Gluten Free Bread… this is important.

Summer is definitely on its way. The past few days have been very warm and I feel like my relationship with the pool is officially complicated. Part of me can’t wait for summer days of lounging by the pool and soaking up the sun, the other part of me isn’t ready to say goodbye to the coziness of winter and my boots. I know… life is hard.

Boots aside, I also have this thing with soup and I always look forward to making all the soups when the temperature drops. With soup comes something important: bread. It’s really important. Fresh bread is one of life’s greatest pleasures and you shouldn’t have to give that up over something like a gluten intolerance. For this recipe I used rice flour which resulted in a much denser bread, I think a blend of gluten-free flours could result in something fluffier, but I love a dense bread so I didn’t mind. This is a good base to work with and you can play around with the flours to see what texture you like best. It can also easily be made vegan if you use a non-dairy milk. I’m looking forward to trying it with buckwheat or quinoa flours to see how it comes out with a pseudocereal, I’ll keep you posted on the results 🙂

gluten free bread

Gluten-Free Bread

yields 1 loaf adapted from Fork & Beans

2 1/2 tsp of yeast

1 cup of warm milk (dairy or non-dairy)

2 tsp of sugar

1 cup of warm water

5 TBS of ground flaxseed

3 TBS of olive oil

2 tsp of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar

3 cups of rice flour

1/4 cup of oats ground into a flour OR buckwheat flour

1 tsp of baking powder

1/2 tsp of baking soda

1/2 tsp of salt

  1. In a medium bowl combine the warmed milk with the yeast and sugar, allow to proof until frothy (approx.10 minutes). Add the water, olive oil, lemon juice, and ground flaxseeds and whisk until well-combined, then allow to sit for a few minutes while the flaxseeds thicken the mixture.
  2. In a large bowl combine the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the wet mixture and mix until just combined.
  3. Place mixture into a greased bread pan, pressing the mixture lightly into the pan. Cover with a light towel or loosely with saran wrap, and allow the bread to rise in the pan in a warm part of the kitchen. The bread should be just above the pan before going into the oven, this will take 30-45 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 190C (350F) and bake the bread for 60 minutes. Allow the bread to cool completely in the pan before removing it.
  5. Enjoy! Preferably with some homemade soup, this one is always a favorite.

Enjoy your week!

xo,

Natalia

Friday Delights: Vegan Keftedes

Matt comes from a Greek family that is quickly helping me become well-versed in Greek cuisine. Greek food is delicious, fresh, unique, and I rarely get tired of it. Greek food also seems to have two sides: naughty and nice. On the one hand we have tzatziki, Greek salads, melitzanosalta, plenty of grilled seafood, souvlaki, etc. On the other hand we have heavier things like moussaka, taramasalata (MY FAVORITE!), gyros, and… Keftedes. Keftedes are deliciously seasoned fried meatballs that are perfect paired with some creamy tzatziki. In the past I have replaced ground beef with lentils when I want to turn a traditionally meat dish vegan, so I decided to use this method and attempt a vegan keftede. The result was tasty, healthy, and easy enough to add to my weekday dinner line-up.

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Vegan Keftedes

2 cups of cooked lentils (these can be plain or seasoned, just watch the salt if they’re already seasoned)

1/2 cup of ground flaxseed

1/3 cup of water

2 TSB of olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tsp of dry oregano

1/4 cup of chopped fresh mint

1/4 cup of chopped fresh parsley

salt and pepper to taste

polenta or cornmeal for rolling

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F
  2. Place the lentils, flaxseed, water, and olive oil in bowl and mash until you have a consistency that is malleable but still has some whole lentils for texture.
  3. Add the minced garlic, oregano, mint, and parsley and mix together with a spoon. Then add the salt and pepper and taste. It’s ok to go a little over salty on this one as the saltiness will lessen once they are cooked.
  4. Pour some polenta on a working space and roll 1-2TBS size balls of the mixture in your hands and then in the polenta to give the exterior a nice crunch coat.
  5. Grease a baking sheet, line up the balls, and bake for 20 minutes, turning the keftedes halfway through.
  6. Serve with tzatziki and enjoy!

These are high in fiber, vegan, gluten-free, and naturally healthy. We enjoyed ours with tzatziki, a salad, and rice 🙂

Hope you have a happy Friday!

xo,

Natalia

¡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

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

Vegan Snickerdoodles

I have a treat for you today….

Sundays are for baking in my books, and since I have an inner cookie monster, this Sunday I wanted cookies (surprise!). Initially, I was craving the good ole chocolate chip variety, but venturing to the shops for chocolate didn’t sound very appealing, so I had to improvise with what I had. What resulted were the most wonderful snickerdoodles I have ever had. I can only compare them to the super soft ones you buy at stores like Costco that are full of terrible ingredients but taste oh-so worth it. Fortunately, these are vegan, can be made gluten free, and are super easy. Best of all, they practically melt in your mouth. Utter goodness.

snickerdoodle2

 

Vegan Snickerdoodles

yields about 24 cookies (give or take depending on how much dough you “test”) 

1 1/4 cups of flour (if you’re going gluten-free, I recommend Nature’s Choice or Bob’s Red Mill)

1/2 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp of baking soda

1/2 tsp of salt

1 tsp of ground cinnamon

1/2 cup of coconut oil, softened

1/2 cup of sugar (or granulated sweetener of choice)

1/4 cup of coconut or almond milk

1 tsp of vanilla extract

cinnamon for rolling

1. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and teaspoon of cinnamon together into a medium bowl. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, combine softened coconut oil, sugar, milk, and vanilla until mixed.

3. Add dry mix to wet mix in batches until a dough is formed. Shake some cinnamon onto a clean surface and roll the dough into 1-1.5 inch balls and then roll them in the cinnamon. Place cookie dough balls on a baking sheet.

4. The trick to soft snickerdoodles is to put them in the oven when they are very cold. So to achieve this, put the baking sheet of cookie dough balls into the freezer for 30 minutes. Once they have been in the freezer for a while, start preheating the oven to 165C (330F). After 30 minutes in the freezer, put the cookies directly into the oven and bake for about 10 minutes.

5. After 10 minutes take the cookies out of the oven, they will look underdone, but just wait. Let them cool on the pan for half an hour, then store in an air-tight container…. but first, take a bite!

snickerdoodle1

Enjoy the rest of your Tuesday fellow cookie monsters 🙂

 

xo,

Natalia

 

2014 and a Broccoli-Millet Pesto Bowl

I am a naughty naughty blogger and for that I apologize… The two months between my last post and this one were very busy but that is no excuse, especially since the holidays are exciting times and therefore exciting blog subjects.

First, I hope you all had a very happy and healthy holiday celebrating whatever it is you celebrate (Christmas, Hanukkah, Life…) with the ones you love. I celebrate Christmas (and Life) and was fortunate enough to book a last minute trip home and spend it with my family in the snow.

Second, I hope you rang in the new year with some bubbly and good company, and may your 2014 be filled with lots love and happiness. So grateful I got to ring in another year with this guy:

newyears

 

Third, a new year is as good a time as ever to re-group, re-focus, and re-energize your body and mind. I have many goals for this year, but one of my main goals is to get my a** back in the kitchen and make feel good food. One of my holiday reads was The pH Miracle and while I firmly believe moderation is everything in wellness, this was an interesting take on health. Basically, Dr. Young and his wife (the authors) encourage eating a more alkaline diet and claim that improving the alkaline/acid balance in your body is the key to optimum health. Below is a Broccoli-Millet Pesto bowl that we had for dinner the other night, it incorporates this approach and it was pretty tasty if I do say so myself… and that’s coming from a girl who isn’t mad about broccoli 😉

millet and broccoli

 

(food styling is clearly not one of my 2014 goals… maybe it should be)

Broccoli-Millet Pesto Bowl

serves 3-ish depending on portions

1 cup of millet

1 veggie stock cube (optional)

1 pack of broccoli (approximately 2 large heads)

3-4 TBSP of olive oil

1 large handful of fresh basil, finely chopped

2 small cloves of garlic, minced

1 TBSP of nutritional yeast (optional)

salt and pepper to taste

1 small onion, finely chopped

1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds (optional, almonds and/or sunflower seeds are also a nice option)

1/4 cup of hemp seeds (optional)

1 large avocado, sliced lengthwise

lemon (optional)

1. Cook the millet according to directions. That usually entails, 1 cup of millet to 3 cups of boiling/simmering water for about 20 minutes. I like to add a stock cube for a bid of flavor.

2. Cut the broccoli into bite-size florets and lightly steam. Set aside.

3. In a bowl whisk together the olive oil, basil, garlic, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper. Add the onion and seeds and mix, then add the broccoli and gently toss everything together. You may want to add a little more olive oil or salt and pepper at this point to adjust the taste to your liking.

4. In a bowl, dish out some millet, add some of the broccoli mix, and top with some sliced avocado. Squeeze a little fresh lemon juice if desired, and enjoy!

Don’t be afraid of the big bad broccoli, it’s actually pretty tasty, full of healthy stuff, and packing some sneaky protein. Let me know if you give it a shot!

xo,

Natalia

 

Friday Delights: 5 things

becool

be cool….

Happy Friday! The weekend is in sight 🙂

Today I am sharing 5 things I’m currently finding delightful that I hope you will too:

1) I have a huge nerdy culinary crush on Mark Bittman. I said it. Mark (it’s cool, he said I can call him by his first name) had a column called The Minimalist in the New York Times Dining section (that I stalked) for years, was the lead food writer for Times Magazine (also stalked) and also the author of a few books. Recently, Mark published a book called VB6 where he encourages readers to eat like a vegan until dinner time. My heart.

2) I gave up gluten/wheat for lent this past March and immediately noticed major differences. While I do not have a gluten intolerance, I found that avoiding it makes me feel better, and since I’m an avid baker, a healthier flour option was already an urgent need. I’ve been experimenting with affordable alternatives and have fallen in love with Nature’s Choice Gluten Free Cake Flour. This flour’s main ingredient is brown rice flour (winning!), but it also incorporates soya flour, sago flour, potato flour, tapioca and sea salt, to give your baked goods a lovely texture that is very similar to your classic wheat flours. Brown rice flour= healthy carbs. I love it.

3) Davines hair products. I have been using Davines products for almost a year now and when I say these products saved my hair… I mean it. I have long hair, which is fun, but requires a good hair care regime. Davines are phenomenal and the best part is that they’re a sustainable brand that incorporates sustainability principles in their ingredients, production and distribution. They are a natural brand with environmentally-friendly practices, and the products speak for themselves. Love love love.

4) It took me a long time to find a Stevia that I could stomach (most are horribly bitter), but Canderel Green, not only can I stomach you, I like you. Stevia is tricky… it’s the preferred safe sweetener (low in calories, all natural, etc), but it tastes like garbage, and the after taste is even worse. Let me honest… it does not taste like sugar or other sweeteners, but it’s also not full of foreign ingredients that are known carcinogens. It’s all-natural and I like it in my morning cuppa.

5) With VB6 as an inspiration and Spring in the air, I’ve decided to start not only eating vegan before 6 (that’s already pretty much in order) but eating vegan AND raw before dinner time. With that in mind, I’m going to start sprouting regularly. Sprouting is a great way to get in some raw protein, enzymes and vitamins, plus it diversifies your meals. Watch this space, my resident sprouter (aka boyfriend) will be doing a post next week explaining the process and some benefits.

Have a delightful weekend!

xo,
Natalia