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 I originally made this Autumn inspired salad with butternut, but pumpkin would be a delicious and suitable replacement.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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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.

DSC_0017

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

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

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

 

Juicy Wednesdays: The Celery Refresher

Happy Juicy Wednesday 🙂

There’s nothing like an indulgent weekend to get your body craving something healthy and refreshing like a green juice. We hosted a lunch on Sunday for a few family birthdays and while I tried to keep the menu (mostly) healthy, naughty things like red velvet cheesecake made their way onto my plate, and a gin and tonic made its way into my glass (no idea how that happened)… but on the bright side we kept it gluten free (winning)!

celery juice

Below is one of my favorite combinations because it is so refreshing and loaded with nutrients. Plus it adds a nice change from my usual green staple. I think the combination of mint and pear really makes this an interesting elixir and the health benefits (especially from the celery) make it a great addition to any routine.

Celery:

  • not just a bunch of water, celery is a natural source of sodium, potassium and other minerals, making this a great post-workout drink because it will help replace lost electrolytes.
  • celery can help reduce blood pressure and improve blood flow and circulation.
  • celery contains anti-cancer compounds and can help prevent tumors.
  • celery is an anti-inflammatory and EXCELLENT for joint health. If you’re suffering from arthritis discomfort, give it a try.
  • celery has a natural calming affect on the body.
  • celery can lower bad cholesterol.

Mint

  • mint cleanses the blood.
  • mint can alleviate digestive problems.
  • mint is great for the skin.
  • mint has several antibacterial properties, which especially aid oral and digestive health.

Pear

  • pears contain pectin which naturally helps keep things moving.
  • pears provide your body with a natural source of energy from the glucose/fructose levels.
  • pears contain Boron which helps the body retain Calcium, therefore it aids bone health.
  • pears are high in Vitamin C.

Lime

  • lime juice can help prevent kidney stones.
  • limes, like all citrus fruits, are high in Vitamin C.
  • limes have high levels of Folate and Calcium.

Not convinced??? Fine, then just trust me. This juice is SO refreshing and if you decide to drink it after a workout, you will definitely be riding on Cloud 9. I promise.

The Celery Refresher

serves 2

1 bunch of celery

2 pears

1 lime

a large handful of mint leaves

Clean everything thoroughly, juice, sip, say “ah”, and enjoy! 🙂

 

Have a beautiful week!

 

xo,

Natalia