The Simple Life* (and Smoothie)

January 7, 2009

DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS HAS MOVED!  Please visit the shiny new home of DDD by clicking here.

* [Absolutely no relation to the reality show of the same name] ##


[That is one MoFo huge smoothie!]

Now that the holidays are over and a new, fervently hopeful year has begun, I’ve decided to simplify my life.

It might have been the post-apocalyptic array of file folders, sticky notes, to-do lists (to-do lists ON sticky notes), drafts of recipes for the cookbook, empty interoffice envelopes, glasses (of both types), half-filled mug, pens, pencils, scotch tape, daybook, boxes of tissues, assorted and sundry notes-to-self, a stapler, checkbook and magazines and paperbacks and various other items that seem to have settled randomly, like nuclear fallout, on my desk. 

Or perhaps it was the never-quite-cleared kitchen table, the kitchen counters encumbered with bins of flour and Sucanat and oats, bottles of agave nectar, cannisters of raisins and dried cranberries, bowls and spatulas and whisks and pans and measuring cups and spoons (okay, I do have an excuse: the aforementioned cookbook).

Still, it could have been the closet full of wayward shoes, or the three distinct, mostly unworn wardrobes (that would be “slim”; “gaining weight”‘; and “fat”), assorted scarves, out of season accessories, fuzzy slippers and terrycloth bathrobe. 

No, no, no–it must have been the 14 unanswered emails, 27 unanswered voicemails, three scheduled doctors’ appointments, two scheduled vet appointments, one hair appointment, one dog training appointment, as-yet to be determined appointment to set up an appointment with myself to get it all together and finally organize all my appointments. . . .

Okay, I may be exaggerating a tad.  But just a tad.  It’s true what they say: the older you get, the more complicated your life becomes.  (Or was that, the older you get, the louder you turn up the volume on the television?  Same difference.) 


[Simplicity at its finest.]

A while back, my friend Eternal Optimist informed me that she’d completed a total purge of her abode, sort of like an emotional smudging.  She tossed boxes of garbage, shredded reams of old papers and files, donated countless bags of clothes to charity, and repurposed old posters, kitchen chairs, picture frames, unused shelving, CDs and books, and various and sundry other long-neglected items courtesy of Freecyle. It felt great, she averred.

And while I’ve never been a huge fan of the magazine Real Simple (it seems too self-consciously austere and geometric for my taste, reminiscent of Dieter on Sprockets), I have frequently nurtured a dream of chucking it all and moving  to a one-room cabin in the woods, complete with wood-burning stove, 100 acres of surrounding forest, and plenty of space for The Girls to gambol to their hearts’ content. 

Just think of it:  freedom to do what you like, at one with nature, fresh air, green grass, no schedules, no time-stealing technology.  On any given day, I could just wake up, throw open the door and inhale a long, deep breath of unpolluted, pristine country air. . . well, after I chop the firewood for that stove, I guess.  And after I shoo the raccoons out of the food bins at the end of the cabin.  And I guess I’d have to chase a few mice from the cupboards, too, which would mean cleaning up mouse poop.  And also swat those spiders in the corner above the bed–oooh, I hate spiders!  And snakes.  I hope there aren’t any snakes out there.  And I’m scared of mice.  And don’t raccoons have talon-like claws?  I’ve heard they can be really vicious if cornered.  And I bet they don’t serve Triple Mocha Lattes at the intersection of Pine Tree and Deciduous. 

But it did make a lovely reverie, didn’t it?

(“Yes, Mum, a perfect reverie!  But does this mean we don’t get to gambol in the woods now?  Oh, and would you mind turning down the volume on that TV?“)

I also failed miserably at organizing my life over the holidays.  My initial zeal to reorganize my desk, clear out some boxes from our basement, organize the garage, draw up a Five-Year Plan, and resume my lost habit of daily meditation never materialized (oh, and let’s not forget: get my finances in order, secure a retirement plan, start a new workout regimen, finish a cookbook, and clip Chaser’s nails–nothing too onerous, you understand.  Well, excepting Chaser’s nails.).  All I managed was to clear off the desk–and that task alone took two weeks.  

Still, the sense of accomplishment and buoyancy I felt prompted me to seek out other ways to simplify.  After the recent holiday excesses and toppling with a (very heavy) thud off the healthy-eating wagon, I’ve decided to pare down my diet as well.   So I’m afraid you won’t be seeing much fudge, or pecan pie, or marzipan-topped shortbread, or any other dessert that, for some strange reason, seems to spike my blog stats exponentially for a while.  The blog stats will just have to wait until I get my body stats in order. 

Which brings me to today’s recipe.  Coincidentally, over the holidays one gift I received was a book called The Healthiest Meals on Earth, by Jonny Bowden.  It contains breathtaking photographs of really healthy foods, along with pertinent nutritional information and great recipes.  This smoothie is one I adapted for breakfast the other day.  It features one of my all-time favorite foods–sweet potatoes (yes, for breakfast!), and is both simple and quick to make.  The potatoes confer a natural, light sweetness, and the oranges add a bit of tang.  I loved the cheery color and the thick, almost pudding-like consistency (I was tempted to eat this with a spoon, in fact). 

If simple living can taste this good, I may have to reconsider that cabin in the woods.

On second thought, nah.

## Well, unless you count the fact that we’ve both dated Rocker Guys (hers of the black leather punk; mine of the black leather pants).

Sweet and Simple Sweet Potato Smoothie

adapted from The Healthiest Meals on Earth



Unlike many smoothies, this really does feel like a meal.  The sweet potato provides a substantial density and nutritional profile here (both beta carotene and antioxidants), along with vitamin C in the fruit.  I used eggnog flavored soymilk for a festive touch, but you can use any milk you please in this. 


© 2009 Diet, Dessert and Dogs


45 Responses to “The Simple Life* (and Smoothie)”

  1. Shelby Says:

    You have no idea how delicious that looks right now!!!

  2. Soma Says:

    That is a smoothie with very unusual stuffs in it ! & it looks I could use this now. I am so very tired of just thinking holiday food now:-)

    what are chia seeds? ur post read like a poem:-)

  3. Courtney Says:

    I think that cleaning off your desk in two weeks over the holidays IS quite the accomplishment!

    Yum–I *love* thick pudding like smoothies…the Vita-Mix is great because you don’t need to add much liquid to blend. This one looks like a winner!


  4. VeggieGirl Says:

    HAHA!!! The first thing that I said to myself when I saw the title of this post was, “I really hope there’s no reference to Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie’s old show” – NO JOKE!! 😀

    Lovin’ the smoothie!!

  5. Yum! I’ve started having banana and blueberry smoothies for breakfast – I’m normally not fond of eating before lunch, but smoothies are getting me into healthy new habits!

  6. Gina Says:

    That sounds like one healthy (and yummy) smoothie!

  7. I want to check out the book you mentioned! And the smoothie is gorgeous.

  8. Andrea Says:

    well, it LOOKS good and I’m sure it’s good for you, but I don’t think I could eat a sweet potato in a smoothie. Maybe if I put it in a bowl and called it pudding. Maybe.

    I totally identify with the (need for) organizing, though. I spent my vacation watching movies when I meant to clean out the house.

  9. Ashley Says:

    What an intriguing smoothie!! Sweet potatoes and oats and other things. I love that you put eggnog in there too – it reminds me of the merry mandarin drink that they offer at jugo juice at Christmas time.

    As for organization – at least you inspired me to set some goals and be more organized! So thanks for that. =)

  10. Johanna Says:

    I used to hate the colour orange but I have grown to appreciate its wonderful warmth which comes out in these photos – and I love the idea of sweet potato in a smoothie!

    As for simplifying the things that accumulate around our home – if I manage to clear a bench or desk E just thinks it is somewhere for him to put down whatever is in his hands and forget about it! But I am hoping to get some clearing up done before summer is out! Hearing about your desk is good inspiration for me!

  11. ttfn300 Says:

    fantastic smoothie!!

    did i ever thank you for the kind words regarding my new header! i blushed 🙂

  12. shellyfish Says:

    Your quest for simplicity has given birth to a tremendous creative flow – this post is everything at once : entertaining, poignant, informative and beautiful. Hey, just like you!
    Can we have a generator at camp? If we can have a generator I’ll come! We need electricity to power the blender for our smoothies, right?

  13. mangochild Says:

    Love the smoothie! And I hear you on the organizing – I wanted to get better at that (and cleaning!) these past couple of weeks, but something always comes up. And somehow I’d rather spend the little time I have to relax “relaxing” rather than cleaning (blush). Maybe its connected to the craziness that seems to be the life of so many these days, I too have been dreaming of a simpler life as you describe. Don’t know if it is possible, but that yearn is strong.

  14. Maggie Says:

    Great looking smoothie, I’ve never heard of sweet potato in one.
    I’ve been trying to start cleaning out stuff (donate to VVA etc) so we have less for our move this year, but I haven’t been very successful so far. As soon as the tax paperwork is done I’ll get right on it…

  15. Yum, I’ve been drinking oatmeal in smoothie form ever since the lovely Ruby Red recommended it to me… but I’ve never tried a sweet potato one. Sounds like a must-try!

    As for the dishes, I got ’em at Dillards– $2.50 each! I am such a sucker for cheap dishes!

  16. Sophie Says:

    I’m sure it’s better for you to ease yourself into the New Year gradually anyway 🙂

    Wow, that smoothie is quite a concoction! Have tried oats and a dollop of pumpkin puree but never sweet potato. Very intriguing.

    If you’re having a smoothie as your only breakfast food then I find having a bit of carbohydrate in there really helps to keep you full, like the potato or oats. My other strategy is to have an oatcake or two on the side instead and a more traditional smoothie. Will keep some potato aside next time I’m cooking some so I can try this.

  17. Yum! The smoothie looks delicious.

    Your post made me laugh out loud… partially because of your artful prose, and partially because I can completely relate!

    That whole “simplicity” this sounds wonderful until you realize some of the less pleasant aspects. (No coffee? No thank you.)

    As for my other blog, I hope you find it useful. I just started it less than 2 weeks ago, so I’m mostly talking to myself right now. But that’s kind of good, because if I mess something up at this point, very few people will notice. 🙂

  18. bee Says:

    wish you a simplified, healthy, prosperous, delicious 2009, dear ricki. adding sweet potato and oatmeal to a smoothie is brilliant. i’d sneak in some nut butter too for a protein boost.

  19. jessy Says:

    that’s one beautiful smoooooooothie – it sounds so interesting (and delicious)! i may have to try it – and check out that book. thanks, Ricki!

    i too write a few to-do lists on sticky notes. ahahahahaha! that’s awesome!

  20. Lucy Says:

    Go. Now. De-cluttering (for want of another (less naff) word) is UN-believably rewarding. I kid you not, Ricki. It’s the best thing you’ll do all year.

    Delicious smoothie. Great way to start the day (and the year, too).

  21. Happy new year – and congratulations, I’ve picked you as one of five bloggers to whom I can pass on the A Hoy award. See either of those links for the rules if you would like to pass this along – the rules also explain why you are getting an award from someone you’ve never heard of! 😉

  22. Oooh, this sounds good! And looks beautiful, too. I’ve never heard of chia seed before, does it have health benefits?

    Happy new year!

  23. Vegyogini Says:

    YUM! I definitely know that a cabin in the woods is no place for me, but thank you for the moment of reverie nonetheless. 🙂

  24. giz Says:

    A smoothie with mandarin oranges – why didn’t I think of that – I’m such a smoothie junkie. Oh…I know why – I usually opt for the higher calorie PB&J and go into denial about the real calories.

  25. Hayley Says:

    This sounds awesome. I am a smoothie master, and have yet to try a sweet potato variation, thanks for the idea!

  26. Sweet potato smoothie, what a treat! You’re a writing genius – the raccoons, the mouse poop, the snakes, the lattes. How do you come up with this stuff? When I grow up, I want to be you!

  27. Vegetation Says:

    Great post! It really struck a chord with me. I have the same chaos problems you do (however no excuse such as I’m writing a cookbook). I try desperately to simplify at least once a week but I just can’t seem to get the hang of it. I have a problem with clutter 😛 and the same dream of a 1 bedroom cabin (that will undoubtedly end up harbouring so much clutter I’ll have to live outside on the verandah.

    I’m looking forward to the simpler and healthy recipes coming this way 😀 It was just an hour ago I was busy googling healthy vegetarian recipes.

    And that smoothie sounds heavenly! I love the idea of sweet potato in it!

  28. Georgia Says:

    Wow – I totally understand your feelings towards clutter – it is just part of our lives now to be complicated beings (with lots of excess stuff).

    That smoothie looks and sounds awesome. Thanks for sharing. Pity we don’t have eggnog flavoured soymilk here… I am sure that would be divine

  29. Ricki Says:

    It was! 🙂

    Chia are small, greyish-white seeds with properties similar to, but greater than, flax. They are very high in Omega 3’s and protein, and they become gel-like when soaked in a liquid. I use them instead of flax these days.

    Thanks for saying so :)! And I would LOVE a Vita-Mix–too bad I couldn’t have tried this out with one!

    Veggie Girl,
    Phew! I would have hated that, too, to be honest!

    This is worth eating in the morning, I promise! 🙂

    Thanks! It really was.

    It’s a gorgeous book, with great photos. However, I’m not sure I’d recommend it for vegans, as there are lots of meat/chicken/fish recipes. My friend assumed I’d enjoy the nutritional info, which I did, but there aren’t very many recipes I can actually use in this book.

    Oh, you should really give it a try! If sweet potato can go in pie, why not smoothies?

    The eggnog was an interesting taste combination. I think this would be equally good with regular flavor, though! And glad to inspire (now I just need to inspire MYSELF a little more!)

    I feel so much better reading your comment! I’m sure you’d feel right at home in our place. (And you’re invited to come on over and see for yourself any time). 🙂

    Glad you like the look of it. And of course I’d say nice things about your header–it’s fabulous!!

    Aw, thanks (and maybe it’s a good thing we haven’t met yet–I think I might not live up to all those adjectives in person!). I’m afraid even a generator couldn’t convince me. Maybe a 5000 square foot chalet with indoor pool and sauna (and cabana boy?). . . oh, and a personal chef, too. Oh, and a maid. Maybe THEN I could live in the great outdoors. Only indoors, of course. 😉

    Thanks so much for your comment, and for reading! I like your idea of actually relaxing better than mine for wasting time trying to clean up!

    Best of luck with it all! If you take a break, this might be a good smoothie to try–sweet potato does work well in it.

    Yes, worth a try. And those dishes are beautiful! Wish we had Dillards here.

    Thanks for the protein advice! And maybe next time I’ll do this up with pumpkin-sound yum!

    Veggie Guy,
    Thanks so much for your kind words (*blush*). And even though I no longer drink coffee, I could never do without all the rest of it! I’m looking forward to more on your other blog, too.

    Thanks so much, and same to you! And the protein boost would be a great addition, I think. 🙂

    Yay for being sticky-note twins! I mean, they do have a blank side, right, so aren’t they supposed to be used for writing? 😉

    I’m guessing you’re speaking from (post-moving) experience? Yes, even just the desk felt great. And only another seven months or so to clean up the rest of it!

    Thanks so much! I’m honored; it’s just a lovely idea, too! I promise to post my own, in time. . .!

    Chia is a real superfood–more Omega 3 than flax, and more protein, too. It should be available in health food stores. 🙂

    I’m with you on that one–I’ll take the reverie version over the real version any time!

    Your smoothie sounds like a yummy one, too, and one I’d love to try!

    Glad to provide a new twist on an old favorite!

    You are too sweet. Honestly, I think you’re perfect just as you are (and believe me, you do NOT want to “grow” as big as I am!!). Thanks for the always wonderful comments. I look forward to hearing from you!

    Thanks so much! And good luck with your own clutter/chaos. I had to laugh at living on the verandah! Maybe we can start a support group for those who can’t get rid of clutter (oh, wait, I think it already exists–I just have to find their card under this pile of junk on my desk).

    True, the eggnog flavor was a nice twist, but I’m sure this would be equally delicious with vanilla! Or you could add a dash of cinnamon/nutmeg on your own (I won’t say anything about rum–that’s up to you!) 😉

  30. melody Says:

    Looks delicious! I just love chia seeds so much..

  31. Astra Libris Says:

    What a beautiful smoothie! I love the sweet potato smoothie idea!

    It’s funny how everything in the house tends to settle on the desk, isn’t it? 🙂 Thank you for the terrific, oh so welcome simplification process inspiration…

  32. This smoothie sounds delicious. I cooked up a sweet potato to throw into another recipe and totally forgot about it until after I had already devoured the meal. Now it’s been sitting in my fridge for a day or two and I need to do something with it already. Tomorrow for sure!

  33. Celine Says:

    I’ll help you declutter if you pay me in smoothies.
    do we have a deal?

  34. Krista Says:

    Your sweet potato smoothie looks to die for. I love all things with orange vegetables – thanks for sharing this recipe!

  35. JoAnn Says:

    Sounds like a delicious smoothie. I hope that you are using Pure Oats instead of the regular oats. Keep up the good work.

  36. JennShaggy Says:

    Thank you 🙂 Even though I find my family’s omni habbits a little disturbing, they really do make the best recipe testers. They can always tell me when the flavor is dead-on or needs tweaking.

    Can we have a breakfast party one day? You can make smoothies, I’ll make waffles. Yum.

  37. foodfashionfun Says:

    Aww, good luck! I hope everything goes well in simplifying things:] And that looks like such a yummy smoothie!

  38. No, please don’t tell me life gets more complicated! I like it simple, too. It makes me anxious when I accumulate too many possessions or when my apartment is too messy… Don’t you wish we had no responsibilities? Sigh.

    I’ve never thought of putting sweet potatoes in a smoothie. What an incredible idea! Seriously, that smoothie sounds really, really delicious.

  39. Lisa Says:

    I totally concur about life as we get older. In January I dream of chucking everything and simplifying. Sadly, while I dream, I never feel like I accomplish all that much…

    That is a great looking smoothie and so very healthy that I haven’t even heard of all of the ingredients before. Still, it looks luscious and is very inspiring!

  40. nannykim Says:

    Man, now that is what I call a long intro to a great recipe!! Just reading about all that organizational neediness wore me out!! I think we all want to organize come the New Year–I have made progress this year and have donated oodles to my Goodwill store AND IT MADE me feel lots better having less clutter!!!

    This recipe looks wonderful—I will have to try it soon, but I am unfamiliar with chia seeds or whatever it was–would it taste ok without that ingredient????

  41. Maureen Says:

    Wow, I was not expecting sweet potatoes to be in the recipe after seeing that first pic! What an interesting idea. I feel your pain about not being organized after the holidays. The Toronto Sun columnist Rachel Sa recently commented on how everyone says “I’m SO glad the holidays are over and things have settled down”.. a funny thing to say after a so-called “break”. I certainly didn’t get around to my Year-in-Review blog post. Oh well. 🙂

  42. Shannon Says:

    I would have never thought of putting a sweet potato in a smoothie, but it looks great! How exciting about the cookbook. I have always wanted to write one.

  43. i love sweet potatoes.. they are probably my favorite starch… i will definitely be trying this.. and chia seeds!!! i never see them used but they are such an amazing source of energy.

    this smoothy looks like the perfect way to start a day

  44. that looks sooooo refreshing!

  45. city chick Says:

    I tried this the other day with the egg nog rice milk I had hanging around that I forgot about during the holidays – like pumpkin pie in a glass! It was wonderful!!! Thanks for the great recipe.

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