optional)
1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley (optional)
Throw oil, edamame, spinach, lemon juice, tahini, onion, garlic, cumin, pepper flakes, and salt into blender or food processor and blend on high or process about 2 minutes, until smooth and creamy, scraping down sides of container periodically to fully incorporate ingredients. A food processor will give mixture a coarse consistency, which some people prefer. Tweak flavors to taste. (You may like more lemon juice, garlic, pepper flakes, or salt.) Serve topped with sesame seeds and parsley.
Chai Rice Pudding
A rice pudding you don’t have to stir for an hour! Other reasons to swoon for this dessert: the incredible creaminess and the delicate blend of spices that sing in perfect harmony with the apples, raisins, and maple syrup.
Serves 6 to 8
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup, plus more to taste
2 tablespoons water
2 apples, peeled, cored, and cubed
1 cup canned coconut milk (shake, then pour)
2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon minced ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch ground cloves
Pinch natural salt
3 cups cooked short-grain brown rice (soft but not mushy)
1/4 cup raisins
1 cup unsweetened almond milk (strained if homemade)
1/3 cup chopped raw pistachios
1 In saucepan over high heat, bring 1/4 cup maple syrup and water to a boil. As soon as mixture bubbles, reduce heat to medium-low and stir in apples. Cook apples about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they caramelize lightly and soften slightly but remain mostly firm.
2 Meanwhile, put coconut milk, remaining 3 tablespoons maple syrup, vanilla, ginger, spices, and salt into blender and blast on medium-high about 10 seconds until combined. Add 1 and 1/2 cups of the rice and process on medium-low a few seconds, until creamy but rustic. (If using high-speed blender, do not overblend. If using conventional blender, your machine will let you know when the mixture is ready; it’ll thicken and be difficult to blend.) Add the blended mixture and raisins to cooked apples and stir to combine. Stir in 1/2 cup of the almond milk and remaining 1and 1/2 cups cooked rice. Reduce heat to low and simmer about 5 minutes, until the mixture thickens slightly. Stir in remaining 1/2 cup almond milk and simmer 5 minutes more, until desired consistency. (I take my rice pudding off the heat as soon as liquid has been absorbed). Tweak maple syrup to taste.
3 Serve warm, at room temperature, or even chilled; add 2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup milk if you serve it chilled, to soften it up. Sprinkle pistachios on each serving.