Avocado Banana Smoothie


Despite two posts in a row highlighting food ideas, I assure you that we aren’t turning this into a food and recipe blog site. 🙂

It was during my time living in Malaysia (2001-2007) that I first learned avocados are drinkable. I rarely encountered avocado drinks in Malaysia, though. They were far more popular in Indonesia, Malaysia’s neighbor to the south, and I made sure to have one every time I traveled there for a conference. After one try, I was hooked. A typical Indonesian smoothie is made with avocados, sweetened condensed milk, and Hershey’s chocolate syrup drizzled along the sides of the cup.

Indonesian Avocado SmoothiePhoto Source

Back here in America, I haven’t recreated the Indonesian-style smoothie shown above, but I’ve experimented some with avocado-based smoothies. I’ll share one simple recipe that my wife also appreciates. This makes enough to serve two people:

1. Two avocados
2. Two bananas
3. Milk
4. Cinnamon (optional)
5. Nutmeg (optional)
6. Vanilla (optional)
7. Honey (if smoothie is not sweet enough for your personal taste)

Mix in a blender and serve. The total cost should be about $3, assuming you already have any desired spices on hand.

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Peanut Butter Curry Meal Idea


About a week ago I cooked a meal that my wife and I both really enjoyed. I love curry dishes, and this one might be considered somewhat “off the beaten path.” When we told my wife’s family about it on Christmas day, they were surprised at the combination of ingredients, and that we were able to pull them all together to make a good meal. If you like peanut butter, and if you don’t mind (fairly) spicy food, I think you would enjoy it too. Here’s a list of the ingredients, but in most cases I didn’t take note of the exact amount I used:

1. Ground Turkey (20 ounce package, 93% fat free)
2. Peanut Butter (a generous amount)
3. Curry Powder (a lot!)
4. Milk (Vanilla Soy Milk, in our case)
5. Cinnamon
6. Nutmeg
7. Basil
8. Parsley
9. Oregano
10. Black Pepper
11. Cayenne Pepper
12. Tomatoes (chopped)
13. Avocados (chopped)
14. Bell Peppers (chopped)

Once I cooked the ground turkey meat, I mixed in everything else and served it with brown rice. We had enough leftovers for two more meals for each of us.

The inspiration for this meal came from this sauce, which I’ve used several times with some kind of meat and a medley of frozen vegetables, and served over rice or noodles:

Bangkok padang peanut sauce

Other ideas for this meal:

1. Substitute boneless chicken breasts (chopped) for ground turkey. Or substitute tofu if you prefer to avoid meats.
2. Use a can of Thai red curry instead of curry powder and milk.
3. Use coconut milk instead of regular milk.
4. Add or substitute other vegetables.
5. Experiment further by adding garlic, ginger, turmeric, fresh cilantro, etc. You might be surprised by what goes well with peanut butter.

Five spice coffee


Growing up, I never did like coffee. At age 17, my first job was at the McDonald’s in Hartville, Ohio (near Akron). I tried just a little bit of their coffee, and also their cappuccino, but I couldn’t stand either of them. Not only did I detest the way it tasted, but my stomach couldn’t take it, and I consider myself to have a strong stomach.

Then I spent nearly six years in Malaysia, from 2001-2007. While living there, I spent time in countless homes, and it’s safe to say that I was given coffee or tea in at least 95% of the homes I visited. That did it – now I love coffee, and I drink it just about every day. From time to time I’ll get a specialty coffee drink from Caribou Coffee (my top choice), Starbucks, 1st Cup Cafe (a Somalian shop in south Minneapolis), or another lesser known coffee shop. Often, though, I’ll brew my own coffee at home, and add my customary International Delight or Nestle chilled creamer.

This morning I decided to “spice up” my coffee, as I do sometimes. I’ll share my concoction here, along with a couple of photos. Perhaps some readers will have tried a similar blend, others might be a bit surprised to hear what I mix together, and perhaps others will be inspired to give this combination a try. Here are the five spices I added to my coffee this morning, before adding creamer, and it turned out very well:

1. Cinnamon

2. Nutmeg

3. Ginger

4. Cayenne Pepper

5. Black Pepper

Yes, I do add plenty of cayenne pepper, to the point that it burns. I probably wouldn’t drink my coffee that way if it was just black, but with the right amount of sweetened, chilled creamer, it ends up being delicious, at least to me.

I was first inspired to spice up my coffee after falling in love with ginger tea in Malaysia (the spicier, the better). I never thought of adding cayenne pepper, though, until 2009/2010 when Caribou Coffee featured a Spicy Mocha, which was a $2.00 option on “Happy Mondays.” One day I asked a cashier what made their Spicy Mocha spicy, and that’s when I found out that cayenne pepper and coffee can go well together. Perhaps today is the day when you will find that out. Give it a try!

Five spices with the skyline of downtown Minneapolis in the background