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 I originally made this Autumn inspired salad with butternut, but pumpkin would be a delicious and suitable replacement.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

DIY Juice Cleanse

In a few weeks I will be headed to the States for TWO MONTHS. This will be the longest amount of time I have spent on American soil in nearly six years. Cray. The trip will be jam-packed with celebrations as I am headed over for two of my closest friends’ weddings. So that means twice the bachelorette and wedding fun, and just to put two cherries on top of that cake: I get to be home for my birthday and the 4th of July. I can barely stand the excitement.

The first bachelorette is in New Orleans, home of jazz, hurricanes, beignets, and legal public drinking. So while I’m having crazy pre-party jitters that could use a sedative (wine)… I am also trying to stay extra healthy until I go.

A while back my friend Amy and I did a juice cleanse. This was before they were readily available in South Africa (can we just talk about the sudden juice boom in Johannesburg??? love it), so I did some research and basically designed my own juice cleanse from a combination of popular ones in the States and UK. This takes a lot of work, because you’ll be juicing a TON of produce, but it can be interesting and if you live in the States or UK, it will save you quite a bit of money. Juice cleanses are fairly inexpensive in South Africa compared to overseas, so for as long as I live here I will pay for the convenience of having someone else juice huge quantities of produce for me. However, if you have a juicer and want to save some money, here is my juice cleanse:

***note: this is an intense green juice cleanse, if you want something a little less hectic, replace the 5th juice with another root juice***

DIY juice cleanse

in-a-day:

breakfast– sweet greens 1

mid-morning– root juice

lunch– very green (no fruit)

mid-afternoon-sweet greens 2

dinner– very green (no fruit)

dessert– almond milk

 

Shopping list per day (remember to always buy organic where possible!):

5 apples

32 celery stalks

3-4 cucumbers (depending on size)

22 spinach leaves

12 kale leaves

2 heads of Romaine/Cos lettuce

3 lemons

1 beet

5 carrots

parsely, mint, ginger

24 almonds

 

The juices:

Sweet Greens 1: juice 2 apples, 6 celery stalks, 1/2 cucumber, 6 spinach leaves, 3 kale leaves, sprig of mint

Root Juice: juice 5 carrots, 1 apple, 1/2 cucumber, 1 beet, 1/2 lemon

Very Green (x2): 10 celery stalks, 1 cucumber, 1 lemon, 1 head of romaine/cos, 5 spinach leaves, 3 kale leaves, bit of parsley and mint, 1 inch of ginger

Sweet Greens 2: 2 apples, 6 celery stalks, 1/2 cucumber, 6 spinach leaves 2 kale leaves, 1/2 lemon, 1 inch of ginger

Almond Milk: In a high speed blender, blend 1 tsp of raw honey, 400 ml of water, 24 almonds (soaked over night), dash of cinnamon, nutmeg, pure vanilla extract, and sea salt. Squeeze through a nut milk bag. (For more detailed directions on making almond milk, see here)

Some tips:

  • You can repeat this for as many days as you’d like, but it isn’t really necessary to do more than 5 days, 3 days is my preference.
  • The second day is usually the hardest, if you’re a caffeine/sugar junkie, prepare for headaches… but they pass. I promise.
  • If you’re STARVING have a piece of fruit, or some carrot/celery sticks, half an avocado would also be fine, but try to avoid eating. The juices are giving you nutrients so you won’t feel as hungry as you might think.
  • Don’t have anything else, the idea is to cleanse, flush out toxins, and give your digestive system a break.
  • Herbal teas are fine accompaniments, but make sure they’re caffeine free and don’t add any sweeteners or milk. A squeeze of lemon is fine though.
  • Drink water.

Let me know if you give a shot! Happy juicing 🙂

 

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

Friday Delights: 4 things

Happiest Friday to you all and I hope all you South Africans are staying warm… talk about a cold front!!!

Today I’m sharing 4 delightful things that I’ve got on my mind at the moment:

1. Have you heard of Lorde? She’s this Kiwi teenager singer-songwriter, who has a really nice sound and I just can’t get enough of her song “Royals”. Here it is for your listening pleasure: 

2. This weekend we’re hosting a lunch and I’m thinking these beet crostinis, and these butternut croquettes might have to happen. Sneaky veggie treats for the meat eaters in attendance. Note: those butternut croquettes are delicious and so easy.

3. Hot Toddies. I’m really loving these at the moment, and I have to say… it’s probably one of the healthiest cocktails out there. I use the juice of 1/2 a lemon, 1 teaspoon of raw honey, hot water and some whiskey. So comforting. I’ve been told Hot Toddies are “good for the soul”, so I’m going to go ahead and keep telling myself that.

4. It’s August. While that’s delightful in some respects (Spring is around the corner, USA trip is coming up, etc), where did this year go??? They say life only gets faster, so even if your weekend is jam-packed, take a minute to soak it in, slow down and really enjoy every moment. That’s my goal 🙂

 

Enjoy your weekend and stay warm (preferably with a Hot Toddy)!

xo,

Natalia

Friday Delights: 6/28

Happy Friday!

It’s the freakin’ weekend (sorry, just channeling my inner R. Kelly…)! This has been a very good week with a few personal triumphs that are making this weekend a little sweeter 🙂 Below are a few delightful things that I am currently loving and sharing with you today. Enjoy!

1) Seasonal Eating Guides– Seasonal eating is great on so many levels. It’s better for the environment, your wallet,  food quality and so on… Here is a guide to buying seasonally in South Africa and here is a great seasonal guide for the United States that goes by state.

2) The Frown– The Frown is a South African electro group that launched their new album last night. I went to the launch and absolutely LOVED them. They are alternative, unlike anything I’ve heard, and they really know how to put on a show. The best way I can think to describe their sound is 80s… but not. Check them out here to see what I mean.

thefrown

3) Leopard print shoes – I have been anti the animal print thing for a while, but I think I am finally caving (a little late, I know) and investing in a pair of leopard print flats this weekend. I am especially loving this pointy style:leopardflats

(source)

4) Fish Tacos– I have been CRAVING fish tacos. South Africa’s Mexican restaurants are abysmal in my opinion, but I was also spoiled growing up in a country that has many Mexican restaurants that are actually influenced BY Mexico. So, to get my Mexican fix we often have little Mexi nights, especially on the weekends. I’m thinking this recipe is going to happen.

fishtacos

(source)

5) Finally going to experience The Great Gatsby this weekend! I’m not a huge fan of F. Scott Fitzgerald, but this story is classic and Baz Luhrmann is a genius. See you soon Leo!

6) Sesame Seeds- I recently bought a large bag of raw sesame seeds and I have been throwing them on salads, heating them on stove, mixing them into smoothies… you name it. I’m a tahini lover, so it’s really not surprising, but let’s just take a minute to soak in the health benefits: zinc (good for the bones), essential minerals (manganese, copper, iron, phosphorus, calcium), antioxidants and fiber. 

 

Enjoy your weekend pretty people, hope it is delightful 🙂

 

xo,

Natalia