Blueberry and Tropical Fruit Smoothie

Blueberry and Tropical Fruit Smoothie
Blueberry and Tropical Fruit Smoothie

Smoothies are such a great and tasty way to eat fruit and yogurt, making them healthy choices.  And, they are very filling. They are great for breakfast, summer barbeques, as a transportable breakfast-on-the-go, or just anytime as a nutritional drink.

Blueberry Smoothie
Blueberry and Tropical Fruit Smoothie

I am not far from Tryon Blueberries U-Pick, a high bush blueberry farm in central PEI and, when they are in season, I have a steady diet of these blueberries.

Blueberries
High Bush Blueberries

I freeze a quantity of them for use in smoothies throughout the year.

Blueberries
High Bush Blueberries

Basically, any fruit you like can be combined into a smoothie.  For this recipe, I have chosen to feature the local blueberries but I also add in some other fruits that pair particularly well with blueberries. These include mango, papaya, and banana.  The great thing about smoothies is that they can be made with fresh or frozen fruits. I often bag up fruits when they are in season locally and freeze them in just the right sized portions for smoothies. This makes it quick and easy to prepare the smoothies which is great because, as we all know, if something is overly laborious, well….it often just does not happen.

Blueberry Smoothie
Blueberry and Tropical Fruit Smoothie

Smoothies are so easy to make. A blender is needed for this recipe. Simply combine all the ingredients into the blender and process the mixture until desired smoothness is reached.

For sweetener, I use 2 tablespoons of pure maple syrup.  This natural liquid sweetener blends better than sugar. Reduce the amount of maple syrup if you like a less sweet drink.  I also add in about 1 1/2 tablespoons of ground chia seeds. Whole chia seeds may be used but the ground seeds make for a smoother drink and are a better alternative for those who can’t easily digest seeds. Chia is loaded with good health benefits like fibre, omega 3 fats, protein, vitamins, and minerals.

Blueberry Smoothie
Blueberry and Tropical Fruit Smoothie

The yogurt I have used in this smoothie is a Mediterranean-style lavender yogurt.  Lavender pairs very well with blueberries. Don’t be put off by this flavor thinking it will be like perfume.  This yogurt is very gently flavored with lavender and it is not at all strong in either the lavender flavor or scent. It does, however, add a subtle layer of flavor to the smoothie.  Plain vanilla yogurt can, of course, be substituted but, if the lavender yogurt is available, I recommend giving it a try.

Blueberry Smoothie
Blueberry and Tropical Fruit Smoothie

Any kind of fruit juice can be used in this smoothie.  I have made it with plain orange juice which is very good but it is super tasty if made with a mango-citrus blend of juice or a tropical fruit juice.  If possible, I try to add juice that has the flavor of at least one or more of the fruits I am blending into the smoothie.  I don’t add any ice cubes to this smoothie because I find they can dilute the flavor.  Make sure the fruit juice is good and cold and the smoothie will be just the right temperature for drinking without adding any ice.

Garnishes are optional but they do dress up the smoothie.  If using garnishes, choose fruits that are in the smoothie as I have done here with the blueberries, mango, and papaya.

Blueberry Smoothie
Blueberry and Tropical Fruit Smoothie

This smoothie recipe will yield approximately 4 cups  which is about two good servings or, for smaller portions, four 1-cup servings are possible.  This really is a meal in a glass – it provides servings of fruit, yogurt, and liquid content.  This smoothie is best served as soon as it is made because it has banana in it and it can produce quite a strong flavor if left to sit and it can take over and become the predominant flavor in the drink.

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Blueberry and Tropical Fruit Smoothie

Ingredients:

1 2/3 cups fruit juice (e.g., mango-citrus, orange juice, etc.)
1½ cups high bush blueberries (fresh or frozen)
½ cup mango, coarsely chopped (fresh or frozen)
½ cup papaya, coarsely chopped (fresh or frozen)
½ large banana, sliced
½ cup Mediterranean-style lavender yogurt
2 tbsp maple syrup
1½ tbsp ground chia seeds

Method:

Combine all ingredients, in order given, in blender and process until well blended and smooth. Pour into glasses. Garnish with skewer of fresh blueberries, mango, and papaya. Serve immediately.

Yield:  Apx. 4 cups

Blueberry and Tropical Fruit Smoothie

Yield: Apx. 2 servings

Serving Size: 2-cup

Kickstart your day with this super tasty blueberry and tropical fruit smoothie made with lavender yogurt and mango-citrus fruit juice

Ingredients

  • 1 2/3 cups fruit juice (e.g., mango-citrus, orange juice, etc.)
  • 1½ cups high bush blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  • ½ cup mango, coarsely chopped (fresh or frozen)
  • ½ cup papaya, coarsely chopped (fresh or frozen)
  • ½ large banana, sliced
  • ½ cup Mediterranean-style lavender yogurt
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1½ tbsp ground chia seeds

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients, in order given, in blender and process until well blended and smooth. Pour into glasses. Garnish with skewer of fresh blueberries, mango, and papaya. Serve immediately.
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A delicious smoothie made with a blend of blueberries, tropical fruits, lavender yogurt, and mango-citrus fruit juice

For another refreshing blueberry drink, try this recipe for Blueberry Lemonade

My Island Bistro Kitchen’s PEI Mussel Chowder

My Island Bistro Kitchen's PEI Mussel Chowder
My Island Bistro Kitchen’s PEI Mussel Chowder

Mussels are a favorite shellfish of mine and, while I love them steamed in various different broths, today I am presenting them in the form of Mussel Chowder and I’m sharing my own personal recipe.

Steamed PEI Mussels
PEI mussels steamed in basil pesto with white wine, onion, and garlic

PEI mussels are world famous and PEI is the country’s largest mussel cultivator. According to the Mussel Industry Council of Prince Edward Island, the Island produces some 45 million pounds of mussels annually and grows 80% of Canada’s mussel production.  Fresh PEI mussels are shipped to the USA, Hong Kong, Japan, and Kuwait. We may be Canada’s smallest province but mussel farming on PEI is big “muscle” and big business. I love checking out restaurant menus when I travel around the world and seeing PEI mussels on the menu!

PEI Mussels Steamed in Beer

The blue mussels that come from PEI are farmed mussels meaning they don’t come from the sea bottom but, rather, they are grown in mesh sleeves, known as “socks”.

Mussel Sock
Mussels in the Sock in Which They are Grown

On the day I publish this mussel chowder recipe for the first time, it is Food Day Canada, a day set aside each year to celebrate all the great Canadian foods we enjoy.  Here, in PEI, I have no shortage of local food options to choose from but, this year, it’s all about the mussels.

PEI Mussels
PEI Mussels Steamed in Rhuby Social Beer from Upstreet Craft Brewing

Mussels are more tender than clams and less gritty.  They are readily available on the Island at seafood outlets and supermarkets and are commonly served at gatherings on PEI.

PEI Mussels Served at Many Gatherings
Steamed PEI Mussels Served at Many Gatherings

Mussels are an affordable seafood and are quick, easy, and fast to prepare.  Steam them in liquid (even plain water) for 7-10 minutes, till the shells open. Dip these tasty little morsels in melted butter and oh-là-là! I like them steamed in beer, white wine, or apple juice with some garlic and fresh herbs.

PEI Mussels

Mussels are a great power food. They are low in fat and rich in vitamins and minerals.  They are also gluten-free and are a good source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids.

There are many different styles of mussel chowder and just as many ways to make it.  My mussel chowder is luxuriously rich, thick, creamy, and packed with wonderful flavor.

Begin by sweating some onion, celery, carrot, and garlic in butter to release the wonderful aromatics.  Add the flour and blend into the vegetables. This roux will thicken the chowder. Add the reserved mussel broth, chicken broth,  white wine, and some good PEI potatoes. Pour in some milk to make the chowder nice and creamy. Finally, add in the steamed mussels, and fresh herbs.

Serve with crusty rolls, traditional homemade biscuits, whole wheat biscuits, or garlic or artisan bread.

My Island Bistro Kitchen's PEI Mussel Chowder
My Island Bistro Kitchen’s PEI Mussel Chowder

My local beverage pairing for this chowder is the Commons Czech Style Pilsner produced by PEI’s Upstreet Craft Brewing in Charlottetown. This is a clean, crisp lager that pairs well with mussels. You can read the story I previously wrote about this artisan brewery by clicking here.

PEI Mussel Chowder Paired with Upstreet Brewing Company's Commons Czech Style Pilsner
PEI Mussel Chowder Paired with Upstreet Brewing Company’s Commons Czech Style Pilsner

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

My Island Bistro Kitchen’s PEI Mussel Chowder

Ingredients:
2 lb PEI mussels, washed and beards removed
1½ tbsp butter
¼ cup onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
¾ cup white wine
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

2-3 tbsp butter
¼ cup onion, finely chopped
¼ cup celery, finely chopped
1 small carrot, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup peeled and diced potatoes
3 tbsp flour
1 cup reserved strained mussel broth
2/3 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 bay leaf
1½ cups whole milk or a combination of evaporated milk and whole milk
1 tsp fresh basil, finely chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
½ tsp fresh dillweed, chopped
1 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 tbsp butter
Salt and cracked pepper, to taste

Method:
To steam the mussels, melt butter in large stockpot over medium heat.  Add the onion and garlic and sauté for 3-4 minutes.  Add the white wine, parsley, and thyme.  Bring to a boil.  Add the mussels. Cover. Steam for approximately 5-7 minutes, or until the mussel shells have opened.  Set aside 4 mussels in their shells to use as garnishes, then remove the mussel meat from the remaining shells, discarding any shells that have not completely opened.  Store mussels in refrigerator until needed. Strain the broth through a fine sieve and set aside.

In a large heavy-bottomed pot, melt the second amount of butter over medium heat.  Reduce heat slightly and add the onion, celery, carrot, and garlic.  Sweat the vegetables, stirring frequently, for 2-3 minutes, just until the onion is transparent.

Reduce heat to low. Add the flour to make a roux and stir to blend with the vegetables.  Cook for about 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent sticking and scorching.  Gradually add the reserved mussel broth, chicken broth, and white wine, whisking constantly to work out any lumps. Add the bay leaf and potatoes. Increase heat to medium high and bring mixture to a boil then reduce heat to medium low.  Cook for 8-9 minutes or until potatoes are almost fork tender.

Remove about ¼ cup of the hot liquid from pot and stir into the milk to temper it.  Pour tempered milk into hot mixture and stir to combine well.  Cook for about 5 minutes.  Add the steamed mussels, fresh herbs, and butter. Cook for 4-5 minutes until mussels are heated. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Remove and discard bay leaf. Ladle chowder into bowls and garnish each with a steamed mussel, fresh herbs, or chopped chives. Serve with crusty rolls, biscuits, or artisan or garlic bread.

Yield: Apx. 4 servings

My Island Bistro Kitchen's PEI Mussel Chowder

My Island Bistro Kitchen’s PEI Mussel Chowder

Serving Size: Apx. 4

A hearty and delicious mussel chowder made with world-famous PEI mussels

Ingredients

  • 2 lb PEI mussels, washed and beards removed
  • 1½ tbsp butter
  • ¼ cup onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¾ cup white wine
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2-3 tbsp butter
  • ¼ cup onion, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup celery, finely chopped
  • 1 small carrot, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup peeled and diced potatoes
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup reserved strained mussel broth
  • 2/3 cup chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1½ cups whole milk or a combination of evaporated milk and whole milk
  • 1 tsp fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp fresh dillweed, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • Salt and cracked pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. To steam the mussels, melt butter in large stockpot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for 3-4 minutes. Add the white wine, parsley, and thyme. Bring to a boil. Add the mussels. Cover. Steam for approximately 5-7 minutes, or until the mussel shells have opened. Set aside 4 mussels in their shells to use as garnishes, then remove the mussel meat from the remaining shells, discarding any shells that have not completely opened. Store mussels in refrigerator until needed. Strain the broth through a fine sieve and set aside.
  2. In a large heavy-bottomed pot, melt the second amount of butter over medium heat. Reduce heat slightly and add the onion, celery, carrot, and garlic. Sweat the vegetables, stirring frequently, for 2-3 minutes, just until the onion is transparent.
  3. Reduce heat to low. Add the flour to make a roux and stir to blend with the vegetables. Cook for about 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent sticking and scorching. Gradually add the reserved mussel broth, chicken broth, and white wine, whisking constantly to work out any lumps. Add the bay leaf and potatoes. Increase heat to medium high and bring mixture to a boil then reduce heat to medium low. Cook for 8-9 minutes or until potatoes are almost fork tender.
  4. Remove about ¼ cup of the hot liquid from pot and stir into the milk to temper it. Pour tempered milk into hot mixture and stir to combine well. Cook for about 5 minutes. Add the steamed mussels, fresh herbs, and butter. Cook for 4-5 minutes until mussels are heated. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Remove and discard bay leaf. Ladle chowder into bowls and garnish each with a steamed mussel, fresh herbs, or chopped chives. Serve with crusty rolls, biscuits, or artisan or garlic bread.
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Chicken and Quinoa Salad with Star Anise and Orange Vinaigrette

Chicken and Quinoa Salad with Orange Star Anise Vinaigrette
Chicken and Quinoa Salad with Star Anise and Orange Vinaigrette

We grow a garden and live out of it in the summer. We grow lots of different varieties of lettuce and so salads are an almost daily part of our menu.

Lettuce from our Garden
Lettuce from our Garden

On hot summer days, I love to make what I call a main meal salad. I simply take a meat platter and lay a layer of mixed greens down the center bordered by a row of quinoa along both sides of the lettuce bed. I often marinate and cook chicken breasts then slice them for salads as I have done here.  I use whatever fruit I have on hand or that is in season to make a colorful and healthy salad. It could be strawberries, mango, melons, oranges or mandarins, blueberries, peaches, raspberries, and so forth.  Add some red onion rings, crumbled feta cheese, and top with crunchy pea and radish shoots and you have a very colorful, appetizing, and healthy dinner.

Chicken and Quinoa Salad with Orange Star Anise Vinagrette
Chicken and Quinoa Salad with Star Anise and Orange Vinagrette

What makes the salad super tasty is the vinaigrette.

Star Anise and Orange Vinaigrette
Star Anise and Orange Vinaigrette

For this recipe,  start with 3 tablespoons of orange juice and bring it to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat and add a small star anise pod and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and let the juice cool. This allows the star anise to infuse the juice with a lovely subtle layer of licorice flavor. Discard the star anise and mix the vinaigrette ingredients in a small jar and shake vigorously.  If adding fresh herbs, only add them at the time of serving as, otherwise, they become quite limp and wilted.

Star Anise and Orange Vinaigrette
Star Anise and Orange Vinaigrette

Now, I don’t tend to measure the ingredients for the salad itself. I go to the garden and pick a couple of handfuls of different kinds of lettuce. For a main meal serving for two, I cook 1/2 cup of quinoa and a large chicken breast. For the fruits, just add as many of each kind as you like and the same for the pea and radish shoots.  I don’t grow these shoots – I get them from Just A Little Farm in Bonshaw.  You can click here to read the story I wrote about this farm. Jessica grows the most amazing produce and her pea and radish shoots are so lovely crisp and fresh!

Chicken and Quinoa Salad with Star Anise and Orange Vinaigrette
Chicken and Quinoa Salad with Star Anise and Orange Vinaigrette

This recipe will yield a generous main meal for two or, if serving as a starter, it could serve 4-6.

[Printable Recipe Follows at end of Posting]

Orange and Star Anise Vinaigrette

Ingredients:
3 tbsp orange juice
1 small star anise pod
¼ cup olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp liquid honey
¼ tsp garlic salt
Salt and pepper, to taste
Fresh herbs (e.g., parsley, thyme, dill), chopped

Method:

In small saucepan, bring orange juice to boiling point over medium heat.  Reduce heat to simmer and add the star anise pod.  Simmer for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely, allowing the star anise to infuse the orange juice. Remove and discard star anise after orange juice has cooled.

Combine all ingredients, except the fresh herbs, in a small jar. Shake vigorously.  Add the chopped herbs at time of serving.

Yield: Apx. scant ½ cup

Chicken and Quinoa Salad with Star Anise and Orange Vinaigrette

Yield: Scant 1/2 cup

A tasty vinaigrette with subtle undertones of licorice flavor. Perfect accompaniment to any salad but especially good with Chicken and Quinoa Salad

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp orange juice
  • 1 small star anise pod
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp liquid honey
  • ¼ tsp garlic salt
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Fresh herbs (e.g., parsley, thyme, dill), chopped

Instructions

  1. In small saucepan, bring orange juice to boiling point over medium heat. Reduce heat to simmer and add the star anise pod. Simmer for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely, allowing the star anise to infuse the orange juice. Remove and discard star anise after orange juice has cooled.
  2. Combine all ingredients, except the fresh herbs, in a small jar. Shake vigorously. Add the chopped herbs at time of serving.
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Chicken and Quinoa Salad with Star Anise and Orange Vinaigrette