Quick Bites: Sun-kissed Cilantro and Basil Smoothie

SunkissedCilantroBasilSmoothieQuick bites–which I’m coining in relation to Feed Your Skull–as a fewer words, quick share of something delicious I’ve made recently.

Jeremy and I have been vying for blender privileges this week and yesterday I WON! :) So I threw in all the greens. We had a little cilantro, fresh basil from the farmers market, and kale. This was a lovely green smoothie with bright peach flavor softened just slightly by the herbs. If you haven’t tried basil with fruit–I highly recommend.

Ingredients: 2-4 cups kale, 3 small bananas, handful basil, 2-3 cups frozen peaches, handful cilantro, splash of orange juice, and water to desired thickness. Blend until smooth and enjoy.

Can Vegans Donate Blood?

Pint of bloodAbsolutely!

I still remember the first time I gave blood. The City of Batavia, where I worked at the time, was hosting a blood drive in the council chambers. I thought I had discovered an absolutely legit way to get out of work for an hour.

I recall being so nervous I was trembling. I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t even know my blood type 13 years ago.

Btw, I’m O-. A universal donor.

Having never been bothered by the sight of needles and having a high pain tolerance, I attentively watched and mentally recorded the exchange as it happened. It was fascinating! Watching every step of the way as they gathered my vitals, prepped the vein, inserted the needle, focusing on my intermittent squeeze of the object in my palm to keep the blood flowing — all while comfortably sitting in a reclined padded cot.

Blood Donation

That first experience has led to a multitude of donations over the last decade.

I donate because it’s such a simple and painless way to potentially save someone’s life.

I also give in faith that if one day I need blood it will be there for me. As an O- blood type, I can only receive O-.

In those early years I was an omnivore with vegetarian leanings. Then in 2012, when I gave in Portland, I remember worrying because I was mostly vegan at the time and wondered if I would be ‘allowed’ to give blood, because one of the things they check is your hemoglobin level—which is related to how much iron you have. The process went fine.

Fast forward to 2014, my first time giving blood since 2012 and my first as a committed vegan of almost 2 years. I was—again—a little nervous. Would I be rejected? I haven’t eaten meat for almost 2 years, do I get enough iron? Can I really be healthy as a vegan and get the nutrients I need to do something as simple as donate blood.

I wasn’t rejected. My hemoglobin level was 15.4 (normal range for women is 12.1 — 15.1 g/dL and for men, 13.8 — 17.2 g/dL).

10 weeks later I gave blood again! My hemoglobin level the second time around, on July 22, 2104, was 13.6 g/dL. My other vitals looked good as well, my temperature was 98.1, pulse 62, and my blood pressure at 102/74.

You may be wondering…

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Where do I get my iron?

Soybeans, blackstrap molasses, lentils, spinach, tofu, chickpeas, tempeh, lima beans, swiss chard, kidney beans, black beans, pinto beans, potato, quinoa, tahini, peas, cashews, bok choy, raisins, watermelon, almonds, kale, sunflower seeds, and broccoli.

Can Vegans Give Blood?

Why is it important to give blood? [source: American Red Cross]

  • Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood.
  • More than 41,000 blood donations are needed every day.
  • A total of 30 million blood components are transfused each year in the U.S.
  • The average red blood cell transfusion is approximately 3 pints.
  • The blood type most often requested by hospitals is Type O.
  • The blood used in an emergency is already on the shelves before the event occurs.
  • Sickle cell disease affects more than 70,000 people in the U.S. About 1,000 babies are born with the disease each year. Sickle cell patients can require frequent blood transfusions throughout their lives.
  • More than 1.6 million people were diagnosed with cancer last year. Many of them will need blood, sometimes daily, during their chemotherapy treatment.
  • A single car accident victim can require as many as 100 pints of blood.

I am thrilled that I am able to give blood and that it goes to someone in need.

Because I believe that giving blood is a community effort, I reached out to my Facebook family and friends to share reasons why they give blood or why they are unable.

“Even though I’ve only given blood twice, I do it because It’s a good thing to do for the community.” – Jeremy F.

“For the benefit of the community, the notion that someday I might need it, and because I have CMV- blood (blood that can go directly to newborns)” – Steve F.

I donate because I have people close to me who have been on the receiving end of blood transfusions. As an act of thanks to those who donated to allow blood to be available, I donate to pay the act forward.” – Kelly M.

I give blood because I’m O negative; which of course is the universal donor. When there have been national disasters they always call and I feel special that I can do that!” – Sheila J.

I am not allowed to.” – Eric K. (Reason – More information: Huffington Post, Take Part, and Washington Times)

I donate plasma (not whole blood) because it helps save lives and is a much needed product. My dad donates blood because he is O- and has religiously every chance he has.” – Jenilee P.

I donate because I am O+, which allows me to do “double red” donations. I’ve also donated platelets, which is super simple, and I am a registered bone marrow/stem cell donor. With my sister battling leukemia again, I see firsthand how blood donations really do save lives.” – Flora R.

“I was declined because of rolling veins, it was very disappointing.” – Diane F.

I donate because I am O+ and I know that it will help others in need.” – Erik J.

I’m not allowed to donate anymore either. But I used to love donating.” – Sarah F.

I donate simply because I feel it’s the right thing to do. Where we live in Texas is pretty rural, so when there is a car accident they tend to be bad. It’s also a pretty small town with a big drug problem, and since I’m generally healthy, I feel it is something I can do to give back and help someone. Our blood center will call when your blood is used. Once, my blood was used almost as soon as it was available. That really made me feel like I did something profound.” – Angela S.

“They don’t let me in the US because I used to live in Europe and they are afraid of mad cow’s disease.  But I was a blood donor in France. Both my Dad and I are universal donors (0 -), and the hospitals are always on shortage for 0 – … It is just such a small easy thing to do that can make a big difference for someone…” – Bee B.

“I used to give blood on a regular basis. Then the Canadian blood services changed the rules about people who had lived in Europe. I am no longer allowed to donate. Something to do with mad cow disease and potential exposure. The reason I gave blood was simple to help people in need. Pay it forward type thing. I miss it.” – Sally P.

I’m thrilled that so many replied and shared why donating blood is important to them. Whether you want to pay it forward or have experienced a loved one benefit from someone’s generosity – it’s important we all get out there and donate. Even though I’ve given blood numerous times I never really understood that the sexual and lifestyle questions meant deferral from giving blood for many. I hope we are pushing the science of blood ‘safety’ and that it grows leaps and bounds to allow these champions to donate in the near future.

Enter your zip code to find a blood drive near you.

More about blood.

Why do you give blood? Do you have any questions about giving blood? xo

Strawberry Almonds

Strawberry AlmondsMeet one of our new favorite snacks — Strawberry Almonds.

They are raw almonds smothered in a delectable strawberry glaze and then dehydrated to a crispy and chewy perfection.

I was absolutely inspired to make these when we happened across one of Blue Diamond’s new products at the store. They now have fruit flavored almonds?! I was like, what?!

While they are vegan and would do great in a pinch if traveling. The ingredients carry a few extra stragglers that you just don’t need when you make snacks fresh at home.

Blue Diamond Strawberry flavored almonds ingredient list: Almonds, sugar, natural strawberry flavor with other natural flavors, corn maltodextrin, modified corn starch, strawberry juice concentrate, sea salt, color (titanium dioxide, red cabbage juice), citric acid, rebiana (stevia extract).

Strawberry Almonds

There will be a little bit of extra batter that spreads out onto the tray — this turns into great little sections of fruit roll-up.

I made these strawberry almonds last week and decided they would be perfect for our road trip mini vacation to meet up with family.

Guess what? Everyone has loved them! I think I might need to make some for a special shipment to Colorado. :-)

Strawberry Almonds

Strawberry Almonds



  1. Place almonds in a bowl and cover with water by a few inches. Let them soak overnight, then drain and rinse.
  2. In a blender or food processor, blend or process remaining ingredients until smooth. Mix with almonds in a bowl until the batter has coated everything.
  3. Divide strawberry covered almonds over 2 dehydrator trays lined with a teflex sheet. Dehydrate at 115 degrees fahrenheit for 14-24 hours. Until desired crispiness is reached.


Store in a airtight container. Will keep for some time, may be stored in the fridge or on the counter.


Strawberry Almonds

Have you ever shipped homemade goodies to friends and family? xo

Blueberry Cobbler Smoothie

Blueberry Cobbler Smoothie

What’s indigo on the outside and white on the inside? A blueberry! Makes total sense — I know.

Almost every day Jeremy and I have a green smoothie for breakfast, but the other day when I was rustling around in the fridge, I was coming up empty-handed.

We were out of greens.

The bananas were MIA too.

There wasn’t much help from the freezer either.

What’s one to do?

Start looking at what I do have in the kitchen. Kind of sounds like the secret to life – right?

I found frozen blueberries, dates, minced ginger (ready to go – I might add), coconut yogurt that was months passed the expiration date but didn’t have mold, spices and orange juice.

Sounds like I could make a smoothie after all and it was delicious. 

Almost dessert-worthy.

Blueberry Cobbler SmoothieI included measurement for the orange juice in the recipe, but the water I’m leaving up to you. I usually try to keep liquids up to the level of fruit and veg in the WildSide container, but with frozen fruit it’s a good idea to add a little bit more.

This smoothie is full of fiber but tastes like a blueberry cobbler hence the name. The ginger and spices add subtle flavor and a nutritional boost, but don’t overpower the magic.

Blueberry Cobbler Smoothie


  • 3/4 cup vanilla coconut yogurt
  • 3-4 cups frozen blueberries
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 2 pitted medjool dates
  • 1-2 tablespoons minced ginger
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla powder or extract
  • water to taste
  • cinnamon to taste


  1. Add ingredients to blender and blend until smooth, adding water to your desired thickness. Enjoy!

Blueberry Cobbler Smoothie

What awesome combos have you come up with when supplies are low? xo