Autumn Salad

We’ve recently had a cold front come through the Lowveld, the mountains are looking particularly misty and there is a serious nip in the air. I don’t mind, subconsciously late September to me is still the beginnings of Autumn not Spring, and along with most of the USA, I’ve been having a hankering for pumpkin-flavored everything.

Butternut is often my pumpkin substitute in certain dishes because it is readily available and equally delicious. When the weather cools down, I love the idea of a warm salad with wilted greens with roasted vegetables. I originally made this Autumn inspired salad with butternut, but pumpkin would be a delicious and suitable replacement. This salad is tangy with a bit of sweet from the maple syrup and caramelized onions, and it also has that roasty flavor from the root vegetables. It is very nutritious and would make an excellent side or main dish.

Autumn Salad

Autumn Salad

serves 3-4

for the salad:

1 large head of kale

2-3 cups of raw cubed butternut

3 cubed beetroots

1 tablespoon of olive or coconut oil, plus 1 teaspoon

1 onion

salt and pepper

for the dressing:

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 tablespoons of white wine vinegar

1 tsp of maple syrup

  1. Preheat your oven to 200C/400F
  2. Wash and dry the beetroots and cut off the stems. You can peel the beetroots if you want to, I never do though because I like the crispy skin once they’re roasted. Chop the beetroots, and place them in a bowl.
  3. Wash and cube the butternut and add to the bowl with the beetroots.
  4. Drizzle one tablespoon of the olive or coconut oil over the butternut and beetroot and toss. Season with salt and pepper and place on a baking tray. Roast for 35-40 minutes, or until cooked.
  5. While the vegetables are roasting, start caramelizing your onion. Cut the ends of the onion and slice in half through the root. Slice the onion thinly lengthwise.
  6. Heat the other teaspoon of olive or coconut oil in a saute pan, and add your onions. Gently saute the onions for about 10 minutes, reduce the heat if you see them burning or drying out. Season with salt and continue to saute for another 10 minutes or until you are happy with their consistency. True caramelization takes a bit longer, but it’s up to you.
  7. Rinse and chop the kale. Add the chopped kale to the onions and saute until only slightly wilted. The water from the kale will have a light steaming effect on the greens, you can even put a cover over the pan for a minute to speed up the process. Don’t leave it on the heat too long though, it should only have a slight wilt, not be fully steamed.
  8. Mix the dressing ingredients together, pour and toss the roasted vegetables and kale/onion mix together very gently, serve immediately.
  9. Enjoy!

 

Hope you give it a shot… and stay warm!

 

xo,

Natalia

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¡Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

cinco de mayo

¡Hola!

It’s no secret I’m a Mexican food FANATIC, there’s just something about the fresh ingredients and the combination of cilantro, cumin, chile, and lime that really gets me excited about sitting down for a meal (well, more than usual, that is). So naturally, Cinco de Mayo is a holiday I fully acknowledge.

Contrary to popular belief, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico’s independence day (that is the 16th of September), but rather when the Mexican army beat the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862 (thanks Wikipedia!). We learn something new every day 🙂

Here’s a round-up of some delicious Mexican recipes from around the web:

1. Fish Tacos and Buckwheat Tortillas by yours truly! (note: there’s also a recipe for a delicious beetroot slaw and mango salad in there).

2. Restaurant-Style Salsa by the Pioneer Woman, serve with tortilla chips and guacamole for a yummy vegan starter.

3. Roasted Garlic Guacamole by Rick Bayless, this is a fun take on Guac, but a more traditional recipe can be found here by none other than Eva Longoria.

4. Vegan Enchiladas with Cilantro Avocado Cream Sauce by OhSheGlows.

5. Chicken Mole – complicated, but the traditional Cinco de Mayo dish.

6. Carne Asada for the carnivores, by Mexico in my Kitchen.

7. Vegan Mexican Street Corn by a House in the Hills

8. Tres Leches Cake, because… it’s a holiday. Thanks, Alton Brown.

9. Simple Margarita: 1 part tequila, 1 part Grand Marnier, freshly squeezed lime juice, agave to taste, all in a shaker and then poured over ice in a salt rimmed glass.

 

Mexican food is pretty forgiving so have fun today and play in the kitchen. ¡Hasta luego!

 

xo,

Natalia

Friendly Foodie Gatherings

It’s no secret I love holidays,  and now that I’m marrying into a Greek family, I’ve discovered this little thing called Greek Easter. It is seriously a feast! Yes, I know that’s not the reason for the season, but it is certainly a highlight for me (hashtag glutton). Anyway, since my family is stateside and Greek Easter is only this coming weekend, this past Easter weekend was festive but we’re saving our selves (and room in our bellies) for the big event.

view

(gorgeous view and beautiful Easter weather)

When it comes to gatherings with friends and family, it’s always nice to offer to bring something. To me it’s a win-win, because it lessens the burden on the host while also giving you the opportunity to provide a healthy something to share. My favorites:

  • Fruit salads / platters
  • Crudites with hummus
  • Butternut Squash Croquettes (these are real crowd-pleasers)
  • A homemade meze platter with roasted vegetables, olives, nuts, etc.
  • Free-range biltong (for informal or sporty gatherings)
  • Hearty salads – this Emerald Salad is a family favorite
  • Libations! Make a healthy sangria with no added sugars, or bring a bottle of bubbly and orange juice for mimosas

On another note, Easter is always pretty special to me, as it marks the weekend I met Matt. This weekend was mine and Matt’s 4th Easter together! Crazy how time flies 🙂

Enjoy your Tuesday!

 

xo,

Natalia

Friday Delights

Happy Friday!

 

Any plans for Mother’s Day? Mother’s are so special, and definitely have one of the hardest jobs. I’m lucky to have a mama who always let’s me know she’s close even though she lives in another hemisphere. She’s a special lady, with one of the biggest hearts, and is someone I continue to learn from everyday. Here are a few delights that I have on mind in honor of Mother’s Day:

parents

(my parents <3)

1) This recipe for Raw Chocolate Brownies. My mom would probably roll her eyes and say “let’s just make the real thing”, but I have a feeling she wouldn’t turn these down… Chocolate is chocolate.

2) Tulips, mine and my mom’s favorite. I know it’s Autumn here in South Africa, but to me Mother’s Day means spring flowers, specifically Tulips. How gorgeous is this arrangement? Tulips, green snowball viburnums, peonies, and geraniums.

3) This cocktail… Blood Orange Tyme Paloma. I love a good Paloma, but this is a lovely spin and perfect for a sunny lunch.

4) Ceviche. I would love to share my mom’s recipe for this delicious Peruvian dish, but she has yet to share it with me! It’s such a tasty, fresh, and healthy dish, I could eat it daily.

5) This video. No words, just watch it.

 

Before I go… A little cuteness overload. Check out our little house guests! Their new mom (Matt’s mom) will be collecting them this weekend, but she might have to pry them out of my arms.
puppies

 

Have a great weekend, and don’t forget to give your mamas some love 🙂

 

xo,

Natalia

 

Friday Delights: Halloween and November

Happy Halloween/Dia de los Muertos!

dia-de-los-muertos-skulls

Yesterday was Halloween and today is technically the Mexican holiday of Dia de los Muertos which is fun in its own way and allows us to keep celebrating this fun time of year. I’ll take it. Halloween is a fun and silly holiday that I’m glad to see getting bigger in South Africa every year, just like the pumpkin fanatics that come with it. Isn’t it funny how pumpkin love is basically an all or nothing kind of thing? People either love it or hate it. I think you know where I sit with this.

Since it’s the beginning of the month I wanted to make a list of things I’m doing/loving at the moment. I see some of my favorite bloggers occasionally doing this and I think its a great way to reflect on the present and shape how you want to approach the near future. So here it goes:

eating: apples. I can’t stop eating them… but my mind is on grapes. Unfortunately, the only available grapes at the moment are imported. I refuse.
drinking: coffee and anything sparkling.
practicing: positivity.
mastering: bikram, which in retrospect… I should have done before the hot weather hit.
learning:  better time management, especially in a way that I can blog more.
listening: Sublime has resurfaced on the ipod. It’s Sublime weather.
cooking: at the moment, its more like uncooking. Lots of salads and fresh foods up in here. But getting a grill for summer braais/bbqs is something I’m looking forward to BIG time. Apparently grilled watermelon is delicious…must try.
reading: I’ve just started The Shack out of curiosity (I’m not religious) because people rave about it and it’s been lying around my house… stay tuned.
wearing: summer dresses and knee high gladiator sandals.
starting: an organic herb garden! I was given a little pot of four herbs and while my lack of green thumb is showing… I have hope.
finishing: my blogging hiatus. I intend to do this a little more regularly going forward, so thanks for sticking around 🙂

enjoy your weekend!

xo,

Natalia

Juicy Wednesdays: Family-Friendly

Is it really only Wednesday?! Yes, yes it is. But while it’s only Wednesday, it is more importantly also my Dad’s birthday and therefore I’ve been thinking about him quite a bit today. My Dad is a father, a husband, a New Yorker, an academic, a friend, a guru and my rock. He was also one of my first inspirations when it came to living a life that was more conscious and green. My dad HATES toxins, and weekends spent reluctantly pulling weeds from his proudly organic garden, were a regular thing growing up. As youngsters, my sister and I often suggested he use Round-Up (weed killer) so we could be free of this dreaded chore, but his insistence that it was toxic and we must always first look for natural solutions is something I now regard as a lesson.

Natural solutions are great when there is an existing problem, but nature is also an excellent source for preventing problems and maintaining health and vitality. My parents love fruits and vegetables, but superfoods and green juices/smoothies are not in their regular regime, and I find some of these superfoods are nature’s best source of preventative medicine. While I was home I decided to make them a mix and instructed them to add 1-2 TBS of the mix (each) to their breakfast daily (it mixes well in smoothies, oats, yogurt, or over fruit). I believe this mix is best enjoyed in a green smoothie, but truthfully its nuttiness and texture is a delicious addition to most sweet breakfast foods. Below is a recipe for a kale smoothie that I made several times for my parents while I was home, and below that is the recipe for the mix. It’s full of natural goodness that will start your day off beautifully and keep you feeling strong and healthy.

kalesmoothie

(Vitamix…how I miss you)

Berry-Banana Kale Smoothie

serves 2

4-5 leaves of kale, washed

1 cup of berries

1 large banana

1.5 cups of almond milk

4 ice cubes

3 heaped TBS of the Family-Friendly breakfast mix

honey or agave to taste

1) Start with ice, kale and almond milk and blend until smooth.

2) Add berries, banana, mix and optional sweetener and blend.

3) Enjoy!

Family-Friendly Breakfast Mix

equal parts of the following:

Chia seeds

Flax seeds

Goji berries

Hemp seeds

1) In a blender, blend the chia and flax seeds until they become meal, be careful not to over-blend, it doesn’t have to be perfect.

2) Pour the meal into a container, add the goji berries and hemp seeds and give it a good stir with a spoon.

3) Add 1-2 TBS to your breakfast and store in the fridge.

*note: This mix must be enjoyed in its raw form in order to reap all the benefits, therefore if you are adding it to something cooked like oatmeal, dish out your oatmeal first and then sprinkle the mix on top right before you dig in.*

Some benefits:

Chia-Omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, antioxidants, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, excellent for joint health and weigh loss/management. Flax– have a protective affect against some cancers, can lower cholesterol levels, reduce inflammation, and great source of Omega-3 and fiber. Goji Berries– incredibly high in antioxidants which fight against free radicals in the body and can slow down ageing, high in Vitamin A and beta-carotene, and they have been found to help control the amounts of cortisol released by the body when under stress. Hemp seeds– high in protein (containing 10 essential amino acids), anti-inflammatory, Omega-3 AND Omega-6 fatty acids, high in zinc, iron, and other minerals.

Cheers to you Dad!

xo,

Natalia

Restaurant Inspo and Faves

Hello hello!

Today I woke up craving almond milk but with no desire to make it. Ah life without Whole Foods at my fingertips…so hard. While grocery conveniences like store-bought Almond Milk were a regular thing on our trip, the real goods came in the form of delicious restaurants and of course home-cooked meals. I will do a separate post on the home-cooked delights, but below are my top 5 favorite foodie stops from our trip. We had so many delicious meals along the way that it feels criminal to narrow it all down, but what I liked about the ones listed, is that they were all pretty specialized restaurants but at the same time “everyone-friendly” without feeling like they were trying too hard.

bubcity

 

(yes. that is an American flag made out of various Bud cans. cheers, Bub City! source)

1)      Hummus Place– NYC

Hummus Place was a Middle Eastern restaurant that we sort of stumbled upon our last day in New York. We had a few splurges restaurant-wise prior to this meal, but this place was very  wallet-friendly and surprised us by being one of our favorite meals. The restaurant serves simple Mediterranean cuisine but with a healthy flair. The Tabbouleh was served with quinoa and fresh veggies, and the babaganush was so fresh and delicious, I was practically eating it with a spoon. Favorite part: they made Mojitos with anise wine. First of all, I didn’t even know such a thing existed, but wow, how delicious and different.

2)      Pure Food and Wine– NYC

This place was my MUST restaurant prior to the trip. I have such a girl crush on Sarma Melngailis and have read through her cookbooks several times over. She is a genius and one of the original raw foodies of NYC. Pure Food and Wine is raw organic restaurant but it is SO not what you’d expect. The vibe in the restaurant is very nice (not hippy at all) and the food is to die for. You could take any raw foods skeptic to this restaurant and definitely turn them. We tried several dishes, but my favorite had to be the Philly Roll of avocado, kimchee, and creamy cashew cheese with tatsoi, scallions, hijiki and sweet chili sauce. When I saw it on the menu I thought “oh, veggie sushi, no thanks”, but good thing my boyfriend ordered it. I’d also recommend the Lasagna and Purple Haze martini (FRESH grape juice and sake. You read that right).

3)      Frontera Grill– Chicago

I LOVE Mexican food, but it has to be done right. Frontera Grill does it better than right. The owner and chef, Rick Bayless was an anthropologist who went to Mexico to do field research and published a book on the regional cuisine. Today he is one of the leading chefs of Mexican cuisine in the United States and has built an mini empire. Frontera Grill is his more casual restaurant and the food is known for being Mexican but with a twist. My favorite dishes had to be the tamales and goat enchiladas, but truthfully, everything was absolutely delicious. Also, the margaritas there are PROPER and even sweetened with agave. Divine.

4)      Big Grove Tavern– Champaign, IL

Big Grove is one of downtown Champaign’s newest installations and it is really a sweet new spot. The restaurant is based on sustainability principles and keeps its menu seasonal while trying to source all its ingredients from local farmers and butchers. I think you can understand why I was nearly running to this restaurant when I heard about it. On top of building its business on principles I whole-heartedly support, the food is delicious! Win-win and definitely a spot to check out should you ever find yourself in Champaign, Illinois.

5)      Bub City– Chicago

My boyfriend wanted a country night before we left the States and he wanted to try BBQ. Cue Bub City. Bub City is a country music spot in the River North area of Chicago and the fare is of the good old American BBQ variety. I’m talking pulled pork, ribs, waffle fries, you name it. So while the boy got his fix of American BBQ, I found a delicious salad that still fit with that American BBQ genre but completely satisfied my diet preferences that evening (it was vegan!). If you’re in Chicago and want a fun American experience, go to Bub City, they won’t disappoint.

All the above were special meals with special people, resulting in some amazing memories. We had fun 🙂

newlywade1

 

 

Now, someone get me an anise wine mojito.

 

xo,

 

Natalia