I Drank Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington’s Green Smoothies Every Day for a Month. Here’s What Happened.

A little more than a month ago, I was doing my morning scroll through my Instagram feed and stumbled on Reese Witherspoon’s IG Live video detailing how she makes herself a green smoothie every morning.

In her video, Reese explained that when she first met Kerry Washington, she remarked how clear her skin was and asked her for her secret. Kerry told her that she drinks this smoothie every day, and ever since then, Reese has done the same.

Because I was instantly convinced that this was the key to both of their beauty – that, or there is an oil painting of both of them in some dusty attic somewhere that is aging instead of them – and the fact that it seemed SUPER easy to make, I decided to give this a shot too.

The Method

If you’re interested in watching me perform this science experiment, you can watch the first attempt here. Long story short: I definitely didn’t blend it enough and omitted the almond butter. It also confirmed that I don’t enjoy coconut water in ANY capacity, so I switched to water or almond milk for subsequent batches. It also gave me the idea to add collagen powder because it was easier to add to this smoothie than to my coffee like I’d been doing for weeks.

Note: This recipe also makes roughly 60 ounces. I can’t fathom drinking 60 ounces of ANYTHING, so I took Reese’s advice and split it into two and saved the second half for the next day. This can give me middling results because fruit on day two is always a little weird. But re-blending it tends to revive it, and this is the method that I’ve stuck with.

The Results

I’ll be real: I started this because of Reese’s skin claims, but I really wasn’t expecting any eye-popping results in the skin department. Some people just have good genes. But to my surprise, something interesting happened.

About a year ago, a cancer scare convinced me to stop taking hormonal birth control after nearly 20 years, and my skin has been reacting badly ever since. It was like every zit I managed to avoid for 20 years on the pill came back for revenge, all over my chin and neck for 8 straight months, and nothing I did could stop it. Painful red welts every 3 weeks (timed with my cycle) made me super self-conscious. I wasted money on tons of topical treatments that never worked, and I was miserable for most of the last year (on top of being anxious and depressed because of the pandemic).

After less than a week of smoothies, the acne all but disappeared.

I thought I was just having a good skin week at first, and kept an eye on it. But one week went by, then another, and another, and no acne. Yes, I have one or two spots that manage to make their way to the surface, but it is NOTHING like it used to be, and I could cry from happiness.

I also thought this amount of fiber would have… shall we say… explosive results. I’m pleased to report that I have so far suffered NO ill effects. On the flip side, I will say that if I accidentally skip a day or two of the smoothie, I DO start to notice a NEGATIVE difference in my skin and in my stomach. TMI? Maybe. But we keep it real here.

Final Thoughts

Granted, the skin results that I’ve seen cannot be 100% proven by smoothie magic, but the way I see it, there’s no downside to eating all those fruits and veggies each day, right?

After a few tries, my final version of Reese & Kerry’s Smoothie is:

  • 2 heads of Romaine
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 2-3 stalks celery
  • 1 banana
  • 1 apple
  • 1 pear
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 6 – 8 ounces almond milk or water
  • 6 ice cubes
  • 4 scoops of Vital Proteins collagen powder

Yes, it’s kind of a pain to always make sure that we have all these fresh fruits and vegetables around. But after having such good results over the last month, I’m willing to keep this concoction in my daily routine as often as I can to keep the good vibes flowing!

What do you think: have you tried Reese’s smoothie? Do you have your own go-to fruit and veggie blend?

What I Eat In a Day – Part 1

Now that I’ve gone about 95% gluten- and corn-free, some folks have asked about what I eat in any given day, so here’s a little rundown of my go-to’s! Note: I’m not sponsored by any of these products, nor am I a nutritionist. I’m just trying to eat in a semi-healthy way while still enjoying food, and wanted to share the love in case you’re looking for some breakfast, lunch and snack ideas to switch up your routine.

I’ll go into more detail about dinner and desserts in a Part 2 post later this week.

Breakfast: My go-to is a slice of Canyon Bakehouse Gluten Free Cinnamon Raisin Bread, with some Smuckers Natural Crunchy Peanut Butter and half cup of blueberries. If I’m not too hungry I’ll omit the peanut butter.

On the weekend, I experiment with gluten free baked goods (in October and November, we were partial to Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Pumpkin Pancakes and Pumpkin Butter but they’re seasonal and I don’t condone spending $18 on off-market pumpkin butter), or will make some scrambled egg whites and turkey bacon.

My favorite part of breakfast, though, is coffee. Hot or cold, I take it black with the tiniest pinch of Stevia (1/8th of a teaspoon maybe? does that make me pretentious??). Not too long ago, I discovered Trader Joe’s Instant Cold Brew. After a brief period where I saw the future because I made it too strong, I figured out the right balance of coffee to water and really enjoy it. If I need to warm up, I’ll have medium roast hot coffee, but will treat myself by adding some Nut Pods, and whip it up with a travel milk frother to turn boring coffee into an at-home latte. Seriously, that frother has changed my life in the most delightful way, get one immediately. And while I’m on Nut Pods, if you’re looking for a dairy-free, gluten free, unsweetened coffee creamer, they have incredible flavors at like 10 calories per tbs. My current favorite is the Peppermint Mocha.

Bonus: Bach’s Rescue Pastilles for natural stress relief. Placebo? Maybe. Tasty? Definitely.

Lunch: Here’s where I say that I batch cook on the weekend for lunches throughout the week. BUT I am human, and lazy, and don’t do that as often as I’d like to. When I DO batch cook, one of my favorite recipes is black bean soup: three cans of black beans (two blended and one whole) mixed with salsa, canned tomatoes and onions, chiles, salt, pepper and lime juice to taste.

I also enjoy the good old Millennial Classic: avocado toast! My cheat version consists of toasted GF white bread topped with Shop Rite deli department guacamole or Wholly Guacamole and a fried egg (or scrambled egg whites) and TJ’s Everything But the Bagel seasoning.

When I don’t cook, I am a fan of our local Shop Rite’s chicken salad with cranberries and slivered almonds, or will go for roasted or smoked sliced chicken from the deli counter either on a bed of baby spinach or toasted Canyon Bakehouse or Schar Gluten Free White Bread. When it comes to GF bread, those are the two brands we’ve enjoyed the most. Lastly, if I’m pressed for time or we’re out of fresh ingredients, I rely on frozen meals that have a good amount of protein and aren’t TOO heavy on sodium, like Amy’s 3 Cheese and Kale Bake and Healthy Choice Power Bowls.

Snacktime: In 2020 I set out to avoid mindless snacking and have broadly succeeded, focusing instead on snacks that are high in protein and not as many empty calories. I used to be big on snack time, but as I’ve gotten used to working from home throughout the pandemic, I don’t snack as much, but generally always have some cheese, 100-calorie fruit cups in juice, teriyaki turkey jerky, and Trader Joe’s Everything But the Gluten Crackers on hand depending on if I’m feeling sweet or savory.

Stay tuned for Part 2 where I’ll go into more detail about dinner and desserts, and include some of my favorite recipes!

New Recipe: Shrimp & Avocado Salad

It’s been a while since my last recipe, so let’s take a look at what I had last night for a post-swim dinner: Shrimp & Avocado salad! I know, it’s not a very sexy name (I’m looking for help on giving this a fun name, if you can think of one by all means let me know!) but it is one of the most delicious things I’ve had in a long time. The key is super-fresh shrimp and the just-chopped cilantro.

IMG_6486Shrimp & Avocado Salad

Ingredients:

  • fresh uncooked shrimp, 1 lb
  • 2 medium avocados, diced
  • pico de gallo (I used a store bought container, about 1 pint’s worth, but you can make your own
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • the juice of 1 lime
  • pinch of salt

Directions:

Boil the shrimp for 15 minutes or until they’re pink and curled up (and your house smells like delicious seafood and you want to lick the walls. Or is that just me? Sorry.) Rinse in cold water, peel, and de-vein, then set aside in the fridge to chill.

In a large bowl, combine diced avocado, chopped cilantro, salt, and pico de gallo and stir gently with a big spoon to coat. Add shrimp slowly, so you don’t mush up the avocado, top with lime juice, and stir a few more times – and voila, your dinner is ready!

We had ours with baked tortilla chips for some extra crunch, but you can do pretty much anything with this: eat it as a dip, fill tacos with it, serve it over a green salad, etc. Give it a shot and let me know how you like it!

Protein Pancake Recipe

It’s been a while since my last recipe post – probably because training took over my life and I was seriously neglecting the kitchen! But now that things have settled down and I’ve got some extra time on my hands, last night I finally tried out a recipe I’ve been flirting with for months: Protein Pancakes. And it was a mild success! I say “mild” because they weren’t pancakes as much as they were… super-thin, super-soft cookies?… but they were delicious either way and I can’t wait to perfect them!

pancakesProtein Pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 2 scoops of your favorite protein powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg white
  • splashes of water to get the desired consistency
  • sugar-free syrup (optional)

*This recipe makes two servings, so cut in half if you’re just cooking for one.

Directions:

Heat up a non-stick skillet and coat with butter.

In a mixing bowl, combine the powder, eggs, and a splash of water to start the batter. Keep stirring gently to break up any lumps and thin it out. I had to add one or two more splashes of water (I’m sorry I didn’t measure it!) to get the batter pliable enough to pour, but it was easy enough to eyeball and see when it was right.

Note: Not all protein powders are created equal! I used Adaptogen Science Tasty Whey in Chocolate Peanut Butter flavor, because I stinking love it. It doesn’t give you that nasty protein powder aftertaste – it really tastes like a milkshake! But depending on what brand you prefer you might need less or more of everything. Keep an eye on it 🙂

Once the skillet is ready, pour the batter in small circles about an inch apart from each other. Let them sit about 2-3 minutes and watch for bubbles to form on the sides. Once the bubbles pop and *no longer close up on their own*, flip your cakes and cook for another minute or so on the other side, then set aside. This recipe makes 4 medium sized pancakes, so once the first two are done you’ll have to do this again with the remaining batter.

After you’re done cooking all of the batter like that, your pancakes are ready!

Another Note: Keep in mind, this was my first attempt at protein powder pancakes – and it shows. They were delicious, don’t get me wrong! But they were denser than normal pancakes and needed something else… although I’m not sure what! I’ve heard of people adding oats and/or mashed banana to the batter, and I’ll definitely try that next. But this is where I turn to you guys for help: What do you use in your protein pancakes? Please share your recipes with me! Let’s spread the love and crowdsource the perfect protein pancake recipe 🙂

Beef & Spinach Stir Fry Recipe

It’s been a while since my last recipe post, so I figured today I’d share my recipe for Beef & Spinach Stir Fry!

This is a dish I like to prepare when I’ve over-indulged and need a filling, healthy meal. It’s only got 4 ingredients, it’ll only take you about a half hour to prep, and you’re going to have a hard time saving any for leftovers, too 😉

89730d742fb811e39de022000a1f8db1_8Beef & Spinach Stir Fry

Ingredients:

  • 1lb of stew beef, trimmed and cubed
  • 2-3 medium sweet potatoes, cubed
  • 1 container cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 package of baby spinach

(Note: The measurements here are enough for me and my husband to have 2 healthy servings the first night, and leaves at least 2 more for lunch or dinner the next day. If you’ve got a bigger family – or a bigger appetite! – feel free to adapt this recipe as needed.)

Directions:

Start by browning the sweet potatoes in your skillet over medium heat in a little bit of coconut oil. I like to season them a bit with some salt, but that’s just me. Cover and let them soften up a bit, but keep an eye on them and test to see how soft they are every 5-10 mins.

Once your potatoes are almost done doing their thing, transfer them to a plate and toss your beef in the same skillet to brown it up. This won’t take long.

After the meat is browned and the kitchen smells divine, toss the potatoes back in along with your tomatoes, and add your spinach one or two handfuls at a time. Continuously stir to mix it up nicely, and once the spinach is wilted, serve it up one big heaping spoonful at a time – and enjoy!

Jess Eats Happy: Paleo Crab Cakes

Last year I joined the Whole Life Challenge and had moderate success with it: I dropped about 14 lbs in 8 weeks! It was, however, a very restrictive diet. It was a good short-term kickstart I needed back into healthy eating and, but I prefer an “everything in moderation” diet. I can’t cut things out entirely, or else I feel deprived and end up bingeing.

But while it wasn’t a feasible long term diet for me, it did expose me to a whole new world of food! Having to cook compliant meals with almost no dairy, cheese, carbs, or sugars forced me to find alternative recipes, and also introduced me to some awesome new things that I was afraid to try (hello, almond flour!).

One recipe I discovered was these Paleo Crab Cakes. At first I was scared – I’d never cooked with crab *or* almond flour before. But after a week or two of “meat and sweet potatoes with TONS of veggies” meals, I was desperate for something different. So I snagged a recipe from a friend, adapted it to fit the challenge’s rules, tried it out a few times, and bingo! They’re messy to make, and might take a few tries to get them just right, but trust me when I say: you’re going to love these!

5dd176e82a2b11e3a0a822000a1fbd23_8Paleo Crab Cakes

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs minced crab meat (you can get it in cans in your grocery’s seafood dept.)
  • half one small onion, minced
  • 1 small pepper, minced
  • 2 small cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup Almond flour (or more as needed)
  • Old Bay Seasoning
  • Butter & Olive Oil for cooking

Directions:

In a pan with butter or oil, sautee the onions and pepper and throw in garlic at the end for a few seconds. Remove from heat and put into a bowl.

In another pan, heat up some butter and olive oil on medium heat, let the butter melt.Then add the almond flour a little bit at a time, stirring as you go to make a thick paste.Turn off the heat and let it cool for a bit.

Once it’s cool enough to work with your hands, in the same pan, add a spoonful of Old Bay seasoning to your paste, then slowly add everything else: crab, egg, and your onion/pepper/garlic mix. Mix everything together very well, and form into crab cakes. *This is where it can get messy: to keep things from sticking together and not to your hands, add almond flour as needed.

Once you’ve got some cakes ready, throw some butter or oil into your first pan (where you sauteed the onions and garlic) and set it to medium heat. Once it’s nice and hot, toss your crab cakes in and cook them on both sides, a few minutes on each side until their nice and brown.

They might fall apart, but that’s ok – just cook them to your liking and devour them! I usually serve mine with some arugula and a mustard vinaigrette dressing, but they’re great on their own or even as a side dish. Give them a try and let me know what you think!

Jess Eats Happy: Protein Brownies

How could I let another week go by without giving you a new recipe from the Jess Eats Happy Cookbook? In honor of the Super Bowl and all the excess and eating it entails, I’m here with an indulgent but super party-friendly and sneakily healthy dessert recipe for my famous (infamous?) Protein Brownies.

Also known as Black Bean Brownies, these babies have been my go-to treat when the urge to bake (and eat raw brownie batter) knocks on my door. With just two ingredients – seriously – I’m betting that these will become your new favorite too. But here’s a tip: don’t tell anyone how you made them. Just say they’re brownies. Because once you say “beans” and “brownies” in the same sentence, about 85% of the people in the room will not want to eat them on principle alone.

But then again that may work out to your advantage, cause you’re gonna want to eat them all yourself. I guarantee it.

brownies

Protein Brownies

Ingredients:
1 box of brownie mix any flavor (13×9 pan size)
1 can black beans (15.5 oz)

Directions:
1. Strain and rinse beans, put beans back in can and re-fill can with water to top.
2. Pour can of beans and water into blender/food processor (I use the magic bullet) and purée til liquefied.
3. Combine box of brownie mix and puréed beans in a bowl and mix with a spoon til lumps are gone. It’ll take a while. Consider this your arm workout for the day.
4. Bake according to box, checking towards the end. It might take a few minutes longer than it says on the box, but start checking it at the posted time and keep sticking a toothpick in the center – when it comes out clean, it’s brownie time!

And that’s it! I promise you will not be able to taste any beans whatsoever. Just chocolatey goodness. After they cool, I slice them smaller than normal brownie size. They’re more dense than normal brownies; more like fudge really, so a little square will fill you up more than you’d think.

The best part about this recipe is the lack of eggs and oil, meaning you can eat all the batter you want without having to worry about salmonella! So go ahead, lick the bowl (and the spoon and your fingers…) and enjoy!

Jess Eats Happy: Crock Pot Turkey Chili Recipe

I’ve found that I get a lot of requests for recipes when I Instagram a picture of whatever I happen to be shoveling into my face at a frightening rate of speed (see also: eating). That prompted me to create a new “series”: Jess Eats Happy! (it’s a working title. bear with me.)

Every week or so, I’ll share a recipe that will be A) mostly healthy B) probably cheap to make and C) 100% delicious. Because that’s how we roll in the Jess Eats Happy kitchen.

Our inaugural recipe is one that blew up my IG feed a few days ago: Turkey Chili. It’s a super simple, protein and fiber-packed dish that is easy to personalize to suit your tastes and keeps you full for a while. Let’s take a look!

10914395_840552536008958_2090764644_n

Crock Pot Turkey Chili

Ingredients:

  • Chili
    • 1-2 lbs ground turkey (depending on how many you’re cooking for)
    • 2 cans stewed tomatoes
    • 1 small can tomato paste
    • 2 cans beans, rinsed (kidney, pinto, black – your choice!)
    • 1 small onion, diced
    • 1 small green pepper, chopped
    • 1 small red pepper, chopped
    • 1 packet chili seasoning mix (i usually get the low-sodium version)
    • Optional: any other veggies you like: corn, kale, zucchini, chili peppers, etc. This is a perfect time to use whatever veggies you can find in the fridge/pantry and fit into the crock pot. Anything goes!
  • Toppings
    • avocado, sliced
    • plain greek yogurt (sub for sour cream, or go all out and use the sour cream if you’d like!)
    • shredded cheese
    • Optional: Baked tortilla chips for dipping

Directions:

Throw everything in the crock pot, wait, and eat.

LOL –  but seriously, it really is that easy! Throw the thawed meat, tomatoes, veggies, and beans all in the pot, cover with chili seasoning, mix it up just a bit to evenly distribute everything, and forget about it for a few hours: set the crock pot on High for 4 hours, Medium for 6, or Low for 8 (or 10 if your pot has that setting).

About halfway through cooking, I’ll stir once or twice just to admire the delicious yumminess that is simmering in my crock pot, and to entice my husband out from his man cave with calls of “Ooooh, it looks like chili!!”

Then once it’s ready, just scoop it out into bowls and top with whatever your little heart desires. Which, if you’re me, is ALL the avocado and greek yogurt in the house. I like to eat it like a dip with the tortilla chips too – it forces me eat a little slower and helps me realize when I’m actually full, as opposed to eating until I can’t move.

The nice thing about this stuff is that it freezes and reheats very well. Usually once we’re done with dinner, I’ll portion out the rest of the contents of the crock pot into individual containers so that we have easy grab-n-go meals for the rest of the week.

So there you have it! Give it a shot and let me know how you like it!