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

St. Patty’s Day FOMO

Happy St. Patty’s Day!!!

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I love holidays. One of the things I miss the most about living Stateside is that we go ALL OUT for holidays, and Chicago especially goes all out for St. Patrick’s day. Between the parades (yes plural, the South Side has their own), dyeing the Chicago River green (45 pounds of eco-friendly vegetable dye are dumped into the river every year), the city practically turns into one huge day party. Since the holiday falls on a Tuesday this year, the big celebrations happened over the weekend, but since today is the official day, here’s what I’m doing to “celebrate”:

 

1. This recipe, except I’ll be nixing the cheese, subbing one cup of water for coconut milk, and sprinkling a little parmesan on top. <-spinach turns the dish green, therefore making it festive.

2. Wearing green. Duh.

3. If I didn’t have to work, I’d totally be drinking this right now, but no worries, a big glass of wine awaits me.

4. On repeat.

 

Hope everyone had a fun weekend, and don’t forget to wear green today!

 

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

Focus On: Buckwheat

I have a new lover… Buckwheat.

buckwheat

Despite its name, Buckwheat is not a grain or wheat, it is in fact a seed that has grain-like qualities and can be used as a grain substitute in many dishes. Some benefits:

1. Buckwheat is gluten-free.

2. Buckwheat is a complete protein in terms of amino acids, easily digestible and highly nutritious.

3. Buckwheat can reduce high blood pressure and cholesterol.

4. Buckwheat grows quickly and does not require chemicals or pesticides, therefore it is generally chemical-free.

5. Buckwheat ranks low on the glycemic index.

6. Buckwheat is high in iron, zinc, copper, selenium, and manganese.

7. Buckwheat is high in fiber.

8. Buckwheat can help regulate blood sugar.

9. Buckwheat can aid in weight loss.

What a doll. I seriously can’t get enough. Currently my favorite way to enjoy this superfood, is by sprouting it and turning it into Essene bread. Below is my go-to recipe for a plain and simple Essene bread base. To spice this up you can add herbs, olives, honey, etc and vary the flavor. This bread is very healthy and high in protein. Should you wish to dehydrate it instead of bake it, I recommend dehydrating for 12 hours, just keep an eye on it and take it out once there’s a nice crust.

Sprouted Buckwheat and Lentil Essene Bread

2 cups of sprouted Buckwheat

2 cups of sprouted Lentils or Chickpeas (or both)

1/4 cup ground flax seed (linseed)

1 tsp of sea salt

2/3 cup of water

any add-ins (fresh rosemary, chopped olives, garlic, sunflower seeds, etc)

1. Blend the sprouts, flax seed, salt and water in a food processor until a “dough” is formed. This should be slightly sticky and firm enough to form a loaf. If you haven’t already sprouted the buckwheat and lentils, soak them in water over night, and then sprout in a sieve, occasionally rinsing, for at least 1 day. They will be ready when you see little white sprouts coming out of each seed and are soft enough to chew.

2. Fold in any add-ins.

3. Grease a baking sheet with a bit of coconut oil and spoon out the dough. Form a long loaf-like shape. This dough will look a bit like ciabatta, flat and rectangular. Mine is usually about 2 inches in height.

4. Either bake at 275 F/140 C for 2 hours, or dehydrate for 12 hours.
This can be enjoyed as you would enjoy any bread (with avocado, hummus, butter, honey, etc). I sometimes like to cut mine up into cubes and enjoy it in salads as croutons (you can toast these pieces for extra crunch if you’d like).

rawbread2(Buckwheat and Lentils… grainy)

rawbread1(Buckwheat and Chickpea/Mung mix… feel free to experiment)

I really really love bread, so this spin is a nice and healthy alternative that can be enjoyed all day every day.

Snack time!

xo,

Natalia

Juicy Wednesdays: Tickled Pink

I hate pink. There I said it. I think it has something to do with the fact that it’s pegged as a “girly” color, and I firmly believe this business of “boy” and “girl” colors is one of the many problems of society… it’s a color. Colors are universal.

Anyway, for someone who’s not a fan of pink, a lot of my juices lately have been pink. This might have something to do with the big bag of beets that I bought, but I have to admit, there’s something fun and springlike about sipping on something pink. So without further ado, here is the beverage that had me tickled pink and with a lovely soft pink lip stain. Please excuse the quality of the photo, I was too busy guzzling my juice to notice… sorry.

prettyinpink(Converse photobomb…)

Tickled Pink

serves 2

1 large cucumber, peeled, unless organic

3 small, or 2 medium beets

2 carrots

1/2 a pineapple

1 orange, peeled

Clean, Juice, Guzzle.

Some benefits:

Hydrating; detoxifying; good for bone health, skin health, eye sight, blood health; anti-inflammatory; high in Vitamin A, B2, B6, C, beta carotene, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, and more.

Hope your Wednesday and week are tickled pink!

xo,

Natalia