Something special on the way…

A few months ago we received some very special news… our duo is becoming a trio! I’m pregnant, and so so excited!

It’s funny how something of this magnitude can cause such a rush a different emotions. I went from “OH MY GOD!”, to “damn… no travelling for a while” (we were planning on going to Peru in 2016…), to “BAAAAABY!!!!!”, back to “OH MY GOD!”, to “we’ve got this”, and then all the feelings courtesy of hormones, of course.

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to share any of my pregnancy on the blog, but then a friend encouraged me to get back into blogging because it would be a nice way to journal the process and look back at my experience one day.

So here are a few things I’ve learned so far, and a few things I’ve experienced:

  • The amount of information out there is overwhelming, as is the amount of cuteness… thank god for Pinterest. Pacing oneself is essential.
  • While I’ve tried to stay healthy, sometimes you get a craving! I’ve found that over-eating and especially over-eating crappy food, makes me feel awful. Like, laying-on-the-bed-with-a-stomachache awful. My solution: healthy and lighter versions of whatever I’m craving. Currently, this means baked “fried” chicken. Gimme dat.
  • The pickle thing is real. Why are they so good???
  • I’ve never missed my family more, yet at the same time, in my nearly 7 years away, I’ve never felt closer to them.
  • A few pieces of advice from other mommas that have helped me wrap my head around this entire experience:
    • “There are a lot of ways to get parenting right, and only a few ways to get it wrong”
    • “There aren’t enough books to read to prepare you for parenthood”
    • “Trust your instincts”
  • I didn’t realize I would see Matt so differently, and I’m sure I’ll go through that all over again once the baby is here. Love really is infinite, and I really am lucky.

baby elephant

(can’t wait for our little South African baba)

Hurry up, August 🙂

xo,

Natalia

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

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 Delight: Fish Tacos and Buckwheat Tortillas

On Wednesday we joined some friends from Joburg that were visiting the Lowveld, for lunch at Picasso’s. Being American and growing up with authentic Mexican restaurants all around me, I’m pretty picky about the Mexican fare in South Africa. For years, the Mexican restaurants I encountered tasted more like TexMex, or were spiced with things like curry (what???). Then along came El Burro in Cape Town, Perron in Johannesburg, and now Picassos’ in White River. These are all tasty restaurants, and the margaritas are top notch at all three. So, a totally random thing to find here in White River, but also totally delicious.

Anyway, this meal reminded me of the Valentine’s day meal I made for Matt. I really really love fish tacos (fortunately, so does he…) and this meal was fresh, healthy, and definitely worth making again. The menu included:

  • Broiled fish with a homemade rub
  • Raw beetroot slaw
  • Mango Salad
  • All served with Buckwheat tortillas (I used this recipe), Guacamole, and greens

fish tacos

(yes, I made the tortillas heart-shaped. don’t judge)

Fish and Fish Rub

4 fillets (around 100g each) of white fish (I used Hake)

1 tsp of chile powder

1-2 tsp of paprika

1/2 tsp of cumin

1 clove of garlic or 1/4 tsp of garlic powder

1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper

salt & pepper

Mix everything together, it should be enough for the 4 small fillets. Grease a pan and bake the fish until cooked through. Remove from Oven and flake.

Raw Beetroot Slaw

2 large or 3 small beetroots

1-2 carrots

lime juice

3 TBS of Salsa Verde (I use Mrs. Renfro’s)

1 dollop of plain yogurt (Greek or Coconut, just make sure it’s nice and thick)

salt & pepper

Grate the beetroots and carrot. Mix lime juice, yogurt, and salsa verde in a separate bowl, season with salt and pepper. Pour the mixture of the grated vegetables and toss until evenly coated.

Mango Salad (this recipe was borrowed from a friend)

1 large mango, cubed

1/2 a red onion, chopped

handful of cilantro/coriander, chopped

Juice of one lime

Mix all ingredients together and serve.

Let me know if you give it a shot!

xo,

Natalia

Friday Delight: Animal Spotting

South Africa is an interesting place. There are daily challenges here that I never considered when I was living stateside and unfortunately, most of these challenges sit within social issues and a government that is so corrupt, your faith in humanity can’t help but die a little. On the other hand, it is one of the most beautiful places in the world, is culturally rich, is home to some lovely people, and has a big piece of my heart.

Living here for 5+ years in cities and globalized areas like Cape Town and Sandton, I’ve often forgotten I live on African soil. Now that we’ve moved out of the city and to the country, I get little reminders almost daily:

zebra

These guys were chowing grass outside our bedroom window the other day.

giraffe

I encountered this beauty and her friend while I was on a run this morning

I basically go into tourist mode every time I see them, they are just amazing 🙂

Enjoy your weekend!

xo,

Natalia

My three favorite R words…

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.

recyle

Most of us are familiar with these three R words, but it doesn’t mean we implement them. I’ve certainly been guilty of throwing a wine bottle (or two… or more…) in the trash before, but I know the importance of Recycling and I know it is something I need to be more proactive with.

Recyclables include:

  • Metal
  • Paper
  • Plastic
  • Glass

In South Africa, those that are primarily responsible for recovered and recycled waste, are our informal recyclers… aka bin-pickers. While it’s not the safest job, at least someone is doing it, but we could certainly make it a little easier for them by rinsing and separating our recyclables before putting them out. Then, these guys wouldn’t have to dig through our garbage and the recyclables wouldn’t be contaminated with food. Want a more formal recycling route? There are private companies that organize curbside collection for a fee, otherwise you can schlep to the closest drop off point and deliver your recyclables yourself. You can find more information at Treevolution’s “Guide to Recycling in South Africa”.

Ultimately, it’s not just about Recycling though, the other two R’s are also important and applicable to daily living. Reducing consumption and Reusing where we can, are steps in the right (green) direction. Give it a shot! Maybe make May your month of dedicated recycling 🙂

 

Enjoy your Tuesday my Recyclababes!

 

xo,

Natalia

Friday Delights: Summers in South Africa

Happy Friday! I trust everyone is looking forward to the weekend? Si? If you’re in Johannesburg, I hope you’re embracing this heat wave with a little love rather than allowing your body and mood to roast like I did yesterday in my un-airconditioned car….  Side story: when I first got Diego (my car) insured, the insurance lady was properly SHOCKED that I lived in Joburg without air conditioning in my car, I told her it was the only thing I didn’t like about summer. Anyway, this weekend Diego and I will give each other some space, and I will stay cool with some vino and hopefully a pool. No-air-conditioning-in-Diego aside, I love summers in South Africa and felt like they deserved their own post especially amidst the heat wave.

When I moved to South Africa 4.5 years ago, I wisely chose Cape Town as my new home. Cape Town is my favorite place in the world, it encompasses everything that I love yet never ceases to amaze me or introduce me to something new and special. I think what really did it for me, was the combination of the outdoors and nature, with also completely being a lifestyle city. I became a wino and outdoorsy all at the same time, and both have stuck with me.

The city sits against mountains but along the sea and beyond the mountains are the famous Cape Winelands, and along the sea are little seaside villages, both are truly breath taking. Imagine living in a city where no matter where you lived, you had a million-dollar view. That’s Cape Town. Some of the best parties, beaches, hikes, and restaurants that I’ve ever been to, have been in this gorgeous place. Cape Town, you will always have my heart.

V&Awaterfront

V&A Waterfront with Table Mountain (source)

Franschhoekwinelands

Franschhoek, Cape Winelands (source)

Eventually the wind took me to Johannesburg… the opposite of Cape Town in so many ways, but not without its own unique perks. Joburg is a business hub and in some ways the capital of Africa. Work-wise: awesome. People-wise: great. Very cosmopolitan. What I love about living here though, is that when summer shows up, so do the thunderstorms and the unbelievable sunsets. The thunderstorms are HECTIC but so beautiful and the sunsets are unlike anything I’ve ever seen. African skies are something else, and I’m not sure why, but in Joburg they really are out of this world.

joburgsunset

Sunset over Joburg CBD, photo by Walter Knirr

lightning sandton

Lightning over Sandton (source)

Between the lifestyle, good wine, fresh foods and weather, South African summers are delightful and very very special 🙂

Have a great weekend!

xo,

Natalia