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

Chocolate: The most important food group

I’m baaaaaaaaack! Yikes! Sorry for my absence, lots and lots of stuff happening over here and unfortunately the bloggie got pushed to the side 😦 but onwards and upwards, let’s get to the exciting little treat I’m sharing today. I’m a boring breakfast gal, I like my fruit and coffee and that’s it. Matt (le boyfriend) is so much better at breakfast than me and does this overnight oats concoction with all kinds of superfoods mixed in. Sometimes I get jealous and sneak a few bites, but I always go back to fruit. Anyway, this morning I was feeling adventurous and decided to make my own version using chocolate Sun Warrior. I always thought protein powder was reserved for those who are interested in building some serious muscle. Then I realized, as a wannabe vegan, I’m not getting much protein any way so a little extra can’t hurt. Sun Warrior is of the raw vegan variety and the ingredients are phenomenal (hemp seed protein, pea protein, cranberry protein, and so on). This recipe is a delicious little breakfast, but also a perfect pre/post workout snack. It hit the chocolate craving sweet spot and I will definitely be making it again. After all, chocolate is the most important food group. Right?

chocolate chia pudding

Chocolate Chia Pudding

serves 1

1/2 scoop of Chocolate Sun Warrior

1 TBS of chia seeds

1/2 TBS hemp seeds

1 TBS of unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably raw cacao but I didn’t have any)

coconut milk

dash of sea salt

 

Place the chia seeds and hemp seeds in a small bowl and cover with coconut milk. Leave to thicken for at least 15 minutes (preferably over night). Then mix in the Sun Warrior, salt and cocoa, if the mixture is too thick add a bit of water until you reach your desired consistency. I find Sun Warrior sweet enough, but feel free to add a bit of stevia/honey/agave if your sweet tooth calls. Devour.

 

Enjoy your Monday!

 

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

 

Friday Delights: Beauty Tricks

Happy Friday! The weekend is here! Woohoo! Did you know yesterday was International Raw Foods Day? It makes me so happy that that is even a thing! I’m not a Raw Foodist, but I support some of the ideas behind the raw foods movement and I think encouraging people to incorporate more raw fruits and vegetables into their diet is delightful indeed.

coconut oil

(source)

For this Friday’s Delights, I’m sharing two of my favourite natural beauty ingredients that are really easy to incorporate into any routine. I’m not hectic about being au naturel in the beauty department, I like my deodorant and shampoo, thanks. But the truth is, there are a lot of dangerous ingredients in the general beauty products out there and what you put on your body is just as important as what you put in your body. Remember: your skin is your largest organ! So here are two delightful little guys that I always keep in my bathroom and on my vanity:

1)      Coconut Oil- Coconut oil in the kitchen: amazing… Coconut oil as part of your beauty routine: DELIGHTFUL. My favorite ways to use coconut oil outside of the kitchen are: in my hair to tame fly-aways and frizz, as lip balm/gloss, as make-up remover, and as a general skin moisturizer. Here is an infographic showing the various uses for this incredible oil in your beauty routine.

2)      Baking Soda/Sodium Bicarbonate: Incorporating Baking Soda/Sodium Bicarbonate into your beauty routine is also delightful. Once a week mix 1 tablespoon into your shampoo when you wash your hair and feel the difference. Also, if you want a mini microdermabrasion session, mix equal parts of baking soda and face wash and exfoliate. Smooooooth.

 

Enjoy your weekend you beauties 😉

 

xo,

Natalia

 

 

 

 

Friday Delights: Pumpkin Spice Muffins

Those who know me well in the States, know that I have a pumpkin problem. I was never that into Pumpkin Pie (although that has changed), but when Starbucks released the notorious Pumpkin Spice Latte many years ago, a pumpkin junkie was born. Whether in coffee, baked treats, smoothies, ice cream, cheesecake, ravioli, you name it… if it has pumpkin in it, I will eat it and probably with a little more gusto than is ladylike.

Flavor aside, the health benefits of pumpkin are also something to get excited about. That orange gourd-like squash is packed with vitamin A, vitamin C, fiber, beta-carotene (an anti-oxidant that plays a role in cancer prevention and is great for your skin), potassium, to name a few. 

Pumpkin Spice is a seasonal favorite associated with Autumn, Halloween and Thanksgiving in America, and since it is Autumn (verging on Winter) here in South Africa, my taste buds were calling. Below is a recipe for Pumpkin Spice Muffins that I adapted from Oh Ladycakes‘. These muffins are seriously one of the best things to ever come out of my kitchen, they are vegan and make a delicious treat or indulgent breakfast, enjoy!

pumpkinmuffins

Pumpkin Spice Muffins

makes 12 muffins

½ c. melted coconut oil

¾ c. raw organic sugar (or granulated sweetener of choice)

1 TBSP blackstrap molasses

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup pumpkin puree*

1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon of ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon of ground ginger

¾ teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of baking soda

½ c. coconut cream

2 ¼ cups of whole wheat flour (or flour of choice)

¼ cup of unsweetened finely shredded coconut

 

Crumble topping

3 TBSP of coconut oil (in its hard state, should resemble a cold butter texture)

¼ cup of sugar

1/2 tablespoon of molasses

6 TBSP of flour

2 tsp of cinnamon

½ teaspoon of vanilla

Pinch of salt

*pumpkin puree is found canned in the States, so if you don’t have access to the canned version just steam some pumpkin and blend.

 

1. Preheat oven to 190C and line a regular-sized muffin tray with 12 liners or simply grease the tray

2. In a large bowl mix melted coconut oil, sugar, blackstrap molasses and vanilla.

3. Add pumpkin puree, spices, salt, baking soda and mix

4. Slowly add cream and flour, and mix

5. Stir in coconut and divide between muffin cups (you’ll want to fill each tin about 2/3 of the way). Set aside.

6. For the crumble topping: in a separate bowl cut the coconut oil with the rest of the crumble ingredients, until it feels like coarse meal, a few large clumps are fine.

7. Divide the mixture between all 12 muffins

8. Pop them into the oven for about 20 minutes

9. Enjoy!

 

Enjoy your weekend!

 

xo,

Natalia