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

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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: Pumpkin Spice Muffins

Those who know me well in the States, know that I have a pumpkin problem. I was never that into Pumpkin Pie (although that has changed), but when Starbucks released the notorious Pumpkin Spice Latte many years ago, a pumpkin junkie was born. Whether in coffee, baked treats, smoothies, ice cream, cheesecake, ravioli, you name it… if it has pumpkin in it, I will eat it and probably with a little more gusto than is ladylike.

Flavor aside, the health benefits of pumpkin are also something to get excited about. That orange gourd-like squash is packed with vitamin A, vitamin C, fiber, beta-carotene (an anti-oxidant that plays a role in cancer prevention and is great for your skin), potassium, to name a few. 

Pumpkin Spice is a seasonal favorite associated with Autumn, Halloween and Thanksgiving in America, and since it is Autumn (verging on Winter) here in South Africa, my taste buds were calling. Below is a recipe for Pumpkin Spice Muffins that I adapted from Oh Ladycakes‘. These muffins are seriously one of the best things to ever come out of my kitchen, they are vegan and make a delicious treat or indulgent breakfast, enjoy!

pumpkinmuffins

Pumpkin Spice Muffins

makes 12 muffins

½ c. melted coconut oil

¾ c. raw organic sugar (or granulated sweetener of choice)

1 TBSP blackstrap molasses

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup pumpkin puree*

1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon of ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon of ground ginger

¾ teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of baking soda

½ c. coconut cream

2 ¼ cups of whole wheat flour (or flour of choice)

¼ cup of unsweetened finely shredded coconut

 

Crumble topping

3 TBSP of coconut oil (in its hard state, should resemble a cold butter texture)

¼ cup of sugar

1/2 tablespoon of molasses

6 TBSP of flour

2 tsp of cinnamon

½ teaspoon of vanilla

Pinch of salt

*pumpkin puree is found canned in the States, so if you don’t have access to the canned version just steam some pumpkin and blend.

 

1. Preheat oven to 190C and line a regular-sized muffin tray with 12 liners or simply grease the tray

2. In a large bowl mix melted coconut oil, sugar, blackstrap molasses and vanilla.

3. Add pumpkin puree, spices, salt, baking soda and mix

4. Slowly add cream and flour, and mix

5. Stir in coconut and divide between muffin cups (you’ll want to fill each tin about 2/3 of the way). Set aside.

6. For the crumble topping: in a separate bowl cut the coconut oil with the rest of the crumble ingredients, until it feels like coarse meal, a few large clumps are fine.

7. Divide the mixture between all 12 muffins

8. Pop them into the oven for about 20 minutes

9. Enjoy!

 

Enjoy your weekend!

 

xo,

Natalia

Winter Warmers

Cheers to Friday!

This one’s for the South Africans who, like me, have been freezing lately. Being from Illinois, I’m pretty used to the cold, in fact, I love it. I love boots (in case you hadn’t picked up on that one…), soups, tea, red wine, snow, etc. Winter is splendid. It used to be all about the holidays and Christmas for me, but since I moved to the Southern hemisphere and Christmas became a summer holiday, I think what I love the most now, are the fashion and food changes. I adore all seasonal changes, but there’s something so comforting about cold weather food, and as for fashion transitions, well I’ll take any excuse to go shopping.

Last night I made an old favorite of mine that was originally inspired by a tasty tomato lentil soup I had at Olympia Cafe in Kalk Bay once upon a wintry day. This soup is delicious, healthy and even better the next day. Enjoy it with some fresh bread and red wine for comforting winter dinner or lunch.

Italian Tomato Lentil Soup Recipe

1 cup of dried brown lentils

2 TBS of cooking oil (preferably coconut oil)

1 medium onion, finely chopped

3 cloves of minced garlic, plus 1 clove*

1 large carrot, grated

2 ½ tsp of Oregano

1 tsp of Thyme

2 bay leaves

¼ tsp of Cayenne Pepper if you like a bit of heat

Splash of red wine

1 can of tomato puree (if you can find in a carton, that is preferred, tins aren’t great)

1 can of chopped tomatoes + their juice (again, carton is preferred)

3 tsp of sugar or sweetener of choice (just make sure it equates to the sweetness of 3 tsp of sugar)

4-5 cups of vegetable broth or stock (Kallo is my favorite) depending on how thin or chunky you want the soup

Salt and pepper

2 TBS  of chopped fresh basil and more for garnish (optional)

1)      Place 1 cup of dried brown lentils in a bowl, cover with plenty of water and soak overnight. The lentils will absorb most of the water so be sure they are submerged at least 2 inches under water.

2)      After soaking, drain and rinse the lentils very well.

3)      Heat oil in a soup pot, if using coconut oil, allow it to melt. Add onion and stir with a wooden spoon until onions are translucent, about 3 minutes, reduce heat to medium.

4)      Add the 3 cloves of garlic and grated carrot to the onions and stir for an additional 2 minutes.

5)      Add oregano, thyme, bay leaves and cayenne pepper and mix thoroughly. Then add a splash of red wine (preferably from the glass you’re sipping on) to deglaze the bottom of the pot and give the mixture a stir.

6)      Add the tomato puree, chopped tomatoes, sugar and lentils to pot, stir and bring to a simmer. Then add the stock and bring to a simmer again and reduce heat to medium-low. Cover the pot and let the soup cook for 30-40 minutes, giving it a stir every few minutes to ensure it isn’t burning on the bottom.

7)      After 30 minutes, have a little taste and adjust the flavour with salt and pepper. Then, stir in the remaining clove of garlic* and basil, and allow the soup to simmer for 2 more minutes.

8)      Garnish with basil leaf, serve and enjoy!

*note: I am a garlic fiend.  The more garlic the merrier, in my book. I like to add a bit of garlic at the end for a stronger flavor, but use your discretion when you taste the soup to see if this is necessary.

And now for the clothes…  The beauty of South African winters is that they’re cold enough to wear winter clothes, but not so cold that you have to cover up with a massive parka. Here are some winter looks I’m loving and excited to wear this winter. (side note: if I could pick one boutique to stock my closet for the rest of my life, it would be Free People . A girl can dream).

Free Bird by Steven Phoenix Boot at Free People

05242013071403

Faux fur vests and knit hats (source)

fashnchips

Boot Socks (source)

bootsocks

Floppy felt hats with knits (source). My boyfriend is not a fan of my floppy hat, but I think it looks amazing with over-sized knits and is a fun winter accessory. Psh…boys…

hatandknit

Stay warm or get a tan depending on where you are! But most importantly, enjoy your weekend!

xo,

Natalia