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Food: Smoothie, quinoa recipes for the freezer

Her recipes Fruit and Kale Breakfast Smoothie 2 oranges 1/2 to 1 cup cold water 4 to 5 ounces fresh kale 4 1-inch chunks of frozen banana 1 to 1-1/2 cups frozen berries Peel the oranges, taking out any seeds, and cut into 1-inch chunks. Wash and roughly chop kale. Place oranges and water in blender. Fill remaining blender space with chopped kale. Pulse till pulverized. Add more kale and pulse again. Add bananas and pulse until smooth. Add frozen berries and pulse until smooth. Pour into glasses and serve. Makes two smoothies Quinoa Scramble Part one 2 teaspoons salt 10 ounces kale 2-1/2 pounds sweet potatoes 2 cups quinoa Clean and chop kale into quarter-inch pieces by hand or food processor. Peel and cut sweet potatoes into quarter-inch cubes. Add salt to a pot of boiling water. This water will be used several times, so do not discard. Add kale and cook for 30 to 60 seconds. Remove kale and set aside to drain. Bring the same water back to a boil and add the cubed sweet potato. The water will have a green tinge to it from the kale. Cook the sweet potato for 2 minutes, remove from water and set aside to drain. Measure 3 cups hot water, discarding the rest, and put it back into the pot. Bring the water back to a boil, add the quinoa, stir and cover pot. Simmer for 12 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 10 minutes. If any water remains, drain quinoa. Mix the kale, sweet potato and quinoa together. Divide into freezer containers, cool and freeze. Makes about 12 cups or enough for 8 servings. Part Two 1 tablespoon olive oil 1/4 cup diced onion 1/2 cup diced red pepper 3 cups quinoa mixture 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme 2 eggs, beaten Salt and pepper to taste To make two servings, thaw 3 cups of quinoa mixture by placing in the refrigerator overnight. Heat oil in a skillet. Add onion, red pepper and quinoa mixture and fry until vegetables are hot and quinoa is slightly toasted. Beat two eggs and add thyme, salt and pepper. Turn off heat to the skillet and add the eggs. Stir. The heat of the mixture will cook the egg. Top with shredded Parmesan or red pepper flakes if desired.

Deb Wehrli grew up on a farm is Tiskilwa, Ill., about 50 miles north of Peoria.

“I learned how to prepare food for family and farmhands,” she says of her childhood. “My mom and grandmother were good cooks, but they also taught me that cooking is an expression of love.”

When she went away to college, Wehrli took some cooking classes but settled on a major in retail. She learned about all aspects of retail sales.

“As fate would have it, I ended up with a job in gourmet houseware sales,” she says. “I was surrounded by very good cooks and great equipment.”

Her career provided her with some fantastic cookware as well as strengthening her attraction to all things culinary.

When she was married and had two daughters, Wehrli developed “a repertoire of dishes we all loved to eat.” Having dinner together as a family every night was a goal, but Wehrli says there were some impossibly busy nights when dinner was on the run.

“I really believe that if you can pull off dinner together as a family three to four times a week, the kids will remember it as having dinner together every night,” she says.

Wehrli happily cooked family favorites until her daughter came home from college and announced she was vegetarian.

“She no longer wanted to eat my repertoire of meals,” Wehrli recalls. “I just made what I always made, and she would eat what she could. It created a time of conflict between us.”

Gradually, Wehrli began to understand the real cause of the friction: “I realized that she had always received love through my cooking.”

Her daughter missed sharing great meals served with love for the whole family. So Wehrli decided she had to add some vegetarian dishes to her repertoire. Then her younger daughter became a vegetarian, which confirmed the need for recipe expansion.

Her two daughters have changed her cooking style. They introduced her to kale and quinoa. They told her that wild Maine blueberries had more antioxidants than other blueberries. When she strained the pulp out of fresh squeezed orange juice, they pointed out she was straining out the nutrition. Together, the family began to eat healthier.

Wehrli, 58, and her husband, Win, start most days with a cup of coffee followed by a fruit-and-vegetable smoothie. She cuts ripe bananas into chunks and freezes them to use in her smoothies along with frozen berries and fruits. She suggests that beginners use less kale in the smoothie mix until they adjust to its piquant flavor.

“We like the flavor of kale now, but it takes a little time,” she says. She also admits that the green color of the drink can take some time to accept.

“When we drink the smoothie, we have three servings of fruit and vegetables to start our day,” she says.

The couple gets busy with the day’s work and tries to stop for a late breakfast or early lunch about 11 a.m.

“If I want to have some junk food later in the day, I don’t feel so guilty because of the good way I started the day,” Wehrli jokes.

To keep meals nutritious but quick, Wehrli says she becomes a “weekend warrior” and cooks meals to freeze. She has developed a mix of quinoa, sweet potatoes and kale that can be precooked and frozen or refrigerated until ready to use. To make a quick meal, she heats the mixture, adds an egg and has a veggie-and-grain scramble perfect any time of the day.

Wehrli challenges those who try her Fruit and Kale Breakfast Smoothie and Quinoa Scramble to make the recipes their own by varying fruit choices for the smoothie, or adding cheese, potatoes or other ingredients to the scramble.

“Eating healthy makes a difference,” she adds. “We have more energy and stamina throughout the day.”

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