Posts Tagged ‘green’

Green Juice Boost (of Energy!)

I’ve been intrigued by juicing ever since watching Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead on Netflix a few months ago. The film follows a man who was 100 pounds overweight with all kinds of autoimmune disorders. He starts juicing in an attempt to jumpstart a healthy lifestyle. It was an interesting film and inspired me to start using the juicer that was collecting dust in my basement.

One of the main motivations to start juicing was the fact that I had to wake up at 5:30 a.m. in order to be at school by 7:30. It was hard for me to eat a full breakfast that early; nothing sounds appetizing when you are still half asleep! But, since I didn’t want to leave the house on an empty stomach, I decided to give juicing a try.

The results were amazing! I had a ton of energy and didn’t experience the harsh crash in the afternoons that I usually get with coffee.This is one of my favorite juice recipes. I stuck to this one almost religiously because it wasn’t overly sweet. The lemon gave it a nice tartness and the parsley added a refreshing finish.

Green Juice Boost (of Energy!) - 1/2 cucumber, 1 small apple, 1 lemon, 1 small handful of parsley (about 1/4 cup), 3 stalks kale, 2 handfuls of spinach (about 3 cups). Roughly chop apple and peel lemon. Run all ingredients through a juicer. Enjoy immediately! | Cucina Kristina

No mid-afternoon crash!

Green Juice Boost (of Energy!)
*This recipe requires a juicer.

Green Juice Boost (of Energy!). No mid-afternoon crash! Run all ingredients through a juicer. Enjoy immediately. | Cucina Kristina

Green Juice Boost (of energy)


  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 1 small apple
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 small handful of parsley (about 1/4 cup)
  • 3 stalks kale
  • 2 handfuls of spinach (about 3 cups)


  1. Roughly chop apple and peel lemon.
  2. Run all ingredients through a juicer.
  3. Enjoy immediately!

Mason Jar Salads

Mason Jar Salads. Stay fresh for up to a week in the fridge. Layer hardier ingredients on the bottom and more delicate items on top. Cucina Kristina |

Great time saver!   

I do my grocery shopping and food prep for the week on Sunday afternoon. It the single best time saver and stress reliever that I have discovered to date. It takes a bit of planning in the beginning to get the hang of it, but it is so worth it once you figure out the odds and ends!

I typically spend anywhere between 5-6 hours shopping, prepping, and cleaning up on Sunday, but it totally eliminates any work I have to do for meals during the week. At any point during the week, I can whip up breakfast, lunch, or dinner with zero prep time and minimal clean up. Mid-week clean up is reduced to the pots/pans I use to cook and the dishes we eat on.

For the past few months, I have been eating salads everyday for lunch and storing them in mason jars. I make 6 at a time and the mason jars keep the ingredients fresh for the entire week. Any airtight container would probably work, but I like mason jars because they fit in the door of the fridge. If I were to make the salads only, shopping, prep, and clean up would probably take 2-3 hours.

A few weeks ago, I posted a picture of my mason jar salads on Instagram and it sparked a ton of questions from people. I originally saw this idea floating around Pinterest so I thought everyone already knew about it, but it turns out they do not. I never actually “pinned” the original idea onto one of my boards so, unfortunately, I can’t credit the place that I first saw this.

I don’t add any dressing into the mason jars because I dress my salads with olive oil and vinegar only. If you want, you can add the dressing to the bottom of the jars. Just make sure that you always layer sturdy veggies at the bottom (like carrots or radishes) so they stay crisp throughout the week.

Mason Jar Salads
Time: 2-3 hours which includes shopping, prep, and clean up
Makes 6 salads

Make a week's worth of salads ahead of time and store them in mason jars. They will keep in your fridge for up to a week! Layer hardy ingredients on bottom and more delicate items (like lettuce or sprouts) on top. Cucina Kristina |

Example of the items you will need

You can use any ingredients that you want. For the above salads I used the following:

  • 3 green peppers – 1/2 pepper per salad
  • 12 radishes – 2 radishes per salad
  • 6 carrots – 1 per salad
  • 3 small apples – 1/2 apple per salad
  • 6 celery stalks – 1 per salad
  • 3 shallots – 1/2 shallot per salad
  • 3 heads of romaine lettuce – 1/2 head per salad
  • 3 small cucumbers  – 1/2 cucumber per salad. Note: Pictured above are 6 small cucumbers because I planned on using 1 per salad. As you can see in the picture below, it was way too much so I ended up using half of the original amount I bought.
  • Sport peppers


Mason jar salads will keep fresh and crisp in your fridge up to a week. Cucina Kristina |

Layer your ingredients

Start with your sturdy ingredients and layer each ingredient. Add the lettuce last. I layered in this order. Radish, carrot, cucumber, celery, green pepper, apple, shallot, sport peppers, and lettuce.

Mason Jar Salads - They will keep fresh and crisp in your fridge up to a week. Cucina Kristina |

Shake the jar to create more room

Don’t worry if your jar starts to look like it is getting full. You have tons of room left and you can push the items down when you add the lettuce. Before adding the lettuce, shake the jar to settle the ingredients and fill in the gaps between layers. The jar on the left has not been shaken, the jar on the right has. See the difference?

Make salads for the week ahead of time and store them in a mason jar. They will keep in your fridge for up to a week. From: Cucina Kristina |

Finished salads

Lastly, add the lettuce. Really pack it in there. You can fit a lot more than you think in these jars!

When you are ready to eat them, dump them out into a large bowl. At this point you can add a protein source like hard-boiled eggs, grilled chicken, or shrimp. Add nuts or seeds if you are keeping it vegetarian or vegan. You can also add homemade pickled banana peppers.

Store vegetable trimmings in a freezer bag and use them to make homemade vegetable broth. Cucina Kristina |

Use these to make homemade vegetable broth

Make sure you save any veggie shavings or trimmings. Just throw them into a plastic bag and store them in your freezer. When the bag gets full, dump the contents into a large pot of water and make homemade vegetable broth.

Garden Update: Squash Vine Borers – 1, Red Kuri – 0

We suffered our first garden casualty this week. Our Red Kuri Squash plant was a little warrior, but he was no match for the evil squash vine borers. Like most moth species, I am sure the adults exist to pollinate plants, but these suckers are detrimental to squash plants, and I can’t help but think they are anything but E-V-I-L. This is the first year we planted squash so now we know how to combat these pests for next year.

I am especially sensitive to the passing of the squash plant because our garden has taken quite a hit this year with all the crazy weather we have had in Chicago. These plants have survived an unseasonably cold spring, an intense hail storm with golf ball sized hail, monsoon style winds, torrential downpours, and extreme heat. We have experienced every bad weather element that can kill a garden in a span of three months and my plants have persevered through all of it.

About 3 weeks ago, we noticed the leaves of our squash plant starting to wilt. We didn’t think anything of it at the time because it happened to coincide with an intense heat wave sweeping through Chicago. We had a string of 100+ degree days with super high humidity and, at one point, the low never dropped below 80 degrees. We attributed the wilting squash leaves to the extreme heat because most of the other plants weren’t looking so hot either; however, as the heat broke and the rain came through, all of the plants bounced back, except the squash. After about a week, we noticed the leaves of the plant starting to turn yellow and knew something was up.

Wilting leaves – sign #1

If you have wilting and yellowing leaves that do not appear to get better when you water, chances are you have a vine borer. The adult moth lays its eggs neat the base of the plant. When the eggs hatch, the larvae burrow into the stem and begin to feed. As they get fatter, they block water from reaching the leaves, hence the wilting. The good news is you can extract these pests from your plant by slicing the plant lengthwise, looking inside the vine, and picking them out. They will look like this:

Squash vine borer larvae

If the vine looks like the photo above, you can probably extract the larvae and bury the vine to protect it while it heals. However, if you have about 15 of those things inside your plant, they will completely demolish it, and those suckers work fast! Within a week or two of noticing the first signs of wilting they had done this to the root of the plant.

Probably not salvageable

Here is a closer shot of the damage the vine borers can do. As you can see, they turn a hearty vine into dust!

Ugh! Definitely not salvageable.

If you catch this early, there is a chance you can save your plant; however, we pulled nearly 20 of these devilish little guys out of the vines and ended up having to uproot the entire thing. :(

Luckily, the rest of our plants seem to be doing well. Take a look at our broccoli. Am I the only one that didn’t know how freaking bushy these things get?! That seems like a lot of leaf for a small amount of broccoli head. I thought maybe we could sauté the leaves like you would with beet greens, but after Googling this idea it seems the leaves are bitter, tough, and not very tasty. Such a shame!

It’s a pity the leaves aren’t very tasty.

We also have a mystery pepper, which is kind of exciting! The tag at the greenhouse claimed this was a Habanero chili, but you can tell by its shape that it is definitely not a Habanero. One of them has turned yellow so that rules out a few possible pepper varieties. We are waiting to see if it turns orange or red in the next couple of days, but if anyone out there knows what type of chili this is leave me a comment.

Any pepper experts out there know what this is?

We also have some wild fennel growing unexpectedly behind the garage. I love me some fennel so I am really stoked about this. We grew fennel near the garage last year, but the pH level or something in our soil must have been off because we ended up with tons of fennel stalks, but shriveled and inedible roots. Gardening over the past two years has been quite a learning experience for us!

Wild fennel. We should probably weed some of those vines.

While I have your attention, I would like to take a second to brag about the trellis Jesse built for our tomatoes. Unless you pay a pretty penny for them, trellises are not very attractive to the eye. The wood cost ~$20 and definitely looks much nicer than the wire ones we started the plants on. We used cedar wood, the same wood we used to build our raised garden beds.

DIY cedar wood trellis

This photo was taken a few weeks ago, but the tomato plants haven’t been producing fruit like they have in past years. Typically, we have to many tomatoes we don’t know what to do with them all. This year… not so much. But then again, I am not exactly patient when it comes to waiting for plants to grow.

Do you have any garden woes you would like to share? How about garden successes? Let’s see those photos!