Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010 - A Mix of Old and New Traditions

Thanksgiving was a nice day.  We had a blend of traditional SAD Thanksgiving food and vegan Thanksgiving food at the table.  It was filled with family and lots of laughter.  Here are a few pictures of the table.
My Seitan Turkey with Stuffing and the excess vegan stuffing are above.  I also provided gravy and Pecan Pie Muffins to the feast.
It was a good dinner made better by sharing with family.  I hope you had a blessed Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pecan Pie Muffins and Slow Cooked Mushroom Gravy

YES! I am drinking Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc.  Yes, I had had to open the bottle of wine to add 1/2 cup to the Slow Cooked Mushroom Gravy.  This gravy ROCKS!  It is excellent!  I'm telling you, I'm going to have to try the entire recipe, including the Chicken Fried Tofu Steaks.  Man, this is some good gravy. 
Yes, my pan is a mess and you should see the front of my shirt.  I used the immersion blender and guess what?  The gravy was not deep enough so the gravy went FLYING everywhere!  I finally got smart and just pulled all of the mushrooms out of the pan into a deep blending container (that actually came with the immersion blender) and blended them in the container and then returned them to the pan.  The gravy is not 100% smooth, it still has some texture from the mushrooms, but just enough.  This gravy will be perfect on my Seitan Turkey with Stuffing roast (which I sampled and is very good).
I happen to love mushrooms and these mushrooms looked perfectly sauteed before I add the wine to them.  I generally don't like a wine flavor in my food, but surprisingly, I do not taste "wine" in the gravy, just savory goodness.

I also made the Vegan Pecan Pie Muffins and they turned out nice.  I didn't have quite a cup of pecans, probably 3/4 of a cup, so I added about 1/4 cup of shaved chocolate and 1 teaspoon of vanilla.  Mine look MUCH darker than the original recipe, and that must be due to the chocolate.  They are very sweet, but very good and they absolutely do taste like pecan pie.  :)

I still need to clean up the pans from the gravy (and all of the splatters), so I better go do that before I drink any more wine.  I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with the love and laughter of good friends and family! :)

Seitan Turkey with Imagination Stuffing

So, it's 4:36 PM on Wednesday afternoon.  I have been cooking since 2 PM and I still have more to do.  I decided for my very first vegan Thanksgiving that I would make a Seitan Turkey rolled with stuffing.  I got the recipe for the Seitan Turkey stuffed with Stuffing here.  I've never made a seitan turkey, but I have made seitan burgers, which were very good, so I thought, what the heck.
I haven't made stuffing from scratch before, so I researched recipes to get a good idea of what I wanted in my stuffing.  For inspiration, I used the recipe for Hearty Stuffing and a recipe called Kitchen Sink Uffing from a Yahoo! Group. The Kitchen Sink Uffing game me permission to put whatever I wanted in the stuffing, so I did.
I diced a yellow onion, 4 stalks of celery, and 8 oz. of baby portabella mushrooms and sauteed them in a little olive oil until the onion and celery were translucent and the mushrooms had released their liquid and were soft.  
I added one diced gala apple, maybe 1/4 cup of chopped walnuts, and 1/4 cup of  pomegranate flavored craisins.  (Yes, I am still trying to use those up.)  
I added 1 bag of seasoned bread cubes (they were vegan), 1/4 teaspoon of sage and poultry seasoning, 1 tablespoon of parsley, and 1 teaspoon of black pepper.  Then, I stirred it up and let it sit while I made the seitan.
After I made the seitan turkey and it had sat for an hour, I added about 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups of no salt added vegetable stock to the stuffing.  (Yes, I now realize that I could have made the seitan turkey and while it sat for an hour, I could have made the stuffing, but I didn't do it that way.  So I used the hour wait time to eat a salad. :)
 I rolled out the seitan to about 1/2" thickness and spread the stuffing on it leaving a good margin all around the center so I could close the roast.  

It actually looked pretty good before I wrapped it up in the cheesecloth and tied it.  This is my first experience using cheesecloth.  It kind of looks like a caterpillar.  :::smile:::
This roast was a PERFECT fit for my cast iron oval dutch oven.  I put the roast in it, and then poured the broth over it.  Instead of using water in the broth, I used the rest of the no-salt vegetable broth as the base and then added the spices to it.  I'm hoping it will make the roast that much tastier. After the roast has cooked for 3 hours, I'll be using the seitan broth with mushroom broth to make the gravy. 

So, where's the finished product, you ask???  It's in the oven cooking.  It takes 3 hours to bake at 250ºF.  I threw the dish of the remaining stuffing in the oven too.  I thought I'd let it bake at 250º for an hour along with the roast.  It won't be done then, but I can bake it for another 20 or so minutes tomorrow just before dinner and it should be perfect.  I'll also be baking the seitan roast for about 20 or so minutes just before dinner to give it a firmer crust.  I'll post the finished products tomorrow.

NOW, I still have more to do.  I still need to make Vegan Pecan Pie Muffins and Slow-Cooked Mushroom Gravy to complete my portion of the meal tomorrow.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Crunchy Sweet Brussels Sprout Salad

First, let me start out by saying I have HATED Brussels sprouts since I was a young kid.  My mom used to get the frozen kind and boil them and put butter on them and make me sit at the table until I ate them.  They were awful to me and I haven't had a Brussels sprout in 30 years.  So, when I started eating vegetarian and now vegan, I couldn't believe how many people raved about this vegetable.  Tonight is also the first time I have ever prepared fresh Brussel sprouts or any Brussels sprouts for that matter.

I was watching the Food Network today and actually saw two different recipes.  One was for Roasted Brussels Sprouts by Ina Garten, which I did not make tonight but definitely will another night.  The other was for Crunchy Sweet Brussels Sprout Salad by Sunny Anderson.  This is an excellent dish.
I shredded the Brussels sprouts, sprinkled them with nutmeg, sea salt, and pepper, and then sauteed them in olive oil for about 5 minutes.  That was longer than the recipe stated, but the Brussels sprouts still have a crunch to some slices, so they aren't overcooked.  I turned off the burner and then added half cup of chopped walnuts and half cup of pomegranate flavored craisins.  Yes, they are supposed to be plain dried cranberries, but the pomegranate flavor was open as I've been using them in my salads, so I used them.   I also have some cherry flavored craisins and I think it would be good with those, too.
The end result was a wonderfully seasoned and delicious vegetable dish.  This made a full pan of Brussels sprouts.  I took the picture after I had put a generous serving in a dish to photo and then eat.  (And I did!)  I've discovered that I really enjoy eating Brussels sprouts and I will be making this dish and other Brussels sprouts dishes in the future. 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Roasted Cauliflower and Sweet Potato Soup

I went out to dinner at a Thai restaurant with some friends last night.  It was a BYOB restaurant, so we all brought wine.  :::smile:::  While we were there, Jeannie told us about a Roasted Cauliflower Soup she had been making.  The recipe called for chicken broth and half and half, so I thought I'd veganize it.  I ended up making a completely different soup that has a slightly sweet taste while still retaining a savory flavor. 
I roasted cauliflower, sweet potatoes, sweet onions, and garlic in the oven for about 30 minutes.  I sprinkled the veggies with smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and kosher salt and tossed the veggies with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil before popping it into the oven.  I didn't measure the spices and just sprinkled them on the cut veggies in the pan.  I'm guessing I used 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of each spice.  I could have eaten the entire pan of roasted veggies when they were done.  They were very tasty.
I decided to use unsweetened almond milk for the half and half.  Considering that it only has 40 calories per cup, it's a very good choice.  I also used Imagine No-Chicken Broth for the chicken broth.  I think both were good choices.
I added a cubed baked potato, thyme, the No-Chicken broth, and some water.  I simmered this covered for about 20 minutes or so.  When done, I added a cup of the almond milk.  Next, I used an immersion blender to puree the vegetables.  I didn't leave many chunks, but next time, I will.  Although I like the smooth version, I like to have a little something in the soup.
I will definitely make this again and play around with the spice some more.  It's a hearty soup made for chilly fall and winter days.  Here's the recipe for this version.

Roasted Cauliflower and Sweet Potato Soup

1 head of cauliflower, cut into flowerettes
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 large sweet yellow onion, sliced
3 to 4 cloves of garlic, cut in half
2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 to 1 teaspoon smoked paprika 
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
32 oz. of No-Chicken Broth or Vegetable Broth
1 cup water
1 baked potato, cubed
1 teaspoon fresh thyme (I used 1/2 teaspoon dried)
1 cup almond milk (or milk of your choice - can also use soy creamer)

Preheat oven to 400º F.  Place cauliflower, sweet potatoes, onion, and garlic into a roasting pan.  Sprinkle with smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and salt.  Roast for 15 minutes; remove pan and stir vegetables; return to oven for another 15 minutes.  (30 minutes total roasting time)

Place roasted veggies in large dutch oven (I used a 5 qt. pan).  Add cubed baked potato, broth, water, and thyme.  Cover and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.  Use immersion blender to puree veggies (can use blender also).  Stir in milk.  Enjoy!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Let There Be Vegan Cake!

My birthday is coming up.  It's not yet ... it's not until a week from tomorrow.  It falls on the Saturday after Thanksgiving this year.  That meant my closest friend wanted to do something this week for me since I won't see her until November 29.  So, yesterday, she and the claims processors who report to her planned a surprise luncheon for me.  And yes, it was really a surprise.  :::smile:::
The fun thing about the luncheon is that the area over there knows I have adopted a vegan diet.  So, it was a real challenge for them to come up with something they thought I would eat.  They finally settled on a baked potato lunch.  This really touched me because not one of them is even a vegetarian much less a vegan and they seemed to be both fascinated and repulsed at the same time.  :::crackin' up:::

The group provided chili without beans (only meat), dairy cheese, dairy sour cream, and ICBINB for the omnivores.  For me (and truly it was ONLY for me because none of them touched it), they had Smart Balance Light (it's vegan) and Tofutti Sour Cream.  Then there were some cross over items, like chunky salsa in mild and medium flavors and chives.  I had a GREAT potato that hit the spot.  The picture above is an actual potato from the bake.  They were huge!
For dessert, they bought me a vegan chocolate cake.  You'll have to excuse my poor picture as it dawned on me only tonight that I should take a picture.  It is very good.  When the group gave me the cake (with a lit candle on top), they all waited for me to take a piece of it and then they all watched me take a bite to see ... what?!?!? ... I don't know.  A couple came up and took a very small piece of cake and the brave ones who did were questioned by the others if it was good, what it tasted like, etc.  I explained that vegan only meant it didn't have dairy or eggs in it and it was just a regular cake, but because it's unfamiliar, they weren't convinced.  I did bring it home and my son had a piece.  It's very chocolaty!  

So, I was touched that a group of people at work went way outside of their SAD food comfort zone to try and create a really nice vegan luncheon as a surprise for my birthday.  It made me smile.  And for no particular reason other than I want to share my absolutely beautiful dog's face and show you that dogs can and do express joy. Here is my Jordan, the Rottie/German Shepherd mix that I adopted from the shelter last year in July.  She is a pure joy and I'm sure she was posing and looking so happy because she wanted cake.  Normally, she hates having her picture taken.  Enjoy!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Creamer for My Morning Cuppa Joe

I'm one of those people who has had a morning cuppa joe (or two) for most of my adult life.  I think I was 18 when I first started drinking coffee and I'm sure I didn't care for it all that much, but acquired a taste for it.  I drink my coffee with creamer, no sugar. I've had my morning cuppa joe the same way always.  I can't remember drinking it any other way, although I may have put sugar in it when I first started drinking it, but I really don't think so.  Sugar in regular coffee tastes absolutely horrible to me.  I can't drink the coffee.  However, I do put sugar or a sweetener in flavored coffee.  I have one called Cinnamon Pastry by Timothy's, and it's delightful with some creamer and a sprinkling of sweetener.
I stopped brewing "pots" of coffee a couple of years ago when the Keurig coffee pot came onto the scene.  I started buying K-Cups, but I stopped buying them because they are not recyclable.  (The ones you see in the picture are some I bought previously and am just now trying to use up.)  Now, I use either an EZ Cup (it's brown and next to the filters), which requires a little filter, or the Solofill Cup (it's red and to the right), which has a wire mesh filter.  I like the coffee slightly better with the EZ Cup, but the filters are expensive, whereas the Solofill doesn't require any additional equipment but leaves a small amount of sediment (not grounds, but sediment) in the cup.  I included a link for the Solofill Cup.  The EZ Cup can be purchased at a variety of online vendors and now, Sam's Club apparently.  The filters are about $5 for 50, which makes the EZ Cup slightly less desirable because it has an ongoing cost associated with it.
All of that aside, one of my biggest challenges when adopting a vegan diet was my coffee creamer.  I tried drinking coffee black, but it just didn't have the same taste for me.  Creamer adds, well, a certain creaminess to coffee.  Basically, it softens the edge of coffee. 

I tried soy creamers and did not care for them.  I tried regular almond milk, soy milk, and coconut milk. Nope! Didn't work. Then, Noelle from An Opera Singer in the Kitchen suggested I try SO Delicious Coconut Milk Creamer.  VOILA!  I found what I'd been looking for.  It tastes remarkably like the dairy creamer I had been using.  I have been hooked on SO Delicious ever since.  I cannot be without it.  

SO Delicious is 10 calories per serving for the original flavor, which is the only one I buy.  A serving is 3 teaspoons.  See the little measuring cup next to it?  I actually use that to measure my SO Delicious for each cup.  I know that sounds funny, but I found I was using more than 3 teaspoons and it really didn't change the flavor more, so I decided to just use the cup to measure it.  (It's one of those cups from children's pain relievers, and I have MANY of those cups from when my sons were growing up.)

SO Delicious is a little pricier when compared to soy creamer.  It's $2.39 a carton at Whole Foods and as high as $3.39 a carton at my local health food store (what a racket!).  I usually buy two to three cartons when I hit Whole Foods as the expiration date is a good month away from the date I purchase it.  BUT, if I run out, I will purchase it from the health food store as Whole Foods is 30 miles away by my job and I'm not driving 30 miles to save $1.  I just make sure to pick some more up the next day I work.

So, my tip for today is a GREAT vegan coffee creamer for anyone who is trying to become vegan or just wants to cut out dairy products.  This is definitely one product I cannot do without.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Southwestern Tofu Nachos

I read an excellent recipe for nachos today on That Pain in the Ass Vegan blog.  It made me want to make some nachos tonight for dinner.  I thought about what I had in the house and I was going to the grocery store, so I picked up some tortilla chips, chunky salsa, and black olives.  I already had some Follow Your Heart cheddar cheese and Tofutti sour cream.  I was thinking of thawing some black beans for the nachos, but instead I decided to thaw out a Southwestern Tofu Burger that I had in my freezer from the end of October.  I microwaved it on 40% power for 2 minutes.  It was perfectly thawed.  The picture below is from my October 30, 2010 blog, but it shows how crumbly the burgers were after cooking.

I crumbled the Southwestern Tofu Burger and then tossed it on top of my tortilla chips.  I added the cheese (shredded) and heated that up in the microwave for another minute.  Then I topped it with chunky salsa (mild), Tofutti sour cream, a few black olives sliced, a few slices of mild jalapeno peppers, and topped it with a few splashes of medium taco sauce.  

This was not only a very tasty meal, it was extremely easy to throw together in a matter of minutes.  I still have 4 of the Southwestern Tofu Burgers left and I will definitely be using some of them for this nacho dish.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Barley Gazpacho Salad

So, today started out like any other morning.  I had double fiber toast with natural chunky peanut butter for breakfast.  I had a VERY late lunch (at 3:30 PM) of my absolute favorite salad (romaine, spinach, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, green pepper, 5 black olives, garbanzo beans, pomegranate flavored craisins, a handful of almonds mixed with sunflower seeds, and 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed). Now, it's onto dinner. 

I was watching ABC this past Saturday and there was a Heart Healthy Contest.  Mika Brezezinksi hosted it.  I watch Morning Joe sometimes and Mika always seems like a food snob.  I agree with her about soda and candy, etc., and that Americans drink/eat way too  much unhealthy foods, but she harps and is almost condescending, which is not the right attitude to get people to actually listen to her message.  And I don't even drink any soda (but I do have candy sometimes).  Anyway, the contest was good, except that it didn't have any vegan or vegetarian entrees, which was bad.  The link to the winning recipes is here, and some of them I am positive can be converted into a vegan version. 

So I was nosing around the website and found a menu for Healthy Recipes and then made my way to Healthy Salad Recipes the Whole Family Will Love.  Granted, most of those salads are not vegan, but I think a lot of them can be adapted and it gave me some good ideas.  Although, I will probably never want to try the Beet Tabbouleh.  It seems like a lot of people really like beets, but they have never been one of my favorite veggies.  I remember my Mom fixing them and they tasted absolutely wretched.  Of course, I haven't tried them since I was a child, so maybe I should give them another chance ... NOT!  :)  In any case (as I beat around the bush), I found a recipe that I wanted to try with some modifications.  It is Barley Gazpacho Salad.  Overall, it sounded great.  I'm not understanding the two different kinds of tomatoes in the recipe and it didn't tell me what to do with the second tomato mentioned, but I didn't have plum or regular tomatoes, only grape tomatoes, so I just used them.

I used my pressure cooker for the barley.  I don't have a garlic press, and I'm not sure how I'd like raw garlic in a salad, so I threw a minced clove in with the barley in the pressure cooker.  Also, I used 3 cups of reduced sodium veggie broth and 1 cup of water instead of 1½ cups of broth and 1½ cups of water.  That's per the cooking instructions for the pressure cooker versus the stove top cooking instructions.  Confused?  I would be.  Here's the recipe, including all of my alterations.

Barley Gazpacho Salad

Put into pressure cooker and cook for 20 minutes on high and then cool.

1 cup pearl barley
3 cups vegetable broth, reduced sodium
1 cup water
1 clove garlic, minced

Combine the following in a bowl:

1 pint carton of grape tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cucumber, diced (I used regular as I didn't have an English cucumber in the house)
1 green bell pepper, diced

Mix the following and then toss into the tomatoes, cucumber, and bell pepper.

1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon hot sauce (I used Lucille's Smokin Sauce)
½ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika

After the veggies and spices are mixed together, add the cooled barley. 

Top with:

thinly sliced avocado
toasted slivered almonds (mine weren't toasted, but they were still good)

So, I basically followed the recipe, but substituted for the things that I didn't have on hand.  I'm getting better trying a recipe that sounds good with comparable substitutions for missing ingredients. I have to say, I really liked this and will make it again.  The avocado added creaminess to the dish and the hot sauce only added a slight undertone, not an overwhelming spiciness.  The next time I make it, I think I'll double the sauce recipe to add just a hint more flavor.  This is an excellent dish that I highly recommend.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Spontaneity - Keeping an Open Mind

I've been trying to make my way over to my sister-in-law's house all week to buy a couple of raffle tickets.  She's selling raffle tickets for $5 each for a chance to win two tickets to the Philadelphia Eagles at the Chicago Bears game on Sunday, November 28, 2010.  There are only 440 raffle tickets being sold, so it's not astronomical odds.  Tonight was supposed to be the night.  But as luck would have it, she hadn't received the raffle tickets in the mail yet, so it changed my entire game plan.  I was going to grab a salad for dinner while I was out, but since that didn't work out, I had to figure something else out.
I ended up grilling an All-American Incrediburger (on my Rocket Grill of course!) and heating up some of the leftover sweet potatoes from Sunday.  I'm still amazed on some days that I eat as well as I do.  OK, I do NOT eat good all of the time. I have a "junk" meal from time to time.  But for the most part, I do pretty well.  Today it was double fiber toast (6 gr. of fiber per slice) with natural chunky peanut butter for breakfast, a huge salad for lunch, and then my dinner above.  Not bad.  It helps tremendously to have some meals made and in the freezer just waiting to be eaten.  Right now, I have eggplant lasagna, enchilada chili, Moroccan Spinach Lentil Soup with Lemon, Southwestern Tofu burgers, and All-American Incrediburgers in my freezer.  Talk about having a back-up plan ... who knew I could be this prepared?  :::chuckle:::  
Tomorrow will not be a cooking day for me.  On Thursdays, I go play euchre and drink a Blue Moon beer.  (Yes, Blue Moon beer is vegan.  I looked it up, so I can have one guilt free! :)  I'll try to blog, but between my dentist appointment and the card game, I probably won't have time.  Have a great Thursday!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Salads! Salads! Salads!

There is one meal I have more than any other meal, and that would be a salad.  I love different combinations of vegetables and beans.  The more chopped veggies, the better.  Some staples in my salad are romaine and/or a spring mix and/or spinach (usually a combination of all three), cucumber, green pepper, grape tomatoes, chickpeas, and either sunflower seeds or chopped pecans.  I add in other ingredients as they are available.

Today, my lunch was a huge salad including a three lettuce blend (romaine and two others), grape tomatoes, cucumbers, red bell peppers, red onion, chickpeas, artichoke hearts, cauliflower, black olives, and sunflower seeds.  It was heavenly.  I love the crunch and different combination of flavors that I get in each bite.  Yesterday, my salad had all of that plus some dried mixed fruit (cranberry/raisin blend) and some type of edamame/red kidney/chickpea blend.  It was yummy!

Some people say they hate eating salad and don't like to chew that much.  Many of them prefer to drink smoothies.  I'm not one of those people.  While I'm not adverse to getting more greens through drinking green smoothies, I MUCH prefer to get my main supply of greens through eating a tasty salad.  I have been eating salads for lunch for years.  Before I became a vegetarian and then vegan, I had them with cheese (always) and a hard boiled egg or meat (usually the egg).  I don't miss any of that and in fact, think that dairy in a salad in the form of cheese actually weighs the entire thing down.  It's funny how far my tastes have evolved away from the strictly SAD eater I used to be.  I stopped eating any dairy/meat/eggs in salads last December after I first started reading Eat To Live.  I think that was actually the beginning of my evolution. 

If you think that a salad can't be filling and stick with you for the rest of the afternoon until dinner, think again.  Try a salad with different types of ingredients and add your favorite bean.  Usually I add chickpeas or black beans.  I make them from dry without salt and then freeze them on a cookie sheet for 30 to 45 minutes.  Then I transfer them to a ziplock bag and I have frozen beans to throw in my salad before I leave for work.  Much healthier than canned.  

This month, along with experimenting in my Vitamix with green smoothies, I'll be venturing into the homemade salad dressing realm, too.  I'll post the combinations I try.  Hopefully, I'll hit a couple that I can't live without.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Vegan MOFO - Day 1 - Purple Smoothie

I started out today with good intentions of having a good breakfast, salad for lunch, and something for dinner (leftover burger and sweet potatoes maybe).  I ended up skipping breakfast (got caught up at work) and then having  a late lunch at 2:30PM, but I did have a salad ... a HUGE salad.  Of course, I wasn't very hungry when I got home.  So, I sat here reading blogs and email until I decided that I should have something.

My intention was to make a fruit frozen concoction in my new Vitamix.  :)  BUT, I only have strawberries and blueberries in the freezer.  I needed more strawberries than what I had and I just didn't think blueberries would be a great choice to mix with almond milk.  So, I decided to make another green smoothie.  Only this smoothie did not turn out green.  It kind of looks like oil sludge in my glass.
I mixed about 1/2 cup of almond milk with about 1 1/2 cups of frozen blueberries.  I added one small banana, a couple of cups of spinach, and 1 tablespoon of flaxseed.  And then, I let the Vitamix do its thing.
From the top with a bright flash, the smoothie does look purple.  I definitely see it in the above picture.  It looks very nice.  But, when I view it just regular in the glass without the bright light, it looks like oil sludge.
PLUS, I didn't put enough liquid in the Vitamix, so it's more like a pudding consistency versus a smoothie consistency, and let me tell you, it's not working that well with the skinny little straws I have.  bah!  The taste is good.  I think I can get used to the "green" taste in them.  All of the posts I've read about green smoothies is that once you put the fruit in, you can't taste the greens much.  I think for me, the problem is I can smell them before I ever taste the smoothie, so once I smell them, I can taste them.  They are OK.  I'll just keep searching for the perfect smoothie.  This may be my theme for the month ... searching for the perfect smoothie.  I'd like to start having them as breakfast on a few days per week.  Having them later in the day is working for me, too.