Friday, January 8, 2016

Cherry Berry Smoothie Bowl and A Review of Lizzy and Jane {#foodiesread}

Happy Aloha Friday!  Today I am presenting my first book for the Foodies Read 2016 Challenge, Lizzy and Jane by Katherine Reay. (See my post about the Foodies Read challenge here.) And, since it's a food blog and a foodie book event, I had to make something inspired by my reading--in this case a Cherry Berry Smoothie Bowl--healthy, nourishing, and down right delectable.

Publishers Blurb:

Lizzy and Jane couldn’t be further from Jane Austen’s famous sisters for whom they are named.

Elizabeth left her family’s home in Seattle fifteen years ago to pursue her lifelong dream—chefing her own restaurant in New York City. Jane stayed behind to raise a family. Estranged since their mother’s death many years ago, the circumstances of their lives are about to bring them together once again.
Known for her absolute command of her culinary domain, Elizabeth’s gifts in the kitchen have begun to elude her. And patrons and reviewers are noticing. In need of some rest and an opportunity to recover her passion for cooking, Elizabeth jumps at the excuse to rush to her sister’s bedside when Jane is diagnosed with cancer. After all, Elizabeth did the same for their mother. Perhaps this time, it will make a difference.

As Elizabeth pours her renewed energy into her sister’s care and into her burgeoning interest in Nick, Jane’s handsome coworker, her life begins to evolve from the singular pursuit of her own dream into the beautiful world of family, food, literature, and love that was shattered when she and Jane lost their mother. Will she stay and become Lizzy to her sister’s Jane—and Elizabeth to Nick’s Mr. Darcy—or will she return to the life she has worked so hard to create

Some excerpts from my Goodreads review: here:

Lizzy and Jane is one of those curl-up-and-get-lost-in books, especially if you are a Jane Austen geek or a foodie (I am both). I was impressed with the number of food references that the author pulled from Austen's work (I think I need to go back and reread Emma from a foodie perspective) and she also manages to insert food references from Ernest Hemingway, Charles Dickens, and even Wind in the Willows into the mix. Having lived in Seattle for several years, I also loved how the food scene there was portrayed--from the restaurants to the varied markets and quirky neighborhoods--it made me want to book a visit back to the city and its marvelous food. 

Elizabeth (she hates 'Lizzy') thinks that if she can feed Jane--who has lost her taste and appetite with the chemotherapy and cancer treatment--she will reconnect with both her sister and her love of cooking. During chemo, Jane asks to be read from the books of Jane Austen (their mother's favorites--hence their names) and although Lizzy is reluctant (she put Austen away with her mother's illness and death) she begins to discover how the food in Austen and her talent for coming up with ingredients and tastes that will comfort and appeal to Jane open up her cooking. As someone who loves to cook and to experiment with different spices and flavors, reading some of Lizzy's thought process as she was making food to appeal to Jane, and another cancer patient Tyler was fascinating. It is when she is cooking and feeding others, rather than cooking for herself that Elizabeth finds her spark. I love this quote from Lizzy and Jane: "Great writers and my mom never used food as an object. Instead it was a medium, a catalyst to mend hearts, to break down barriers, to build relationships."
There were some triggers for me in the book. Although I didn't lose my mom at the age or in the way that Lizzy and Jane did, it's a recent loss and I think there is a connection between any women who have lost their mothers. Their grief and some of the scenes in the chemo center and hospital weren't always easy to read. The book is labeled as religious/inspirational fiction which is not a genre I normally gravitate too, and although messages of faith are certainly in there, it doesn't beat you over the head with it. The romance is on the lighter side, slow-building and definitely Austen-like.

I grabbed Lizzy & Jane as an e-book (it's on sale at Amazon for $1.99 as a Kindle Monthly Deal right now) but I am tempted to buy a print copy to put with my Austen/Austen-ish books. It's a sweet, poignant, and often funny family drama and a keeper for me.

There was plenty of food in Lizzy and Jane from the dishes at Lizzy's restaurant to the many restaurant meals enjoyed in Seattle. Lizzy made her own garam masala mix and also made a spice mix of cumin, coriander, sweet paprika, salt and black pepper, fresh thyme, cilantro and a bit of mint oil to show Nick what he smelled like to her--something she did when trying to figure someone out--which I thought was fun and unique. Lizzy's cooking for Jane and her family included things like applesauce, oatmeal "gruel,"  soups, beef stew, Shepard's pie, chicken pot pie, cake, chocolate chip cookies, eggs and toast, and bacon ice cream with maple syrup for breakfast. 

A smoothie bowl may not seem like the obvious choice for a book where the Lizzy looks to the works of Jane Austen to create dishes nourish her sister. Lizzy's first dishes for Jane 'crashed and burned' because she failed to partner the Austen-style dishes and childhood comfort food favorites with what Jane liked and how she was currently feeling. Once she began to ask Jane questions and listen, she had success with getting her to eat and gain weight. Smoothies played a role when Lizzy attempted to cook for Tyler, another cancer patient. At first, she tries to feed Tyler what she thinks he will eat and what will help him gain weight, making a variety of smoothies as part of his meals. Unfortunately, most of what she made Tyler on the first go-round didn't work, including those smoothies she made with citrus, which stung his mouth due to sores from the chemo. Once she questions Tyler about what he can eat and learns more about his likes and dislikes, she is able to nourish him and learns a valuable lesson. "'s never about the food--it's about what the food becomes, in the hands of the giver and the recipient." 

I often make a smoothie and run out the door with it. I think there is a great pleasure in sitting down with a smoothie in a bowl, topped with healthy and tasty toppings. In addition to tasting delicious, it is pretty to look at--important when tempting the appetite. With its cherry and banana combination, Ellie Krieger's Cherry Berry Smoothie Bowl has no citrus so it would work for Tyler too, and Jane would appreciate the berry toppings--blueberries were one of the foods that appealed to her. I used coconut milk, making it non-dairy and extra creamy. 

Cherry Berry Smoothie Bowl 
Adapted from
(Serves 4)

1 very ripe banana, frozen
2 cups frozen pitted cherries
1 1/4 cups low-fat milk (1%) (I used coconut milk)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup fresh raspberries
1/4 cup shredded dried unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted (see Ellie's Note below)
1 Tbsp chia seeds
Combine the banana, cherries, milk and vanilla extract in a blender; puree until smooth. You might need to stop the blender to stir with a spatula a couple of times, depending on the appliance's power.
Divide among individual bowls, then arrange the blueberries, raspberries, coconut, almonds and chia seeds on top of each portion. Serve right away.
Ellie's Note: Toast the almonds in a small, dry skillet over medium-low heat for several minutes, until lightly browned and fragrant, shaking the pan as needed to prevent scorching. Cool completely before using.

Notes/Results: Yum! Served in a bowl, a smoothie is like eating ice cream for breakfast without any guilt or added sugar! ;-) I sometimes forget how much I love frozen cherries until I make something with them (or eat them straight from the bag) and rediscover how good they are. This bowl is nice and satisfying with the coconut milk and the toppings. If you wanted, you could stick a little protein powder or add more chia seeds to the smoothie itself. I also like to put a thin layer of fruit in the bottom of my smoothie bowls before scooping the smoothie on top. Having those extra little 'treasures' as you spoon up the smoothie is nice and the extra berries help build the fiber. I will happily make this again.

Head over to the January Foodies Read linkup, hosted by Heather at Based on a True Story, to see what everyone is reading this month.

This post is also linking up to I Heart Cooking Clubs for this week's Fresh Starts theme--Ellie Krieger recipes that are healthy ways to start the new year, or start your day. You can see what everyone made by following the picture links on the post.



  1. both the book & smoothie sound nice.

  2. I think I might struggle with this book, although it does sounds good. I was diagnosed with breast cancer a year ago and am just out of radiation, etc. I do love the smoothie recipe and will have to give it a try. I will put this on my list for a time I am feeling strong.

    1. Cynthia--Yes, this would be a book for you to wait on I think. Best wishes and positive thoughts to you--hope you are feeling strong and good soon. Hugs.

  3. This sounds like a very interesting adaptation of Austen. I'm going to have to pick it up. Thanks for the wonderful review.

    1. It's a great book for Austen lovers for sure Heather. Thanks again for hosting this fun event. ;-)

  4. Great job Deb. The smoothie in a bowl is perfect and you have made me anxious to read this book.

  5. Sounds like my kind of book! And the smoothie looks delicious!

  6. oooh yumm. I am a huge jane austen fan , dont know how many times I have read pride and prejudice.

  7. The Foodies Read club sounds fun. I can't seem to get motivated to read lately or I'd join in the fun!

    Lizzy & Jane sounds like a great read about sisters, relationships, and life's trials.

    This cherry berry bowl looks delicious! It's been on my radar since we started cooking with her. Smoothies are great for drinking on the go, but the smoothie bowl is even better with all the pretty toppings:) Oh, and those coconut chips. I could eat them straight from the bag. They are so paper thin and crispy!

  8. Smoothie bowl is definitely a great way to start the day! Your smoothie bowl is so pretty and nutritious!

  9. I don't know which sounds better, the book or the smoothie. Smoothie in a bowl sounds more decadent than just a smoothie. Nice job on this one.

  10. Saw this recipe and wanted to make it. Your pictures and description make the smoothie even better. I like the idea of using coconut milk to make it dairy free. The idea of treasures at the bottom of the bowl puts it over the top!

  11. That book sounds interesting! I do have Jane Austen's Emma, borrowed from my niece, but have not even started on it yet, as there are a few more books in queue.
    Your bowl of smoothie looks so yummy with all the berries and toppings! Very nice!

  12. Deb, I agree that reading this is very therapeutic if you've lost your mom. I will have to read it again! I was lucky enough to work with Katherine Reay at a writer's workshop in Seattle! She's a fabulous person and writer, too. Yummy smoothie, and quote - "its never about the food, its about what the food becomes in the hands of the giver, and the recipient."

  13. Deb, what a lovely and touching review. I am so sorry about the recent loss of your mom.

    The smoothie bowl recipe looks divine, and this cookbook sounds extra special. I'm now interested in finding some frozen cherries to enjoy.

    Have a relaxing weekend.


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