Coffee Talk

Hi there! Long time no see and hellooooo November! Wow, where has this year gone?

coconut coffee

When I was in college my friend and room mate, Rachel, was also a morning person like me. Most mornings we would sit in the living room or at the dining room table and have coffee chats. This entailed conversations that ranged from life’s uncertainties, hopes, and dreams, to gossip and laughing about our previous night’s antics. Oh, college. Anyway, it was a time for reflection, sharing, bonding, and generally just forced us to be present.

Years later, I still try to keep that mindset when I’m sipping on my morning cup of Joe, and it’s the reason I won’t give it up. If you have something in your routine that makes your happy and centered, keep it. A little coffee can be good for you, especially if it’s also feeding your soul.

In the interest of keeping this routine clean and healthy, but also sweet and creamy (because that’s how I take my coffee), I made a delicious all-natural vegan vanilla coffee creamer. Cheers!

Vanilla Coffee Creamer

1 cup of coconut milk

1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk (almond, cashew, soy, etc)

4 TBS liquid sweetener of choice (I used honey, but maple syrup would also be delicious)

1 TBS vanilla extract

1 tsp cinnamon (optional)

Put all ingredients into a saucepan and whisk together while slowly heating. Bring the mixture to simmer for a minute. Whisk a little more until everything is combined. Allow to cool. Enjoy!

xo,

Natalia

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Quick and Healthy – Aji de Gallina

My mom’s side of the family is from Lima, Peru, and while I was born in Lima, we’ve been stateside since I was nearly 2. Even though my dad is American, we grew up speaking a lot of Spanish at home (fortunately he learned), and when my mom cooked, you could be sure it was going to be a delicious Peruvian meal.

Peruvian food is amazing and my mom’s cooking definitely does it justice (the woman is talented!). Between her ceviche, empanadas, causa, PISCO SOURS… I could go on and on. But my favorite, will always be: aji de gallina. Aji is a spicy yellow pepper found in South America, and it’s pretty much in all Peruvian dishes. The flavor is unique and the color just brings a special brightness to its dishes. Aji de Gallina is a delicious creamy spicy chicken dish, and the rich sauce normally requires a range of ingredients like breadcrumbs/white bread, evaporated milk, walnuts, parmesan cheese, and more. Last night I decided to make a MUCH less complicated version that was also gluten and dairy free. It was far from traditional, but still tasty and gave me my Peruvian fix.

aji de gallina

(I know… I know… I really need to stop with iphone pics and start using the camera. Working on it!)

My Aji de Gallina

serves 3-4

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • 1 TBS of coconut oil
  • 1 white onion
  • 2 large cloves of garlic
  • aji amarillo paste
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • salt and pepper

1. Place the chicken breasts in a pan and cover with water. Add half of the stock cube and bring to a simmer. Cook the chicken for 10-15 minutes, until cooked through. Then remove the chicken from the water and set aside to cool. Once cooled, shred the chicken into bite size pieces. This can be done ahead of time, or with leftover chicken.

2. Heat the oil in a pan. Finely chop the onion and mince the garlic, add to the pan and saute on medium heat until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the coconut milk and aji amarillo paste – this is the tricky part because aji amarillo paste varies in potency. Use your discretion here based on how spicy your paste is. Mine was fairly mild, so I added 3 tablespoons, but I’ve had aji pastes where 1 teaspoon would have been enough.

3. Add the other half of the stock cube to the sauce and stir until well combined. Add the chicken and bring to a simmer for a few minutes so the flavors can marry. Taste and season with salt and pepper, you may even want to add more aji at this point.

4. Serve with potatoes or rice and garnish with black olives. Enjoy!

Quick and easy peasy. While my mom’s is way more traditional and complex, this was the perfect healthy weeknight dish that hit the spot and had me thinking about my family 🙂

xo,

Natalia

Juicy Wednesdays: Coconut Milk

Happy Spring to my South Africans and Happy Pumpkin Season to my Americans 🙂

First off, apologies are in order for the a) hiatus and b) lack of guest post on Friday. Unfortunately life got in the way this past week, but I have it on good order that a sprouting post will be coming our way soon. Regardless, I’m back and today I’m sharing one of my favorite new discoveries: homemade coconut milk.

Now let me just start by making one thing very clear: my love of coconut is only surpassed by one thing: pumpkin. I spoke of my pumpkin infatuation in this post, so I think you can see why this was so exciting. Coconut milk from a can often has so many additives that it loses a lot of its nutritional advantages and picks up some preservatives along the way. Homemade coconut milk is better nutritionally AND in terms of flavor. Furthermore, you can control what goes into the milk and decide how sweet/plain/creamy you want it to come out.

This milk is easy, cheaper than its almond version, and an excellent milk alternative.

coconut-dreams

 

(coconut dreams)

Coconut Milk

2 cups of dried coconut (soaked overnight)

3-4 cups of water depending on your creaminess preference

1 tsp of vanilla (optional)

Pinch of salt

1TBS of liquid sweetener of choice (agave, maple syrup and honey are all good options)

  1. Find dried coconut that is shred into larger pieces if possible (preferably organic), finely desiccated coconut won’t have the same effect. Measure out 2 cups and soak in water for at least 6-8 hours.
  2. Drain the coconut, place in blender, add desired amount of water (3 cups yields a creamier milk than 4 cups) and blend for 1 -2 minutes, until the mixture looks nice and creamy.
  3. Strain through a nut milk bag, squeezing out as much liquid as possible, and reserve pulp.
  4. Place the milk back into the blender with optional vanilla, salt and sweetener and blend for 30 more seconds.
  5. Enjoy! Store the milk in the fridge and give it a good shake before every use, should keep for up to 5 days.

The coconut pulp can be spread on a baking sheet and dehydrated (oven at 50C or a dehydrator) for several hours until it becomes coconut flour. If the texture comes out clumpy after several hours of dehydration, just give it a spin in the blender or food processor until it resembles fine flour.

Some health benefits of coconut milk: high levels of magnesium, selenium, calcium, copper and vitamin C. The results of these include: good for the skin, nervous system, joins and bones!

Enjoy the rest of your Wednesday, coconuts!

 

xo,

Natalia