A self-proclaimed "blendacholic," Tess Masters is obsessed with whipping up mouthwatering recipes full of the nutrients our bodies crave. "It's the power of plants to energize and revitalize, in endless blended combs, that gets me most excited," she writes in her latest cookbook, The Perfect Blend ($20, amazon.com), which features 100 vegan and gluten-free concoctions. And no, they aren't all smoothies: Masters' creative recipes run the gamut from sauces and salads to stews and burgers. Each includes "optional boosters" (for nutrition and flavor) that make it easy to tailor the blend to your own taste.
Below, Masters shares three tasty recipes from her collection specifically designed to speed up weight loss. This berry-green tea smoothie, chickpea and rosemary soup, and poached pear dessert are made with nutrient-dense, low-glycemic, high-fiber "hero foods" that will help rev your metabolism and fill you up.
Tone it down with berries & tea
Weight-loss and metabolism-boosting superheroes—green tea, grapefruit, raspberries, mint, and ginger—blend up a low-calorie treat that's crisp and refreshing. Add the bell pepper for flavor fever, and the broccoli and avocado for nutrient power and satiating energy.
1 green tea bag
1 cup (240 ml) boiling water
½ tsp. probiotic powder
3⁄4 cup (180 g) peeled and seeded grapefruit pieces
1 green apple, cored and chopped (do not peel)
½ cup (20 g) firmly packed mint leaves
1 Tbsp. chia seeds (black or white)
5 drops alcohol-free liquid stevia, plus more to taste
2 cups (320 g) frozen raspberries
¼ cup (25 g) frozen raw broccoli florets
¼ cup (35 g) ribbed, seeded, and chopped red bell pepper
¼ avocado, pitted and peeled
- Steep the tea bag in the boiling water for about 1 minute. Allow to cool, and then hill in the fridge.
- Pour the chilled tea into your blender and add the probiotic powder, grapefruit, apple, mint, chia, stevia, and the bell pepper and avocado boosters and blast on high for 30 to 60 seconds, until well combined.
- Add the raspberries and the frozen broccoli booster, and blast again for 20 to 30 seconds, until smooth. Tweak the stevia to taste. Enjoy immediately.
Cheeky chickpea & rosemary
I've been serving up this little gem since the last millennium, and it never goes out of style. On the table in under 20 minutes, it's one of my go-to last-minute lifesavers when I've got no energy, little time (but a bit of thyme), and virtually nothing in the way of fresh food on hand. It's low in fat but high in flavor (add the boosters in any combination for even more). Punch up the nutrition and satiating quality by throwing in some leafy greens, celery, carrots, and zucchini. Or go heart if you like, with a scoop of whole grains or pasta. This soup is as versatile as it is sensational.
Serves: 6 as a starter, 4 as a main
5 cups (1.27 l) vegetable broth
½ cup (44 g) drained, dried, and roughly chopped sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil
2 Tbsp. minced garlic (about 6 cloves)
1 tsp. grape seed oil or extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup (75 g) diced yellow onion
1 tsp. natural salt
1 can (14.5-ounce/411 g) diced tomatoes with their juice
1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
3 cups (540 g) cooked chickpeas or 2 (15-ounce/425 g) cans, rinsed and drained
¼ cup (20 g) finely chopped green onion (green parts only)
Freshly ground black pepper
1⁄8 tsp. red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
½ tsp. finely chopped fresh thyme, plus more to taste
1½ cups (45 g) loosely packed shredded chard
- Add 1 cup of the vegetable broth to your blender along with the sun-dried tomatoes, 1 tablespoon of the garlic, and the red pepper flakes booster and blast on high for 30 to 60 seconds, until smooth. Set aside.
- In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat and sauté the onion and the remaining 1 tablespoon of garlic with ¼ teaspoon of salt for about 5 minutes, until soft and translucent. Add the crushed tomatoes, rosemary, and the thyme booster and sauté for a few minutes, until fragrant.
- Add the blended mixture, the remaining 4 cups of broth, and ½ teaspoon of the salt. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil.
- Lower the heat to medium-low and add the chickpeas. Simmer, partially covered, for about 10 minutes to allow the flavors to mesh.
- Stir in the chard booster and allow the greens to wilt as the soup cools slightly. Add the green onion right before serving (so they retain their vibrant green color), season with remaining ¼ teaspoon of salt and with pepper to taste.
Pears poached to perfection
If you're watching your waistline, poached pears make a perfect treat. And, this red-wine-and-raspberry rendition rocks! Add all three boosters for a brilliantly balanced burst of flavor—the vanilla, zest, and spices all marry to create magic. True, the sauce has a lot of natural sugar in it, but you're giving just a tiny drizzle to each serving. Choose pears that are ripe but firm, so they don't break up while poaching, and core them with care, from the bottom, for the most elegant visual effect.
1 (750 ml) bottle merlot
3 cups (720 ml) filtered apple juice
1⁄3 cup (80 ml) pure maple syrup
1 vanilla bean, sliced down the middle
1 cinnamon stick
1-inch (3 cm) piece fresh ginger, sliced
1 Tbsp. finely grated lemon zest
8 firm Bartlett, Anjou, or Bosc pears with the stems intact
2 cups (320 g) fresh raspberries
Ice cream or Coconut Cream, to serve
2 star anise pods
¼ tsp. whole cloves
1 Tbsp. mint leaves cut into ribbons
- Pour the wine, apple juice, and maple syrup into a pot large enough to hold 8 pears, and add the vanilla bean, cinnamon stick, ginger slices, lemon zest, and the star anise and clove boosters. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then reduce the heat to medium-low, keeping the mixture at a simmer.
- With a sharp knife, cut a slice off the bottom of each pear so that it stands up. With a ¼-teaspoon measuring spoon, core the pears from the bottom and peel them, leaving the stems intact. With a large spoon, gently add the pears to the wine mixture.
- Lay a piece of parchment paper (with a hole cut in the center to allow steam to escape) on the top of the pears to keep them submerged so that they don’t discolor.
- Keep the liquid just below a simmer and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, turning the pears every few minutes to ensure they cook and coat evenly. The pears are done when a paring knife easily pierces the flesh.
- Remove the pot from the heat, remove the pears from the liquid with a slotted spoon, and place them on a plate to cool.
- Throw the raspberries into your blender and blast on high for about 30 seconds, until fully pureed. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve to remove the seeds. Discard the seeds, wash the strainer, and then strain the wine mixture.
- Transfer the strained liquid to a small pot and stir in the raspberry puree until well combined. Simmer the mixture for around 90 minutes until reduced to about 1 3⁄4 cups (420 ml); the reduced liquid should be thick enough to lightly coat a spoon. Allow the syrup to cool and thicken further.
- To serve, stand each pear up on a small plate and pour 2 tablespoons of the syrup over the top, allowing the syrup to drip down and pool under the fruit. Garnish with the mint leaf booster and serve with a scoop of ice cream or Coconut Cream.
Reprinted with permission from The Perfect Blend, copyright 2016 Tess Masters. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Photography copyright 2016 by Anson Smart.